KUGA FIRE SAGA: Ford South Africa sheds some much needed light on its Kuga SUV catching fire. Image: YouTube
UPDATE: We'll publish all reader response in a follow-up article.
Cape Town - Earlier in January, Wheels24 reported on dozens of Ford Kuga SUVs catching fire throughout South Africa. The fires resulted in a huge recall of Ford's SUVs.
A total of 4556 Ford Kuga 1.6-litre units (built between December 2012 to February 2014) are affected by the safety recall in South Africa.
Ford says that "that there have been no incidents reported since the launch of the safety recall on 16 January 2017".
Ford SA CEO speaks on Kuga saga
Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford SA, said: “We know that the incidents of engine compartment fires in Ford Kuga 1.6-litre vehicles in South Africa have created concerns for Kuga owners and for the general public.
READ: SA car sales - #FordKuga sales slump by 50% in January
We understand and appreciate the feelings of our customers and other stakeholders, and we want to assure you that your safety is our priority. Whenever an incident raises concerns about one of our vehicles we treat it with the utmost seriousness.”
What's the cause of the recall?
Affected models are, Ford says, "potentially susceptible to overheating due to a lack of coolant circulation", which in some cases could cause an engine overheat with a resulting crack in the cylinder head.
Nemeth said: "The underlying cause of these fires was difficult to diagnose and took careful examination. Importantly, the cracked cylinder heads and fires that have been caused by this issue, while damaging the vehicles, have not led to any fatalities or any injuries.”+
What does the recall entail?
Ford’s recall comprises two stages; the first involves replacing affected components on the cooling system, verifying and updating the software, and conducting an oil leak check on the cylinder head. The next stage, Ford says, will improve the cooling system, "making it even more robust, and is likely to involve further changes to parts and warning systems".
Nemeth said: "While Ford manufactures cars with the safety of their customers top-of-mind, all vehicles are occasionally susceptible to issues in the design and manufacturing process that can lead to performance and quality issues under certain conditions. In such instances, Ford must determine what steps to take, including initiating a recall. This is driven by a case-by-case analysis."
Ford SA says it has taken the following steps to remedy the situation: Do you think this is enough?
1 We’ve increased the capacity of our call centre, adding a dedicated Kuga support team, with longer hours and weekend support.
2 We’re talking directly to our customers. Since the launch of the maintenance check we have contacted over 3,800 customers via e-mail and posted letters. We have also put a request in to get the outstanding customers detail from eNatis.
3 We are flying in parts to alleviate the shortage. All outstanding parts will arrive in South Africa by mid-February.
READ: Not just SA, Ford Kuga up in flames in New Zealand
4 Courtesy vehicles are being provided to keep our customers mobile while their cars are being repaired. To date, Ford has supplied over 4080 courtesy cars to affected 1.6 Kuga customers. This number excludes the number of dealer loaner and Ford South Africa’s company vehicles that were given to customers while their vehicles underwent the safety recall action.
5 We expanded our current partnership with the AA for extended Ford Roadside Assistance for all Kuga 1.6 vehicles, including those out of the standard 3-year cover period, to ensure customer reassurance and peace-of-mind.
6 We have introduced support programmes to assist our dealers in discussions with their customers.
7 Dealers will also provide each Kuga 1.6 customer with a letter confirming that the necessary repair has been made on their vehicle, for additional peace of mind.
What do you think of Ford's action plan to resolve its Kuga-fire saga? Has the automaker done enough to remedy the situation? Share your thoughts via email, Facebook and Twitter.
Nemeth said: “I want to stress that with the first stage of the safety recall completed, and with proper maintenance of the coolant system, the 1.6 Kuga is safe to drive.
“We are committed to keeping our customers mobile. We are working closely with the authorities and our dealers to ensure full compliance with all requirements, while everyone at the organisation is dedicated to resolving each and every one of our customers’ concerns. We will continue to update our customers on progress with regular communications."
Vivian: No, Ford have not done enough in this instance. All manufacturers in the same situation will do the absolute minimum and Ford are no different.
I have two issues:
Firstly, Ford have only addressed the immediate issue with the remedial action under the recall, the concern remains that the fire hazard has not been resolved, if the engine overheats (for whatever reason) the risk of fire is a real possibility because the pre-existing conditions for the fire ignition have not been addressed.
Secondly, the longevity of the engine has been compromised by operating outside of the design parameters from day one because the cooling system circulation was defective Will Ford extend the warranty of the car to cover for this eventuality? I seriously doubt it.
We'll publish all reader response in a follow-up article.