CBS News recently reported that a number of people are coming forward to say their Ford Explorer SUVs are making them sick. Drivers are complaining of dizziness and nausea when they are behind the wheel and believe that it could all be due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The CBS report gives the example of New Jersey resident Tom Finley who says his 2016 Ford Explorer stinks of exhaust odor and sulfur-like “rotten eggs.” He said that shortly after he bought the car, he began to get headaches and feel drowsy while driving. Others have similar stories. Theresa Thurston, also of New Jersey, says she gets “sick to her stomach,” gets headaches, and feels sleepy behind the wheel. She says she is afraid she is going to get in an accident.
Ongoing NHTSA Investigation
These individuals are not alone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it has received thousands of similar complaints from Explorer owners across the county. In 2016, the agency opened up an investigation into 2011 to 2015 model Explorers. That probe has now expanded to 2016 and 2017 models. NHTSA’s investigation is now in the engineering analysis stage, a step that often leads to a safety recall. People who have experienced similar problems have had to take the step of installing carbon monoxide detectors in their vehicles.
These individuals are not the only ones. Police officers have been suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Explorer cruisers. Our law firm is representing several police officers including one right here in Newport Beach who crashed his cruiser after becoming sick from carbon monoxide poisoning. He suffered severe injuries that kept him from returning to his job for several months. Several police departments have either gotten rid of these dangerous and defective vehicles or they’ve installed carbon monoxide detectors to keep their officers safe.
Urgent Need for a Recall
Ford has been dragging its feet on a recall in spite of knowing that exhaust fumes can leak into the vehicle compartment. First, they came up with the excuse that only police vehicles were affected because of modifications done by police departments to install emergency equipment such as lights and sirens. Later, when they started getting complaints from civilians who made no changes to the vehicles, they began to scramble and fix them one by one, but never issued a recall.
It appears unlikely they’ll issue a recall unless NHTSA forces them to do so. Instead, the automaker has simply been doubling down and saying there is nothing wrong with their vehicles and has conducted a “customer satisfaction campaign” that has done very little for consumers in terms of satisfaction or peace of mind. We hope NHTSA issues a nationwide recall soon before we have more injuries or even deaths as a result of these dangerous vehicles.