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Why Does My Hilux Blow White Smoke

If you're anything like us, you were bought up to think that it's impossible for a Toyota to have ever made a problematic car. However, there's also a fair chance that in the last few years you've seen a brand new Hilux chugging along the highway and pouring out white smoke.

If you haven't seen this yet, it's been a common problem of late and is actually the subject of a recall and a subsequent class action law suit.

But what is this problem and why is it affecting the new Hilux's?

Plain and simple, the cause of these plumes of white clouds is a continuing problem with the DPF's on these new Hilux's. We've covered DPF's in previous blogs but, the easiest way to think of them is an exhaust gas filter that captures soot particles and burns them off at a higher temperature to lower the impact on the environment.

So what happened with the Hilux?

It's simply a horrible combination of poor design and a policy of selling diesel vehicles to the wrong type of user.

When this current generation of Hilux was released, something went wrong between the exhaust system design and the burn-off procedure in the software. This was only made worse by the insistence of selling the diesel variant to every Tom, Dick and Harry that walked through the door.

While that might seem like a scathing review, it's simply the truth. One of the biggest continual problems with diesels is that they are sold to people that don't use them in the designed manor, and then they have problems.

Realistically (and to this day), diesels have always been the type of vehicle designed for long running under heavy load. This allows them to become hot enough to not only work efficiently but (especially with modern diesels) for the exhaust system treatment to work properly.

Now we understand that the diesels tow better and that they might have slightly better road handling but, many of the people that use these cars tow a caravan or go off-road 1-2 times per quarter. The rest of the time, these poor diesel engines are expected to putter around town with 1 person inside while making a 15 minute drive to the office.

This isn't necessarily the owners fault though. Generations of us have been told that the diesel is the way to go and, with a slightly higher sale price, we guarantee sales people are incentivised to sell them.

So, what can you do if your Hilux has just started smoking?

First and foremost (so long as it's not already in limp mode), take it for a long, hard drive on the freeway. Get it as hot as possible and give the whole system a chance to blow soot out the back.

Then get a service and ask your mechanic to check the remaining soot level if possible. The reason to do a service is that the DPF burn off procedure can seriously contaminate and damage the oil.

If you haven't yet, then go get the software update from Toyota that tells the burn to happen more regularly and repeat the procedure.

If you really don't want the problem to happen again, trade it on a new petrol variant or start using it for the purpose it was intended for. A bonus point is that diesels are much better for the environment as soon as they're running the way they're meant to.


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