Relief as Ford Kuga scare turns out to be steam‚ not fire

A Ford Kuga that is among those being recalled by Ford South Africa gave its owner a scare on Thursday as what he thought was smoke began billowing from the engine compartment as he was driving in White River.

Thulani Hlophe immediately pulled over to the side of the road and ran from the vehicle. When he spoke to TimesLIVE from the scene‚ he said smoke had emerged from under the bonnet‚ spurring him to call the fire department‚ but both Hlophe and Ford South Africa have since said it was steam‚ as a result of water escaping from the vehicle’s coolant bottle.

“We can confirm that Mr Hlophe’s 1.6 Kuga had the safety recall repair action completed at the end of January‚ with the vehicle’s cooling system thoroughly tested before leaving the dealership‚” a Ford spokesman said.

“Mr Hlope has confirmed that on the morning of the incident he checked the coolant level and gave it a top-up.”

Hlophe told TimesLive the Ford dealership in White River said his vehicle’s coolant bottle needed to be replaced‚ but as they didn’t have a replacement in stock‚ he should return next week.

The vehicle was towed to the dealership‚ Numbi Ford‚ and Hlope has the use of a courtesy car while his Kuga is being repaired.

Fifty-two 1.6l Kugas manufactured between 2012 and 2014 in Valentia‚ Spain‚ and which were sold in South Africa‚ have caught alight since December 2015 when Reshall Jimmy burnt to death in his vehicle.

In mid-January Ford announced a safety recall of 4556 1.6 Kugas‚ “due to them being potentially susceptible to overheating due to a lack of coolant circulation‚ which in some cases could cause an engine overheat with a resulting crack in the cylinder head”.

The company is still busy with Stage 1 of the recall – replacing affected components on the cooling system‚ verifying and updating the software‚ and conducting an oil leak check on the cylinder head.

“We can confirm that there have been no incidents reported since the launch of the safety recall on 16 January 2017‚ and wish to remind 1.6 Kuga customers with concerns to contact Ford Customer Service directly at 0860 011 022 or email‚” the spokesman said.

On 9 February 2017 we published an article titled “Another Ford Kuga burns”. The initial story reflected our information at the time, namely that Mr Hlophe’s vehicle had caught alight shortly after having undergone a Ford recall inspection at Numbi Auto in White River. Subsequently, we learnt that Mr Hlophe’s vehicle did not in fact catch fire, but broke down as a result of Mr Hlophe’s failure to replace the lid of the water coolant bottle after he filled it. The story below was updated accordingly. We apologise for any embarrassment our initial story may have caused.

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