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Unforeseen circumstances may help Toyota DPF case

Exhausting time for Toyota 2.8 diesel engines in some Prado, Fortuner and Hilux models

13 Jun 2022

TOYOTA has appealed an adverse April 2022 Federal Court judgement in relation to alleged malfunctioning diesel particulate filters on three of its popular diesel-powered models: Prado, Hilux and Fortuner.


In the judgement, Federal Court Justice Michael Lee, found 264,170 vehicles were supplied with a “defective diesel particulate filter,” causing issues such as “the emission of foul-smelling white smoke, the display of excessive DPF notifications, and the need to have the vehicle inspected, serviced and repaired.”


The affected vehicles were sold between October 2015 and April 2020 and were found to contravene Australian Consumer Law guarantees of acceptable quality.


A court summary said quantifying damages in such a case was difficult, but it remained that there was an agreed-on 17.5 per cent reduction in each affected vehicle’s value – averaging to a little over $7000 per unit across all models sold.


In a statement late last week, Toyota says it has been and remains committed to assisting any customer whose vehicle experiences the DPF issue and to providing free-of-charge repairs.


“We have today (June 6) lodged an appeal in the Federal Court of Australia,” Toyota’s statement says.


The appeal includes challenges to the factual and legal basis for the award of damages, particularly in circumstances where many of the group members did not experience the DPF issue.


“At the same time, we (Toyota) understand some customers have experienced inconvenience and discomfort from this issue. For this we apologise. We have worked continuously since becoming aware of DPF concerns on an effective resolution for affected customers,” says the statement.


“At every step, we have implemented customer focused and technically grounded remedies to resolve customer concerns.”


Losing the appeal could result in Toyota paying out up to $2.0 billion to customers.


Some drivers may be entitled to more compensation as a result of having to take time off work to fix their car, or a loss of fuel efficiency.


Diesel particulate filters (DPFs) are essentially mini furnaces designed to capture and burn off harmful pollutants before they get released into the air.


The alleged malfunctioning DPF is claimed to have caused a noxious odour to emanate from the affected vehicle’s exhaust often accompanied by billowing white smoke that in some cases led to the owner being issued with a defect notice from police.


A partial “fix” was implemented in 2018 with Toyota fitting a manual DPF burn-off button inside the affected cars that still placed the onus on owners to initiate an emissions reduction sequence.


The 2.8-litre diesel engine itself was substantially revised two years later with an updated emissions system and other modifications.


Unexpectedly working in Toyota’s favour is a significant rise in used car values since the class action commenced, which, to some extent, negates any loss of value claim. Used car prices have skyrocketed in the past 18 months due to a number of reasons including new car (un)availability, component constraints caused by the pandemic and shipping hold-ups.


In October 2019, Toyota launched a customer service campaign offering to clean, replace, or retro-fit a switch for Hilux, Fortuna and Prado vehicles sold between June 2015 and June 2018.


Toyota did not issue a full recall for any of the affected models.

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