UPDATE 3: "On 9 February 2017 we published an article titled 'Ford Kuga catches fire in Nelspruit after recall-fix'. The initial story reflected our information at the time, namely that Mr Hlophe’s vehicle had caught alight shortly after having undergone a Ford recall inspection at Numbi Auto in Mbombela. Subsequently, we learnt that Mr Hlophe’s vehicle did not in fact catch fire, but broke down as a result of Mr Hlophe’s failure to replace the lid of the water coolant bottle after he filled it. The story below was updated accordingly. We apologise for any embarrassment our initial story may have caused."
UPDATE 2: We've received comment from Thulani Hlope, the owner mentioned in the article. Below is the owner and Numbi Auto's response in full.
From Thulani Hlope: • The correct position concerning the events leading up to and on the day in question (09/02/17) concerning Mr Hlope’s vehicle is as follows:
• The vehicle was purchased from Barberton Ford in June 2013
• In November 2016 the vehicle developed a problem with its fly wheel and was taken into Numbi Auto for repair
• Whilst in for repair the fly wheel fault, Mr Hlope asked Numbi Auto to conduct a “recall” inspection of the vehicle which they duly did.
• The vehicle was returned to Mr Hlope
• On the day in question Mr Hlope had attended to fill the water coolant bottle in his vehicle. Later in the day whilst on route to Ilanga Mall and at the intersection of the N4 and Kaapsehoop road the vehicle stopped. Mr Hlope at first thought there was smoke coming out from the underneath the bonnet of the vehicle but on closer inspection, he realized that it was not smoke but rather, it was steam.
• Mr Johannes Helling from Mbombela Fire and Rescue attended at the scene and noticed the steam emitting from underneath the vehicle’s bonnet. Upon opening the bonnet of the vehicle, Helling noticed that the cap had not been replaced on the coolant bottle and was in fact still lying on a plastic ledge next to the bottle.
• In Helling’s statement, under oath to the South African Police, he confirmed these facts and stated unequivocally that the damage to the vehicle was not caused by fire.
UPDATE 1: Following the report by Netwerk24, Ford South Africa has contacted Wheels24 with a statement. We've added it in full.
Cape Town - A Ford Kuga SUV owner returned his vehicle in Nelspruit (Mbombela), after it had been repaired. Thulani Hlope (37) was returned his car to a dealership as it had overheated, according to Netwerk24.
Hlope told Netwerk24 on Thursday (February 9) that he’d been shocked when smoke started billowing from under the bonnet.
He told Netwerk24: “I don’t know what to think at this time. It seems as if my Kuga is one of the affected.”
Ford South Africa responds:"Ford South Africa is aware of the incident involving a Kuga in Nelspruit on 9 February. Our first priority continues to be our customers, and we are fully committed to ensuring that the safety recall process we announced on 16 January works for our customers.
"'We can confirm that Mr Hlope’s 1.6 Kuga had the safety recall repair action completed at the end of January, with the vehicle’s cooling system thoroughly tested before leaving the dealership. Mr Hlope has confirmed that on the morning of the incident he checked the coolant level and gave it a top-up. Later on in the day he noticed steam, not smoke, while driving and pulled to the side of the road. Emergency services responded and found no signs of fire during this incident, nor were there any injuries.
"Mr Hlope has been provided with a courtesy car while his Kuga is being repaired. We can confirm that there have been no incidents reported since the launch of the safety recall on 16 January 2017, and wish to remind 1.6 Kuga customers with concerns to contact Ford Customer Service directly at 0860 011 022 or email CRC3@ford.com."
The safety recall comes after more than 45 incidents of Ford Kuga units had caught fire locally, leaving one person dead in 2016.
Ford SA says: "We have investigated the incidents as they have been reported to us, removing many parts for detailed examination in our engineering facilities in Europe and North America. The data collected from the recent incidents and the maintenance checks we are conducting through our dealers have helped us to determine the root cause of the fires.
What's the cause?
Ford says said: "While we continue to investigate the Kuga 1.6 engine compartment fires, based on the current data we have determined that the fires are due to engine overheating. This is caused by a lack of coolant circulation which can lead to a cracking in the cylinder head and, therefore, an oil leak. If the leaking oil reaches a hot engine surface, it can potentially catch fire. We are not aware of any injuries resulting from the engine compartment fires."
Ford Kuga recall: What’s gone wrong and who is to blame?
The automaker says with this safety recall, all affected vehicles, including those that have already been checked, must be taken to a Ford dealership as soon as possible. This safety recall comprises two stages.