Dirty Diesel.

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 18:06
ThreadID: 108527 Views:8308 Replies:10 FollowUps:21
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I own a 79 series v8 Toyota diesel ute. It has as of now 58441 klm's on the dial. It has always been serviced by Toyota. Three services so far.

Very recently because of an upcoming trip I submitted it for its 60000klm service. Because of recent trips and experience I now change the fuel filter every 20000klms.
At the recent service I had the filter changed which is the third fuel filter in this vehicle.
An after market fuel filter was on the to do list but because of "other things" getting in the way it never happened. It now has priority.

Heading off this morning from Ipswich down to the Gold Coast and with approximately 50klms on the clock since the last service on comes the fuel filter warning light.
Now my mind has conjured up all sorts of conspiracy theories and so on. But being a Saturday arvo nothing can be done before Monday morning. I rang the Toyota dealer and all service staff have knocked off.

My problem with the filter will be sorted out Monday, either in a sensible calm manner or in a "let's start WW3" right now way.

But my other gripe now is how much can a motorist take when it comes to dirty fuel. When the first fuel warning came on with ten thousand K on the dial a Toyota mechanic informed me that I had put "dirty fuel " in the tank. A mate who owns a Nissan has had the same problem and been told the same story. It's your fault!! The second fuel warning came 20000klm ago halfway across the Barkly hwy.

I live in Brisbane and only buy fuel from the major players. When I travel, I mainly purchase from the major players.
Why is it that I purchase "new" an expensive 4wd, add all sorts of expensive chassy upgrades plus a slide on camper. I then head off to cruise around this wonderful country.
So far in this vehicle it's been to every state in Oz. I have out laid a small fortune all up.
My tough or good luck you say!,,
But I have to continually run a dangerous gauntlet of service stations selling dirty fuel. They may as well put out a sign saying " get your dirty fuel here". And these are major player servos. Bp, Caltex,Coles, Woolies.
I am 66 years old and I have no idea how fuel is made. But I do know how it's sold and it's sold out of a nice clean roadhouse with all sorts of other stuff on offer. Plus it's discounted etc..etc.

I just wish they could sell it to me cleanly. Is there such a thing as "organic diesel" or "fair trade" diesel.
My spit and thanks for reading.

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Reply By: murranji - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 18:26

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 18:26
I have had experience as others have had of filter light coming on when a big burst of acceleration is needed.
Replaced filter at next available stop and it was not too bad according to Toyota service.{200 series}
Point I am trying to make is don't be expecting the worst ,may be as above.??
AnswerID: 535148

Follow Up By: JimDi - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 20:39

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 20:39
Hi Murranji, What surprised me the most in this case was that the filter is fifty kilometres old. As Toyota does not have a servicing schedule for these things I have decided that it needs to be done about every 20000ks.
Anyway I am expecting a call Monday from the service centre and I will see what happens.
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 18:56

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 18:56
Dirty fuel is a problem. I do two things. 1. always carry at least 2 fuel filters and have had practice changing them. If the fuel filter light comes on I stop immediately and change the filter and then cut the old filter open to see how bad it is. You then have to assess whether you should drive it or not. 2. I have fitted a Terrain Tammer fuel filter that is designed not to restrict the fuel flow which should pick up any big stuff before it gets to the main filter. Carry spares for them as well.
You can also look at the fuel coming out of the nozzle for the first few litres, use a Mr Funnel, or squirt the first litre or so into a glass jar, and I am sure there are other things that could also be done.
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Follow Up By: JimDi - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 20:42

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 20:42
Thanks Chris,
Spares will be purchased with the replacement and then it's just a case of learning to fit them.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:15

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:15
A dirty diesel filter will not cause damage to the injection system or engine as the filters filtering ability doesn't decrease but increases..... Unlike an oil filter that when blocked starves the engine of oil until the bypass valve opens and the oil gets circulated unfilted.
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Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 21:17

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 21:17
The filter will continue to filter out particulates but water will get through unless you have a very large water trap. I don't know about the Yota filters but the one in my Nissan D40 will only trap a small amount of water before the light comes on. And when it does I do exactly what the book says........pull up as soon as it is safe to do so and turn the engine off. Water is a killer in modern common rail engines.........and the fix can be very very very expensive.
FollowupID: 819087

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 08:20

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 08:20
The Toyota's have a two stage light, if it flashes there is water in the water trap but if it stays on it means the filter is becoming restrictive and needs replacing at some stage soon.

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Reply By: Gronk - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:04

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:04
I bought a 200 series 2 months ago(used), and although the 4wd was immaculate, within 2000K's the fuel light came on....

