It hasn’t been a good year for owners of the “fire-fix recall” Kugas, but many remain happy with their cars despite the reactions of the general public.
“The other day a petrol attendant said he couldn’t believe I was still driving a Kuga – this from a man who takes public transport every day!” said Leanne Jacobs of Virginia, Durban.
Jacobs, who bought her Kuga new from an Umhlanga dealership in 2014, is among the 4556 owners of 2013 and 2014 year 1.6-litre Ford Kugas who were e-mailed by Ford SA yesterday and asked to bring in their cars to a dealership for Phase 2 of modifications designed to prevent them from catching fire.
Ford SA announced Phase 1 at a hastily convened press conference in mid-January, after almost 50 of the SUVs had caught fire, revealing that failures in the car’s coolant system had caused them to overheat and combust.
Six months on, Phase 2 is about “additional precautions” – mainly the installation of a coolant level sensor which will flash up a beeping warning on the instrument panel when the coolant drops to a dangerous level.
“Ironically, my husband drives an Opel and his car’s coolant system has failed twice!” said Jacobs, an engineer at a refinery.
Asked if she still felt safe in her Kuga, Jacobs said she had been very concerned initially, but no longer. “They’ve identified the source of the problem, and fixed it,” she said.
Phase 1 was a public relations disaster, as many Ford dealerships were unprepared, lacking both the parts needed – including a new coolant bottle – and enough courtesy cars for affected clients.
Ford SA’s MD Casper Kruger is confident there won’t be a repeat in Phase 2, the manufacturer and its dealership network having spent months preparing for it. But he urged affected Kuga owners to make an appointment for the modification rather than dropping their cars at a dealership unannounced.
Jacobs did just that today. “It’s never fun to have to take your car in,” Jacobs said, “but I understand that it has to be done”.
Ford SA was only able to say how many of the affected Kugas had been traded in at Ford dealerships – 900, which is 20%.
Meanwhile, response to the fire-related recall of 15600 Ford Figos and Ikons, announced by Ford SA a month ago, has been very slow, Kruger said.
Only 13% of the affected cars – built in Ford’s India plant between August 9, 2004 and March 24, 2012 – have had the high pressure hose of their car’s power steering mechanism replaced. For information about either recall, contact Ford Customer Service on 0800 204 688 or email CRC3@ford.com.