Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Consumers demand Camry recall

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Consumers yesterday demanded that Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), a domestic dealer for Japan's Toyota Motor Co, recall Camry sedans after 30 such vehicles were found to have major oil leaks.

More than 30 taxi drivers yesterday told the media that serious oil leaks were found in their newly bought Camry sedans, suggesting the flaw poses a safety threat.

"It occurred after my car hit around 50,000km at the end of last year," said Chen Ming-tsao (陳明灶), chairman of a committee representing 1,850 drivers who offer services to and from Taipei's Sungshan Airport, at a press conference yesterday.

Chen said the car was only a year old at the time.

"Every [Camry] experienced the same situation," Chen said, adding the leaks are a fire hazard.

According to the complaints, the leaks were found mostly in the Camry 2.0 and 2.0E models, all of which rolled off the production line in 2002, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said at the press conference.

The leaks were mostly found at the cylinder head where sludge and grime has accumulated, he said.

"Hotai admitted this morning [before the press conference] that something was wrong with their production line," Chen said.

But this is not what the victims were told when they complained to Hotai.

"When I drove back for repairs, they said there was no problem. They told me, `Just wipe it clean,'" said Chu Mao-jung (朱茂榮), another taxi driver.

Chu said some drivers spent around NT$10,000 for repairs as Hotai refused to fix the problem.

Also attending the conference yesterday, Wu Cheng-hsuel (吳政學), ombudsman at the Consumer Protection Commission, called on Hotai to recall the dubious vehicles for overhauls in accordance with Article 10 of the Consumer Protection Law (消保法).

If companies refuse to recall the products in question, the authorities are entitled to order recalls and even impose fines of up to NT$1.5 million, according to Article 36 and Article 58 of the law, Wu said.

In this case, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications will have to exercise administrative supervision to safeguard consumers' rights and interests, he added.

A Hotai official dismissed the accusation yesterday.

"This flaw will not affect the cars' functioning and poses no safety hazard," Hotai spokesman Steven Yang (楊湘泉) told the Taipei Times.

As some cylinder blocks were insufficiently glued, oil would leak out after the engines have run for a long time, Yang said.

"But the leaked oil is only a small amount. We have not heard of any damages or incidents caused by this," he said.

The company sold around 30,000 Camry models in the country in 2002.

Yang said he didn't know whether the problem has also been seen in other countries.

"If Camry owners have doubts about oil leaks, they are welcome to have their cars examined and will be offered free repairs if leakages are confirmed," he said. Refunds are available if car owners have paid for such repairs.

More information is available by calling Hotai's free service hotline at 0800-221345.

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