Update 8/2/22: Toyota has decided to honor Blake Alvarado’s warranty claim on his blown GR86 engine. Head on over here for the full story.
If you’ve seen any marketing material for the new GR86, you’ll know Toyota promotes it as a car you can take to the track. The company even gives each new 86 buyer a free NASA membership and one free track day voucher with their purchase. So you’d think that if a mechanical failure happened as a result of performance driving, Toyota would cover it under warranty, right? Well, that wasn’t the case for one owner. And his claims have set the internet ablaze.
Blake Alvarado published a detailed post on Facebook documenting the saga of his GR86, which suffered a spun bearing at just 13,770 miles. According to the post, the engine was starved of oil because of excess sealant that fell into the oil pan and eventually blocked the oil pickup tube. This, according to Alvarado, is a common, documented occurrence in these engines. Forum posts and breakdown videos seem to support this claim.
Here’s what happened next, according to Alvarado:
A field technician specialist (FTS) was assigned to the case but rather than inspecting in person as is typically done, they did not inspect the motor. Instead either he or someone at the dealer looked me up on social media. They showed me a photo of me [drifting] taken at a local Test & Tune event (untimed, non-competition) in late March (I was testing different setups and playing around with tire pressures. This was the only time the car was driven in the way the photo shows). They also showed me an onboard video of me driving in someone else’s white GR86 (mine is Black).
This “proof,” along with the FTSs remark that the issue is common when drifting (he is a local drifter well-known in the community), prompted him to deny the warranty claim and the Service Manager to agree with the decision. I was provided an estimate of $11k for the repair.
Alvarado attempted to fight Toyota on the decision, or at least have them foot some of the bill for the replacement motor. But the service manager at his dealership stuck by the field technician specialist’s call. Instead of paying for a new replacement motor, Alvarado had his car towed to a nearby Subaru dealer to have a low-mileage motor installed, costing him roughly $7000 out of pocket.
Unsurprisingly, Alvarado’s story spread like wildfire. Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ forums, groups, and channels across the internet have been sharing his story and wondering if their engines are next and whether the repairs would be covered by the car’s warranty. The BRZ+86 twins are sports cars, and a lot of buyers want to use them like sports cars. This could put a damper on people’s fun.
In response to showing Toyota the Facebook post, the company issued the following statement to Road & Track.
Toyota is currently looking into the case you referenced. A customer’s satisfaction with our vehicles is important to Toyota. As always, we encourage customers who experience any issues with their vehicle to contact their authorized Toyota dealer or call the Toyota Brand Engagement Center (1-800-331-4331). Of course, in cases where a dealer is not able to resolve the matter, customers are encouraged to contact our Brand Engagement Center.
“Most of these people [intend] to use their cars for HPDE and other similar activities, but now it’s got people worried the same scenario that happened to me will happen to them,” Alvarado told Road & Track.
“I’m worried about not only my issue but everyone who intends to actually use the car the way Toyota is encouraging,” Alvarado continued. “My goal right now is to have them address the elephant in the room, at least partially. Because the entire enthusiast community and the customer base they are going after is not convinced Toyota is with them.”
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