Toyota Australia is facing hefty class-action bill after the Federal Court ruled the carmaker fitted certain models with defective diesel-particulate filters (DPF), falling foul of Australian Consumer Law.
All up there were 264,170 vehicles affected and the total payout amount could add up to close to $2 billion.
In a Federal Court judgement handed down this week, Justice Michael Lee found that the vehicles purchased by members of the class action were defective and as a result, the value of the vehicles had decreased by an average of 17.5 per cent per car – or more than $7000.
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The issue relates to Toyota HiLux, Fortuner and Prado models powered by either the 2.8-litre (1GD-FTV) or 2.4-litre (2GD-FTV) turbo-diesel engine, sold in Australia between October 2015 and April 2020.
The DPF is part of the vehicle’s exhaust system and is designed to capture and trap exhaust soot and other particles that are created during the diesel combustion process. This then ensures that they are prevented from being pumped into the atmosphere when the vehicle is operating.
One of the referees quoted in the judgement said the DPF could become blocked with particulate matter and cause a range of problems.
“In particular, under certain conditions the DPF System was ineffective in preventing the formation of deposits on the DOC (diesel oxidation catalyst) surface or coking within the DOC.
“The deposits and/or coking of the DOC prevented the DPF filter from effective automatic or manual regeneration, and led to excessive white smoke and foul-smelling exhaust during regeneration and/or indications from the engine’s onboard diagnostic (OBD) system that the DPF was ‘full’.
“This defect was inherent in the design of the DPF System. The design defect was comprised of both mechanical defects and defective control logic and associated software calibrations.”
In mid-2019, CarsGuide reported that Toyota Australia claimed it had fixed the DPF issue by fitting the models with a manual burn-off switch from 2018 on.
Charles Bannister from class action lawyers Bannister Law told CarsGuide that potential payout figure of up to $2 billion was a positive for buyers.
“Although figures might seem large it’s fraction of what Australians paid for defective goods, a good result for Australian consumers”.
CarsGuide has reached out to Toyota Australia for comment.