Since Ford introduced the Explorer in 1990, it has been become one of the best-selling SUVs of all-time, selling in excess of seven million trucks over the last 30 years or so.
For the model year 2012, produced first in 2011, Ford released it's fifth generation of the iconic SUV. 8 years later, there have been dozens of lawsuits brought against Ford and many more complaints from customers about the design of the vehicle, a design that they allege is poisoning them with carbon monoxide.
According to a recent report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investing claims by Explorer owners in 2016 and have since logged hundreds of complaints and ramped up the investigation after "saying it had 'preliminary evidence' of elevated carbon monoxide levels in some driving scenarios." This could be very bad news for Ford. If the NHSTA orders a recall, if could cost them millions, as the complaints go back 7+ years and a recall could include hundreds of thousands or possibly over a million Explorers.
Carbon Monoxide poison is a serious condition, causing dizziness, fatigue, nausea and in extreme cases even death. What makes it scarier is that carbon monoxide is orderless, which means drivers may not realize there is a problem until it is too late. The allegations say that CO is leaking from the exhaust system into the cabin of the vehicle.
Despite its popularity, the Explorer has not been without controversy over the last 30 years. The most infamous of which was the revelation that tires made by Firestone and used by Explorers in the 1990s that were blamed for thousands of blowouts and rollovers, and hundreds of deaths. The blame ultimately fell mostly on Firestone, but Ford faced a backlash in public relations as well. While this doesn't seem quite as serious that incident, it is still a very serious situation for Ford.
Luckily, Ford has already announced that the 2020 model of the Explorer has been completely redesigned, the 6th platform for the iconic SUV, and the exhaust system has been completely overhauled. Let's hope that Ford and the NHSTA work out a solution quickly, if there is indeed a problem.