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Toyota Australia could soon find itself in court after news that legal firm Bannister Law is looking into a potential class action suit against the company over diesel particulate filter problems.
The vehicles involved in the case are some of the brand’s most popular, with the HiLux ute, Prado SUV and Fortuner seven-seater all falling under the terms of the suit, as all of those vehicles run the same 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with the ‘defective diesel particulate filter’.
A diesel particulate filter essentially works to limit or eliminate the amount of diesel particulate matter, or soot, by capturing soot in the filter and burning it off when the exhaust system reaches high temperatures under certain circumstances - often at highway speeds.
According to Bannister Law, "Consumers have experienced increased fuel consumption and a loss of power of the vehicle which they believe may have been caused by the inability of the of DPF to reach desired temperatures due to hard deposits accumulating on the DPF oxidation catalyst in order to commence regeneration/burn of particulates.”
If the DPF doesn’t get hot enough to burn off the hard matter it could end up blocked. That may lead to “foul smelling white fumes” to be exhausted, fuel consumption to rise due to higher operating temperatures (in order to attempt to burn the matter in the DPF) and, in turn, that may lead to “increased wear and tear on the engine of the vehicle”.
In the second half of 2018 Toyota Australia introduced updated versions of the HiLux, Prado and Fortuner, all of which feature a DPF burn switch that eliminates the issue.
Further, Bannister Law acknowledges that the Japanese brand has also worked to offer affected owners a fix - by way of a clean of the DPF, replacement of problem parts, or a retro-fitted DPF burn switch, which can trigger a clean of the filter at will.
But according to Bannister Law, it may be too little, too late.
“Consumers have been experiencing the problems mentioned above for a number of years, which has caused unnecessary inconvenience and expense."
The law firm says it is considering a claim on behalf of owners, which may encompass repairs not covered or paid for under warranty, loss of income and loss of use due to repairs, compensation for fuel use increases, compensation for low of power, and compensation for deprecation due to the known issues with this generation of DPF-equipped models.
A statement issued by Toyota Australia stated the company is aware that some models sold between June 2015 and June 2018 have “the potential to develop a DPF issue”.
“In early October 2018, Toyota Australia launched the latest in a series of initiatives, a customer service campaign, to resolve the potential DPF issue. All customers with potentially affected vehicles have been, or are in the process of being, contacted by letter and are requested to make contact with their closest/preferred Toyota dealer.
"Toyota dealers will reprogram the engine control module, ensure the DPF has been regenerated and conduct a smoke test. If the smoke test is negative, the DPF will be replaced. All inspection work and replacement, if required, will be completed free of charge to the customer.”
Between 2015 and 2018 Toyota sold almost 250,000 examples of the HiLux, the spinoff Fortuner SUV, and the Land Cruiser Prado. The potential for impact is sizeable, then.
Owners who want to find out more can call Toyota Australia’s helpline on 1800 869 682 or get in touch with their local dealer.