Windhoek – Ford South Africa has confirmed a safety recall for Kuga models equipped with the 1.6-litre engine to address an engine overheating condition that could cause a fire. While Ford South Africa also supplies Namibian dealers, the company could not verify the exact number of vehicles that will be affected in the local market.
According to a media statement released on Monday by Ford South Africa, a total of 4 556 vehicles are affected by the safety recall in South Africa, and specifically affects vehicles manufactured between December 2012 and February 2014. Ford Kuga models with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre engines are not affected.
South African media outlets yesterday reported that Ford had to be threatened with an ultimatum to make it take action. The ultimatum, given by South Africa’s National Consumer Commission last week, led to Ford announcing the recall of the Ford Kuga 1.6s made between 2012 and 2014.
The recall was announced after a meeting on Friday, January 13, between senior Ford executives and National Consumer Commission lawyers. The carmaker had been given until February 28 to resolve the problem, but a sudden increase in the number of fires prompted the commission to order Ford to immediately announce the recall.
“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,” read the statement from Ford South Africa.
The safety recall states that 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: the first stage involves replacing affected components on the cooling system, verifying and updating the software and conducting an oil leak check on the cylinder head.
“If any Kuga 1.6 owner sees any indication that the engine may be overheating or experiences warnings on the instrument cluster, they should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, switch off the engine and ensure all occupants are safely out of the vehicle. For safety reasons, the bonnet must not be opened,” the statement continued.
Ford is adamant that the 1.6 Kuga is safe to drive, provided the integrity of the cooling system is maintained, and the safety recall has been actioned. The next stage of the recall makes the cooling system even more robust, and is 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. Every effort is being made to minimise inconvenience, and reassure customers that their safety is our top priority. We are committed to keeping our customers mobile.
“Should a customer experience any engine overheating problem with their 1.6 Kuga, or delays in the repair due to a shortage of parts, arrangements will be made through the nearest Ford dealer and Ford Customer Service to provide a courtesy car while the vehicle is repaired,” the statement added.