Ford SA recalls 4 566 Kugas
Fires caused in 39 vehicles puts firm under severe pressure
UNDER pressure from the National Consumer Commission, Ford South Africa has launched a voluntary safety recall for 4 566 Kuga 1.6-litre models to address an engine overheating problem that to date has caused fires in at least 39 of these Kuga models.
Jeff Nemeth, the president and chief executive of Ford’s sub-Saharan Africa region, said yesterday that it did not disclose the cost implications of recall programmes and was finalising the second phase of the repair.
“This is a responsibility we have to our customers and does not have anything to do with investment decisions… in South Africa,” he said.
Asked about Ford’s approach to customers who had lost faith in its vehicles, Nemeth said these were Ford’s customers “and we are going to listen to them”.
“We are going to reassure them that their vehicles are safe to drive with the safety action and ensuring the integrity of the cooling system.
“We would say obviously that there is no reason to lose faith in your vehicles.
“However, every Ford customer has our assurance that each individual case will be dealt with on its own merits and that we will treat all our customers fairly,” he said.
Nemeth said any recall was an important issue for Ford and its customers.
The Kuga models affected by the recall were built between December 2012 and February 2014. Ford Kuga models with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre engines are unaffected.
Ebrahim Mohamed, the commissioner of the National Consumer Commission, said a member of the commission’s staff had drawn attention to news reports of consumers who had life-threatening experiences with Kuga vehicles.
He said the commission called Ford to a meeting and instructed it to implement precautionary measures that would avoid further incidents.
However, Mohamed said the commission had noted with concern over the past few weeks that many more such incidents had taken place, proving consumers were still at risk of harm.
Mohamed said the commission had requested an urgent meeting to inform Ford of its decision to authorise a safety recall of the vehicle if Ford did not come up with another proposal. Ford then informed the commission it was implementing a recall, he said.
Nemeth said that based on current data Ford had determined that the fires were due to overheating caused by a lack of coolant in circulation, which could lead to a cracking in the cylinder head and therefore an oil leak.
“If the leaking oil reaches a hot engine component, it can potentially catch fire.”
Nemeth confirmed that to date a total of 39 compartment fires in the Kuga 1.6 had been reported to Ford, but there might be incidents that had not yet been reported.
He said with this recall, all affected vehicles, including those that had been checked as part of a maintenance check, must be taken to a Ford dealer as soon as possible.
The safety recall comprises two stages. The first involves replacing affected components from the cooling system, verifying and updating software and conducting an oil leak check on the cylinder head.
Nemeth said the next stage would make the cooling system even more robust and was likely to involve further changes to parts and warning systems. “We are currently ensuring that the changes we make are complete and thoroughly tested and will communicate with our customers as soon as this stage commences.”
The president and chief executive of Ford’s sub-Saharan Africa region, Jeff Nemeth (right), says Ford has determined that the Ford Kuga fires are due to overheating caused by a lack of coolant in circulation.