SHREWSBURY (CBS) – When Jason Robertson saw news reports of carbon monoxide gas seeping into Ford Explorers used by many police departments, he wondered about his own Explorer.
He never felt sick, but after hearing about one police officer who drove into a tree, and three Auburn officers who were hospitalized, he was immediately concerned about his 10-day-old daughter, Averie.
Tests of the air inside his vehicle peaked with a carbon monoxide level of 36 parts per million, slightly above the EPA limit of 35 ppm for adults for one hour of exposure. “I was kind of petrified to have my kid in the car,” Robertson said.
Averie’s pediatrician agreed, according to her father. “We called the pediatrician and they recommend not having the baby in the car,” he told the I-Team. “It could cause brain damage and breathing difficulties,” Robertson said recalling what the doctor told him.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Schainker of Franciscan Children’s Hospital, any long term or continuous exposure to the poisonous gas at elevated levels could be especially dangerous for infants. “It is something that could cause short term and potentially long term harm to a baby. For pregnant women, I wouldn’t recommend it as well.”
According to Robertson, when he called the dealership he was told it could be fixed, but because there was no recall he would have to pay. However, when he called Ford, they told him the company was aware of the issue but there was no solution, but they are looking into it.
When the I-Team contacted Ford, the automaker flew their engineers in from Detroit to investigate.
The company tried to fix the problem by resealing the SUV, but testing showed carbon monoxide was still seeping into the cabin. It wasn’t until a fourth try that Ford says its engineers were able to finally fix the problem.
In a statement to the I-Team Ford said:
“Safety is our top priority. We take seriously the concerns of our customers. We serviced the vehicle and the owner test drove it. Using three separate monitors, the vehicle showed consistent readings of 0 ppm. We are pleased the vehicle has been returned to its owner.”
Robertson says he’s happy to have his SUV back but says he’ll continue to check to make sure his Explorer is free from carbon monoxide leaks. Saying he wants to make sure Averie is safe.
So far the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says more than 2,700 complaints have been lodged against the automaker and the agency has an ongoing investigation.
Ford tells the I-Team that Explorer owners have no reason to be concerned. Customers with questions can contact their Ford dealer or call their hotline at 888-260-5575.