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Why your Toyota HiLux could lose engine power

Drivers behind the wheel of one of Australia’s most popular vehicles may experience a loss in engine power because of an apparent design fault, according to reports.

The Toyota HiLux Diesel ute, the top selling car in Australia in April 2020, has been found to have an issue with the intake inlet system which causes the vehicle to drop into ‘limp home’ mode, which shuts down a variety of functions, including some safety features.

Other Toyota models may also be impacted.

The design fault stems from dust particles possibly leaking past the air filter to affect the mass air flow sensor, which is in charge of the engine’s fuel-to-air ratio.

Once affected, the engine will change into limp mode, which turns off both stability and traction control as the onboard readings are affected. Drivers are instructed to make their way to a Toyota dealer.

The fault could be present in vehicles built from 2015 onwards.

A fix has been requested from Japan, but Toyota Australia says that it is not a safety issue, and will not issue a recall.

“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,” a Toyota Australia spokesperson stated.

“We do however encourage customers to contact their nearest dealer as soon as possible if this issue does present itself.”

The issue presented itself earlier this year, when journalists for an online automotive website encountered the ‘limp home’ mode four times while reviewing a press vehicle. The issue was later identified as dust particles leaking past the air filter and contaminating the mass air flow sensor.

Since the fault was first identified, intake issues have also been found on Fortuner and Prado models, with the total number of affected Toyota vehicles close to 200,000, according to reports.

Despite the concerns, Toyota Australia says the issue only emerges in extremely dusty conditions, but some news sources and driving enthusiasts, including, have pointed out that dusty conditions are common environments for the HiLux, with Toyota selling the model as an off-roader.

What should I do if I own a HiLux?

For those who own potentially affected HiLux models, Toyota has announced that it will retrofit parts free of charge, with drivers encouraged to contact their local dealer for more information should they experience problems.

With no date for the potential fix, Toyota has recommended that vehicles have their air intakes cleaned more regularly.

“At this stage exact timing is not known, as any change to the intake system will affect emissions and homologation and therefore will require extensive re-testing,” said Toyota’s spokesperson.

“At this stage we believe it will not make it in time for the next technical change, but we will endeavor to expedite this so it is implemented at the earliest production opportunity.”

With Toyota also one of the vehicle manufacturers to issue a recall in response to the Takata air bag scandal, the issue could impact the brand’s popularity in the Australian market.

Toyota scored four stars for reliability and overall customer satisfaction in Canstar Blue’s 2018 review of new cars.

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