The Vermont State Police has joined other agencies nationwide in responding to numerous reports of exhaust leaks in Ford Explorers. The vehicles are widely used by law enforcement.
In Austin, Texas, the police department has stopped using dozens of vehicles after many officers complained of nausea or dizziness which they attribute to carbon monoxide leaking into the passenger compartment. .
In Vermont, Department of Public Safety Fleet Administrator David Tifft estimates that 20-25 of the 200 Ford Explorers in the state police fleet have had suspected problems.
“We’ve found that we’ve had some cracked manifolds and then some other unexplained [problems] where we had to send them to the dealer. We haven’t had anybody that’s been reported being sick or woozy,” says Tifft.
Tifft estimates the repairs made by dealers have cost the state an average of $600 per vehicle.
He says beginning in March, the department provided carbon monoxide testers to 10 state police barracks. Each costs about $150.
Additionally, the state has purchased detectors for each of the 200 Ford Explorers at a cost of $7 per vehicle. The detectors change color in the presence of carbon monoxide.
So far the state has picked up the tab for the repairs and the monitoring equipment.
On Friday, Ford issued a statement that says it has “discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford’s factory.”
The holes are made to install wiring for lights and communication equipment used in police cruisers. In Vermont those alterations are done by the Department of Public Safety at its fleet service garage in Colchester.
In its Friday statement, Ford said it will cover the costs of repairs necessary to seal any carbon monoxide leaks.
Tifft says he is trying to clarify whether Ford will pay for work already performed on state police cruisers.