SYDNEY, Australia: A woman received a notice from the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority about her new car, which has excessive smoke issues.
The notice told Kyle Kinchela to fix her Toyota Hilux or face a fine of up to $2,000 even though her car had just been serviced.
“You are advised that if an authorized officer reports your vehicle emitting smoke… a penalty notice ranging from $300 to $2,000 can be imposed,” the notice 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 said.
She was surprised when she called the EPA and they stated that they were aware of issues with Toyota vehicles.
At least 10 consecutive seconds of smoke coming out of an exhaust may result in a fine by the EPA.
State and territory environment protection authorities have sent more than 1,200 warning notices to drivers in the past year about their polluting cars, including hundreds of Toyotas with excessive smoke issues.
Faulty Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) cause the vehicles to spew out smelly white smoke and consume more fuel.
Suzanne Harter, a clean energy campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation, said Australia needed to tighten standards to stop it from becoming a dumping ground for less-efficient, more-polluting cars.
“I think it speaks to a larger problem in Australia that we need to improve our standards, improve our testing regimes… and make sure the vehicles that are coming into our country are both fuel efficient and are able to protect public health better,” Harter emphasized.
She said the lack of standards can put motorists who have recently purchased a vehicle with a failing system in a difficult position.
Victoria’s EPA received 5,271 reports of excessive smoke from vehicles in 2018-19, an increase of 445 reports from the previous year.
Last year, 339 of those reports were for people driving a Toyota Hilux, the most of any car, though the data does not specify if it was white smoke.
A report of a smoky car is at least 10 consecutive seconds of smoke coming out of an exhaust.
Victoria has the most comprehensive data, but does not breakdown the reports into much detail, for example, it does not specify whether the smoke is black or white.
Toyota is being sued as part of a class action over faulty DPFs in the Hilux, Fortuner and Prado vehicles sold in Australia between October 2015 and July 2019.
A class action filed in the Federal Court could affect up to 250,000 Toyota drivers nationwide.
Lawyers allege Toyota Australia had been installing faulty DPFs in its vehicles. Faulty DPFs are known to cause white smoke, while black smoke is an indicator of other problems.
“We believe consumers are entitled to compensation for the defect we allege is in the vehicles,” Charles Bannister from Bannister Law said.
One Hilux owner, Mark Wolfe, said fuel efficiency problem is costing him $70 per week.
Toyota has launched a customer service campaign, but not a recall and said it was working with customers to fix the issue.