Did Recent Recall Cause Subaru BRZ & Scion FR-S Engines To Die?

A number of Scion FR-S (know rebranded as the Toyota 86) and Subaru BRZ owners are claiming that their vehicles have encountered serious engine issues after being repaired as part of a recent recall.

The Drive reports that approximately 35,000 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S models were recalled in November 2018 due to engine valve springs which “may fracture, causing an engine malfunction or a possible engine stall,” as per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) notice.

Despite knowing about the issue for more than six years and actually starting to use new valve springs in its vehicles from May 2013, Toyota and Subaru only began notifying affected owners late last year. The recall commenced towards the end of December 2018 and stipulated that all valve springs needed to be replaced, meaning the engine has to be taken out and opened up.

This is where the issues appear to have started. Roughly two dozen FR-S and BRZ owners have taken to the FT86 Club forum to say that their engines suffered catastrophic failures after having their valve springs replaced. Of these failures, most relate to Scion FR-S models.

The author of an article at The Drive also experienced similar issues when the engine in his Scion FR-S started to knock and died shortly afterwards. A dealer inspection revealed a “scored crankcase and cylinder walls” as well as damaged connecting rod bearings.

A number of members from the FT86 Club forum have described similar issues, with many also experiencing issues with the rod bearings. Some have suffered complete engine failures just a couple of weeks after their vehicles were repaired as part of the recall.

We’ve reached out to both Toyota and Subaru regarding the issues but have yet to receive any responses. In the meantime, members of the forum suspect that there could be a couple of factors at play which may explain the issues.

One theory is that Toyota dealerships may be improperly applying RTV sealant to the engine bays during reassembly. A repair notice issued by Subaru makes an important note of applying the sealant correctly and asserts that “any contamination left behind can cause the Check Engine light to illuminate and / or other issues to develop resulting in a comeback.”

Some forum users also suspect that more FR-S models are experiencing engine failures due to the inexperience of Toyota employees working on Subaru’s boxer engines.

We will update this article when we hear back from Toyota and Subaru, so stay tuned.

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  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    Some forum users also suspect that more FR-S models are experiencing engine failures due to the inexperience of Toyota employees working on Subaru’s boxer engines.
    What about the Subaru employees working on boxer engines?


  • eb110americana

    From the sound of the mechanical failures with knocking, connecting rod bearings, and scoring inside the cylinders and crankcase, it sounds like some foreign matter is getting into the oil galleries. I would think smaller bits of RTV sealant should get pushed through and strained out at the filter, although just the right size chunk could cause oil starvation, I guess. However, if bits of broken valve springs, or tiny valve locks, C-clips, gasket material, or other metal were left behind in the heads, that would definitely chew the crap out of bearings and score up the places they got into.

    Oh well. LS swap.

  • Mill0048

    That sucks… My sympathies. It’s such a fun car, it’s a shame this is spoiling your experience. Mine’s 2 years old and I can’t think of a car that’s been more fun to drive and own. I can’t stand how dealerships always try to weasel out of warranty repair work. Hopefully you can get your car and wallet whole again. Good luck!

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