The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened up an investigation into the 2011-5-15 Ford Explorer after receiving reports of exhaust fumes making their way into the cabin, according to Automotiveews.
In all, the NHTSA has received 154 such reports, with one of them now being linked to a crash that did not result in any injuries.
According to Automotive News, the problem has been reported by owners in instances of acceleration at full throttle, as well as when the air-conditioning system is set to recirculate air inside the cabin.
An investigation is the step before a possible recall; an investigation can lead to a recall but doesn't always, with the goal being to determine whether a recall is needed. In this case the number of reports is significant though neither the NHTSA or Ford have mentioned any specific systems in the Explorer SUVs from those model years that are under suspicion.
It is not clear at this time whether the problem is confined to certain engine versions of the SUV; Ford offers three, including a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a 3.7-liter V6. NHTSA also has not indicated how many vehicles are part of the investigation.
It appears that Ford has been aware of the issue for some time, issuing technical service bulletins in December 2012 and again in July 2014, though it is unclear whether Ford's earlier solution had fixed the issue. Automotive News indicates that some owners reported that Ford's repairs did not fix the problem.
"We will cooperate with NHTSA on this investigation as we always do," a Ford spokeswoman told Automotive News.