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2018 Toyota HiLux Photo: Supplied
2018 Toyota HiLux Photo: Supplied
2018 Toyota HiLux Photo: Supplied
 
 
Toby Hagon | Jul, 05 2018 | 0 Comments

Toyota is refusing to repair a known flaw with up to 170,000 Hilux, Fortuner and Prado off-roaders in Australia.

The design fault can lead to dust intrusion in the air intake leading to significantly reduced engine power and the disconnection of active safety systems – often while driving in rural and remote areas.

The top-selling Hilux – marketed as “unbreakable” and sold on its reliability and suitability to Australian conditions – is prone to the dust intrusion, something that can trigger a limp-home mode that in turn drops engine power and directs owners to visit their dealer.

The issue also affects the Fortuner and Prado, which use the same 2.8-litre engine first introduced in 2015.

More than 170,000 cars could experience the fault, which can occur in dusty driving and lead to fine particles infiltrating the clean side of the air intake system, becoming statically charged and attaching themselves to the mass airflow sensor (MAF), which is used to measure intake air quality.

When that sensor detects dust, it sends a message to the car’s electronic control unit instructing it to reduce power.

The car also disconnects safety systems, including traction control and stability control, features now mandatory on all new cars to help control a skid.

TMR has now experienced the fault in two cars – a Fortuner and Hilux – at times when overtaking at more than 100km/h.

The problem has been traced to the design of the air intake system; along with the rest of the car it underwent extensive testing and development on Australian roads.

Toyota has known about the problem since at least 2016 and in March 2017 issued a dealer bulletin instructing dealers to inspect and clean parts of the air filters of affected cars using compressed air.

However, owners are only being informed of the issue if they question a dealer – and if the dealer representative is aware of the bulletin.

While Toyota is working on a fix for future cars, there are no plans to repair existing cars.

“It has now been raised as a design issue with Toyota in Japan,” a spokesman told Drive. “They will be working on a redesign of the air intake system.”

Toyota confirmed it is not planning to replace the parts on affected vehicles – despite the potential to leave drivers with an underperforming car.

“There are no plans to replace the air filters,” the spokesman said. “Standard maintenance and replacement of filters will continue to occur and in severely dusty operating conditions Toyota dealers have been advised of the additional maintenance requirements that need to be followed.”

For those driving in dusty conditions, Toyota is recommending owners check and clean their air filters more regularly – or visit their dealers more often.

“It’s important that the air filter is checked more regularly in extremely dusty conditions … it’s an easy fix to have dust blown out (to clean the sensor).”

In certain situations – once the redesigned intake is available - Toyota also says it may look at retrofitting the redesigned air intake at no cost to the owner.

Ironically, the issue is amplified when the car is equipped with a snorkel, something fitted to the most off-road focused Hilux, the recently-unleashed Hilux Rugged X. Snorkels are also typically fitted by off-roaders looking to drive through water or in dusty conditions (in the owner’s manual Toyota says the snorkel “is designed to provide cleaner air to the engine in dusty conditions”).

Toyota instructs owners driving in “extremely dusty conditions” to reverse the head of the snorkel and face it towards the rear of the car, something that requires loosening two screws.

Defending its stance on not replacing faulty cars, Toyota says the issue occurs in “really, really dusty” conditions.

However, that is exactly the environment the Hilux, Fortuner and Prado are designed to drive in.

The front page of the brochure for the Hilux features a car kicking up rocks and dust in the outback.

In the same brochure – which features pictures of cars on red dirt – Toyota describes the Hilux Rugged X as “an uncompromising combination of off-road capability and urban credibility”.

Despite dropping power and disconnecting safety systems Toyota says there are no plans to recall the cars.

“As the vehicle is subject to reduced engine power (‘limp mode’) and can continue to be operated safely, it is not a safety related item that would require a recall. We do however encourage customers to contact their nearest dealer as soon as possible if this issue does present itself.”

 
Filed under fortuner hilux Prado Safety Toyota
 
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