Recall Not Issued in Ford Exhaust Probe


The US government has ended its probe into Ford Motor Company after hearing complaints regarding the company’s car’s exhaust. The six-year-old investigation centered on 1.47 million Ford Explorer SUVs after drivers complained of exhaust odors inside the cabins of the vehicles. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it launched its investigation in 2016 after hearing complaints from drivers regarding an exhaust odor in some Ford Explorer SUVs. The investigation, which the government characterizes as “exhaustive,” has ended without the company needing to announce a full-scale recall in connection with the exhaust fumes. 

Investigation Findings

The NHTSA wrote in its official report that “the 2011-2017 Ford Explorer vehicles when accurately measured produce occupant compartment (carbon monoxide) levels which fall below currently accepted health standards.” This doesn’t mean that the cars don’t produce compartment carbon monoxide, but that the amount they produce is within acceptable limits according to the US government.

Notably, the NHTSA took issue with another often-unremarked-upon element of the Ford Explorer’s role as a police interceptor. The safety association warned dealerships and auto body shops that “upfitting” these vehicles by adding things like sirens, roll cages, and other such police-issue systems could compromise the safety of the Explorers.


The NHTSA wrote in its findings that “[s]ealing issues caused by upfitting were responsible for the highest measured carbon monoxide levels in tested vehicles,” laying the blame for the worst carbon monoxide levels at the hands of unauthorized auto body shops. Moreover, the safety association noted that other unacceptable monoxide levels were detected in Explorers that had been involved in rear-impact accidents.

Ford agreed to cover the costs of some repairs for Police Interceptor Explorer SUVs in 2017, making that note something of a settled point. However, the NHTSA went on to note that “no vehicles unaffected by upfitter issues or prior crash damage were identified with (carbon monoxide) levels that exceed accepted occupational exposure levels.”

Ford’s Response 

Ford was unsurprisingly pleased with the outcome of the investigation. The company wrote in an official press release that its “previous investigation and extensive testing determined the same results, which we have always maintained.” The company noted that this was a moment of vindication that helped repair its brand image after accusations of subpar assembly left a bad taste in some customers’ mouths.

With this investigation finally closed, many police departments are likely to return their Explorer Interceptor SUVs to active duty once they receive the requisite repairs from Ford.