Ford is finally recalling its 1.6-litre Kuga SUVs in SA following a spate of engine fires that have left owners afraid and fuming. At a press briefing hosted by the National Consumer Commission, Jeff Nemeth, Ford SA CEO said that while the company continues to investigate the numerous engine fires, current data has led the company to believe that the fires started as a result of oil leaks caused by engine overheating.
The chain of events, according to Ford, starts with poor engine coolant circulation causing the engine to overheat, which can then lead to a crack in the cylinder head, after which oil can leak out onto hot engine components and start a fire.
While original reports indicated that 6,300 vehicles were affected, Ford’s investigation has narrowed that number down to 4556 units of the 1.6-litre EcoBoost models that were built between December 2012 and February 2014.
Nemeth urged affected customers to take their vehicles to a dealer as soon as possible, and this includes those that have already been ‘checked’.
The recall, which Ford refers to as “voluntary”, will take place in two stages. The first sees the replacing affected components in the cooling system, verifying and updating the software and conducting an oil leak check on the cylinder head.
The second phase of the recall, which Ford promises to announce in due course, will make the cooling system even more robust, Nemeth said, and will likely involve further parts changes and warning systems.
Should customers experience over-heating in the interim, and assuming it doesn’t get to the fire stage, Ford has promised to assist with a courtesy car while the vehicle is being repaired
At least 46 units of 1.6-litre turbo-charged Ford Kugas are known to have caught fire in South Africa, two in the past week alone. Nemeth said that Ford wasn’t aware of any injuries that had occurred as a result of the engine fires. But then what about Reshall Jimmy, who was killed after being trapped in his burning Kuga in December 2015? Nemeth expressed his condolences to the family, who were present at the briefing, but said that all investigating parties had ruled out an engine fire as the cause in that particular case.
It would be recalled that Reshall’s sister Renisha launched a campaign to raise awareness, including the creation of a Facebook page called Ford Vehicles Burning, aimed at tracking down victims of the reported fault. Jimmy also said that the majority of Kuga owners who had been affected had agreed to bring a class-action lawsuit against Ford SA.
Back in December, Ford SA asked Kuga owners to take their vehicles to their nearest Ford dealer for a safety inspection. However, one owner said his car burnt out just days after taking his vehicle for an inspection. They had assured him that his car would be fine as long as the coolant level was correct.
Ford says that if any Kuga 1.6 owner sees any indication that the engine may be overheating or experiences warnings on the instrument cluster, they should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, switch off the engine and ensure all occupants are safely out of the vehicle. For safety reasons, the bonnet must not be opened.
The emergency services should be called first, if required, then Ford’s Roadside Assistance on 0861 150 250. Supported through the AA, this service is available 24/7.
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