Washington state troopers sue Ford over Explorer exhaust fumes

The latest in a long line of complaints about nausea-inducing fumes

The saga of exhaust-fume-filled Ford Explorers lives on. Now, six Washington State Patrol troopers have filed suit against Ford, saying they were sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty exhaust and/or HVAC system, CBS News reports.

The lawsuit, filed in Clark County Superior Court, alleges that the cabins of the department-issued vehicles fill with exhaust odor and gases while in use, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea and potentially life-threatening situations. It notes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recorded three crashes and a total of 41 injuries ranging from a loss of consciousness, to nausea and headaches, to police incidents including a rollover crash with injuries and alleged physiological injuries from carbon monoxide exposure. The complaint alleges that one trooper, Randall Cashatt, “has suffered permanent neurological damage which has prevented him from continuing his job as a Washington State Patrol trooper,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

NHTSA in 2017 expanded its probe into 1.33 million Explorers — both police vehicles as well as consumer SUVs — over the issue, saying it was aware of more than 2,700 complaints. The ongoing probe, which was first opened in 2016, covers Explorer SUVs from the 2011 through 2017 model years.

Ford has said that carbon monoxide entered the cabins of Police Interceptor Utilities through unsealed holes drilled in the body of the vehicle for wiring of equipment done by third parties. 

The company began offering free repairs to consumers through a service campaign in 2017. But the nonprofit watchdog group Center for Auto Safety repeated its call for the company to issue a recall last summer, saying it continued to find complaints from customers who had undergone the repairs.

Here is Ford's statement regarding civilian Explorers:

Explorers are safe. Owner complaints to Ford and NHTSA have decreased dramatically since we announced our complimentary service for exhaust odor in the fall of 2017 as it effectively resolves the matter. We continually monitor customer concerns, including those to NHTSA. If an owner has concerns, they should contact their dealer for inspection.

And here is the company's latest statement regarding Police Interceptors:

As we have previously said, carbon monoxide concerns in Police Interceptor Utilities are related to unsealed holes from the installation of police equipment by third parties after the vehicle was purchased.

CBS News reports that police departments in more than a dozen states have complained about possible carbon monoxide leaks in their Explorers.

Ford, meanwhile, is readying a new Police Interceptor Utility, which comes standard as an all-wheel-drive hybrid, alongside the all-new 2020 Explorer.

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