Toyota is in some steamy hot water with enthusiasts over their new, highly anticipated GR86. And while Toyota has a great history of reliability AND great relationships with customers… maybe they do deserve some flack for this one. Here’s the bullet points of the story:
• A man buys a new GR86.
• He takes it to your typical parking-lot autocross.
• Mods are a little unlcear, but no ‘big ticket’ items.
• The engine locks up.
• He takes it back to the dealership.
• The dealer stalks his social media page & finds photos/video of the car at the autocross; calls it evidence of abuse.
• Toyota denies warranty claim on the engine.
• The owner looks at his engine, and it seems clear that an oil pickup line is blocked by sealant, which is a known issue even in the previous generation 86. As I understand it, upon engine assembly, too much sealant can be used at the connection to the oil pickup, and for lack of a better word, it spoodges into the line a bit – blocking oil flow (like a clogged artery).
The whole damn thing goes viral.
Here’s a link to the thread on Facebook, and you can/should read all the details & comments if you’d like. At first, we weren’t gonna get into this story, just because there’s always so much gray area in these situations. The internet does not have all the facts & information, and you don’t want to stir-up every asshole who loves to bounce their FRS off the rev limiter for a few minutes every morning. But man – this one smells really fishy. And at this point, it’s got serious viral momentum. Here’s why that’s so significant:
Toyota absolutely markets the GR86 (and all GR models) as a track-ready performance cars.
Driver’s cars, enthusiast’s cars, etc. By all accounts, this GR86 owner seems like a very responsible/thoughtful car owner & enthusiast. Lots of friends in the car world; lots of people vouching for him… that sort of thing matters. It makes Toyota appear like the bad guy. Therefore a case like this going viral, obviously hurts not just the brand new GR86 model, but the entire GR brand. Especially when it reminds us that 2-out-of-3 GR models have engines in them that are not Toyota-built.
• Supra – BMW engine
• 86 – Subaru engine
• Corolla – Toyota engine
This is what happens when you don’t build your own cars.
When there’s too many cooks in the kitchen, hands in the cookie jar, or whatever the phrase is. The GR86 is a collaborative effort with Subaru. And guess who makes the engine – Subaru. So now Toyota is taking major hits to their GR reputation, because of assembly failures/oversights at Subaru. I bet that sucks. Prepare to see more of this though. Not just with Toyota, but with a lot of manufactures as EVs roll out… and their batteries are made in… China.
Toyota’s GR division is new… and exciting!
It’s what enthusiasts have been begging for! GR has a lot of energy right now! And a bad-press case like this could spread to be a major cancer for GR. Toyota can’t let that happen. This individual car/case needs to be warrantied, and not just because it went viral. The overall issue with oil pickup lines needs to be addressed by Toyota… before more cases start emerging. I have no doubt that Toyota is on it.
But just to play devil’s advocate for 1 second: This is definitely part of why driver’s/enthusiast’s cars are going extinct. These types of cars take more effort to make, compared to the average mass-produced crossover. Sales are much lower. And then when something does go wrong, enthusiasts gossip heavily, make memes, & sling mud. It probably makes a manufacturer wonder why the hell they even try. Nevertheless… you can’t bail on a customer with a serious issue. Because…
Toyota’s GR division specifically states that they are “By enthusiasts, for enthusiasts”.
It’s the mantra of the GR brand.
The VP of Marketing/Communications from Toyota Motor North America, Mike Tripp, said on stage in the GR Corolla debut (~13:50)…
“Everything we talk about at GR leads us back to the track. And that even applies to our customers. And here in the United States, we want all of our customers to experience the thrill of performance driving. So all GR models, including the GR Corolla, come with a complimentary 1-year membership to the National Auto Sports Association (NASA). Giving our owners access to a high-performance driving event, where they can sharpen their skills with experts on the track.”
You can’t give GR owners a track day, and then void their warranty for being at an autocross? It’s why you built it… and it’s why they bought it. In fact…
The GR86 is (was) on so many enthusiast’s ‘short list’ of new cars to buy.
Hell – the main issue was dealership availability. But now they’re scratching it off the list. Because no matter who’s ultimately at fault in this case… people don’t want to wrap themselves up in problems. With a new car, people want something that’s better than what they had. They want to support a car brand with aligned interests & passions! They want confidence, peace-of-mind, and excitement. I understand that.
But I also wouldn’t let one case (no matter how much buzz it’s getting, or how justified) influence your decision too much. Some Toyota employees at local/regional levels may have made a bad call. And yes – they do represent Toyota as a whole. But it DOES NOT mean that is Toyota as a whole. Trust me – there are people at Toyota/GR who are coming unglued about this (pardon the pun).