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The Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit auto safety advocacy group, is asking Ford Motors to recall 1.35 million Explorer SUVs because of continued complaints of exhaust fumes in the passenger compartments.
The organization sent a letter to Ford CEO Jim Hackett earlier this week after it says it found 44 complaints in a government database about fumes and potential carbon monoxide in vehicle cabins. Owners filed complaints after taking their vehicles in for free repairs during Ford’s customer service campaign that began last October.
The problem has been on the radar of federal agencies for at least the last two years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the problem in 2011-2017 models in both police and civilian Explorers.
Naturally, Ford says that its vehicles are safe and owner complaints have decreased over time. Additionally, the company says the free service repairs offered have addressed exhaust odors in passenger compartments. Ford continues to direct unsatisfied repair customers to the dealership “for further inspection.”
During the free service, Ford mechanics check for leaks in the rear lift gaskets and drain valves. If mechanics find any leaks, they will seal or replace gaskets to prevent fumes from further entering the passenger vehicle. In addition, they’ll reprogram the air conditioning to let more fresh air into the passenger compartment.
The Center for Auto Safety’s Executive Director Jason Levine said in a statement, “[t]he continued complaints and corresponding reports of incidents and injuries demonstrate the problem of carbon monoxide exposure inside Ford Explorers has not been resolved.”
Levine said the complaints continue into the 2018 model of Ford Explorers. Suggesting that the defect has not been designed out of the vehicle.
The agency believes that he thinks NHTSA should look into the effectiveness of a recall if 44 owners complained that the remedy did not work.
While the company has not issued a recall, it did begin fixing only law enforcement versions of the Explorer. Ford maintained its civilian version of the vehicle was safe. The company said it decided to service the vehicles in response to customer concerns about odors and carbon monoxide.
The NHTSA is currently testing civilian and law enforcement vehicles. It began its investigation of Explorers in July 2016. The agency said that tiny cracks in the exhaust manifold could explain why fumes are entering the cabin. However, Ford claims there is no pathway for an exhaust to escape from the manifold into the vehicle cabin.
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