By on October 4, 2017

18-ford-explorer-sport_hr_01

Well, it might if a news crew profiles your SUV. A Maryland couple’s 2016 Ford Explorer, one of many late-model Explorers suspected of emitting high levels of carbon monoxide into the cabin, turned out to be doing just that. However, even after the exhaust leak was confirmed — then fixed — by Ford, peace of mind did not return to Mark and Valentina Shedrick.

With an NBC news team sniffing around and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation ongoing, the automaker decided to buy back the vehicle. Other owners, including police departments, would likely prefer knowing their vehicle is safe.

In late July the NHTSA expanded its probe into the Explorer, widening the net to include 1.33 million vehicles produced from the 2011 model year onward. At the time, 2,700 complaints of an exhaust-like odor in the cabin sat in the agency’s online database, with 41 reported injuries.

One year earlier, 154 complaints sparked an initial investigation into 2011-2015 Explorers. Apparently, two technical service bulletins sent to dealers in 2012 and 2014 did not remedy the issue. Several police departments have now sidelined their Police Interceptor Utility vehicles (the law enforcement version of the Explorer) after officers fell ill, including a Newport Beach, California officer who passed out behind the wheel, crashing into a tree.

The NHTSA has not definitively linked carbon monoxide exposure to the injuries.

Back to the Maryland couple. NBC‘s News4 Washington sent a toxicologist to measure carbon monoxide levels in the Sheldrick’s Explorer, discovering “elevated levels” of the odorless, toxic gas. Within days, Ford sent engineers to perform the same test.

While the Ford engineers made the same discovery, the owners were not presented with a printed copy of the findings. The automaker replied to News 4 by claiming, “The Ford engineers who investigated the customer’s vehicle did not generate a written report. They provided the information from our investigation directly to the customer, verbally.”

After an unspecified repair (the NHTSA points to tiny cracks in the exhaust manifold as the likely culprit in many cases, especially those involving law enforcement), tests showed the couple’s Explorer possessing “near zero” carbon monoxide emissions in the cabin. The news crew’s toxicologist confirmed Ford’s findings. Still, the couple wasn’t satisfied. Worried the issue could crop up again, the two permanently parked their vehicle, refusing to drive it.

Now, Ford has announced it will buy back the couple’s Explorer.

Whether or not the NHTSA compels Ford to recall seven model years of the Explorer remains to be seen. The investigation’s expansion in July turned the probe into an “engineering analysis,” or one step below a recall. Of course, that doesn’t mean owners can’t take action in the meantime. Ford offers a hotline (888-260-5575) for concerned private or fleet operators, and any owner can take his or her vehicle to a dealership and ask about Service Bulletin TSB 14-0130.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

20 Comments on “Worried About Exhaust in Your Ford Explorer’s Cabin? Ford Might Just Buy It Back...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “TSB 14-0130” – does that mean the TSB was first published in 2014? Lots of questions, like:

    1) Cracked exhaust manifolds – did the dealer replace the manifolds in the Shedricks’ Explorer? Cracked manifolds could be a huge problem, because the exhaust is untreated, having not yet gone through the cats. It would only have to leak from the rear (right) manifold, and then be drawn into the plenum and then the HVAC system, into the cabin. Vehicles usually have a seal at the back of the hood to prevent this, but it could still be drawn into the plenum from around the sides of the hood.

    2) Are the replacement manifolds better than the originals? Ford is known for buying lots of parts from China, and the metallurgy of the manifolds would be suspect, at least to me. Unless they could prove that the replacement parts are better, I’d be as skeptical as the Shedricks.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed.

      If even tiny cracks are the source of this problem, then the vehicle is unsafe. I wouldn’t want to take a long drive wondering if I’m slowly being poisoned to the point of passing out.

    • 0 avatar
      dallash

      They have every reason to be skeptical. Our Explorer was fixed twice with an engineer from Detroit flying out both times to oversee the repairs. 3 days later, the CO detector registered CO and we smelled exhaust.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Tell Hackett the secret to making more money is to build more reliable cars. After the series of exhaust problems with Explorers, I wouldn’t consider one. $40K to to aggravated??? No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      dallash

      Agreed! Although your numbers might be off at $40K. We’ve dealt with this issue non-stop since purchasing it and the sticker on ours was over $52K. Trade-in right now is around $28K… IMO, because of the exhaust issues and looming recall. Ouch!

