How To Spot and Fix the Oil Clogging Issue That’s Killing 2022 Toyota GR86 Engines
Some GR86 owners have seen an oil tube clogged by the sealant that forms the oil pan gasket. Here are some insights on how to fix that.
A scary and potentially prevalent oil starvation problem with the 2022 Toyota GR86 has been popping up on our radar recently. Anecdotes of sealant clogging up oil tubes and killing engines are now common enough to start big forum threads. We have yet to see a service bulletin from Toyota, but here’s how you could proactively protect your car yourself if your dealer’s service department won’t help.
This nugget from our August 2, 2022 post on the subject lays out the context for what we’re talking about:
“Blake Alvarado, who owns a 2022 GR86, found RTV in the oil pickup of his engine after it failed July 10. RTV is a sealant used as a gasket for the Subaru FA24D engine in the car and is allegedly applied too liberally at the factory. When RTV is dislodged in the engine's oil, it can clog the pickup. That can cause oil starvation and, in Alvarado's case, a ruined bearing.”
The “gasket” referred to in that quote is a strip of RTV sealant that’s laid onto the mating surface of the oil pan. As you may know, the oil pan is basically a little bowl at the bottom of the engine. It’s typically where you’ll find the oil drain plug that you crack open to do a lube change. On the 2022 GR86’s 2.4-liter boxer engine, which is shared with the 2022 Subaru BRZ, the oil pan is sealed up with a bead of RTV sealant to keep it from leaking oil.
RTV stands for “room-temperature vulcanizing” and is so named because it turns into a viable gasket material soon after it’s squeezed out of a tube. Based on reports from owners linked above, it sure looks like that RTV is either melting (potentially as a result of high-rev driving making the oil particularly hot) or just slathered on too excessively in the first place.
Regardless, once that happens and the goo gets sucked into the oil pickup tube (basically a straw that pulls oil out of the pan) it can clog an effectively inaccessible filter. Not the user-removable oil filter—this part is a strainer at the top of the pickup tube inside the oil pan. If oil can’t flow through that tube, it can’t lubricate the engine. Without oil, it doesn’t matter how fast you drive, your engine’s going to seize up and break in short order.
Dropping an oil pan to see if your GR86 or BRZ is suffering from this issue is not a trivial task. But a few YouTubers out there have recently shared good insights and instructables on DIY’ing this problem, which I’ll share and annotate for you.
How To Check for GR86/BRZ RTV Failure Without Dropping the Oil Pan
Self-described former Subaru Master Tech Ezekiel here has a great video on the CM Autohaus channel with steps you can take to mitigate sealant-related oil failures in these cars without taking the plunge on removing the pan. He gives the car a colonoscopy with a borescope (camera on a long bendy line) to peek inside the oil pan through the drain plug, and then cuts the oil filter open to inspect it for RTV debris.
If you do that and don’t find any RTV, you might be good. But as the video host says, it’s still not possible to check the strainer with this method.
How To Clean the GR86/BRZ’s Oil Strainer and Prevent Oil Starvation
If you’re looking to be absolutely sure your FA24D engine’s oil pickup strainer is clean and clear, YouTuber Justin has a very concise breakdown on oil pan removal, strainer cleaning, and re-installation on The BTR Garage channel.
Getting the bolts off shouldn't be too hard, since 2022 model-year cars aren't old enough to be rusty yet. But prying the pan off the engine is going to take patience and leverage. Then peeling the old RTV away, even if some of yours has melted, will be a tedious endeavor too.
As Justin will show you, once you've painstakingly pulled the pan, make sure you carefully but completely get all the gunk you can find out of that oil pickup tube. A long, skinny pick is your friend.
That video includes torque specs and this helpful screenshot of the car’s factory service manual:
General Tips for Addressing The GR86 Oil Pan Sealant Problem
There’s a reason oil pan replacement tends to be kind of expensive—the job is a pain in the ass. Justin’s video there makes it look breezy but if you’re a novice wrench, I wouldn’t take this on unless you’re willing to dedicate a lot of time to it. Justin also takes pains to repeat that, before you do anything, you should talk to your dealership to see if they can take care of this for you under warranty. Ezekiel from the other video brings up the point that the dealership doesn’t have much power in such matters and suggests reaching out to Toyota corporate. If that’s your move, the Toyota Brand Engagement Center can be reached at 1-800-331-4331.
