Ford and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have launched an investigation into reports of police utility vehicles leaking carbon monoxide into the passenger cabin. These are modified versions of the popular Ford Explorer SUV. However, this possible auto defect may also affect regular consumer Ford Explorers. NHTSA claims it is aware of three accidents involving regular Ford Explorers that may have been caused by symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Many of the complaints lodged with NHTSA also involve consumer versions of the vehicle.
NHTSA claims the leaks may be caused by cracks in the exhaust manifold, an area of the vehicle that carries gas from the engine to the tailpipe. If there are cracks in the exhaust manifold while the air conditioner is turned on, then carbon monoxide may be released into the cabins of these vehicles.
Ford claims it is skeptical that cracks in the exhaust manifolds are to blame for the possible leaks. However, when police crews in Montgomery County, Maryland inspected their vehicles, they discovered 80 percent of their interceptor utility vehicles had cracks in the exhaust manifolds.
Have Explorer Carbon Monoxide Leaks Caused Accidents?
Police departments across the country are pulling Explorers from service. Several accidents involving these police vehicles may be attributed to carbon monoxide leaks. In 2015, a police officer in Newport Beach crashed his interceptor utility vehicle into a tree after passing out behind the wheel. Several months ago, an Austin police officer almost crashed his interceptor into a bus. He was later hospitalized and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. Additional Austin police officers were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning months later.
Several officers have filed personal injury lawsuits against Ford. In one case, an officer claims the carbon monoxide poisoning has made him too sick to return to duty. Officers injured by this potential defect or their family members should speak with an auto defect lawyer to determine whether they have options to pursue damages against Ford or other parties.