Ford in the UK has said it will fully compensate owners of cars fitted with its Ecoboost engines, who have had major problems and, in some cases, seen their cars go on fire.

Hundreds of Ford customers in the UK had complained about their cars overheating and experiencing subsequent engine failure. Others have reported cars with 1.6-litre EcoBoost engines bursting into flames while they were driving, according to a BBC investigation. The problem also affects some other cars in the Ford range, including the C-Max and Kuga.

Ford in Ireland
A 1.0 litre and a 1.6 litre version of the Ecoboost engine is fitted to Ford Fiesta and Focus cars sold in Ireland, although no incidents have yet been reported here.

Ford Ireland says it has already recalled 170 cars in Ireland in 2015 to replace the coolant hose and prevent such a problem occurring here. These recalls involved the 1.0 litre engine. The company says most cars sold in Ireland between 2010 and 2015 were diesel, so the problem with the 1.6 petrol engine did not really arise on the Irish market.

Ford in Britain
Ford of Britain had initially refused to compensate many 1.0 litre drivers but now says it will compensate them and retrospectively cover repair and or engine replacement costs.

Ford said safety was its number one priority.

"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," it said.

"With any future cases, subject to being assessed and linked to potential 1.0-litre engine overheating, we will contribute 100% of the cost of repair at a Ford dealer.

"Furthermore, we will re-examine previous cases to ensure that this policy of a 100% contribution to the repair cost is applied consistently."

Ford said it had reworked 96% of affected cars.

George Roberts, of Brandon, Suffolk, told the BBC he was driving his Fiesta ST 1.6-litre late at night when he realised the car was on fire.

He said he noticed an orange glow at the side of the vehicle, pulled over to the side of the road and saw the flames.

"From the whole engine being on fire to the whole car, took about six minutes," he said.

Mr Roberts said he was offered an insurance payout on his car, which he accepted despite it being less than it would have cost to replace his car with a similar model.

He said: "I've lost a lot of money through Ford, they don't seem massively bothered by it."

Safety Recall
Ford said it had previously issued a voluntary safety recall through the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in January on certain vehicles including the Focus, Kuga, C-MAX, Fiesta ST and Transit Connect models built between 2010 and 2015.

A coolant sensor is being fitted to the affected cars by Ford to prevent the engine's cylinder head from cracking, could cause a fire in extreme circumstances.

A recall was issued on the 1.6-litre EcoBoost after a number of fires were reported. Another contributor to the BBC programme "Inside Out", Gill Cronshaw said her 1.0 litre Ecoboost Focus just seized on a motorway.

"There were no warning lights, there was no indication, 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."

The incident happened in March, just three weeks after her car had had a service and MOT. When the breakdown service reached her, the engine had overheated.

Contact
Ford says that while most of the cars affected have been recalled, a small number in Ireland have not been traced, perhaps due to the car being sold on.

Any owner who has not been contacted and feels their car might be affected should contact their Ford dealer. Also, any owner who has a problem with an overheating engine would be well advised to have the car checked.


BBC's Inside Out programme is broadcast on Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional tonight at 19:30 on BBC One or via the BBC iPlayer afterwards.