By Mark Fairlie.
Global car manufacturer Ford has said it will refund thousands of pounds to car owners following the sudden mass engine failure in vehicles fitted with Ford EcoBoost engines.
Many drivers were initially told they would need to pay for the repairs to their cars themselves. Ford has since announced that they would cover any repair costs as a result of this fault and refund any customers that have already paid out.
What is the problem?
Ford told the Sun’s Motors that the failures in their 1.0-litre models arise from a fault located in the engines’ coolant hoses; resulting in the machine potentially cracking and leaking coolant. Hundreds of Ford customers have reported their engines overheating and, in some cases, even bursting into flames while driving.
The engine fault was first discovered back in 2012 when a number of fires broke out in Ford vehicles in the US. The recall for 1.0-litre EcoBoost vehicles in the UK, however, was not issued until January 2018.
More than 44,680 Ford cars were fitted with these patented three-cylinder turbocharged engines between October 2011 and October 2013. In 2015, Ford issued a Field Service Action calling for the drivers of these vehicles to have the potentially dangerous coolant hoses replaced. Only 96% of these cars were repaired.
Other reports from owners of cars with 1.6-litre EcoBoost engines show a separate fault. WhatCar report these larger engines are prone to “localised heating of the engine cylinder head” which can cause the cylinder head to crack. This, in turn, can cause a pressurised oil leak that “in extreme circumstances” can result in the engine catching fire.
According to Ford, the situation was not taken seriously enough by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency at the time.
What have Ford customers reported?
An Inside Out investigation by the BBC (1st October) has spoken to some of the Ford owners that experienced the engine faults first-hand.
Gill Cronshaw of Greater Manchester was driving her 1.0-litre EcoBoost Ford Focus on a busy motorway in March when she suffered a complete engine failure. She told the BBC that “there were no warning lights” or indication that her engine was about to fail.
“The power just, as my foot was on the accelerator, I could just feel there was nothing left,” she said. “It was the most frightening experience of my life because you just feel completely powerless.”
Cronshaw’s car had passed its MOT test and had been fully serviced only three weeks before the incident. When the breakdown service arrived, she was told her engine had overheated.
“The pipe had a very clear split, there were coolant stains all inside the bonnet, so I could see there had been quite a big failure, it wasn’t wear and tear,” Cronshaw added. She was informed the car would need a new engine at a cost of £5,500.
Grand C-MAX driver Clare Robson had already arranged for the fault to be repaired following Ford’s recall but, before the vehicle was due to go into the garage, the engine ignited while on a dual carriageway.
Noticing the smoke coming from under the bonnet, Robson pulled into the nearest exit – which happened to be a busy retail park. She noted that she was “terrified”.
“There were people around me, there were children. It was a busy bank holiday weekend and there were billows of smoke coming from under the bonnet. I saw the first flame lick up from underneath the bonnet and I thought, I need to get out of the car now.”
What has Ford said?
As many of the affected cars are up to eight years old, it is likely many car owners will not have full main dealer service history. Ford originally based its contribution to the cost of repairs on the mileage of the individual vehicle and how complete the service history was.
Following the BBC investigation into the engine faults, Ford has announced they will cover the total cost of repairs, including paying refunds to those that have already paid for their engine to be repaired.
A spokesman for the company said that
“Ford has already made substantial contributions towards the cost of 1.0-litre repairs, but ongoing discussions with customers show that Ford needs to go further to ensure reasonable repair costs are covered.”
“Furthermore, we will re-examine previous cases to ensure that this policy of a 100% contribution to the repair cost is applied consistently.”