Durban – When Natalie Barrass posted her 2013 Ford Kuga Ambient for sale on a Durban online buy and sell group, she was hit with a barrage of harsh words.
“Huh uh no thank you….they go kaboom!” said one person, while another said: “Ford said the engines are overheating, now back to the owner of this post, why are you selling us a tombstone?”
And the reality was, said Barrass, that selling her beloved car was turning into a mission, and she claimed Ford had not been helpful either.
“I was shocked at how harsh some people can be. But I am stuck. I cannot get a good trade-in on my vehicle from Ford, and the chances of selling it privately are also slim. I love my vehicle, and not sure what my rights are as a consumer in this whole issue,” said Barrass.
Ford has launched an investigation of engine fires in the Kuga models equipped with the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine, which is also being monitored by the National Consumer Commission.
In December 2015, 33-year-old Reshall Jimmy burnt to death in his 2014 Ford Kuga SUV. At the time, police told Jimmy’s family they should ask Ford to send a forensic investigator to inspect the burnt wreckage. After some time, police forensic investigators and Ford experts concluded that the fire was caused by an electrical fault. There have since been several other reports of Kugas catching fire.
Meanwhile, Barrass said: “Soon after I heard of the fires, I asked my husband to check my car, and alarmingly we found a very brittle pipe. I did not drive my car for a week. I was so scared and I cannot be driving around with a potential hazard and two young children in the back seat. We took it back to the dealership where I bought the vehicle brand new, and they said there were fine hairline cracks in the water coolant (bottle) and the pipe was very brittle. That whole system had to be replaced with a system that’s fitted in the newer models.”
However, when Barrass asked the dealership if the replacement parts meant there would be no fire risk, she said they could not give her any guarantees, and offered an extremely low amount for a trade-in on another vehicle.
“I am shocked at what they offered. I do little mileage, and to try to sell privately is difficult. I feel owners are being placed in a terrible position for something that is not our fault, and Ford should take more responsibility in this matter.”
Another Kuga owner said: “If I post my vehicle at R50000, I won’t be surprised if no one buys it. The fear is in anyone who thinks of driving it.”
Ford spokesman Minesh Bhagaloo said: “We are investigating reports of engine fires in Kugas equipped with the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine in South Africa. While our investigations are not complete, we have found the fires may be a result of engine overheating.”
He said affected customers should contact their Ford dealer to request a further check of the maintenance items, especially the coolant system condition and integrity.
The dealer check is free and will take about one hour to complete. Affected customers can also contact Ford Customer Service directly at 0860 011 022.
Trevor Hattingh, spokesman for the National Consumer Commission (NCC), said it had not received any complaints.
“After a meeting with Ford SA, the company undertook to conduct safety inspections on all Kuga utility vehicles that have been sold in the country. The inspections will form part of precautionary measures instituted at the behest of the NCC after serious allegations of engine overheating surfaced in the media.
“The company has vowed to expedite its investigation and will report to the NCC with its findings by the end of February. The regulatory group will independently review all concluded investigation and related reports from Ford to determine the best possible way to proceed.”
Source: Independent on Saturday