Lawsuit: Ford Explorers Could Be Making Consumers Sick

(CBS) The Ford Explorer is the best-selling midsize SUV in the country, with around one million on the road. But hundreds of customers say the vehicles might be making them sick.

Hundreds of people who own Explorers describe it as a sulfur or rotten egg smell coming into the car while they are driving, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave. It’s exhaust, from the rear of the vehicle, and they worry it could be toxic. One police officer we spoke with said it nearly killed him.

Dash cam video shows the moment Newport Beach police officer Brian McDowell’s life changed. He was responding to a non-emergency call when he passed out behind the wheel of his 2014 Ford Explorer police cruiser and crashed into a tree.

“I just think, plus or minus one second and I maybe wouldn’t be here on this earth for my kids,” McDowell said. 

McDowell has scars from a dislocated shoulder, fractured eye socket and traumatic brain injury, but no memory of the accident.

“I just went out. Just like that,” he said.

Records show McDowell had no drugs or alcohol in his system.

“I just had that nauseous feeling and just feeling like I had a headache,” McDowell said.

But after months of tests, doctors couldn’t find any medical reason why he’d blacked out. Then he learned hundreds of drivers had been complaining about exhaust, which contains carbon monoxide, leaking into the cabin of Ford Explorers, likely through unsealed seams in the rear of the SUV. 

Based on customer complaints and Ford’s own documents, the issue seems to occur while accelerating with the air conditioning active and in circulation mode. McDowell said he believes the car made him sick and led to him passing out.

After monitoring complaints on the issue for two years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finally launched an investigation in July, citing 154 customer complaints about exhaust in Ford Explorers model years 2011 through 2015.




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