What to Do if You Suspect a Carbon Monoxide Leak in Your Car

Wes Schwengels
February 2, 2018

It’s a nightmare scenario: While driving down the road, you start getting a headache or feeling nauseated, and become confused. You might even eventually pass out. These are all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

carbon monoxide

Thankfully, it’s not a common situation. But thousands drivers and passengers have complained of carbon monoxide issues involving 2011-2017 Ford Explorers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The federal agency opened an investigation in 2016 and expanded it last year.

Last week, the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, sent a letter to Ford urging a recall of the 1.3 million Explorers in question. Ford has maintained that the vehicles are safe and that a recall isn’t necessary — but is offering a free service to Explorer owners designed to reduce the potential for carbon monoxide to enter the cabins of the SUVs. 

What to look out for with carbon monoxide poisoning

Your car’s exhaust system is designed to prevent carbon monoxide and other harmful gases from getting inside your vehicle. But if something goes wrong with that system, you could be in danger.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

What to do if you experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

If you suspect you have carbon monoxide poisoning while driving or riding in a car, pull over, turn off the vehicle and get into fresh air. You should seek medical attention and, once you’ve recovered, take your car (or get it towed) to your mechanic for an exhaust inspection.

If you own one of the Ford Explorers in question, take advantage of the free service being offered and keep an eye out for recall notices, regardless of whether you’ve noticed symptoms.

As an added safety measure, you can purchase a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and keep it in your car. If it indicates danger, take your car in for inspection immediately.

Wes Schwengels

About the Author

Wesley has been editing a wide range of content for nearly two decades, gaining a depth of knowledge about automotive maintenance and ownership.

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