Undid the filter and it was full of algae looking crap.....emptied the stuff out, flushed it out a bit.........bolted back up....reset the warning light...and bought a new filter at the next dealer (Tamworth )..

Changed the filter ( I'll admit I had zero knowledge of Toyotas ) and all good....

Will keep an eye on it ...probably every 5,000K's....

Motto to the story.....learn to do some things yourself...the dealers won't...and something like the fuel filter is dead easy.....
AnswerID: 535151

Follow Up By: Slow one - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:18

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:18
if you have algae in the filter, you will have algae in the tank. That means you will either have to clean the tank or use an algae killer to get rid of it.
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Follow Up By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 14:01

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 14:01
Once in Meekatharra when the town was down to the last bit of diesel I picked up a tank of algae fuel. The algae grows in the gab between water and fuel. It lives in the water but feeds on the hydrocarbons of the fuel. This means when a fuel station is down to the last dregs you can get some algae or when the have just received a tanker fill up and things get stirred up you can receive some algae.

This algae quickly blocked my filter. I carry two spares always so got home OK by changing filters. Then down to COVS to buy some algae killer diesel additive. Worked well but still two more filters before it was all clean.

I now run a Water Watch sensor which has a glass bowl and picks up the sludge first. Seems to have worked and yes sometimes the bowl has some dirt in there that I clean out.

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Reply By: Ross M - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:23

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:23
G;day Jim
If doesn't matter if it is an expensive 4WD or a cheaper one or what you have fitted, both aren't a factor in the fuel issue.
A V8 Landcruiser will suck more fuel than some others and especially when under acceleration and load. Hence restriction may occur earlier due to contamination.
That means the fuel filter is likely to have a fair bit of fuel passed through it in it's life, however long or short that might be.

Where you buy isn't really a certainty that you will get clean fuel.

So far it appears you have been lucky, no failures, although you probably don't think that.
Your filter has indicated it requires changing and the comment about the dirty fuel from the service person is just a seat of the pants comments/observation. Maybe it was, maybe it was just normal for the amount of fuel through it with some expected contaminant load in the fuel.

A CRD engine runs the, whole fuel tank's volume, through the system AND the filter a couple of times in an hour or so (depend on make/system size) and is actually cleaning the tank while also attempting to supply clean fuel to the engine.
Some trucks use a pump and filter purely to circulate the fuel through the filter and return to the tank independently of the engine fuels system. Called "Fuel Polishing", it cleans the tank and leaves the contents as clean as it can for the system to use. ie, less engine fuel filter blockage.

In your case you should at least carry two spare fuel filters so someone can help you when a dealer can't OR learn to change the filter yourself so you aren't held up AND the potential for engine fuel system damage remaining while you "drive to seek" help, is avoided.

If fitting an aftermarket pre filter system it should be far larger in volume of flow than the OE filter, ie, flow rating, so it has the capacity to pre filter and hold, therefore restricted/blocked to some degree, but still able to pass sufficient fuel flow for all engine operating conditions.

That will rule out many of the commonly promoted fuel filter kits.
OR you can fit TWO of those fuel filter kits.
Two plumbed in parallel so
You have half of any expected restriction = almost nil restriction,
Twice the fuel flow capacity,
Twice the filter area,
Twice the sump water catching ability
because the filter will also have a dewatering feature to assist the removal of emulsified water, ie,the stuff held in the fuel itself and not obvious droplets.
You should then see a far longer life out of your fuel filters relative to any type of contamination.
For a 3L CRD I use a Donaldson P902976 filter kits but unless a different larger flow filter is used, two of those used as suggested will be cost effective and easy to change for a fair degree of protection.

I wouldn't like to be in the situation one 200 series owner was in, where he rang the dealer because of water alert. Was told to drive to dealers. Dealer didn't change the filter, merely drained the water because the service interval wasn't due. After 300km he had a total fuel system replacement. PUMP and INJECTORS.
Possibly the fuel filter did indeed require replacement and a wise move would have been to install one at the time of the water problem.

Nothing is perfect but for a reasonable cost and preparedness to do some checking/replacement yourself you can increase your insurance.

Just because many have a pre filter and have had no trouble with the size they have means they haven't hit it's limits yet.
AnswerID: 535152

Follow Up By: JimDi - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:52

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 19:52
Thanks Ross, I am going to have read your comments over a few times in order for it to sink in. But it makes sense. And you are right about my luck. Second time the light came on I drove across the Barkly to Mt Isa. It was not the best drive of my life but it was the most memorable as far as anxiety levels went.
I will get a call Monday from the service people and I will work something out from there. I will also seek someone with more tech savvy than I to look at your recommendations.

