NSW Purchased Toyota Lemon Car - Where Do I Stand?

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7 November 2016
My Toyota Prius had a major service at my local dealer at a cost of $1.2K on 27/08/16, on 03/09/16, after just 300 kms of driving since the service, is when my Prius displayed "check hybrid system" warning. The dealer was able to look at my Prius on 08/09/16 and that is where the car was for almost 2 months.

After some testing, Toyota found that there was a fault with the hybrid battery which was still covered under Toyota's 8year/160000 km warranty and was replaced on 12/09/16. However, there was still a fault code present which was P0A94.

On 06/10/16, Toyota HO advised the dealer that they must follow the workshop manual and replace the transistor kit. After this is replaced if the fault is still there then they have to continue to check wiring from the inverter to the transmission and the transmission itself.

To replace the transistor kit, I was quoted $2220.00 and labour $420. The dealer also advised that this is the next step in the diagnosis procedure and may not resolve the issue. The faulty Transistor Kit may also have affected the Hybrid transaxle assembly. The Hybrid transaxle can be replaced for $6198.00.

I've been doing some research on the transistor kit which is a part of the hybrid system intelligent power module (IPM). In the US and Australia, there was a recall done on this car in February 2014. The recall was basically to update the software used to control the boost converter contained within the hybrid system intelligent power module.

During high-load driving such as accelerating from a stop may cause higher thermal stress on the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors. These transistors could deform or become damaged, resulting in various warning lights illuminating and in most cases the vehicle will enter failsafe mode. The vehicle can still be driven certain distances but with reduced motive power.

Despite the recall, the Prius worldwide has had transistor failure and hybrid transaxle assembly failure. Toyota US has acknowledged this and given a 15 year unlimited KM warranty on the IPM and associated parts which includes the hybrid transaxle assembly. This same recall was done on my car on 22/05/14. Toyota HO responded through the dealer that the laws in America are different to here in Australia and the car is out of the 3 year /100000km warranty period .

The Office of Fair Trading were not able to assist as Toyota responded to them with exactly what they responded to me with, saying that I can spend almost $2.7K to replace the transistor kit which may not fix the problem.

I'm also unsure if the 2011 Australian Consumer Law can assist me, since the car is a December 2009 vehicle, which I purchased second hand in 2014 (not from the same dealer). I did 6 monthly services at this particular dealer since ownership, and prior to that it had regular services at various Toyota dealers as the car was previously a Westpac fleet car.


The Fair Trading Act and Trade Practices Act preceded the Australian Consumer Law and would apply to issues prior to 2011. However in circumstances where the vehicle is 7 or more years old and the faults were arising years after you purchased it second hand, I'm not sure that you coudl rely on the consumer guarantees that would normally come to the aid of someone who has suffered loss as a result of a crappy product or service.

The consumer warranties of fitness for purpose and acceptable quality were available under the old legislation in mostly the same form as they appear in the ACL now, however the older a vehicle is, the harder it becomes to argue that it wasn't of acceptable quality.

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