The sports coupe jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru that entered production as the Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S and Toyota GT86 was one of the most awaited cars of the year, since it rekindled the fun to drive and relatively modestly priced niche.
Despite being a long time in the making, being teased by a series of concepts, the final product received positive reviews. The three models are nearly identical, featuring a 2.0-liter flat-four engine with both direct and indirect injection driving the rear-wheels via a six-speed manual or auto gearbox and a Torsen limited-slip differential.
Toyota and Subaru announced that there’s no actual mechanical defect in the engine and the issue is caused by a software mapping glitch.
Toyota spokesperson Brian Lyons said that the engine control unit (ECU) is programmed to adapt to the car's powertrain and owner's driving patterns. Within 100 miles (160 km), those settings are “frozen” in the ECU.
Software coding errors in the ECU-engine communication are the culprits for this error. Under certain driving conditions (that were not specified) the electronic control unit software “thinks” that the engine is operating outside its “frozen” parameters and causes stalling or a rough idle as it tries, and apparently fails, to sort things out.
It then flashes the “check engine” light and when plugged into a diagnostic reader, shows a “P0019” error code.
The interesting thing is that, while both Toyota and Subaru agree on the nature of the problems, they offer different solutions.
Subaru will simply re-flash the ECU on all BRZs that have this issue. Toyota, on the other hand, will re-flash the ECU on the GT86 and Scion FR-S only if the car has less than 100 miles; otherwise, it will replace the whole unit.
"This is not a mileage-dependent condition. No replacement of the ECU is needed at any mileage to rectify the issue”, Subaru spokesman Dominick Infante told Automotive News. “The re-flash is the fix. There is not a defect concerning the ECU.”
Not all owners agree that the explanation of a software error is accurate, because even after they had their cars’ ECUs remapped or replaced, the problem keeps occurring claiming there is a mechanical issue.
Toyota and Subaru wouldn’t comment on how many cars are affected or how many complaints they have received until now.
A Scion FR-S owner wrote on the FT86club.com site: “Mine’s on the third week in the shop. Parts are on back order. VVTi cam gear and oil control valve are what they claimed to be replacing. Waiting on gaskets which are on back-order, apparently.”
The forum has over 100 registered complaints with many owners claim that their cars have had their camshaft bearing, cam gears, actuators and cam position sensors changed.
By Andrew TsaousisStory References: Automotive News