The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Ford have received thousands of reports involving carbon monoxide leaks in 2011-2017 Ford Explorers. NHTSA and Ford are also aware of three crashes that may be linked to the defect. Ford engineers are currently investigating the problem, which some believe could signal an imminent recall.
Complaints involve both consumer and police Ford Explorers. However, the most serious incidents are linked to police utility vehicles, which are a modified version of the Ford Explorer.
Can Ford Explorer Carbon Monoxide Leaks Cause Accidents?
There are three cases where this potential defect may have caused near-misses or accidents. Drivers experienced symptoms of severe carbon monoxide poisoning or passed out while driving.
In 2015, an officer with the Newport Beach Police Department crashed his vehicle into a tree after becoming nauseous while driving. According to the officer, he became lightheaded and passed out behind the wheel before hitting the tree. He injured his back, dislocated his shoulder and suffered a traumatic brain injury during the crash. The Newport Beach Police Department has pulled its utility vehicles from service because they were setting off carbon monoxide detectors.
Another incident occurred in Austin, Texas. In this case, an officer with the Austin Police Department almost crashed into a bus after becoming overwhelmed with carbon monoxide fumes. Hospital tests determined he had been exposed to carbon monoxide. Austin Police Department pulled its police utility vehicles after an additional 20 officers tested positive for carbon monoxide exposure.
In Louisiana, an officer passed out behind the wheel and flipped her police utility vehicle. Doctors determined she had been exposed to carbon monoxide.
You get the point, right? This potential defect should not be taken lightly. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and invisible gas. There is no way for vehicle occupants to know they are being exposed unless they already know the symptoms of exposure. Like many people, officers who are exposed may mistake carbon monoxide poisoning with flu symptoms. There could be other near-misses or crashes in the coming months.