Some other contributors have suggested carrying spares and fitting them myself which I will also take on.

But in all honesty it seems to me that there has to be a better way. It seems to me that putting diesel in your tank these days is akin to putting seawater in your radiator.
FollowupID: 818995

Follow Up By: Ross M - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 20:34

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 20:34
No manufacturer that I know of have a water sensor in the tank and rarely have a method of draining it out. So not easy there.
In such a case I would carry/do carry, a length of plastic tubing which can be weighted securely and fed into the tank to the lowest spot.
With the vehicle suitably positioned ie rear up, one side down, the tube can be used to draw contaminants and water out of the lowest part of the tank.
No need to drain the whole tank, juts until crap stops flowing, if present.
You would only have to consider this IF the filler arrangement is indicating a problem exists.

Difficult though, if there is a baffle plate or one way inner valve in the filler.

Most people don't do this, but with an inline 12v pump ie, older Commodore fuel pump, and the hose as mentioned, the tank can be pumped out and through a portable filter and the fuel returned to tank so it reduces/eliminates the water and contaminant issue to a high degree.
Just something to manage a problem if it becomes reality.
There are many things people can do, it seems not many bother and rely on items provided by dealers and reseller sales places or just trust all will be OK.
Fuel problems both petrol and diesel have been a happening for as long as I can remember. It is called the supply chain, just has a few rusty links that is all.
FollowupID: 818998

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:31

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:31
Ross post is correct on how the filter works on a CRD engine..... Compared to the dinosaur systems of yesterday the CRD filters flow more fuel 10 fold..... People forgot on the older systems filters would get changed every service by some and in many cases on the third to sixth 5000 k service if by the book.... It's a feel good thing!

Most CRD fuel filters have a 150,000 k service life under ideal conditions but many get replaced sooner then that..... It also depends on fuel tank size.

Regarding the dealer not replacing the filter when the water warning light came on...... Chances are the damage had already started and the dealer should of told him not to drive it if the water light was on and explained to him what to do it...... Or maybe the owner should of read the owners manual before he put it in the bottom draw in the shed.
FollowupID: 819074

Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 21:44

Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 21:44
The problem is that diesel fule is fundamentally prone to contamination....this is why all diesel vehicles have large fuel filters and water traps.

Our diesel fuel supply is cleaner than it has ever been......the problem is that the filtration fitted to all common rail pasenger cars is just not up to the job.

The common rail engines have little or no tolerance for contaminated fuel so their filters have to be pretty fine...so they clog easily.

ALL the manufacturers have cut corners, knowing full well that is its an issue.

Look at most of the modern earthmoving equipment and big diesel trucks...thay have far more sofisticated and capable fuel filter systems.

Its just one of the major reasons not to buy common rail.

AnswerID: 535159

Reply By: PeteS - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 07:45

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 07:45
G'day Jim,

I have my OEM filter changed every 20k and I always as to see the old filter when I pick up my vehicle. May I suggest they possibly didn't change your filter?

Best keep the filter light reset procedures in your glove box along with details on how to change the filter. Also keep a spare filter, the correct sized Allen key, some 5mm (from memory) clear plastic tube with a small bottle to drain some fuel out and inspect.

I fitted another filter before the OEM unit. It has a glass bowl, water alarm and easily changeable filter. I like the glass bowl as I can visually inspect the fuel regularly.

Hope all goes well in the resolution of the issue.

AnswerID: 535164

Follow Up By: bluefella - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:37

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 08:37
I'll go with Pete I don't think they changed it, ask for the filter they replace this time, cut it open and check. The problem of some Toyota service not changing filters has been noted on another forum.
I think the reason being it is not listed as part of a service schedule, it is replaced when the light comes on, the young fella doing the service reads from the schedule.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:34

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:34
I know someone will pipe up about dealer bashing..

But ya just cant trust dealers.....they as a group have a very long history of cutting corners not doing what they should.....that has not changed.

Right up at the top in the list of things in the things they should do, but frequently dont is changing diff and transfer case oil and replacing fuel filters.

they are things that are considered out of sight and don't matter.

I am a serial used car buyer....to date in over 30 years and nearly 20 cars.....I have not once.....gone to change a fuel filter as part of my post purchase routine and not found it well and truly overdue.

Fuel filters are so much over looked....it may well be an issue.

