Ford may be close to a major recall of one of its most popular cars, as customers and police officers continue to report leaking fumes from the Ford (F) - Get Report Explorer, a problem that has been driving people off the road.
The latest incident happened Wednesday, Aug. 2, when an officer in Auburn, Mass. reportedly passed out behind the wheel of his modified Ford vehicle. Subsequent test results showed the officer had carbon monoxide in his system at the time.
CBS News reported this morning that the company may be close to a recall, though the company said only that they are continuing their investigation.
The report comes as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, is investigating hundreds of customer reports of exhaust fumes inside Ford Explorers. The probe is targeting 2011-2017 Ford Explorers, which includes an estimated 1.3 million cars.
"Safety is our top priority and we are concerned for those involved," Ford spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said. "We are working with the Auburn Police Department and have a team in Massachusetts on the way to inspect their vehicles and modifications made to them."
Weigandt noted that an analysis of the car showed carbon monoxide at 13 parts per million. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has a recommended exposure limit of 35 parts per million for carbon monoxide.
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In February, CBS News reported that Newport Beach police officer Brian McDowell passed out behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer after experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. In March, the Austin Police Department announced a plan to install carbon monoxide detectors in its 361 Ford Explorer cruisers after an officer got sick in the car and hit a curb. Police in Louisiana, Kansas, California and other states have reported similar problems.
Ford has said that the problems with the vehicles are related to upgrades made by the police departments and that drivers of non-police Ford Explorers are not at risk. The company has said that non-police customers have reported smelling exhaust, but that only the police cruisers are exposed to carbon monoxide, which is odorless.
In 2012, the company issued a "Technical Service Bulletin" notifying customers that they should take their vehicle to a dealership for repairs if they smell exhaust fumes.
Ford announced a profit of $2 billion in its second quarter earnings last week, remaining about flat compared to the same period last year. The stock is down more than 9% year-to-date as flagging auto sales continue to plague the sector.
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