Ford offers to repair potential exhaust leak in 1.3 million Explorers

Automaker: 'These vehicles are safe'

Ford Explorer Police Interceptors sit in a parking lot in Chicago. Some police departments took their iInterceptors out of service after complaints that fumes from the exhaust system were leaking into the passenger compartment and making officers sick. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ford has offered to inspect and repair more than 1.3 million Explorers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to reduce the possibility that exhaust can enter the vehicle through its climate control system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating complaints of dangerous carbon monoxide gas entering the cabins of 2011-17 Explorers. According to the NHTSA, more 2,700 complaints for exhaust odors have been filed, and at least three crashes and 41 injuries may be linked to the potentially deadly emissions. 

Police in Austin, Texas, pulled their fleet of Explorers off the road in July over exhaust concerns. After Ford sent investigators to law enforcement agencies around the country, it said the problems are "related to unsealed holes from the installation of police equipment by third parties after the vehicle was purchased."

The NHTSA says there is no evidence that the crashes or injuries were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the agency says it's preliminary tests suggest CO levels may be elevated under "certain driving scenarios."

Ford said its investigation into the complaints has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day. "These vehicles are safe," the company said. 

Nonetheless, starting November 1, Ford will cover the costs for dealers to reprogram the air conditioner, replace the liftgate drain valves and inspect sealing of the rear of the vehicle. 

Customers have until Dec. 31, 2018, to take advantage of the free inspection and repair.