A DESIGN flaw in a new piece of diesel engine technology created to reduce soot emissions in new utes has left hundreds of Australian farmers stranded, unable to drive over their stubbles safely.
There have been reports of stubble fires being started by diesel particulate filters (DPFs), a feature on new model diesel utes as part of a push to reduce particulate matter pollution, and farmers are now unwilling to take utes with the new feature over grassy areas.
It means diesel vehicles fitted with the new DPFs will have to be treated the same way as petrol vehicles, which have catalytic converters that also run hot, and be left only for on-road use.
Late last year Ford issued recall notices for its Ranger series of utes, while Mazda took the same step for its BT-50 range.
There is speculation there may be other popular models set to be called back to fix the flaw
It has been reported there have been more than 20 fires in Ranger and BT-50 utes fitted with the new DPF systems.
A Victorian farmer said a fire was started by his Ford Ranger ute at harvest.
Michael Sudholz, who farms at Natimuk in Victoria’s Wimmera, said 60 hectares of crop and stubble had been burnt due to a fire started by a ute.
He said it was initially a puzzle as to how the fire started.
Mr Sudholz said the family was now using an older diesel vehicle, without the DPF, to drive across paddocks.
He said he had been in contact with Ford since then incident, who acknowledged there was a problem.
Ford and Mazda are both contacting all customers with utes fitted with the DPF to inform them of the fire risk posed by driving over long grass.