Ford Australia says it is investigating a fire that destroyed a Kuga 1.6 compact SUV in Queensland last week, but has not yet issued a wider vehicle recall.
Ford’s South African division last week announced a recall action on about 4500 Kugas after numerous reports of spontaneous fires starting in the engine bay, speculated to be a result of poor coolant circulation.
The vehicles in question all use the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which was sold in Australian versions of the Ford Kuga as well. Moreover, both the South African and Australian market Kugas came from the same plant in Spain.
Above: a South African-market example of the Ford Kuga
However, Ford Australia says it is still too early to enact a full recall on affected Kuga 1.6 variants here (the South African recall included cars made between December 2012 and February 2014), citing differences under the bonnet that warrant further investigation.
“Although the base engine is similar, there can be differences that cause the engines to perform differently including engine installation, transmission systems, cooling systems, under-hood airflow, calibrations, and emissions among others,” Ford told us in a statement.
“If customers have a specific concern with their vehicle, they should take their vehicle to a dealer for investigation.”
We know of at least one Ford Kuga 1.6-litre catching fire, near Brisbane, and have reached out to the owner. Ford Australia says it is aware of the vehicle in question and investigating. There's a similar report out of New Zealand.
In October last year, Ford's North American arm recalled 400,000 units of the Ford Escape — the US version of the Kuga — citing the potential for fuel leaks. However, these cars (made between early 2009 and early 2012) used a different engine, a 3.0-litre six.
At this stage, if you’re a Kuga 1.6-litre owner and concerned, visit your dealer for an inspection.
If you have any stories regarding Kuga fires and would like to share, contact us here.
Full Ford Australia statement
Will we recall in Australia? If not, why not?
Safety is our number one priority at Ford and we are committed to addressing potential issues and responding quickly for our customers. Our decisions are driven by the data available in each market. If our investigations determine that an action is needed, we will move quickly on behalf of our Australian customers.
There is a report in Australia, is Ford aware?
We are aware of a fire that occurred in Queensland and we are investigating.
What are the differences between the vehicles?
Although the base engine is similar, there can be differences that cause the engines to perform differently including engine installation, transmission systems, cooling systems, under-hood airflow, calibrations, and emissions among others.
If customers have a specific concern with their vehicle, they should take their vehicle to a dealer for investigation. As outlined in the owner’s manual, we encourage customers to maintain regular servicing of their vehicle and monitor the vehicle for normal operation via all instruments and gauges in line with good driving practices.
As vehicle fires can result from a range of different causes, the established process when a vehicle fire occurs is for the owner’s insurer to investigate as the first step.