Ford, Mazda warn drivers long grass can set utes on fire
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Ford and Mazda have issued an urgent warning to owners of Ranger and BT-50 utes built since July 2016 to not drive over long grass during the summer break after cars caught fire or began to "smoulder".
Grass clippings can get caught under the diesel particulate filter (DPF), which can get extremely hot and spark a fire.
In Australia the recall affected about 52,000 Ford Rangers built since July 2016 and 17,000 Mazda BT-50 utes built since 23 June 2016, news.com.au reported.
Both vehicles are made on the same Thailand production line.
General Manager of Mazda New Zealand Glenn Harris said that there was "absolutely a risk" to vehicles in New Zealand as they "used the same components as those in Australia".
Harris said a precautionary note had been sent to owners warning them of the risks. Owners would be contacted again once replacement parts were available. No timeframe was given for when those parts would be ready.
Ford New Zealand has been approached for comment.
In Australia added to the tally were about 7000 new Ford Rangers sitting in dealer stock and an as yet undisclosed number of BT-50s in Mazda showrooms.
Mazda in Australia said it has had 15 confirmed cases of vehicle fires. Ford said there had been "two confirmed cases of vehicles being written off" as a result of fire and "seven confirmed cases of smoke or fires which have resulted in minimal damage" since December 2016.
At first Ford thought the problem was isolated but it escalated its investigations after a "cluster" of Ranger fires in the middle of 2017.
Despite the danger, Ford and Mazda have not issued a "stop delivery" notice on cars in stock.
Ford and Mazda said the recall fix would not be ready until the new year.
Ford has issued a bulletin in the meantime to warn owners of the danger and to avoid driving in conditions that can spark a fire.
A statement from Ford Australia said: "The recall is in relation to a risk of fire due to grass or vegetation accumulation near the DPF that produces very high temperatures during regeneration mode."
The company added: "The DPF regeneration can radiate a considerable amount of heat which could create a fire risk if sufficient grass or vegetation accumulates in this area."
Owners could take their car to a Ford or Mazda dealer to have them make sure the area around the DPF is clear of debris, or check it themselves.
The DPF is located in the underbody area "adjacent to the exhaust system and transmission cross member".
The Ford bulletin continued: "While the likelihood of this situation arising is low, Ford is taking precautionary action to help prevent this situation from occurring as customer safety is the company's top priority. Customers will be contacted again as parts are available to address this concern."
Ford said the Everest SUV, which shared much of its underpinnings with the Ranger and Mazda utes and was made in the same Thailand factory, was not affected.