Ford Motor Company is stating in no uncertain terms that its Ford Explorer model is not impacted by a carbon monoxide issue, but its souped-up version, the Police Interceptor, is.
“Drivers of regular, non-police Ford Explorers have no reason to be concerned,” the company said in a release.
The statement comes after hundreds of complaints have flooded in and the NHTSA has launched a federal investigation.
The Washington State Patrol confirms six troopers have shown symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and two were hospitalized, with one confirmed as having carbon monoxide exposure.
KIRO 7 learned four of the six work in Western Washington. The other two work in Southwest Washington (Vancouver) and Eastern Washington (Yakima).
“Interceptors are specially made vehicles for the police force,” Washington State Patrol spokesperson Kyle Moore said. “They're souped-up Explorers is probably the best way to explain it.”
It's those modifications, Ford now explains, that may be a part of the dangers some officers have experienced behind the wheel.
“It all started in January,” Moore said. “One of the troopers experienced symptoms that were very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning… We don't want any troopers injured. We haven't had any collisions and we don't want to have any collisions.”
Ford said it's discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Interceptors once police equipment is installed after leaving the factory.
If holes aren't properly sealed, Ford stated, exhaust could enter the cabin.
Moore said the state patrol has spent more than $2800 dollars on hard-wiring detectors for its 49 new Interceptors as they’ve been rolling out. It
will spent thousands more over the next couple of months retrofitting hundreds of Interceptors already in service.
“Why not pull all of these vehicles and use spares and get them all outfitted properly?” KIRO 7 asked.
“We don't have enough vehicles to pull all of them off the street at the same time,” Moore said. “That would mean we'd had coverage gaps, we wouldn't have troopers out on the road and we don't want the public not be safe.”
Ford said it will cover the costs of repairs regardless of age, mileage, or aftermarket modifications, which includes sealing up gaps, providing a new A/C calibration, and checking for damage to the exhaust system, specifically the manifold.
The King County Sheriff's Office tells us a sergeant and three deputies who drive Interceptors got sick a few months ago.
The department found no evidence of carbon monoxide issues, but installed detectors in those S-U-Vs as a precaution.
They have checked their vehicles and are working with Ford.
The Everett police department said it’s had no issues with its Interceptors, which are roughly half the fleet. They have purchased detectors and put them in the vehicles. The Puyallup police department said it, too, has not had issues directly linked to officers experiencing carbon monoxide symptoms, though it did have an issue with an Interceptor that exhibited damage to the exhaust manifold after the vehicle went over a curb.
The Bellevue police department stated earlier on Friday that it was testing all its vehicles, although none of its officers has reported problems.
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