Ford will charge car owners up to R1199 to fix the Focus Ambiente and Trend models manufactured between September 2015 till now. This followed massive pressure from disgruntled clients who claimed to have been paying up to R5000 to get their doors fixed after a break-in.
The Star reported last month that some Ford vehicles were easy to access because the alarm did not go off, resulting in some of the contents inside stolen.
Ford spokesperson Minesh Bhagaloo said: “We have been testing various models within the Ford line-up to understand potential security vulnerabilities around the key-lock barrel. Only the Focus Ambiente and Trend models seem to be affected.
“Criminals appear to gain access to the vehicles by forcing the driver door lock to the open position. The upgrade will ensure that when the vehicle is opened, with a key or an object the system perceives to be a key - for example a screwdriver - all doors, except the driver door will remain locked, including the boot or rear lift gate.”
This will cost R155.25 but customers who want a door lock replacement will pay a steeper R1199. There will not be additional charges for the damaged doors.
Joburg-based inventor Matthew Parker said he had been fixing the car locks for the past 14 months for R500. He has invented a special tool that takes the lock out and remove the two pins that are placed in the lock. Once the pins are removed, he said, if criminals tamper with the lock it won't budge.
Now, Parker said he had inspected some of the cars Ford has upgraded and was not impressed.
“Unfortunately Ford haven't properly thought it out yet. When the tool is used (to forcefully open the door), you open the driver's door and reach inside and press the unlock button, to which the boot and doors open again.
“Honestly, who is working at Ford on these upgrades? Earlier- generation Fiestas without an alarm are most at risk.
"For newer cars, the alarm still takes roughly 15 seconds to go off - more than enough time for a thief to inherit your laptop and other items. Modifying the existing lock is our only option for now. Out of the 600 cars I've done I haven't heard of one being hit again, because criminals don't like things that waste their time.”
Another customer, Simon Mahla- lela, said: “How do they make us pay if the fault is theirs? We bought the cars believing they would be safe, but now the company want us to pay for their negligence.”
On the “My Ford was broken into South Africa” Facebook page customers are still complaining about the upgrades.
The page now has 12 856 members. One of them, Gary Clack, said: “So yesterday I paid for the security upgrade at Consolodated (sic) Ford Boksburg for my EcoSport. WTF. Now the passengers can't get out of the car until I unlock the doors with the remote.”