Toyota GR86 Owner Says Toyota Denied Warranty After Engine Exploded on Track

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a GR86 engine fail catastrophically on track—or the first time Toyota’s played hardball with the warranty.

byPeter Holderith|
Toyota News photo
LUNK via YouTube

Toyota is having issues with its new Subaru-powered GR86. Another of the two-door sports cars suffered engine failure at a track day event, and the automaker has refused to repair the vehicle under warranty. The car's owner, who prefers to go by just Luke, said a local Toyota dealership in Massachusetts and the manufacturer refused to cover his failed engine, and said it was abused on track. Luke has a video of his warmup laps when the failure happened. You can decide for yourself whether what you see is abuse.

The failure occurred Sunday at Palmer Motorsports Park, about an hour west of Boston. Luke signed up for an HPD session that day with his 2022 GR86, and although he had heard of Blake Alvarado's situation, which we covered last year, he wasn't worried. "I had heard of the RTV issues but generally [thought] that the issue was likely overblown." RTV, a gasket material used in the Subaru engines, has been found in the lubrication systems of several vehicles. Owners have claimed the substance is to blame for the failures, but neither Toyota nor Subaru has publicly addressed the alleged issue.

About five minutes after Luke's lap began, he felt something was wrong. "Initially [I] thought a fender liner or something had come loose and was knocking against the tire, as I had a helmet on, and wasn't really expecting engine failure during warmup," he told us. "Eventually, it got really loud and I pulled over as shown." By seven minutes into the video, his car was knocking badly and he stopped trackside in a cloud of smoke.

Luke's 2022 GR86 only has around 19,000 miles on the odometer. Whether he was racing or abusing the car, as he claims Toyota Corporate says he was, is up to you. We reached out to the automaker for comment on Luke's situation but haven't heard back. We'll update this story if we do.

Soon after the vehicle was cleared from the track, he took it to Acton Toyota in Littleton, Massachusetts, and left the keys in the drop box, as the dealership was closed for the weekend. When he spoke to someone at the dealer the next morning, Luke said he told them what happened and noted he had a video of what happened. After an inspection, a hole was found in the top of the engine block. Luke says it's unclear whether the oil pan was checked for any loose RTV. The dealer told him the damage would not be covered under warranty due to track use, even after seeing the video embedded above.

Luke escalated his problem to Toyota, but he got effectively the same response. "[An agent] asks what dealer I have the car at. I tell her and she calls the dealer, then gets back to me saying that the dealer is correct and I will not receive any warranty coverage." He continued to try to resolve the situation, even offering to send the video, but with no luck. "I demand to know why they refuse to warranty and they again state something about 'the nature in which the vehicle was being used.' The corporate person tried to say I was racing briefly as well."

___lunk via Instagram

Competition use is covered explicitly under warranty for Toyota's GR-branded vehicles abroad but not in the United States. That's despite the automaker offering its own track day events called the "Toyota Saturday GR Track Experience," which features the GR86. Indeed, Toyota seems particularly stingy about engine replacements, whereas Subaru, which makes the effectively identical BRZ, is reportedly much more willing to cover failures.

Luke claims he was quoted $13,000 for an engine replacement that he would have to pay for, completely out of pocket. He's considering legal action, but there is precedent for Toyota attempting to make a situation like this right. The last time a GR86 engine failed at a track day, Toyota caved and covered an engine rebuild under warranty despite initially refusing to do so.

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