Ford: Here's how we are helping our Kuga customers

03 February 2017 - 16:51 By TMG Digital
Ford South Africa CEO Jeff Nemeth says in hindsight the company should have acted sooner. File photo
Ford South Africa CEO Jeff Nemeth says in hindsight the company should have acted sooner. File photo
Image: Madelene Cronje

Ford South Africa says it is fast tracking its service to help customers affected by the 1.6-litre engine Kuga safety recall.

"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.

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‚" said Jeff Nemeth‚ President and CEO‚ Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

  • Ford Kuga sales drop by 50%Ford Kuga SA sales plummeted by 50% in January compared to the previous month as consumer outrage grew over continuing reports of the family SUV’s catching on fire. 

Nemeth continued: “We recognise that‚ during the initial process‚ customers and the public were not well enough informed about the situation‚ and for that Ford sincerely apologises.

 We care about the safety and well-being of our customers. It’s at the heart of everything we do‚ and we understand that our customers have questions and concerns. Our current focus is on working with our dealers and our customers to resolve these issues as quickly as possible‚ through open and direct communication.”

  • Kuga-on-fire moves to New ZealandWhile Ford Kugas were going up in flames on South African roads in December‚ at least one New Zealand Kuga owner has had the same experience. 

A total of 4‚556 model year 2013 and 2014 Ford 1.6 Kugas‚ built between December‚ 2012 and February‚ 2014‚ are affected by the safety recall in South Africa.

Ford’s 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. The Ford Kuga is safe to drive‚ provided that the integrity of the cooling system is maintained‚ and this safety recall has been actioned.

Here are the steps that Ford South Africa says it has taken to minimise any inconvenience its customers may have experienced:

1. Increased the capacity of its call centre‚ adding a dedicated Kuga support team‚ with longer hours and weekend support.

2. Talking directly to 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. Flying in parts to alleviate the shortage. "All outstanding parts will arrive in South Africa by mid-February."

4. Courtesy vehicles are being provided to keep Ford customers mobile while their cars are being repaired. To date‚ Ford says it has supplied over 4‚080 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. Expanded 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. Support programmes have been introduced to assist Ford 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."

The company said it has determined that Kuga 1.6 litre vehicles built between December 2012 and February 2014 and sold in the South African market were 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.

Ford said that there have been no incidents reported since the launch of the safety recall on 16 January 2017.

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."

Ford said: "The next stage of the safety recall will improve the cooling system‚ making it even more robust‚ and is likely to involve further changes to parts and warning systems. Ford is ensuring that the changes to be made are complete and thoroughly tested‚ and will communicate with customers as soon as this stage begins."


- 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.

- If required‚ the emergency services should be called first‚ then Ford’s Roadside Assistance on 0861 150 250. Supported through the AA‚ this service is available 24/7.

- Customers are advised to conduct regular inspection and maintenance of the cooling system – especially regarding maintaining the correct 50/50 water-coolant ratio for top-ups between services. With this safety action and proper maintenance of the engine coolant system‚ including using the approved coolant at the required concentration level‚ the vehicles are safe to drive.

- 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.