On January 23, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed it is investigating Ford Explorer models made between 2011 and 2017. The investigation came about after a consumer safety group repeated its appeal for a recall on behalf of a growing number of drivers who reported incidents of dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Ford has publicly dismissed the need to recall its Ford Explorer SUV, despite the issue extending to models that were modified for police use. The company claims that it has not found any issues or carbon monoxide intrusion that would explain the symptoms drivers have been complaining about.
According to safety communications manager Elizabeth Weingandt, “Explorers are safe. Ford’s investigation and extensive testing has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day.” Weingandt says customers can bring their vehicle to their local Ford dealer to get a free service designed to reduce their concern.
However, NHTSA officials claim the customer satisfaction campaign that has been rolled out by Ford does not adequately resolve the issue at stake. Since federal safety officials began their investigation in 2016, more than 1,300 people who own Ford Explorers have reported health issues.
Also on Tuesday, the non-profit Center for Auto Safety sent a letter to Ford CEO Jim Hackett. The letter renewed an October 2017 request for the company to recall 1.33 million Explorer models from 2011 to 2017 for suspected carbon monoxide leaks.
In July of 2017, federal transportation officials expanded their investigation into reports of exhaust odors in vehicle compartments and exposure to carbon monoxide that might have been linked to accidents and injuries.
As of now, the federal investigation is in its "engineering analysis" phase. This phase comes before the agency can formally demand the automaker conduct a recall if it finds that their vehicles pose an unreasonable safety risk. Preliminary testing obtained by the agency suggests carbon monoxide level might be elevated in certain driving scenarios. However, “the significance and effect of those levels remains under evaluation,” according to 2017 reports.
Jason Levine, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, says, “Unfortunately, the only thing that triggers action is tragedy… We’re hoping to see action taken by America’s leading auto brand before something awful happens. Unless we’re going to wait until there’s a report of someone crashing and dying, there’s no time like the present.”
As of now, federal safety officials will continue to examine complaints submitted to the agency and will review the completion rate of vehicles repaired under Ford's customer service program. Officials also encourage owners to contact dealers if they experience exhaust odor or have concerns about carbon monoxide exposure. Consumers can also contact NHTSA by calling 888-327-4236 or going to NHTSA.gov to report a problem.
Have you experienced illness or health complications that might have been caused by your Ford Explorer? Contact our Kansas City team of personal injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation.