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Ford Carbon Monoxide Auto Defect

carbon monoxide poisoning in Ford vehicles.

Recently, Ford Motor Company has been in the spotlight for a major auto defect on their Explorer model. The defective vehicles allow carbon monoxide to leak into the passenger compartment while on the road, making the driver and passengers subject to the toxic fumes.

This defect arises when the vehicle’s engine is running, in idle or in motion. Reports have indicated that having the air conditioning on and in circulation mode increases the amount of carbon monoxide fumes in the passenger cabin.

Being subjected to carbon monoxide for extended periods of time can result in severe injury and death, even when you don’t know it’s present.

Carbon Poisoning While Driving

The Ford auto defect has caused an uproar of concern in the auto community, media and drivers of Ford Explorers. Brian McDowell, a Newport Beach police officer was responding to a call in his 2014 Ford Explorer police cruiser when he lost consciousness, jumped the boulevard into oncoming traffic and plowed into a tree. The crash left him with a dislocated shoulder, fractured eye socket and brain damage as result of the carbon monoxide seeping into his cabin. Officer McDowell does not remember the crash, but he recalls the moments before blacking out, “I just had that nauseous feeling and just a feeling like I had a headache.”

Office McDowell filed a lawsuit against Ford for his injuries as result of the defect, and isn’t the only one either. Ford Motor Company agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed in Florida for an undisclosed amount in August of this past year.

It was made clear that Ford has known about this defect since 2012. Ford Motor Company’s last statement was back in 2015, stating, “We are working on it,” and has not updated the status since.

The smell of gas-drenched exhaust fumes you breathe in as you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, starting your car in an open garage or even driving with the backseats down and trunk exposed, is saturated with carbon monoxide; a lethal gas created by emissions released from internal combustion engines of gas powered vehicles. Carbon monoxide (CO). A poisonous colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, that results from the incomplete combustion of carbon. Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin, which has no oxygen carrying capacity.

Inhalation causes many symptoms, (listed below) central nervous system damage, asphyxiation and in prolonged exposure, death. The gas mixes well with air, and explosive mixtures are easily formed. The gas penetrates easily through walls and ceilings. In other words, stay clear of carbon monoxide.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after inhaling too much carbon monoxide (CO). Symptoms of mild acute poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Visual changes
  • Fainting
  • Seizure

Larger exposures can lead to toxicity of the central nervous system and heart, resulting in death.

The Dangers of c02 Poisoning

The most dangerous aspect of carbon monoxide is the fact that it is completely odorless; making it virtually impossible to detect its presence without the assistance of CO detectors or the obvious odor of gasoline and exhaust fumes.

In its native state, natural gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Mercaptan, the harmless chemical that is added to natural gas, contains sulfur, which makes it smell. Many people describe the odor of mercaptan as similar to rotten eggs.

Like gas, carbon monoxide does not have a smell, color or taste. Carbon monoxide is formed from the combination of a carbon atom with an oxygen atom. Not only flammable, it is also very hazardous since it is very toxic and odorless. It is produced, among other ways, from incomplete combustion due to lack of oxygen.

Car Emission Restrictions

In 1973, before catalytic converters were mandatory, a study proved that 40 percent of individuals with preexisting cardiovascular disease experienced irregular EKG results, as result of a 90-minute ride on a Los Angeles freeway.

In 1975, catalytic converters were required on all new vehicles to be sold to help reduce emissions, helping pollution, smog, health issues and the environment.

A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction (an oxidation and a reduction reaction). Catalytic converters are used with internal combustion engines fueled by either petrol (gasoline) or diesel—including lean-burn engines as well as kerosene heaters and stoves.

The Ford Auto Defect is Fairly Common

A couple in New Jersey filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court against Ford, claiming their Ford Explorer leaks toxic levels of carbon monoxide into the passenger compartment. Ford asked to have the case moved into U.S. District Court and the couples lawyer responded by seeking a judge’s order to have the lawsuit declared as a class action case.

Ford has sold more than 1.2 million Ford Explorers since 2011, and has known about the defect in the Ford Explorer since 2011.

After receiving 154 complaints of Ford drivers smelling exhaust fumes while driving, The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation on 2011-2015 Ford Explorers. Once the investigation became public, the complaints shot up to over 450, including 2016 and 2017 Explorer models.

Vehicle owners reported their Ford Explorers would emit strong exhaust smells when accelerating onto the freeway, when the air conditioning was running high and on circulation mode, or whenever the vehicle was exerting its power.

Ford suggested repairs including:

  • Software changes to the recirculation mode of Ford Explorer air conditioning systems
  • Undercoating areas of the vehicle's floor and body seams
  • Replacing the left-side air extractor
  • Installing drain valves in the vehicle's rear lift gate

Neglecting to admit the severity of the situation, Ford reassured the defect was not a big deal and should not be considered a safety concern, even though there have been many cases of carbon monoxide poisoning directly related to this Ford defect.

Police Officer Poisoned

Brian Chase is the lead attorney for Brian McDowell, the Newport Beach police officer that crashed his Ford Explorer police cruiser into a tree after falling unconscious due to Ford’s carbon monoxide leaking defect.

Brian Chase received word of Ford’s understating response to the auto defect which stated, "We take the safety of our customers very seriously and will cooperate with NHTSA on this investigation, as we always do. In rare circumstances, there have been instances where customers detected an exhaust odor in Explorers. While it poses no safety risk, customers can and are encouraged to contact their local Ford dealer to address any concerns."

The automaker has not issued a recall to fix the alleged defect. But the company did issue two "technical service bulletins" in 2012 and 2014, which instructed dealers to attempt to fix the defect when motorists bring in vehicles for other repairs. According to NHTSA investigation reports, customers that had their Ford Explorers defect fixed reported "little or no improvement." There are cases nationwide.

While declining to comment further, NHTSA maintains there haven’t been any serious injuries -- something McDowell’s attorney, Brian Chase, disputes. "When I saw that they said there were no injuries, we immediately got NHTSA on the phone," Chase said. "I gave them all the information we had in the lawsuit." "[McDowell's] dream of being a cop could be reduced to a desk job," Brian Chase says.

McDowell is suing Ford Motor Company for the incident. Chase says all Explorers from 2011 to 2015 are affected. "My advice is sell the car," Chase says. "Don't try to get it fixed, because there is no fix for this."

Is Your Ford Explorer Affected?

For those consumers who have purchased a 2011-2017 Ford Explorer and have experienced exhaust odors or symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should consult with their doctor. It is advisable to purchase a carbon monoxide detector to help determine whether your vehicle is leaking carbon monoxide into the occupant cabin. Carbon Monoxide detectors can be found at department stores and online. They are very affordable and worth the money to ensure the safety of you and your family.

As this particular auto defect continues to be in the spotlight, whether you have a Ford or other vehicle make, you should be aware of the potential dangers of carbon monoxide getting into your passenger cabin and affecting the health and safety of the driver and their passengers.

Other possible reasons for carbon monoxide contamination inside vehicle passenger cabins can be result of:

  • Vehicles with defective or damaged exhaust systems
  • Vehicles with poorly tuned engines
  • Driving with the backseats down, leaving the trunk cavity open into the passenger cabin
  • Vehicles with holes in the body
  • Riding in the bed of a vehicle, with or without a shell or topper
  • Running a vehicle in an open or closed garage or enclosed space

If you have been injured by a Ford carbon monoxide auto defect please contact our auto defect lawyers.

Bisnar Chase has a 96 percent success rate with over 39 years of experience. We are a highly skilled and experienced team of auto defect lawyers ready to fight for you, and help make this world a safer place. For immediate assistance, give us a call at 949-203-3814.


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Ford Carbon Monoxide Defect Lawyers

  • Ford Explorer vehicles from 2011 can have a defect where the car allows poisonous fumes from the exhaust to enter the cabin where the drivers and passengers are.
  • Newport Beach Police Officer Brian McDowell was driving in his 2014 Ford Explorer Police Cruiser when he lost consciousness due to the overwhelming amount of Carbon Monoxide in the car
  • McDowell suffered serious injuries and is bringing a lawsuit against Ford for allowing a defective vehicle to be sold.
  • If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning inside a Ford vehicle, know your rights and contact an attorney today. We may be able to get you the compensation you deserve.
  • Over $300M in verdicts and settlements.
  • Firm commitment to public safety and holding corporate giants accountable.
  • A team of auto defect attorneys who are dedicated and compassionate.
  • Serving California since 1978.

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