Ford Australia has finally issued a recall on 1.6-litre petrol Kuga SUVs of a certain age over a serious overheating risk, weeks after its South Africa division did the same in response to a spate of sudden engine fires in that market.
Today’s recall notice, now lodged with the ACCC, comes after repeated questioning over when it would take this course of action. We’ve received testimony from several Kuga owners who’ve experienced sudden engine fires and/or overheating here, as you can read here.
Ford Australia’s recall comes simultaneously with that of its US parent, which has recalled 230,000 of the vehicles for “under-hood fire risks”. Ford said it has reports of 29 fires in that region, but no injuries.
According to the company’s findings, a lack of coolant circulation could cause an engine to overheat, resulting in a crack in the cylinder head, which could lead to a pressurised oil leak. Oil that comes into contact with a hot engine surface increases the risk of a fire.
Ford Australia says it will initially mail customers with instructions from the owner’s manual on how to check and refill coolant to tide them over. Following this it will then implement the recall repair work in two stages, pending parts availability.
At the first stage, dealers will replace the coolant bottle and cap and re-route the turbo coolant return line. The second stage will involve dealers fitting a coolant level sensor system and wiring harness, and re-flashing the PCM and instruments with new software.
The first stage of the recall repair work for affected Kuga vehicles will be implemented in the second quarter of 2017 once parts come on stream, and the second stage in the fourth-quarter.
Timing of parts availability for the repair work for affected Fiesta ST vehicles is still to be confirmed, unfortunately. Ford says it will contact customers at each stage, including the initial mailing to provide instructions on how to check and refill coolant.
Customers can continue to drive their vehicles but should see their dealer if their vehicle exhibits a coolant leak or overheating, or frequently needs coolant added. We’ve received numerous complaints of Kuga models overheating, so we know this is happening.
Q and A with Ford Australia’s communications head, Martin Günsberg.
Why did Ford Australia and US recall happen weeks after SA campaign was announced?
We take the safety of our customers very seriously. There can be many differences between markets including calibrations, emissions and specific market conditions such as environment and usage. Our decisions are driven by the data available. When the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly.
How many instances of fires have you heard of here in Australia?
We are aware of 7 reports of fire associated with this issue in Australia. No injuries have been reported.
If someone has experienced serious overheating/fires in their 1.6 Kuga, what should they do?
Pull over when safe to do so, exit the vehicle and call emergency services. We are advising customers of ways to reduce the risk by checking coolant levels and seeing a dealer if their vehicle exhibits a coolant leak or overheating or frequently needs coolant added.