Toyota hit with massive class action
Motoring giant Toyota is facing a legal headache with a class action launched in the Federal Court against the Japanese company that could affect up to 250,000 Australia drivers.
Two legal firms have alleged certain models of the Australia's top selling car - the Hilux - as well as the Prado and Fortuner vehicles have defective equipment installed that have affected their performance.
This has resulted in decreased power, increased fuel consumption and led foul smoke to spew from the cars exhaust.
Some drivers have reported the fault has cost them up to $70 a week in higher petrol costs.
It's claimed that Toyota Australia engaged in misleading behaviour as the company had known of the defect since 2016.
Bannister Law and Gilbert & Tobin have brought the class action.
"We believe consumers are entitled to compensation for the defect we allege is in the vehicles," Charles Bannister from Bannister Law told the ABC.
"People return to have the problem fixed. It's not fixed, its fuel consumption is poor and they return again."
Central to the claim is a piece of equipment called a diesel particulate filter (DPF). This is designed to remove particulate matter from the exhaust gas of the diesel engine before it is expelled from the vehicle.
Periodically, this matter needs to be burned off to stop it clogging the filter. This process is called "regeneration" and involves the exhaust temperature increasing to the point the matter is burned away.
A regeneration system is built into the affected Toyota models that initiates these periodic burn offs.
"When regeneration does not occur, or is ineffective, the DPF becomes blocked with particulate matter," the legal claim states.
The law firms claim that in many cases combustion has not been occurring due to the regeneration system having a "propensity to fail".
"This causes the affected vehicles to experience a myriad of other issues, including decreased power, increased fuel consumption and the emission of excessive white smoke and diesel particulate matter into the atmosphere.
"The vehicles experiencing these issues require time consuming and costly repairs, including repeated vehicle servicing and repeated replacement of the DPF in its entirety."
It's claimed that since at least October 2015, Toyota Australia has told customers the DPF was "durable, reliable and of good quality". Yet since February 2016, the company knew that wasn't the case.
"Those representations were misleading because the affected vehicles could not, and did not, deliver the advertised combination of durability, reliability, quality, comfort and convenience, and the DPF System in the vehicles was not durable, reliable and of good quality," the claim states.
The ABC reported that Toyota offered to clean, replace, or retrofit a switch for Hilux, Fortuna and Prado vehicles sold between June 2015 and June 2018 but didn't undertake a recall.
Toyota Australia has been contacted for comment on the issue.