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A vehicle is usually more than simply a means of transport, and is often an expression of the owner’s unique personality and lifestyle. Accordingly, many motorists are turning to customisation to personalise their vehicles to suit their specific needs, or stand out from the crowd. However, the fitment of aftermarket accessories and non-approved modifications to the vehicle may not just impact the manufacturer’s warranty, but could also pose a major safety risk.
“We are seeing a significant increase in the number of aftermarket accessories being fitted to Ford Rangers and Everests recently, from grille replacements to body kits, which are a major concern for us,” says Neale Hill, MD of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA). “While we appreciate the desire of enthusiastic owners to make their vehicles unique, it has major implications for the performance, reliability and safety of the vehicle.
“Ford spends an inordinate amount of time and money developing every aspect of its products, with millions of actual and accelerated kilometres of testing completed before any new vehicle is signed off and goes into production,” Hill explains. “Our standard four-year/120 000km manufacturer’s warranty is our guarantee that we are confident in the quality and workmanship of all aspects of the vehicle. Should there be a failure within the warranty time and mileage limits that is unrelated to wear and tear, Ford will honour the warranty by repairing or replacing the component.”
However, aftermarket accessories that have not been tested by Ford, and are thus not approved as original equipment (OE) items, haven’t been exposed to the same rigorous evaluations and proven under the most extreme conditions, ranging from sub-zero tests in the coldest climates to searing desert heat. Additionally, if the fitment is not done by fully trained and accredited Ford technicians, there’s no guarantee of the quality of workmanship.
Fitting these non-approved accessories, therefore, could result in premature failure of certain components, which could land up being a costly exercise as it may affect the vehicle’s warranty, leaving the owner to cover the repair bills. Even more concerning is the risk it potentially poses to the driver and passengers, as well as other road users.
One such example is the imitation Ford Ranger Raptor or F-150 Raptor grilles, which are typically seen as simply a cosmetic change. “The grille of the vehicle is carefully designed to manage the air flow characteristics through the radiator and engine bay, which is critical to the vehicle’s cooling and performance,” Hill points out. “An aftermarket grille could lead to increased air temperatures in the engine bay, which has an adverse effect on numerous mechanical and electrical components, dramatically increasing the risk of premature failure.”
The more extreme modifications such as body panel changes, suspension lift or lowering kits and performance tuning aggravate the situation further. Even the fitment of additional lighting kits, such as LED light bars, can impede the vehicle’s cooling performance and compromise the integrity of the electrical system. It’s also important to note that the fitment of many of these additional light systems is in fact illegal in South Africa.
“We encourage Ford owners to carefully consider any modifications they wish to do to their vehicles, and discuss this with a Ford dealer,” Hill says. “We offer a range of Ford-approved accessories that meet the required specifications, and can be ordered as factory-fitted items, or professionally installed after purchase by a Ford dealer.”
The possible effects of vehicle modifications
Aftermarket accessories that affect the vehicle’s cooling, air intake system, electronics, mechanical components, wheels/tyres not as per specification, as well as the sheet metal and paint work, including drilling and sticking of accessories, could all have a negative impact with regards to the quality of the vehicle.
Ford-approved accessories can be found via the following links to our website: