Ford Customers concerned of exhaust fumes in vehicles

Center for Auto Safety director demands recall

Potentially deadly gas is leaking into vehicles.

You may have heard reports of Ford Explorers in police departments having problems, but our I-Team found consumer complaints are sky rocketing.

Frustrated Florida customers are speaking out about the smell of exhaust fumes inside their Ford Explorers.

"My oldest son at one point got sick and nauseated and threw up in the back there," says Andrew Zellner a South Florida customer.

Zellner tell us despite several attempts to fix the issue he still had exhaust fumes in his SUV.

Megan VanOrden in St. Pete has 5 kids, she notices the smell every time she accelerates.

"I have all the kids with me all the time. And to be like 'oh I'm not going to use the interstate because of this stupid smell' is frustrating."

 In describing the smell she says, "I don't know if you've ever smelt burning hair or someone getting a perm in a salon but it is like you are emersed in a cloud of that smell."

Larry Kent in Largo is not taking any chances, he has 2 children. He bought a carbon monoxide detector after he says Ford tried fixing the problem 4 times, and he still smells the exhaust.    

"You spend 40 thousand dollars on a car you expect it to not kill you. Ya know I wish Ford would take ownership of the problem, I don't understand how they can sell a family vehicle that can potentially harm my family," he tells us.

It's a problem ford recognized in their police vehicles.

Police interceptors, a version of the explorer, have been taken off roads by the hundreds across the country.

In a dash cam video, a California police officer swerves off the road, over several lanes, before crashing into a tree.

Over the summer, Austin pulled its fleet of nearly 600 modified explorers after 60 officers filed official complaints about fumes in their vehicles.

Florida drivers say it's not just police vehicles.

According to a report from the Center for Auto Safety in Washington D.C., complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, have increased 900 percent since the feds began investigating Ford in July of 2016.  

The 48-year-old consumer group's Executive Director, Jason Levine, sent a letter to Ford's CEO demanding a recall of the 1.3 million vehicles potentially affected. Explorers from 2011 to 2017.

"We don't need to wait for a body count to see Ford do what it needs to do," says Levine

He warns the public, "carbon monoxide is not something that's a piece of mind problem. It's a dangerous problem that kills over 400 people a year. We'd like to see Ford take this more seriously and recall the vehicles."

In Florida, we found more than 170 complaints to NHTSA, Tampa Bay had at least 44.

The I-Team spoke to more than a dozen in our area all complaining of headaches, dizziness, and vomiting.

One driver we found crashed two Ford Explorers after passing out. He says he's never had any other health issues.

Megan VanOrden says it's frustrating. 

"I don't think it's fair for them to just kind of shrug it off and walk away."

Ford continues to dismiss the need for a recall. In our request for an interview the company responds in a written statement:

"Can’t make someone available for this, but I can share this statement:

Explorers are safe. Ford’s investigation and extensive testing has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day. The safety of our customers is paramount. We encourage customers with carbon monoxide concerns to bring their vehicle to their local Ford dealer for a free service designed to reduce the concern. If they are not satisfied with the service, we encourage them to call our dedicated hotline at 888-260-5575."


Daniel Barbossa | Ford Communications

But the owners we spoke to say despite several attempts to fix the issue they continue to smell the exhaust fumes.

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Jarrod Holbrook is an Emmy and AP Award-winning Investigative Reporter for the ABC Action News I-Team. Do you have a story idea? Contact Jarrod on FacebookTwitter, or via email at jarrod.holbrook@wfts.com.

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