Federal safety regulators are expanding their investigation into complaints of exhaust fumes inside Ford Explorers.
Itís added two more model years and nearly 400,000 vehicles into the mix, so the probe which started back in July 2016 now covers more than 1.3 million SUVs from the 2011-2017 model years.
The investigation surrounds more than 2,700 complaints of carbon monoxide fumes inside cabins. Three complaints allege fumes lead to crashes. There are also 41 reports of injuries, mostly loss of consciousness, nausea, and headaches.
Some of those complaints come from police departments that use Police Interceptor version of the SUV in their fleets. They allege two crashes with injuries and another injury linked to potential exposure to the fumes.
While NHSTA is broadening the investigation, it says it hasnít so far found evidence that links fumes to the crashes and injuries in the complaints.
To date, no substantive data or actual evidence (such as a carboxyhemoglobin measurement) has been obtained supporting a claim that any of the alleged injury or crash allegations were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, the alleged hazard. ODI has obtained preliminary testing that suggests, however, that CO levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios, although the significance and effect of those levels remains under evaluation as part of the EA.
The next step in the expanded investigation is an engineering analysis, which could ultimately lead to a recall.
During the EA, NHTSA will look into exhaust manifold cracks recently discovered in the Police Interceptor version. Investigators say the cracks appear to present a low level of detectability and may explain the exhaust odor. During the EA, the root cause, frequency, and safety consequence of these manifold cracks will be investigated and engineers will also look into whether any non-police Explorers may have the same manifold issue.
NHTSA will also continue to look at measures Fordís already taken to address the issue. The automaker has issued multiple technical service bulletins to provide dealership technicians with procedures to address complaints raised by consumers and police fleets.
Ford says itís working with customers, police, and NHTSA to investigate the complaints. Owners can call a dedicated hotline (888) 260-5575 or visit their local dealer.
Photo Credit: Ford