Remember too....most of the workshops, mechanics and unqualified drones doing the dealer service come from a petrol fuel pasenger car background and are not diesel mechanics..so they may not grasp the importance of certain things involved in diesel motors.

FollowupID: 819039

Follow Up By: JimDi - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:57

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:57
The problem of if the dealer changed the filter in this case will be easily resolved. Earlier I mentioned that the last warning light came on halfway across the Barkly hwy. when we arrived at Toyota Mt Isa they advised that they had no genuine Toyota fuel filters and would have to install non genuine. I have no idea what a non genuine looks like compared to a genuine but I am sure someone will.

The thought crossed my mind that they may have overlooked changing the filter but the invoice assures me they at least charged me for it. If they have changed it then that creates another problem and that is that my vehicle travelled 50klm and the fuel filter warning light came back on.

We have purchased fuel from both remote stations in the Kimberley to downtown Brisbane , Adelaide and Sydney. So as well as fitting after fuel filters etc I may now have to look at my tanks.
It's enough to make me wanna buy a push bike except I would be too frightened to ride it on the road.
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Follow Up By: bluefella - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 13:01

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 13:01
For the life of me I can't understand how Toyota or anyone else can say "service when the light comes on" by that time it's close to being
had it, for peace of mind I change mine every 10,000k's, A lot of folks spend big $$$$ on accessories and some of them are never used because the situation hasn't arose. But steer away from spending a few $$ on a fuel filter every 10'000k's that could save HUGE repair bills.
Just my opinion
( I carry 2 spares )
FollowupID: 819052

Follow Up By: Dave(NSW) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 14:39

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 14:39
One of the main reasons for getting water and/or algae is that a lot of people don't fill there tanks right up, Either because of the price of diesel or because they don't want to carry a couple hundred litres around when not needed. Diesel motors have a fuel return line that puts hot fuel back into your fuel tank, So overnight it will cause condensation & can promote the growth of algae.
Cheers Dave

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Follow Up By: bluefella - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 16:32

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 16:32
Good point Dave, I keep mine as full as possible.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 08:35

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 08:35
Bluefella.... what's the point of changing a diesel filter on a CRD engine when it's not needed, when it starts to becomes restrictive and the light comes on then you change it.

There is no benefit in changing it early, we ran 2000K with a restrictive filter light on and could not tell any difference in performance or fuel consumption.

The restriction light comes on with the slightest filter restriction.

Yes a lot of folks spend big $$$$ on accessories and some of them are never used because the situation hasn't arose..... and more spend money on servicing and replacing parts that's not needed.

If it makes you feel good keep doing it.

I would sooner carry a spare and change it when the light came on.

Yes it is only $25 but changing it every 10k means there is a greater chance of contaminant entering the fuel system down stream from the filter..... if it gets change every 50k, up to 100k you have reduced the risk of contamination 8 times compared to is it was done every 10k.
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Reply By: Gronk - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:13

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:13
Toyota dealers will NOT change the filter during a normal service ...EVER.....

It's not part of their schedule...seems stupid, but that's how it is..

But to check the filter is dead easy....undo 3 bolts...lift up the top cover...lift out the filter...look at it ( replace if dirty ) then put the cover back on...pump the plunger 40 times....start the 4wd and alls good ( this is for the 4.5 ltr deisel )
AnswerID: 535210

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:31

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 18:31
Hope you have a good, and inexpensive outcome, Jim.

Don't know why Toyota went back to one filter on the V8's, after the two filters on the 1HZ & turbo versions of the 75 & 79 models. Even the 80 series turbo's that we owned in the past, had a fuel filter, literally as big as a 44g drum. Suppose that's progress, eh?

Found this image while surfing earlier. Thought it might come in handy, Jim?


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 19:41

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 19:41
Jim! It's not that you are sold dirty fuel, the fuel delivered to the servo is clean. Its the sludge and water and algae that build up in the bottom of the tank that you end up with. Normally its not a problem if the ground tanks are topped up with a reasonable amount of fuel still in the tank. When the tanks are very low, the 4" filler hose stirs up the crap in the bottom of the tank and if you turn up in the next hour or two, you cop it! It happened to me, it stopped my Patrol when it was only a few months old, its very disheartening to happen to a brand new vehicle! Fortunately I had a BP fuel card and BP could tie in my purchase to the fuel tanker drop a few minutes earlier! I actually saw the tanker leave as I drove in but I was pre occupied and forgot to ask the operator what tank he filled up! BP were great, paid for the repairs and followed up later to make sure I was perfectly happy with the outcome! So if you see a tanker delivering fuel at a servo, if you can, find another servo ! Michael
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AnswerID: 535219

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 19:52

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 19:52
So I'd guess you have already drained some diesel from the plug on the bottom of the filter and reset the warning light?
Its very simple to do and saves you having a rant on eploroz about dirty diesel that you do not have.
AnswerID: 535221

Follow Up By: JimDi - Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 22:01

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 22:01
That guess of yours would be wrong Phil. I am assuming that you are suggesting "rant" in a friendly type way. If your not...what can I say it's a free world and I am a paid up member.

