Picture: Mark Bow / Ford SA.

Johannesburg - Ford South Africa has announced that it’s ready to go ahead with the second phase of its safety recall for its 1.6-litre Kuga models, built between May 2012 and September 2014.

When Ford first announced its recall campaign in January amid the controversy surrounding more than 40 reported engine fires, it said that the campaign would happen in two phases.

According to Ford SA’s managing director Casper Kruger, the company’s global engineering team has only just finalised the second phase and it will be implemented in South Africa first. That would make sense, considering that our market is undoubtedly the worst affected.

After Ford had determined that the fires were caused by engine overheating, and consequent oil leaking from cracked cylinder heads, the first phase of the recall involved replacing various cooling system components, updating software and conducting an oil leak check on the cylinder head.

So what’s Phase Two about then?

The second phase, which evidently required some lead time on Ford’s part for research and parts sourcing, takes further precautions.

For starters, dealers will install a new coolant expansion tank with a sensor that monitors the coolant level and relays a warning to the driver if it’s running low. The system will also be able to cut power through a new ‘limp mode’ if it detects that coolant levels drop below the
minimum required level.

Ford will also replace one of the coolant pipes with a more robust unit, while various plumbing reroutes, software updates and the fitment of an electrical harness will take place to accommodate the improved cooling system.

“The system will now warn the driver well in advance if there is a risk of overheating due to insufficient coolant in the system,” Ford’s statement said.

Owners urged to book in advance

Given the large number of vehicles involved (4556 at last count), Ford has urged customers to book an appointment with their dealers rather than just show up with their vehicles. 

The fix is likely to take around five hours and Ford says its dealers will pre-arrange alternative transport for customers when requested. This could include the provision of a courtesy car where necessary, such as in instances where the vehicle needs to stay overnight.

Putting out fires?

Earlier this year, Ford also announced a warranty extension to six years or 200 000km for its Kuga models.

But will this, and the recall action, be enough to fix the reputational damage that the company has faced as a result of the fires and its delayed reaction to the saga? Time will tell.

IOL Motoring

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