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Safety issues arise over Chinese Ford Kuga
Last Updated: 2013-10-18 09:58 | chinadaily.com.cn
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Car owners have recently complained about the Ford Kuga, the Chinese version of the Escape model which is manufactured through a joint venture with Chang'an Ford, about the car's wheel knuckle and axle after accidents started to rise between September and October.

After the accidents, the Ford 4S dealerships told the car owners the incidents were a result of their own driving, and not the car's fault. But affected car owners told chinadaily.com.cn they were concerned about the quality of the auto parts and some said they will stop driving their Kuga automobiles after repairing.

Guangdong province – Sept 22

A black Ford Kuga was delivered in April to one buyer, and a safety accident occurred when the car only had driven a total of 5,502 km.

On Sept 22, a woman surnamed Zhang was driving her Ford Kuga when the left front wheel knuckle cracked and the axle fell off in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Shenzhen TV was able to obtain video footage of the incident from the local traffic management police bureau, and discovered Zhang's car was running at a low speed when the accident happened.

"I was driving at about 30 km/h, suddenly the knuckle broke and the car hit the fence," Zhang told a reporter. She feels lucky the incident happened at such a low speed; otherwise two children probably would have died.

On Sept 25 an inspector with Chang'an Ford's examined the Kuga, checked the location of the incident and watched the surveillance video at the offices of the traffic police bureau.

"After the inspection Chang'an Ford said that 'the people in charge were on a holiday vacation'," Zhang said.

Tianjin – Sept 30

A white 1.6T Ford Kuga was delivered to a man in June and the axle cracked when the car had only racked up about 4,700 km. While driving at low speeds of around 20 to 30 km/h, the Kuga suddenly went out of control, and crashed into another car traveling the opposite direction on Siping Road in Tianjin, according to the driver. The driver of the Kuga discovered that the left front axle was cracked in two. Luckily, the car was not going fast and nobody was injured.

"A mechanic told me that the axle may crack when the wheel bears extremely strong upon impact, or a big ridge could crack the chassis and the axle. But the wheel on my car is fine, which means a strong impact never occurred; and no scratches are on the chassis, showing that is was not cracked by a big ridge," the Tianjin car owner said who insisted on remaining anonymous.

"The dealer told me to wait for feedback from the carmaker (Chang'an Ford)…Nearly half of month passed, and still no response," he continued.

"This thing went too far. I do not know how I can make a quality examination. An examination needs those parts, but the 4S dealer refused to provide one," he added.

Jiangsu province – Oct 3

A car owner surnamed Yu purchased his white 2.0 Ford Kuga in August in Shanghai and drove it to Jiangsu province. The car had driven about 4,600 km when an accident happened.

The car's right front wheel climbed a section of raised ground about 30 cm high, falling onto the leveled ground. When the wheel hit the ground, the knuckle cracked, according to Yu.

Yu said, "The axle was split in half. It was climbing raised ground like a unilateral bridge. No collision at all. There weren't any scratches on the wheel, on the paint or on the chassis."

The Ford inspector looked at Yu's car and said the damage was caused by a collision. The Ford service did not offer any temporary transportation for Yu, and he had to travel back to Shanghai on his own accord.

"I've been driving for years, it should not crack this way," Yu said.

Sichuan province – Oct 6

Another Kuga owner posted messages online saying that on Oct 6 the axle on his car fell off and the wheel hub broke while driving only 30 km/h in Sichuan province. He bought this SUV on June 28 in Dalian , Liaoning province, and he was driving in Sichuan on a cement road around 7 pm, and stopped after hearing a bad sound, but luckily an accident did not happen.

Chang'an Ford's after sale service and 4S dealer ruled the incident was a result of a collision, without ever conducting an on-site inspection, according to the post.

Company feedback

On Oct 12, the Shenzhen 4S dealer showed Zhang a letter which read, "a windstorm came suddenly, and the car turned left, and hit the fence, the tire blew out. The car stopped moving after seven or eight meters."

The letter was addressed from Chang'an Ford, and the company ruled out the possibility of faulty parts, saying, "If the axle fell off or cracked first, the car would not have stopped moving."

Yu, along with the car owners in Tianjin, have yet to receive any phone calls regarding their accidents.

The Ford Motor (China)'s Communication & Public Vice-president Li Ying said on Tuesday she will assist the car owners and find the related people who are in charge of such cases to look into each incident.

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