In another life I was involved in finance and business not good on the mechanical side of things that's why I rely heavily on the likes of Toyota and their mechanics and their advice and knowledge. And pay for it.

Plus I got a heap of good advice that I will now follow up on.

My thanks to everyone who replied.

FollowupID: 819092

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 18:00

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 18:00
Hi Jim,
I find this forum a bit frustrating these days, having been a member for 10 years. It seems like most of the respondants above have not read your original post, and have gone into a rant of their own.

The way I read it your light has come on after getting the fuel filter changed only 50km ago. To me that means the service guys have not reset the warning light when they changed your filter.

For future reference, it is a very simple procedure to check for water or rubbish in your fuel - that's why Toyota were smart enough to put a stopcock on the bottom of the filter - just loosen the stopcock 3 turns, connect a 1/4" hose going into a glass jar, then pump the bellows until you have fuel in the jar -hold it up to the light and see what's there. In your case, it is most likely nothing, then reset the light by disconnecting the fuel pressure sensor on the top of the filter, turn the ignition on, then reconnect. Both are very simple procedures, that anyone who travels off the beaten track should be able to do.

I support what Toyota recommend in not having a service interval. They are aware that "technicians" can be a bit sloppy when they change a fuel filter and may introduce dirt when doing so. Rather than brand, I buy from servos with high diesel turnover so I prefer truckstops. I also prefer BP because their diesel is aat least 50 cetane which is the recommendation in your manual fot the Landcruiser V8.

Hope they sorted your problem today.

FollowupID: 819142

Follow Up By: JimDi - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 18:38

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 18:38
Thanks for that reply and explanation Phil. I do appreciate you taking the time and effort.
I will find out tomorrow when my wife Diane runs the ute down to Robina Toyota. The Ipswich Toyota rang first thing this morning but I don't want to drive back that way , too much to do.
Unfortunately I am on a flight to Sydney to check on a brother in hospital, so I won't be there . But it will be in capable hands with Di..trust me.

My main frustration ,I suppose, is that over six services and two forced changes of fuel filters when the warning light came on. All this over roughly 60000klm of travel. At the end of the day we have had to work out our own servicing schedule and we finally decided from our experience that every 20000klm was the go. Hence it was our request to replace the filter at the last service. When the light came on after around 50klms....well.

I will not be too upset with Toyota if it turns out they have not replaced the filter. I have employed and supervised people in the past and have too often had to go out and calm down irate customers who have copped it thru slackness.

Thanks for your advice on checking fuel. Sometime shortly I will lift the bonnet and go thru it all and learn to do it myself. We do find ourselves in isolated areas and whilst there is generally plenty of traffic around it is just something I will have to get to grips with.
FollowupID: 819145

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 20:41

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 20:41
We have replaced the filter on our 200 series 3 times in it's 45,000 k life.........once with only 5000 k between changes.

Others we know with 200 series have not changed theres in 80,000 k.
FollowupID: 819151

Follow Up By: JimDi - Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 22:14

Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 22:14
Ours has been along these lines. First one around the10000k mark. Second filter at around 39000k mark. So heading away we decided to service early at 58000k mark and thus ordered a change of filter.
After experiencing the warning light come on the second time, and realising that Toyota would not give us a clear signal on maintenance we decided on a 20000k replacement schedule, that is,every second service.

Another reason for this decision was cost. When we replaced the first filter at the 10000 k service we were charged an additional $50 on top of the fixed price service by Toyota Kedron. The light came on just down the road from them.

The second time the warning light came on was approximately 400klm from Mt Isa. We scraped into Mt Isa Toyota 20 mins before closing and they charged a total of $150 for labour and a replacement filter that was non genuine. Ipswich Toyota charged us an additional $38 for a genuine filter recently.

Which brings me back to my original gripe. I have no idea what the gross domestic turnover of the Australian car industry is but it must be billions and I have no idea of the quality of the fuel I am pouring down the neck of my vehicle. Something I do on a regular basis.
FollowupID: 819154

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