Dizzying Number of Exhaust-in-cabin Reports Plague Ford's Explorer

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dizzying number of exhaust in cabin reports plague fords explorer

After the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration launched an investigation into reports of a sulphurous exhaust smell in the cabins of 2011-2015 Ford Explorers, numerous complaints have rolled in concerning newer models.

Now, a California police officer claims the exhaust led him and his patrol vehicle on a date with a tree.

Last July, NHTSA launched a probe into older current-generation Explorer models after receiving 154 complaints about a strong odor. Since the first complaints in 2012, Ford has issued three technical service bulletins to address the issue. Potential remedies included sealing and coating the rear floor pan and body seams, replacing the air extractor, installing new drain valves and a software update.

According to some complaints, the supposed fix did nothing to end the odor, which often seems stronger during heavy acceleration and when the air conditioner is in use. Of the reports, only one involved a crash. No injuries were involved in that incident.

Fast forward to this week, CBS News discovered complaints submitted to NHTSA about the exhaust odor have ballooned to over 450. The tally of worried drivers now includes owners of 2016 and 2017 models.

One driver who claims the “no injuries” report is false is Newport Beach police officer Brian McDowell, who told CBS he believes he was overwhelmed with fumes while driving a 2014 model-year Explorer while on duty.

“I just had that nauseous feeling and just feeling like I had a headache,” McDowell said. After that, it was lights out. McDowell’s Police Interceptor Utility, a law enforcement version of the Explorer, left the road and impacted a tree. The officer suffered a dislocated shoulder, fractured eye socket and traumatic brain injury. However, when doctors attempted to find out why McDowell had suddenly passed out, a cause eluded them.

Now, McDowell believes it was carbon monoxide from an exhaust leak that caused his blackout. He has since filed a lawsuit against Ford. Following the crash, the Newport Beach PD has installed carbon monoxide detectors in its vehicles — some of which, McDowell claims, have gone off.

Another owner, retired Army veteran Ron Booth, told CBS he’s had his 2015 Explorer in the shop five times to fix the problem. Still, the odor persists. Booth has also outfitted his cabin with a carbon monoxide detector.

A class-action lawsuit filed against the automaker by a North Carolina was settled last year for an undisclosed amount.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • White Shadow White Shadow on Feb 16, 2017

    4th generation 4Runners were notorious for strong sulfer exhaust smell during/after hard acceleration. That's one thing I don't miss about my old 4Runner.

  • Fishiftstick Fishiftstick on Feb 16, 2017

    What bugs about Honda's TPMS sensors is, they don't tell you which wheel. They need 4 sensors anyway. How much more can 3 extra dash LEDs cost?

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 16, 2017

      There are four sensors but they transmit to one radio receiver. It's more complicated, and expensive, than extra LEDs.

  • EBFlex When you support socialism I guess it makes sense to support countries that are socialist.This is absolutely ridiculous though. The dementia-riddled, installed president won't allow drilling here and as recently as early November said "NO MORE DRILLING" ( https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2022/11/07/biden-promises-no-more-drilling-just-days-after-demanding-more-drilling/?sh=eeef4a578e7a )Why help people here and give them work when you can ship it off to Venezuela? Next, he will be advocating for giving jobs to China who are continuing to commit crimes against humanity (something the elf Fauci wishes he could do).This is insanity. We have tons of oil here. We should be drilling for it and aggressively building refining capacity to turn it into lovely, lovely gasoline and diesel.
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh In the news : Rich people join forces to stay ultra rich and EFF poor people in all countries by dividing them against each other and killing them
  • Kcflyer I'm curious if the elections in Venezuela take as long to call as the one's in the U.S. ? Too bad we don't have hundreds of years supply of petro right here in U.S. sigh.
  • SCE to AUX "had far more to do with working with Venezuela to ensure freer elections and more international cooperation than expanding anyone’s oil supply"That's double BS - no oil purchase will clean up Venezuela's corruption, and of course the administration wants to see lower gas prices.The US chooses its friends poorly, and this is the latest example.
  • Jkross22 Aren't toy cars by definition those with 2 seats?