Ford Explorer Owners Still Complaining of Exhaust Odor in Cabin

Admitting there's an issue, Ford Motor Co. stops short of issuing a recall.

© 2013 Ford Motor Company

The latest generation of the Ford Explorer has sold like hotcakes since 2011, but there is reportedly a glaring issue with the popular SUV. According to NHTSA, 450 people have complained of an odor leaking into the cabin from the car’s exhaust. Customers believe they are inhaling carbon monoxide leaking in through unsealed seams in the rear of the vehicle.

The NHTSA’s report says the leak occurs when the vehicle is accelerating with the air conditioning running in circulation mode. Officer Brian McDowell, a Newport, California, police officer, passed out behind the wheel of his 2014 Ford Interceptor Utility due to the exhaust leak. Toxicology screens indicated that McDowell was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, which backs up his claim that fumes contributed to the accident.

Ford has acknowledged that customers have complained about fumes building up in the passenger compartment, but said the odor “poses no safety risk.” However, the Dearborn, Michigan, company admitted the odor was a "design issue." Although the NHTSA’s investigation only included Ford Explorers from 2011-2015, people are still documenting the issue in current model years.