Ford's third safety recall after yet another fire threat to Kuga
Ford has issued an urgent safety recall after yet another fire threat to its luxury Kuga SUV.
The recall was announced on Tuesday with hundreds of owners receiving emails urging them to bring in their cars because of fears of insulation material – situated near the vehicle's front seatbelts - catching alight during accidents.
The recall – the third in the past eight months – follows the death of Reshall Jimmy who died when his Kuga caught fire while he was on holiday in the Wilderness in the Western Cape in December 2015.
Since his death‚ 64 other Kugas have caught fire in South Africa‚ two of them within the last two months.
The first two recalls were over faulty coolant systems which Ford said led to the vehicle's cylinder head cracking‚ oil leaking out onto the hot engine and the car then catching fire.
The latest recall notice states: “In the event of an impact which deploys the front seat belt retractor pretensioner there is a possibility that the insulation material on the inner face of lower 'B' pillar trim could be subjected to a concentrated heat source that could ignite the insulation material‚ resulting in fire.
“Please note that as the owner of the vehicle‚ you have possession and control of the vehicle and as such‚ the onus is on you to act upon the receipt of this notification‚” the company told drivers.
“While this recall is not related‚ customers that are already bringing their vehicles in for the Phase 2 action will be able to have both recalls conducted at the same time‚” said Ford SA spokesman Alisea Chetty.
Customers not affected by the previous Kuga recall‚ or those who have already had Phase 2 of the recall completed‚ should contact their dealer to schedule an appointment‚ Chetty said.
Kuga owners are furious and are demanding that Ford remove its entire Kuga range off the country's roads and reimburse drivers. The National Consumer Commission is currently investigating Ford for the fires.
Durban grandmother Yvonne Nagouran‚ after receiving the recall email‚ told TimesLIVE that she was petrified of her Kuga.
“I am too scared to drive with my eight-month-old grandson inside. When I go out in my Kuga I carry a steel stick with me. It’s always in my car in case I have to smash open one of the windows in case my car catches fire.”
She said her car had gone through the two previous recalls.
“Now it’s this recall. Surely they can get this vehicle sorted out once and for all.
“We fear driving our Ford. We simply do not know if it is going to kill us‚” she said.
Free State resident Pricilla Cotty said she was at a loss.
“I do not know what to think. The Ford dealership I deal with has had my car since January.
“They just do not seem to be able to fix the problems.”
She said they had received the latest recall email last night.
“When my husband read it he burst out laughing. We just could not believe it.
“The dealership has instructed me to bring in my car but they are the ones who still have our car.”
She said since the first recall they had had endless problems with Ford.
“Ford tried to say that our vehicle's power steering system was causing the engine temperature light to continuously come on‚ but they admitted later that it was not the problem.
“Then they said our vehicle's tyre pressure monitoring system was causing the engine temperature warning lights to come on.
“But‚ when we told them our vehicle's not fitted with the system‚ they had no answers for us as to exactly what is causing our vehicle to malfunction.”
Cotty said when the first recall occurred they took photos of the cracked water bottle and had done a photographic inspection of their vehicle.
“It was while doing this that we discovered sponge like material in black packets inside the door panels. When we pulled them out the material had clearly melted. We showed Ford this‚ but they couldn’t explain it or why it would have been inside the door panels.
“Now we get this email telling us that the material in our car is a fire hazard.”
The repair work for this recall should not take more than an hour to complete‚ the company said.
For more information‚ contact Ford Customer Service at 0800 204 688 or 012 843 5824 or email CRC3@ford.com
This latest recall affects all Kugas‚ regardless of engine type‚ built at Ford's Valencia‚ Spain plant between July 2012 and June 2014.
A total of 7‚219 of the affected vehicles were sold in South Africa; 173‚000 worldwide.
"In the event of a frontal collision‚ these vehicles have a possible risk for fire - the activation of the seatbelt pretensioner can potentially cause the insulation material around the pretensioner to ignite‚" Ford SA said on Tuesday.
"The solution is to remove the insulation material from the area around the seatbelt retractor-pretensioner."
The part in question is attached to the Kuga's B-pillar - between the two doors.
The manufacturer says there have been no such incidents in South Africa‚ but two European Kuga owners experienced seatbelt fires when involved in accidents.
Among those 7‚219 Kugas now needing seatbelt modifications are the 4‚556 Kugas affected by the safety recall announced by Ford SA in mid-January after almost 50 of the SUVs had caught fire. Failures in the car's coolant system had caused them to overheat and catch fire.