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Ford has issued a recall notice for about 360 000 vehicles it has sold in North America and Europe which it believes could represent fire risks. Simultaneously, Ford Southern Africa has issued a recall notice for 1 078 Fiesta ST models sold in South Africa, citing comparable reasons.
Most of the vehicles are equipped with 1,6-litre GTDi turbocharged engines similar to that which powers the Ford Kuga – a model for which a recall notice was issued earlier this year because its powerplant was deemed to represent a fire hazard.
As a result of that recall, Ford Southern Africa is under investigation by the country’s National Consumer Commission for alleged prohibited conduct relating to the supply of unsafe goods following 130 complaints against the company by Kuga owners.
In its assessment of fire-damaged engines, Ford has pinpointed a lack of coolant circulation – which could cause cylinder heads to crack, resulting in oil leaks that could ignite – as the prime cause of the 1,6-litre unit’s problem.
In a statement released in the US, a spokesman for Ford said the company was aware of 29 reports in America and Canada of vehicle fires for which the engine was deemed to be responsible. Vehicles affected by the recall include Mexican-built Fiesta STs and Fusions and Spanish built Transit Connects.
In South Africa, a company spokesman said the decision to recall the Fiesta ST locally had been taken voluntary and involved models produced at Ford’s Cologne plant in Germany between September 2012 and December 2014.
In remedying the problem, the recalled models would be subject to hardware and software upgrades, including the installation of coolant level sensors. However, the necessary parts were expected to be available only by the fourth quarter of this year.
“Customers will be informed as to when they should book their vehicle in for the repair,” said a statement which added that, in the interim, vehicles could continue to be driven.
However, the statement warned that if a vehicle showed signs of coolant leakage, overheating or frequently required a coolant top-up, it would need to be taken to a Ford dealer for inspection.
“Customers should continue to check their vehicles’ coolant levels and can refer to their owner’s manual for instructions on how to check the level and what to do if it is low,” the statement said.
Meanwhile Jeff Nemeth, Ford Southern Africa’s President and CEO, has announced that he will be returning to the US in July. His position will be filled by Casper Kruger, outgoing vice-president of Vehicle Sales and Dealer Network at Toyota South Africa, who has been appointed managing director of Ford’s local operation.