Toyota and Subaru Face Class-Action Lawsuit Over FR-S, BRZ Valve Spring Recall Fiasco

The recall is said to be doing more damage than the original issue itself, and owners want answers.

Toyota

Back in March, The Drive broke the story about dozens of 2013 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ owners who reported experiencing catastrophic engine failure shortly after a valve spring recall repair largely due to the fact that—full disclosure—I was one of those owners. 

Now, Toyota and Subaru are facing a class-action lawsuit that claims the recall fix is, as we originally theorized, causing more problems than it's preventing, increasing the risk of engine failure and, in some cases, causing cars to dangerously catch fire—just like this FR-S in California did 2,000 miles post-recall. The issue apparently extends beyond the Toyobaru twins as the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek and the Subaru Impreza from model years 2012 to 2014 are named in the lawsuit as well.

kimkong1981/FT86Club

"Unfortunately, and upon information and belief, the Recall Work is not remedying the hazard, but instead, is increasing the risk of valve spring and/or other engine malfunction, is causing catastrophic engine damage to the Class Vehicles, and is increasing the risk of vehicle crashes caused by vehicles suddenly stalling while being driven," reads the lawsuit via Top Class Actions

In late 2018, Subaru issued a recall on a total of 400,000 vehicles over valve springs that are apparently at risk of fracturing, causing engines to stall. Since we first reported on the snafu, the Center for Auto Safety has called on the NHTSA, Toyota, and Subaru to put a stop to the repairs until they figure out what's going on. Meanwhile, an FT86Club-curated spreadsheet of post-recall engine failures has ballooned to 75 cars (62 Scions and 13 Subarus). At a glance, 75 reported failures out of the hundreds of thousands of recalled cars doesn't actually sound that bad, but it's important to note that the entire recall campaign was triggered by just 11 valve spring failures over a three-year period. 

Subaru

Outside of FT86Club, many other owners have come forward with stories on Facebook groups, Reddit, and the comment sections of pretty much every one of The Drive's own stories on the situation—including a detailed account from one Cristian Nunez, the class-action lawsuit's lead plaintiff.

According to the suit, Nunez allegedly brought his 2013 Scion FR-S in for the recall in August 2019. The car's engine died and left him on the side of the road a week later. The Toyota dealership in question later found metal shavings in the engine and claimed that Nunez had done something to cause them "when performing prior engine work himself."

"This was in spite of the fact that (1) Plaintiff informed the technicians that he did not, and had not, performed any work on his own vehicle; and (2) these metal shavings were not present when the same dealership performed the Recall Work on Plaintiff’s car one week prior to these events," the lawsuit asserts.

Toyota

The dealership then allegedly explained to Nunez that he was on the hook for a $6,500 repair before telling the 20-year-old Scion owner that he would have to cough up $1,500 to fly a Toyota rep out for inspection or have the car towed and pick up the tab for the loaner vehicle he was given.

Helmed by Carlson Lynch, the lawsuit calls on U.S. owners or lessees of the 2013 Scion FR-S, 2013 Subaru BRZ, 2012-2014 Subaru Impreza, and 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek who underwent the valve spring recall and suffered engine failure afterward to contact the law firm here.

When reached for comment, a Toyota spokesperson told The Drive, "The safety and security of our customers are top priorities. We will respond to the allegations in this lawsuit in the appropriate forum." Meanwhile, a Subaru rep replied, "We just received the lawsuit and can't comment on it at the moment."