EVEREST FIRE: BATTERY THE CAUSE
FORD won’t recall its new Everest SUV despite a dramatic fire involving News Corp motoring journalist Peter Barnwell last week.
A Ford investigation found a loose battery connection caused the fire, which happened on a test drive.
Ford says the battery on the car in question was replaced in Thailand after the early-build vehicle sat in a compound near the end of the production line for two weeks. The burnt example was one of the first 300 vehicles built.
The company has since inspected 2000 cars in Australia and overseas to rule out the possibility of a manufacturing fault.
“We are confident this is not a systemic failure, or a design defect, or something that has happened through the assembly of the vehicle,” says Ford Australia safety expert Andy Cooper. “It’s an unfortunate thing that someone has made a mistake. We’ve found no other instances and we think it’s very unlikely.”
One of six battery cables was not properly located under a bolt, and this caused the vehicle to send false warnings to the instrument cluster, disable the central locking and, eventually, spark the blaze.
The loose terminal caused high resistance in the wiring, generating the heat that caused the fire, Ford says.
It is still investigating two recent reported fires in Ford Ranger utes, which share the Everest’s mechanicals and wiring. Experts say the Everest fire is a timely reminder about the importance of fitting batteries correctly in modern cars.
“Cars these days are computers on wheels,” says veteran NRMA engineer Jack Haley. “Motorists need to make sure an incorrectly fitted battery does not inadvertently damage the engine computer and electrical systems.”