AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are now considering pulling all of its 397 Ford SUVs off the streets. This comes after more than 20 officers have been treated and released for possible carbon monoxide poisoning. A city spokesperson tells KXAN discontinuing the use of its Ford Explorers is just one of the options they’re considering.
This week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration along with representatives from Ford have been in Austin investigating the vehicles. Ford claims the problem is not with their cars but the modifications made to the vehicles after they are purchased.
Because carbon monoxide is an odorless gas and someone inside the vehicle might not realize there’s a problem with the car until they are feeling dizzy or have a headache. Automotive experts say the best thing to do is pop the hood and listen to the engine.
“Just make sure your car sounds like it did yesterday,” says Henry King, Professor of Automotive Technology, ACC. “If they aren’t sure, take it into the tech and let them inspect it. If that check engine light comes on that means there is something going on.”
Austin Community College has an Automotive Technology program and part of the class teaches students how to detect problems that might cause carbon monoxide to leak inside a vehicle. King recommends anytime something is changed in a car, whether it’s a light installed on the outside, a holder for a computer that is mounted in the car, or any type of electrical device that needs to run on the battery under the hood, if it’s not sealed properly it can leak carbon monoxide into the vehicle.
But there are safety measures in place to prevent this from becoming a problem.
“The vehicle state inspection, the thing we are supposed to get done every year is supposed to check for exhaust leaks,” says King. “So even though you don’t have missing components, it could be a gasket, it could be a pipe that has a crack in it.”
Henry said a lot of problems he has seen over the years comes from used cars where someone’s buddy made changes to save money and in the end, holes aren’t sealed properly and that’s when carbon monoxide leaks into the car.
Technicians say having a carbon monoxide detector installed costs less than $100.