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Carbon monoxide

With the extra computer capacity in most cars, why is there no carbon monoxide alarm to warn drivers who may be nodding off, unaware of a problem?

Opinion,Safety features need to be made mandantory, I know the idea doesn’t hold up entirely. I don’t see a connection to processing capacity. I wonder how a home unit would work for you.

It would still cost money for detector, etc, and there’s not likely many cases of CO poisoning in moving cars. Would be a huge expense to put that in every car for little benefit.

I do not know about huge expense. they are 12 bucks at the hardware store, if you are concerned go buy a battery operated one. Sure it would be a nice feature but probably only applies to a low percentage of occurrences, and with co awareness and proper maintenance is not an issue. I only recall hearing of a few co deaths, basically suicides, are there other cases that we should be concerned?

This also give a poor image of the car/company. Think of the sales pitch “there is even a little sensor to tell you when the poisonous gasses that are leaking into the cabin reach a critical level!”

Computing capacity doesn’t enter into it. A new sensor would be needed to detect the CO. Considering how seldom accidental CO poisoning happens in a properly maintained and operated vehicle, it’s unlikely there will be a mandate for such detectors. And don’t forget that manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to shave pennies off the cost of building a car (see Pinto, fuel tank + differential bolt head, for a tragic example of carrying this too far). $8 or $10 for a CO sensor, wiring, and installation? Not likely, unless it’s mandated by law. And how long do these sensors last? Wouldn’t they have to be replaced every few years, like a home alarm?

Also, on modern cars the risk from CO is pretty low. Unless you leave the thing idling in a closed garage for a long time, there is likely no risk. I remember a long time ago on this board somebody posted complaining that his traditional method for killing gophers by pumping exhaust down the hole no longer worked with his new truck.

By ‘huge expense’, I mean tens of millions of cars having to have this in them, for next to no benefit. Five bucks times ten million equals fifty million bucks…that’s a huge expense in my books.

So, would you rather have a fire extinguisher or a CO detector?

Because it isn’t a problem unless you are parked in a garage idling. Outside of a garage, conditions have to be perfectly aligned to hurt anybody. A car in motion won’t produce enough carbon monoxide to be dangerous. You almost have to be idling with a slight breeze directly behind the car. There has to be a major exhaust leak next to an open hole in the body of the car to come close to being harmful. Even without a catalytic converter, a modern car doesn’t make a lot of carbon monoxide. A 61 Corvair can kill you when the exhaust comes right through the heater. That was a problem 48 years ago.

Fire extinguisher. But, that’s just another item that needs to be maintained. Most owner’s wouldn’t even consider it, just like their spare tires. I cannot tell you the number of people than never check the pressure in the spare, but I wish I had a dollar for every one of them that needs it only to find it flat or very low on pressure. I’d buy a private island.

I have heard, or maybe it’s only a rumor, that there have actually been unsucessful suicide attempts with modern ULEV cars because there is so little CO in the exhaust.

I would not count on that. They still make plenty of CO, but a little less than a standard car.

I suspect it is a bigger problem than most anyone realizes.  It is nasty stuff and it will tend to just help get you sleepy and you will not notice it.  If you would have an accident, it is very unlikely you or anyone would notice it.  

That said, I don't think it is common and since it would seldom be identified as a factor in an accident, it is not likely to get any attention.  This might be something worth following up on.

BTW:  If you find you have a headache after driving, I would recommend checking it out.  Have your mechanic check the exhaust system and maybe get a portable CO detector and keep it in the car for a while.

Yes, the standards are about 90% lower than when they started in the '70s. A ULEV is about 2 g/mi now, cars were at about 40 g/mi early '70s. More here: http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/detailedchart.pdf

Please don’t ask for yet another reason to fail a state inspection…Today’s cars don’t produce enough carbon monoxide to worry about. If YOU want a CO monitor, buy one. They are cheap and available at any pilots shop.

If your exhaust is leaking ahead of the muffler, you can hear it. It seems to me that is an excellent CO alarm. If you want one in a garage, get one from the hardware store.

"That said, I don’t think it is common and since it would seldom be identified as a factor in an accident, it is not likely to get any attention. This might be something worth following up on. "

I understand that CO poisoning is faily obvious to a coronor. The victim’s blood tends to turn an un-natural cherry red color due to the CO molecules binding with the hemoglobin which makes it unable to carry oxygen.

This is true of ANY modern car…

I understand that CO poisoning is faily obvious to a coronor. The victim’s blood tends to turn an un-natural cherry red color due to the CO molecules binding with the hemoglobin which makes it unable to carry oxygen.

That would be true if you got enough to kill you, but I doubt if you got just enough to cause you to be less alert it would be noticed.