RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Ford Explorer drivers might want to take advantage of free repairs offered by the automaker following carbon monoxide concerns.
The voluntary program provided through dealership service centers includes reprogramming air conditioners, replacing liftgate drain valves, and inspections of seals at the rear of the vehicles. It began Nov. 1 for 2011-2017 model Explorers and runs through Dec. 31, 2018.
Raleigh driver Steve Simmons isn’t satisfied by the offer. The loyal Mitsubishi buyer found himself in need of a different type of vehicle once the Japanese manufacture discontinued its Endeavor SUV. He said he searched for something comfortable that met some other requirements, and that happened to be the Explorer.
He bought the SUV from a Wake Forest Ford dealership, and took it back after just two weeks.
“Within a week I was feeling unusual. In the second week, I started to feel sick,” Simmons said. “All of a sudden It dawned on me that this was happening to me.”
He said a few days after his purchase, a friend told him about the numerous stories online about people getting sick from carbon monoxide fumes, particularly police officers who drove the new Interception version of the vehicle.
The symptoms Simmons described – which included nausea, dizziness, headaches, and blurred vision – matched those consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning. Some people called into question his confidence in the car as the cause. He said his overall health isn’t an issue, and he has two carbon monoxide detectors in his house.
“If you eliminate all of those things, that kind of narrows it down to ‘Well Steve, what vehicle did you drive?’,” he said. “I was just fortunate that I had a friend that was aware of what’s going on. I was fortunate that I had a doctor that believed me, and I was fortunate to get a blood test done immediately.”
Doctors diagnosed him with carbon monoxide poisoning. He contacted Ford and was dissatisfied with their responses. After negotiations with the local dealership, he was unable to get them to buy back the Explorer and settled for trading it in for a Ford F-150.
The pick-up is a larger vehicle than he wanted, but he said things are going well and he doesn’t have any safety concerns.
Ford’s safety communications manager, Elizabeth Weigandt, said safety is the company’s top priority.
“Consistent with our ongoing investigation, Ford has not found levels of carbon monoxide in Ford Explorers that present a risk to safety by exceeding normal exposure in everyday life,” Weigandt said in an email to CBS North Carolina.
The company stands by its stance that the passenger vehicles are safe, and said the issues with police SUVs are an unrelated result of unsealed holes created by third-party installation of police equipment. Ford is working with more than a dozen police departments to fix the carbon monoxide issues in the Interceptors.
Simmons said he wants Ford to recall all Explorers from 2011 to 2017, and the Center for Auto Safety has the same demands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to investigate the issue following thousands of complaints.
Simmons hopes to help other drivers avoid his experience, and launched the website fordexplorernightmare.com, which has information about Explorers as well as the paperwork from his diagnosis.