Victim’s family plans legal action against Ford
THE INCIDENTS of Ford Kuga SUV 1.6 engines catching fire, including the death of a motorist in a burning vehicle, had led to a voluntary safety recall of at least 4 546 units of the model, the company said yesterday.
Fears were mounting that the vehicles had been fitted with malfunctioning cooler systems with the potential to cause engine fires.
The announcement by Ford was made in the face of the possible class action by the Kuga fire victims and a looming legal action by the family of Reshall Jimmy, who died when his 2014 Kuga caught fire in December 2015. The man was on holiday at Wilderness in the Western Cape.
Attorney Rod Montano said the Jimmy family would host a briefing tomorrow in Pretoria where they would announce details about the civil claims of the victims.
The recalling of the vehicles was announced at a joint media briefing between Ford SA and the National Consumer Commission in Pretoria yesterday.
Ford SA boss Jeff Nemeth expressed condolences to the Jimmy family.
The announcement followed months of public outrage at the car manufacturer’s failure to act swiftly despite several reports of vehicles catching fire and a life being lost.
Nemeth said that contrary to media reports suggesting that 47 vehicles had caught fire, 39 cases had been reported to Ford.
Vehicles to be recalled were the Ford Kuga 1.6 assembled between December 2012 and February 2014.
Ford said the recall followed a probe into the engine-related problem, which found the fires were the result of overheating caused by a lack of coolant circulation.
This led to a crack forming in the cylinder head, followed by an oil leak. “If the leaking oil reaches some engine components, it can potentially catch fire,” Nemeth said.
“All vehicles, including those that had been checked, must be taken to Ford dealers as soon as possible,” he said.
The safety recall would ensure that affected components on the cooler system were replaced as well as verification and updating of software. Professionals would conduct oil leak checks on the cylinders.
“I want to reassure you that at Ford the safety of our customers is our number one priority,” Nemeth said.
“I would like to apologise for any convenience, fear and uncertainty experienced with our products.”
He said courtesy cars would be arranged for those likely to take their vehicles in to dealerships. “We understand that the recent incidents have impacted on customer confidence.”
In the latest incident, a Ford Kuga caught fire when a man and his family were driving along the M1 on their way to the Mall of Africa on Saturday.
Dino Metaxas said black smoke started coming from the back of his car. He pulled over and got his mother, father and daughter out of the car.
CLAIMS: Kaveen Jimmy, Reshall’s brother, with his lawyer Rod Montano, addresses the media after the Kuga briefing.
BURNT BEYOND RECOGNITION: Reshall Jimmy