The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2012 Ford Explorer, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. INVESTIGATION: Ford Explorer Exhaust Odor

    NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA17002

    • Status:
      PENDING
    • Date Opened: July 27, 2017
    • Date Closed: N/A
    • Recall: No recall yet

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling:Exhaust System:Manifold/Header/Muffler/Tail Pipe
    Structure:Body

    Summary: ODI opened Preliminary Evaluation (PE) 16-008 in July of 2016 after receiving 154 Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) reports reporting exhaust odors in the vehicle occupant compartment of model year (MY) 2011 to 2015 Ford Explorers, which included one low speed crash event without injury.During the course of the PE, ODI identified additional VOQ reports concerning the exhaust odor issue, totaling 791 as of this writing.The complaints cover MY 2011 to 2017 Explorers.Eleven of the reports involve Police Interceptor vehicles, as do two other non-VOQ incidents ODI identified during PE16-008.Overall, ODI has identified three crash events and 25 injury incidents citing a total of 41 injuries.The alleged injuries, as affirmatively indicated on the VOQ reports, range from unspecified to loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches, or light headedness.One police incident alleged a crash with related injuries, and a second police incident reported a physiological injury allegedly from carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.Another reported police incident resulted in a rollover crash event with injuries.The Ford reports cited above were provided in the company-s August 24, 2016 response to an ODI Information Request letter sent during PE16-008.Therein, ODI identified 2400 reports (485 owner complaints, 1254 warranty claims, 606 dealer field reports, 55 legal claims), involving 2,051 unique vehicles, that appear to relate to the exhaust odor issue, and include 123 reports that are duplicative of the VOQ reports.A number of the Ford reports also discussed health effects similar to the VOQs, specifically nausea and headaches.During the PE, working in conjunction with NHTSA's Vehicle Test and Research Center (VRTC) in East Liberty, Ohio, ODI has tested multiple vehicles, including complaint vehicles.Additionally, ODI has conducted field inspections of complaint vehicles and crashes involving police units that occurred while the officers were on-duty.When possible, data has been collected to quantify carbon monoxide (CO) levels in the examined vehicles.During this Engineering Analysis (EA), the VRTC testing efforts and field inspections will continue.To date, no substantive data or actual evidence (such as a carboxyhemoglobin measurement) has been obtained supporting a claim that any of the alleged injury or crash allegations were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, the alleged hazard.ODI has obtained preliminary testing that suggests, however, that CO levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios, although the significance and effect of those levels remains under evaluation as part of the EA.Ford has issued multiple TSBs related to the exhaust odor issue, and in some cases revised those documents multiple times to provide dealership technicians with procedures to address complaints raised by consumers and police fleets.Concerns over the effectiveness of the procedures have been raised by vehicle owners in some cases.During the EA, ODI will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the TSBs.Through cooperation with police agencies, ODI recently learned that the Police Interceptor version of the Ford Explorer is experiencing exhaust manifold cracks, which appear to present a low level of detectability, and may explain the exhaust odor.During the EA, the root cause, frequency, and safety consequence of these manifold cracks will be evaluated, as will the extent to which non-police Ford Explorers are experiencing cracked exhaust manifolds.

  2. INVESTIGATION: Electric power steering failure

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE12017

    Component(s): Steering:Electric Power Assist System

    Summary: On May 27, 2014 and amended June 2, 2014, Ford Motor Company (Ford) submitted a Defect Information Report (DIR) to NHTSA describing a safety defect that may result in a sudden loss of power steering assist in approximately 179,027 model year (MY) 2011 through 2013 Ford Explorer vehicles equipped with electric power assisted steering (EPAS), including 82,328 MY 2011 Explorersthat are the subject of PE12-017.Ford has assigned the recall number 14S06.The NHTSA recall number is 14V-286.Ford's DIR indicates that loss of power steering assist while driving would require higher steering effort at lower vehicle speeds, which may result in an increased risk of a crash.Sudden loss of power steering assist while driving can occur in the subject vehicles if the system loses electrical power or whenever the system detects a fault that requires it to enter fail-safe mode, which removes power from the EPAS motor and defaults to manual steering.Ford's DIR indicates that the majority of steering assist failures in the recalled vehicles have been caused by an intermittent electrical connection in the Power Steering Control Module (PSCM) that can lead to a loss of the motor position sensor signal.Ford's remedy instructs dealers to check the PSCM for diagnostic trouble codes (DTC).If upon initial inspection a loss of steering assist DTC is present, dealers will replace the steering gear at no charge to the owner and update the PSCM with revised software.Following detection of a motor position sensor signal fault, the revised software will provide audible and visual warnings to the driver that a power steering system fault has been detected and will maintain steering assist for the remainder of that drive cycle.If no DTC is present, dealers will reprogram the PSCM with the revised software. Analysis of information from all sources identified a total of 969 complaints and 4,059 warranty claims related to loss of power steering assist while driving in the MY 2011 through 2012 Explorer vehicles, resulting in a complaint rate of 5.4 incidents per thousand vehicles and a warranty claim rate of 2.3 percent.ODI identified 15 crashes with evidence indicating loss of power steering assist may have been a factor.All 15 crashes involved low-speed impacts with roadside objects during turning maneuvers, resulting in minor vehicle damage or no damage.In one incident that occurred in a low-speed curve, the driver attempted to brake in response to the sudden increase in steering effort and inadvertently applied the accelerator pedal instead.This caused the vehicle to run off the side of the road and strike a wooden pole at approximately 15 mph.Another incident occurred when the driver was unable to to negotiate a left-turn at an intersection and ran off the road into a shallow ditch, resulting in moderate front-end damage to the vehicle and minor injuries to the driver that did not require medical treatment. This investigation is closed.All ODI complaints associated with this closing resume are listed in the Attachment 1.

  3. INVESTIGATION: Ford Explorer Exhaust Odor

    NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE16008

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: July 01, 2016
    • Date Closed: September 12, 2017
    • Recall: No recall issued

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling:Exhaust System
    Structure:Body

    Summary: During the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-s (NHTSA-s) investigation into the Ford carbon monoxide allegations, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) identified additional Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) reports with similar exhaust odor claims.Presently, ODI has identified 791 VOQs for Model Year 2011-2017 Ford Explorers pertaining to exhaust odor claims.ODI has identified three crashes and 41 injuries potentially linked this issue.The reported injuries range from unspecified to loss of consciousness, with the majority being nausea, headaches, or dizziness -" all of which can be symptomatic of carbon monoxide exposure.Additionally, Ford provided 2,400 reports including owner complaints, warranty claims, dealer field reports, and legal claims, that involve 2,051 vehicles that may be connected to the exhaust odor issue.NHTSA's Vehicle Test and Research Center tested multiple vehicles, including complaint vehicles, during the investigation.ODI also conducted field inspections of complaint vehicles and crashes involving police units that occurred while the officers were on duty.When possible, data was collected to quantify carbon monoxide levels in the examined vehicles.Based on the information gathered to date, NHTSA upgraded this investigation to an Engineering Analysis (EA17-002).