My Toyota HiLux fuel gauge is wrong…

ByWes WhitworthJanuary 29, 2020
3 MINUTE READ
My Toyota HiLux fuel gauge is wrong…

The fuel gauge on my/the N80 Toyota HiLux seems to be a bit glitchy…when it shows ’empty’ I’ve actually got 25 litres left. And I’m not the only one…

It’s no secret that I went and bought a HiLux as a daily driver and, to be honest, I’m loving little ‘Dusty’ (yep, we called it Dusty – flows better than ‘StuffedDPF’); it’s smooth, tidy, quiet and I’ve not had one DPF or dust-related issue yet (smashes face into wood), but I’m a little confused about an issue I’ve found with the fuel gauge.

You see, I’ve put a little over 10,000km on it since I picked it up and the fuel gauge is off. Consistently. It seems the N80 HiLux (2015-current) has an issue with the fuel gauge and everything to do with the way the amount of fuel remaining in the tank is reported once I hit dead on ’empty’.

You can see in the main picture on this article that the gauge is showing a quarter of a tank remaining and that my distance to empty is only 100km. Only this is nonsense. See, even when I get to an indicated ’empty’ on the gauge and the low-fuel-warning light illuminates, a point at which you’d expect to have somewhere between 80-100km of driving range remaining, my HiLux actually has a decent 25 litres of fuel remaining. And that’s good for around 300km. What the?!

Sure, I get having a bit in there to make it to the next servo if you don’t pay any attention to the fuel gauge in your vehicle, but a reserve of more than 30 per cent capacity is a little over the top wouldn’t you say?

So, I did as any proud ‘Yota owner would do, I mentioned it at the next service interval to the ‘Service Advisor’ only to be told that that’s completely normal, and that’s that. Really? For my thinking, this is a concern in that after I use the first 50-odd litres of diesel, I have no idea how much of that last 25-28-litres I’ve got left, or how desperately I actually need to find a servo. Everything on the dash is already telling me I’ve got no fuel left.

This doesn’t sound like a world-ending problem, right? Probably a first-world problem among much bigger fish that Toyota is facing with its class-action DPF and Dustgate issues… But stay with me.

Where this becomes a real issue, is when I want to do some remote touring in the HiLux. If I’m heading into the outback, and the fuel stops are either at 300km or 600km over hard terrain, let’s say I’ve driven 400km, and my gauge has just hit empty. Do I hope to the off-road gods that I’ll make that last 200 km, or do I turn back, and fuel up? What if I just need to make it 600km over low-range terrain, and once I hit 400km, I’m showing empty? I should still have over a quarter of an actual tank of fuel left so I should be right, yeah? For proper remote touring, this could blow up into a life or death situation, especially if my Satphone is on the fritz, or I’ve left it at home. It’s not really ideal.

But, as I said above, the local Toyota dealer tells me that’s normal to have over a quarter of a tank of diesel left after the gauge reads empty, and that I’m just complaining over nothing. Interestingly enough, after chatting with some folks who also own N80 Toyota HiLuxes that had the same fuel gauge issue, it seems their local dealer has fixed the problem, and the gauge now reads accurately, and once it hits zero/empty there are only about 5-8-litres left in the tank. That’s a much more reasonable figure I’d say.

I’ve reached out to Toyota Australia to see if they can shed any light on why the N80 HiLux’s fuel gauge is so conservative. But then, interestingly, there have been a few punters on N80 forums who have a gauge that actually reads accurately from the factory, so it seems the issue could actually be a faulty/poorly calibrated gauge system on some HiLuxes.

And the response from the N80 crowd has been mixed, with some saying Toyota fixed the ‘problem’, with the gauge now reading empty with just eight-litres of fuel. Other responses ranged from, “So that there’s fuel left in there to help keep your fuel system cool,” to “so you won’t run out of diesel”…

I’ll update this post with more info when it comes to hand, but in the meantime, let us know by leaving a comment if you’ve seen an issue like this with your HiLux or any four-wheel drive for that matter.

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