Police Officers Suing Ford Over Alleged Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Interceptor SUVs [UPDATED]

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
police officers suing ford over alleged carbon monoxide poisoning in interceptor suvs

Two Austin-based police officers have filed lawsuits against Ford Motor Company after being incapacitated by carbon monoxide that leaked into the cabin of their Interceptor Utilities. Ford finds itself flooded with hundreds of complaints over unacceptable carbon monoxide levels in 2011-2017 Ford Explorers, receiving the most flack from police departments with problematic SUVs. Officers across America have complained of dizziness while driving, with some requiring hospitalization.

The issue had become so bad that Austin’s police department actually pulled about 400 Explorer-based squad cars from its motor pool. Scrambling for a solution, Ford has implemented a special task force to investigate the problem and develop a solution. The automaker also offered to fix 1.33 million Explorers to ensure there is no exhaust leak, but was quick to remind everyone this wasn’t a recall, as no U.S. government standard for in-vehicle carbon monoxide levels exists.

Unfortunately for Ford, an all-hands-on-deck response hasn’t stopped lawsuits. Operating under the assumption that Ford was aware of the leaks as early as 2012, officers in California, Texas, and Louisiana have also filed claims against the manufacturer.

Ford initially attributed the officers’ plight to aftermarket modifications necessary on some law enforcement vehicles that may have allowed exhaust gases to enter the rear of the vehicle. However, with consumer models suffering from similar gassing problems, those earlier modifications may have only exacerbated an already existing issue.

According to My Statesman, the most recent suit from Austin asks for unspecified damages to pay for medical bills, lost wages, future earnings, and to compensate Officer Ryan Hancock and his wife for pain and suffering.

“We’re suing Ford because they designed, manufactured and sold a defective product,” said Brian Chase, the attorney representing the Hancocks. “It’s important to get the word out that these Ford Explorers have a problem leaking carbon monoxide and Ford hasn’t been able to fix it.”

Chase said the Austin police cases are only two of the roughly 30 suits across the country resulting from the Explorer-linked carbon monoxide issue.

Ford has maintained that its SUVs are safe, despite offering repairs at no charge to the customer, and has said it is unable to comment further due to the nature of the pending lawsuits. Preliminary investigations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uncovered cracks in the exhaust manifolds of some Ford Explorers in July. It is continuing its research to assess how common this problem is and if it might have anything to do with the proposed leaks. As of now, it doesn’t have any evidence to indicate the incidents were a direct result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, in the Hancock case, the claim has already been made that Ford was well aware of a problem. It cites a company-issued 2012 bulletin to dealers that references an exhaust smell in the cabin of some SUVs and testimony from a Ford representative in a Florida case from 2015 who suggested the exhaust problems could be a design flaw. Although the representative was not referencing carbon monoxide specifically, Chase wants to make the case that a possible exhaust leak would have contained the odorless monoxide gas.

“In sum, Ford knew that its Ford Explorer vehicles and Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, (including Hancock’s APD cruiser), were defective in that the design of those vehicles allowed deadly exhaust fumes, including poisonous carbon monoxide, to enter the passenger compartment,” the lawsuit claims. “ suggested repairs failed to fix the problem.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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2 of 19 comments
  • Phila_DLJ Phila_DLJ on Oct 20, 2017

    But the tires are great. Just great!

  • PentastarPride PentastarPride on Oct 21, 2017

    I can't, for the life of me, understand why PDs use the Explorer. Why??? I could understand the CVPI, which was a solid, dependable vehicle that even non-Ford guys (like myself) would have to admit. The Explorer with the EcoBust doesn't seem like it will hold up long term. I wonder if they will be worth little more scrap value when they get surplused. There are lots of problems with EcoBoost, some of them catastrophic. I'll have to ask my cop friend about how often they hit the shop the next time I see him. I do know he liked the Chargers except for lack of room, but lack of room is better than rotating the fleet in and out of the shop. Now that there's now worries about CO poisoning, the answer is obvious: Charger (or Durango, if an SUV is necessary). Hemi V8 or Pentastar V6, take a pick.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that