Ford South Africa has announced a new warranty for all Kuga models as it attempts to restore confidence in its ill-fated SUV following the much-publicised engine fires that have left owners frightened and the company’s reputation in tatters.
The new warranty is valid for six years or 200 000km, whichever comes first, and will be counted from the original new vehicle warranty’s start date, meaning it will also benefit those with older models whose warranty has already expired. Previously, Ford’s Kugas came with a four-year/120 000km warranty. The new PremiumCare Extended Plan applies to all Kuga models that were sold in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho and thus is not only limited to the fire-prone 1.6T petrol.
“While we cannot make up for any inconvenience or discomfort that our customers may have experienced as a result of the recent events affecting the 1.6-litre Ford Kuga, we want to reassure every Kuga owner that their safety is our first priority, matched by our unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction and ownership peace of mind,” said Ford SA’s President and CEO Jeff Nemeth.
Ford has not listed any of the exclusions, but said that the warranty covers “more than 1000 components”, including the engine, transmission, drivetrain, suspension, brakes, axles, steering, electrical components as well as the aircon, audio and safety systems.
There are some strings attached, as owners are obliged to service their vehicles at authorised Ford dealers as per the schedule and “ensure proper maintenance and care between services as recommended in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.”
But what about owners who serviced their Kugas elsewhere before the announcement of the extended warranty?
According to Ford, owners who previously serviced outside of the Ford dealer network will still benefit from the new extended warranty as long as they service exclusively at authorised Ford dealers going forward.
The manufacturer also recently extended its AA-outsourced roadside assistance to cover older 1.6-litre Kuga models that are affected by the fire recall.
Ford in the firing line
Ford found itself in the firing line earlier this year after it emerged that a large number of 1.6-litre Ford Kuga SUVs had caught fire - it is believed that over 50 fires have occurred so far. Ford recalled 4556 Kugas (built between February 2012 and February 2014) in January after being pressured by the National Consumer Commission, but the company’s handling of the situation came under severe criticism after it emerged that insurance companies had alerted Ford to the problem more than a year earlier.
Furthermore, Kuga owner Reshall Jimmy burned to death in his vehicle in December 2015, but Ford denied that this was related to the engine fire problem. The company stated that the fire in his vehicle had started in the back of the vehicle, although there is video evidence to the contrary.
According to Ford, the engine fires that affect 4556 vehicles are due to a coolant circulation problem causing the engine to overheat, which can then lead to a crack in the cylinder head, after which oil can leak out onto hot engine components and start a fire.