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    The Flex and MkT should be added to the list. Owners of both have experienced issues with exhaust smell/leaks.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      Lincoln MKX owners are also reporting exhaust odors in the cabin. There is a TSB about this sent to dealers but nothing has been done about the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Edge/MKX/Flex/MkT/Explorer all tend to have similar issues. PTU, water pump chillin in V6 valley, exhaust smell, HVAC door blend actuators, fuel pump failures, and power steering failure. It is dumb that they don’t all have the same recalls. The power steering one is especially egregious. How they’ve only isolated certain years for the recall is insane. For example, some 2013 Explorers are subject to the recall, and others are not. But they are all having the same failure. That EPAS design is going to get someone fired.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    But I thought the vehicles were safe Ford? I thought people didn’t have anything to worry about Ford? If it was just an exhaust manifold, why are you buying back the vehicle Ford?

    By far the most dishonest company on the planet. Makes Enron look like Mother Teresa.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    I’d be interested to know what price Ford offered the Shedricks for their Explorer, given that it is about 2 years old.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    I replaced the exhaust on a 10 YO car with 140kmiles w.o hesitation – have used it for 4 since years – OEM stainless steel – $1400 installed end to end. SS can crack, but its usually pretty ductile. While my family couldn’t figure out why I did it, they didn’t find a couple of kids who graduated college a week prior to their deaths from CO, in an car idling overnight until it ran out of gas. I did.
    Would I want that Explorer replaced? As a buy and hold guy, oh, hell yeah.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      How awful. But I’d want the car replaced with cash, not another Explorer.

    • 0 avatar
      dallash

      A buy back is actually what I would prefer as well because I’m a buy and drive forever type. I would have gladly traded ours in until I found out the trade-in value was almost half of the sticker price of our 2015 less than 2 years later. In our case, an engineer from Detroit has come out twice to oversee the work done and it is still registering elevated levels of CO in the vehicle. Ford’s answer? That is an acceptable amount of CO. I’ve offered to let any C-level exec at Ford drive it for free with their family in the back if they want to prove it is in fact “acceptable.” Ridiculous!!!

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    How long b4 the feds require all new vehicles to come with a CO detector built in? I put one in mine, just to be safe.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Can a CO detector withstand the heat of an automotive interior?

    • 0 avatar
      dallash

      Honestly, that was my suggestion to the NHTSA when talking with them about our Explorer. This particular issue is obviously a severe design flaw from Ford engineers, but you occasionally see news stories where a faulty exhaust gets into a parked vehicle killing the passengers.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    mine has and it was a cheapo Walmart First Alert unit, I do test it periodically, because it has a life span of a couple of years.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Why is Ford buying the vehicle back? Sounds like they found and fixed the problem. Dealerships will have no fun but make lots of money replacing exhaust manifolds under warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      dallash

      My guess is that Ford sees there is a bigger issue and would rather sweep the problem under the rug due to media coverage. The couple is still experiencing trace amounts of CO in the cabin. Our Explorer was “fixed” twice and an engineer from Detroit flew out both times. Similarly, we are still registering CO in the cabin (based on our detector) and we are still smelling exhaust. As I explained to the engineer and general counsel at Ford I’ve been working with, I’ve owned tons of vehicles new and used and I’ve never had one where I smelled exhaust in the cabin and/or had to crack the windows for a few minutes before my family could get in it.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Arthur Dailey: An article relating to this very topic was published in the April 11th 2019 edition of the National...
  • thelaine: Taking a break from ripping old ladies off in the sales office.
  • Art Vandelay: Yet there is a Leaf in my driveway on which I got no subsidy due to it being used (It was a cheap car...
  • Rick Astley: The tried and true method for Tesla advancement is built on the spines of American taxpayers. Clearly...
  • dividebytube: >>The next morning, your sleepy author climbed out of bed with five hours’ sleep and contemplated...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States