Toyota ‘Looking Into’ 2022 GR86 Engine Issues After Owner Denied Warranty Fix Over Track Use

After Toyota denied a warranty claim for one owner to replace his engine, dozens of GR86 owners say they have the same issue.

byPeter HolderithAug 2, 2022 12:43 PM
Toyota ‘Looking Into’ 2022 GR86 Engine Issues After Owner Denied Warranty Fix Over Track Use
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Engine lubrication problems reported by several 2022 Toyota GR86 owners may be dampening the fun offered by the affordable, two-seater, lightweight sports car. So far, one owner has been refused engine replacement under warranty after a total failure that Toyota claims was his fault at least in part because he took his car to an amateur track day—something Toyota encourages through both its marketing and owner perks like a free track day. And it looks like the issues may be more widespread than previously known.

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. After his posts on social media about a dealer's refusal to replace his engine under warranty, other owners from North America and Japan have reported that they've found various amounts of RTV in their oil pickups. It's unclear how many vehicles are affected and neither Toyota nor Subaru has issued a service bulletin or recall to address the issue.

Alvarado says the dealer, on instructions from its distributor, Gulf States Toyota, refused to replace his engine and claimed the car had been abused at an autocross event. Alvardo, speaking to The Drive and in a post on social media, admits he took his car to a "Test & Tune" day and a handful of local performance driving events, but that those rarely exceed highway speeds. Alvarado claims the vehicle's engine is unmodified and it has not been abused. For reference, Alvarado's engine had just 13,770 miles when it failed.

"You can easily see the sealant below the bearing shards," Alvarado told me, referencing a picture taken of his oil pickup. "Most of the original bearing debris had fallen out but most of the sealant remained."

A photo of Alvarado's oil pickup after his engine failed. The gray material in the center of the pickup tube is RTV, while bearing material can be seen on the right side of the tube. Blake Alvarado

Alvarado is now out thousands. Toyota offered a repair estimate of more than $11,000, which he could not afford. Forced to replace the engine in his only vehicle, he purchased a used engine from California and shipped it to his home in Arkansas. Alvarado says the Field Technical Specialist (FTS) from Gulf States Toyota who refused to replace his engine never saw it in person.

"The [dealer] service manager confirmed that the FTS had not physically been to the dealer to inspect the engine and that the determination was made over the phone," Alvarado told me. He was told twice by a Gulf States Toyota representative that the FTS had been to the dealer, which the service manager refuted. "I [asked] if the [service manager] had seen the FTS since we last spoke and he advised he had not and stated the FTS would generally contact him before doing so."

The silicone buildup in the pickup tube, as well as "excessive amounts of sealant on the oil pan and front timing cover," weren't noted until Alvarado went through the engine and saw it alongside a dealership technician. Even then, an official service document, pictured below, doesn't mention it.

There is no mention of RTV in the oil in the service document Alvarado received from the dealer. James Alvarado

Other issues related to RTV buildup in the oil pickup were reported in the previous generation BRZ/FRS. Several instances of buildup in the current generation have been documented by dozens of owners in BRZ/GR86 forums, enthusiast groups on Facebook, and Twitter by Japanese owners of the vehicle.

By comparison, warranty engine replacements for the Subaru BRZ are relatively easy, according to owners. This does not appear to be the case with Toyota. Despite offering a free track day through the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) called the "Toyota Saturday GR Track Experience" and even a discount on a racing helmet, the Japanese automaker has been unwilling, at least in Alvarado's case, to budge on warranty repairs for his allegedly faulty engine. In the same breath, owners on Facebook have said dealers want to charge upward of $2,000 to pull the oil pan to check if RTV is present in the engine's lubrication system.

We contacted Toyota Racing Development to see if this owner's engine would be covered under warranty but haven't heard back. We also reached out to Toyota about the reported RTV issues and Alvarado's case. A spokesperson for the automaker told us that they are looking into the issue and referred other owners to its Brand Engagement Center if they have similar issues.

Toyota offers warranty coverage for other vehicles it sells abroad. Toyota even states on its U.K. website: "Using your GR Yaris for Track Days or similar events does not invalidate your vehicle's Warranty. Any potential failure to your GR Yaris during a Track Day or similar event are not specifically excluded and manufacturing defects within the Warranty period will be supported." That's in contrast to Toyota North America's warranty that says "racing" and "abuse" will void an owner's warranty. This is despite the aforementioned free NASA track day and much of the vehicle's marketing taking place on a race track.

Needless to say, none of this bodes well for other upcoming performance vehicles from Toyota. The GR Corolla, which shares many parts with the GR Yaris, will arrive in the United States soon. Likewise, the stick-shift, track-focused GR Supra is also on the way. How the Japanese automaker's North American branch will handle the warranties of these vehicles in the context of track use isn't clear.

Alvarado is now in a financial bind and can't help but think of other GR86 owners who might also have to go through what he has. "I'm disappointed that Toyota USA is not supporting the enthusiast community that it was targeting with its GR branded vehicles," he said in a conversation with The Drive. "There's no reason why a brand new car with an untouched stock engine should suffer total failure while being driven in the same manner one would on a fun backroad at legal speeds. Especially if going 100+ miles per hour and pushing the car to its limits is deemed suitable by Toyota for its sponsored track days."

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