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Toyota HiLux DPF drama takes new turn, drivers fined for smoky tailpipes

Toyota is already the subject of a class action due to ongoing DPF issues that cause HiLux diesels to blow white smoke. Now hundreds of drivers are being sent fines from the EPA.
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The Toyota Hilux diesel particulate filter drama is now threatening to hit owners in their hip pocket.

According to an investigation by the ABC, hundreds of drivers across Australia have been sent fines from the Environmental Protection Authority – after other motorists dobbed them in having seen white smoke coming from Toyota HiLux tailpipes in the traffic.

Diesel particulate filters are intended to trap and “burn off” diesel particulates, but the devices in Toyotas appear to be clogging up.

This time last year Toyota began fitting switches to affected vehicles (Toyota HiLux, Toyota Prado and Toyota Fortuner models fitted with the 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine) so owners could do a DPF burn off manually rather than wait for a build-up of soot, which causes the white smoke.

The ABC says some Toyota drivers contacted them after receiving notices warning they could be fined if they didn’t stop their vehicles from emitting excessive smoke.

The ABC reported that Sydney woman Kyle Kinchela, who owns a 2015 HiLux, received a notice from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in June last year.

She was told to “fix her car or face a fine of up to $2000 – even though her car had just been serviced”, the report said.

“I obviously knew that it was blowing smoke at that particular time and it was quite bad, but it was not something I expected to receive,” Kinchela told the ABC. “I called the EPA and I was quite surprised by their response, they stated that they were aware of issues with Toyota vehicles.”

When the customer couldn’t get an appointment at the Toyota service centre that suited the EPA’s deadline, Kinchela said: “I had to get the next best thing and call the EPA for an extension”.

The ABC also reported Adelaide driver Mike Stone was given a defect notice by South Australian police in November 2017 “for excessive smoke coming out of his HiLux”.

Mr Stone said he had been back to the Toyota dealership four times to have the DPF issue fixed.

“The first time was after receiving a defect warning from (police) after leaving a smoke trail up the southern expressway,” he told the ABC. “This so-called fix lasted about five months before heading back to the dealership again.”

The ABC contacted the Environmental Protection Authorities in each state and territory to get a tally of how many Toyota vehicles were fined, but only Victoria kept detailed data.

Most other EPAs didn’t monitor vehicle pollution by brand or would not release the data.

While the EPA in Victoria would not disclose how many fines it issued, that state alone received 792 complaints about smoke coming from Toyota vehicles in the 2018/19 financial year, more than any other brand, according to the ABC report.

When the ABC asked Toyota for comment about EPA notices being sent to HiLux owners the company issued its standard statement:

“We encourage any Toyota owners with questions or concerns about their DPF to contact their closest or preferred Toyota dealer. Alternatively, customers can find out more via a comprehensive DPF FAQ on the Toyota website.”

The statement continued: “We are unable to comment on matters before the courts but reiterate our commitment, as always, to helping our customers with any questions or concerns they have about their vehicle.”