Oh What A Feeling Ain’t Feeling So Good!

OR How to be a Good Corporate Citizen and not Offend Your Customers

It’s news that’s been around for a while now since the stories started to break about Toyota Hilux, Prado and Fortuna being profoundly on the nose.

With a crudely designed Diesel Particulate Filter applied to the 1GD-FTV and 2GD-FTV 2.8L diesel engines between 2015-2020, plenty of owners ran foul, of a fuel system that would tip diesel down its throat like the scene in “Chow Hound” (Looney Tunes 1951) when (Butch/Harold/Timothy/Sabre Tooth Alley Cattus) the red cat and his mouse associate, funnel the gravy into the dog to the point of bursting. You remember, “what, no gravy?”

In the case of the Toyota trio they’d get a little bit smoky, great clouds of white unburnt fuel emanating from the exhaust pipe, a look that was more two-stroke Trabant, than Toyota tough.

Toyota aren’t the first vehicle maker to try pull a swifty, in fact you might remember our mates at Volkswagen managed another diesel stinker with their Dieselgate fiasco in 2015, coding their ECUs to recognise when they were being analysed and go lean, thus fudging their emissions claims. Very naughty and very expensive for Volkswagen, with class-actions and fines awarded in the billions.

So, why is it that vehicle makers reckon it is okay to go into denial, when clearly, they have a problem?

Perhaps the logic is that if we can get away with it, it will be cheaper in the long run to respond to those warranty claimants who claim the loudest by either giving them back their money or a new vehicle, and those who aren’t so antsy, just put them through the warranty wringer and eventually they’ll go away, rather than recall all the affected vehicles and fix the problem properly? Grind them down, deny that the problem is widespread and cling to the belief that the brand is unassailable.

As the DPF issue picked up momentum and instead of the usual love-mail Toyota was used to turned into hate-mail, the lawyers got involved. The folk at Berrima Diesel copped a spray when they reported on what they’d observed in their workshop after frustrated owners had turned to them for assistance, because their Toyota dealers had dumped them.

At that point the floodgates opened and a wave of affected owners revealed that this wasn’t an isolated case, and that there were likely hundreds of thousands of vehicles directly affected.

One disgruntled Prado owner who wasn’t taking the “grind-down” method of customer service, took the lead and with the legal firm Gilbert and Tobin launched a class-action challenge which has been playing out in the Federal Court over the last couple of years.

Just a few weeks ago, and amazingly, a judgment was found in favour of the applicants and they are now entitled to compensation.

Now, that compensation isn’t going to suddenly see you jetting to the Bahamas and living the life of Riley, rather the award is more reflective of the assessed depreciation suffered as a result of the crook gear, in the order of nearly 20% measured against the average retail price at the time of sale.

For some of you that might amount to around $10K, but to get that back into your bank account you’ll need to claim it and if you haven’t done that already, here is the link to register.

If it is your intent to hold onto the vehicle try find a Toyota dealer who has a happy face rather than a sad one. Customer-focussed service managers are out there and will do their level-best to help your cause, but don’t go getting all shouty with them, because that strategy almost never works.

I know a couple with a Hilux who had a terrible time last year after a botched dealer service and the motor developed the death rattles, en-route to QLD from SA and stuck out the back of Broken Hill in amongst a rolling series of Covid lockdowns. With some patient diplomacy and detective work in getting the right people’s email address and pleading their case to the very top at Toyota Australia HQ, a new motor is now installed. It should have been easier, but the result was good in the end.

And speaking of other things that might get in the way of your next warranty claim, bragging about the latest engine tune or ridiculous suspension modification you’ve made to your new truck on your favourite forum will put you right into the crosshairs of your vehicle maker’s warranty department. They’ve got eyes and they can read and they have long memories. When the motor goes bang or the chassis caves in and for no apparent reason, you’ll likely struggle to argue your case.

Let’s keep our fingers-crossed that the likely $2B (AUD) cost that Toyota Australia are facing to rectify this mess, will make Toyota and others guilty of the same mechanical transgressions, think twice next time their creations fail their consumers. Oh what a feeling!

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