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Toyota recalls HiLux as light trucks bite the dust

Return to sender: Toyota's HiLux is the latest ute to be recalled for failures caused by rough conditions.

Ford and Toyota join growing list of recalls as utes find going tough in the outback

8 Sep 2010

AUSTRALIA'S harsh conditions are taking a toll on some of the world’s toughest utes, with two more safety recalls announced today to bring the total number of utes recalled for mechanical failures in Australia this year to more than 250,000.

The most popular ute in the country, Toyota’s top-selling HiLux, and Ford’s ageing Ranger one-tonner are the latest to suffer the indignity of a trip back to the dealer to fix problems that have surfaced on outback roads.

Earlier this year, Mazda’s BT-50 – a twin to the Ford Ranger and made at the same plant in Thailand – was recalled, as was Nissan’s European made D40 Navara and related Pathfinder SUV, and Holden’s locally built VE Ute.

Most of the recalls relate to failures that have surfaced in extreme conditions, with three of them relating to bonnet catches that can fail.

The biggest roundup was announced today when Toyota recalled 116,507 four-wheel-drive petrol and diesel HiLux utes produced between January 2005 and February 2010.

Toyota said in a statement that if the vehicle was frequently accelerated or decelerated on rough roads, in extreme conditions such as corrugations or cattle grids, the rear tailshaft centre bearing support brackets could give way.

It said 19 such cases had been reported, resulting in “one incident” but no injuries. No two-wheel-drive HiLuxs are involved.

8 center imageFrom top: Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Holden VE Ute, Nissan Navara and Pathfinder.

Toyota says the recall is a preventative action, and owners, who will be notified directly by the company, can continue to drive their vehicles.

The recall is Toyota’s sixth in Australia this year, and a further blow to the company’s previously “bullet-proof” reputation that has taken a battering in the wake of international recall troubles.

The HiLux is not only Australia’s number one light commercial vehicle but also Toyota’s top-selling vehicle so far this year, racking up 27,448 sales to the end of August compared with Corolla’s 26,022.

Ford Australia today also recalled its HiLux rival, the Ranger, to fix two separate problems – potential failure of bonnet hook on a total 30,465 PJ and PK Rangers, and potential broken brackets holding automatic transmission shift cables on 4110 automatic PJ Rangers.

Mazda has already recalled its near-identical BT-50 ute for both these problems. In fact, the bonnet hook recall on 21,662 BT-50s was made on May 5 – four months before Ford’s similar safety announcement.

According to Ford, the safety hook that holds the bonnet shut if the bonnet striker fails might itself fail if used continually in severe road conditions. If this happens, the bonnet might fly up.

The recall for automatic transmission cable brackets relates to brackets that “may not meet specification”, resulting in the bracket cracking or breaking, making gears difficult or impossible to select.

Mazda’s recall notice for this cable bracket failure said the problem arose from unnecessary welding of the bracket, causing it to crack. Its recall was made on September 1.

The Ranger and BT-50 utes are both entering run-out phase, with Mazda and Ford both set to reveal replacements at the Australian International Motor Show in October, both based on Ford’s Australian-developed T6 ute.

Last May, Nissan recalled 54,732 D40 Navara and R51 Pathfinder vehicles after they too suffered bonnet fastening problems in rough conditions, but only on vehicles fitted with heavy steel bull bars.

Holden’s VE Ute recall, involving 34,432 vehicles, was to fix tailgate latches that could be knocked open if the tailgate was hit from the inside by an unfastened load.

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