Either way, gather as much intel as you can before you start turning bolts on your brand-new GR86.
I'll reiterate that because these cars are so new, you shouldn’t have too much rust to contend with if you do decide to take this project on. But scraping that gasket off has to be done carefully. You really don’t want to mar either mating surface, and pulling RTV is not like removing a sticker. You’ll be scraping and prying and cursing and crying for hours to get the old stuff off, even on a car’s first oil change. Don’t lose patience and scratch it or you might have leaks!
And of course, when you’re re-installing, you’ll want to choose an exceptional high-temp sealant and lay it down very carefully. I would recommend doing some forum research on what people are using. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if an aftermarket gasket is released soon to address this.
If you go through all this work only to discover that, hey, your oil strainer was fine and not clogged after all, at least you can re-seal the system with an RTV you trust and sleep soundly knowing your Toyobaru won't have a heart attack on the track. At least, not because of this issue.
As for making warranty claims, I get the sense that Toyota will hold out as long as it can to avoid re-sealing the oil pan of every GR86 and Subaru BRZ that's on the road. But the company has been made aware of everything we've written above and hopefully will figure out some kind of solution that works for owners and dealers.
Toyota’s statement on GR86 Oil Starvation Issues
Thus far, Toyota has not issued any official response or acknowledgment to the allegations that this oil strainer clogging and subsequent starvation is a mass issue and/or covered by warranty. Upon direct inquiry, the corporate reply was predictably vague, but here you go:
The Toyota GR brand is driven by enthusiasts and focused on delivering incredible experiences wherever the driver may take their vehicles, including the closed-course settings for which their vehicles are designed, so long as they are driven in a manner that falls within the terms of the warranty.
While the vehicle’s warranty excludes damage that results from activities such as misuse and racing, simply participating in National Auto Sport Association (NASA) High Performance Driving Events (HPDE) or similar NASA instructional events provided complimentary to GR owners would not, in and of itself, void the warranty. Warranty claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
As always, we encourage customers who experience any issues with their vehicle to contact their authorized Toyota dealer or call the Toyota Brand Engagement Center (1-800-331-4331) when a dealer is not able to resolve a matter.
I asked for a follow-up about pending service bulletins on this and will update this post if I get more insight. Using a good old-fashioned gasket, or maybe an RTV with better heat resistance seems like a pretty easy fix to me, but I don’t engineer cars, I just drive 'em and occasionally make “vroom-vroom” noises with my mouth.
If you have a Toyobaru (Toyota GR86 or Subaru BRZ), particularly a new one with this new engine, don’t hesitate to hit the comment section with your own insights and experience. We’ll continue investigating and do everything we can to help enthusiasts enjoy their cars with peace of mind, not in fear that some excessive oil temps might give their car the automotive equivalent of coronary thrombosis.
Useful Tools for Addressing the GR86 Oil Starvation Issue
If you're even considering dropping the oil pan on your BRZ or GR86, I'd imagine you already have basic things like gasket scrapers, picks, and of course, a good ratchet set. But this post also mentions a borescope—that's a bit more of an oddball. Check some local auto parts store to see if they'll loan you one for free. Of the easy Amazon options, this "Hiacinto" model seemed the most appealing to me for its extra-tiny camera stick. If you have an Android phone, this attachable borescope camera from Klein Tools is much cheaper and I've had good luck with that brand.
As for RTV sealants, Permatex Ultra Grey is often peoples' default but I just found this Permatex Optimum Grey stuff promising "outstanding resistance to oils" and heat resistance of 700 degrees(!). If your oil gets that hot, you've got bigger problems than a clogged strainer.
The Drive may get affiliate fees if you buy stuff from those links but that's not my department and I don't get Permatex kickbacks. Those are just some starting points I thought some of you might find helpful.