Ford is making major changes after a News4 consumer investigation exposed inconsistencies in how dealerships nationwide handled complaints of carbon monoxide leaks.
The automaker says it will pay for repairs associated with carbon monoxide leaks in 1.3 million Ford Explorers.
- News4's Susan Hogan will have more on this investigation on News4 at 11 Tuesday night.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received more than 2,700 complaints from Ford Explorer owners who say fumes or carbon monoxide are leaking into their SUVs and making them sick.
In a statement to News4, Ford said:
"Ford is aware that some 2011-17 Explorer owners have concerns about exhaust or carbon monoxide. These vehicles are safe. Our investigation has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day. However, for our customers’ peace of mind, Ford is offering a complimentary service that reduces the potential for exhaust to enter the vehicle. Customers can take their vehicles, regardless of mileage or warranty status, to a Ford dealer to have this service performed, starting November 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018. To be clear, 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."
But the company says its Explorers are safe.
"Our investigation has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day," the statement reads.
The government opened an investigation of Ford Explorers last year, but News4 found complaints to Ford and the government going back years before any investigation became public, bringing into question just how long the manufacturer may have known about a potential safety defect.
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In August, police departments across the country inspected their Ford Explorers.
Ford Explorers used by police officers in Austin, Texas, and Auburn, Massachusetts, were pulled out of service after high carbon monoxide levels were detected inside the vehicles. In Auburn, the gas is believed to have made an officer pass out while driving and slam into another car, NBC News reported.
In Austin, police pulled 60 of their Explorers off the roads after the vehicles' carbon monoxide alarms went off. The alarms were installed after officers reported getting sick while in the vehicles.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, police inspected their entire fleet of more than 100 Ford Explorers. About 80 percent of the police department's Explorers were found to have cracks in their manifolds. None initially tested positive for carbon monoxide inside the cabin.
Two Maryland women who drove Ford Explorers told News4 in September that they got sleepy and nauseous each time they drove. They suspected the SUVswere the cause of the problems. One of the women, Susan Stazetski of White Plains, fell asleep at the wheel.
“I could have hit the oncoming traffic, and it was by the grace of God that my son and I did not die,” she said.