US safety regulators investigate Ford 2011-2015 Explorer SUVs over “exhaust odors” image

The US NHTSA has opened a probe into some Ford Explorers, following complaints from owners over a possible exhaust leaks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has identified 154 complaints involving 2011- 2015 Ford Explorers of “occupants smelling exhaust odors in the occupant compartment,” some of the drivers expressing concerns about exposure to carbon monoxide. The agency revealed that one crash was reported allegedly linked to the issue, but without injuries. According to the owners, the exhaust leaks have been noticed while the car was under full throttle climbing steep hills or going into freeway ramps or when the air conditioning system was on recirculation mode.

Ford issued two related “Technical Service Bulletins” back in December 2012, telling its dealers how to fix the potential problem by sealing and undercoating certain areas of the rear floor pan and body seams, replacement of the left-side air extractor and installation of rear lift gate drain valves. Furthermore, in July 2012, additional fixes were made through some software updates of the air-conditioning system.

However, drivers reported little or no improvement whatsoever after the repairs. “We will cooperate with NHTSA on this investigation as we always do,” a Ford spokeswoman said. The US regulators have not mentioned however how many Explorer SUVs might be affected by the issue. The investigation is the first step before deciding if a recall is needed.