A 2022 Toyota GR86 owner is apparently being punished for posting a photo of their car drifting at a testing and tuning event. The GR86 suffered an engine failure, allegedly due to oil starvation—a relatively common and known issue on this model—and not while at an event, but the owner was rejected under the Toyota warranty after the photo of the car drifting turned up in the automaker’s investigation. Evidently, Toyota rejected the warranty claim because of evidence the car was driven at an off-street event, which seems ridiculous considering the encouraging nature of the model’s marketing materials.
The story comes from Blake Alvarado on Facebook posting to the SCCA Official Members group, whose GR86 suffered its engine failure after just 13,770 miles on the road and two oil changes. Alvarado says a post-failure engine teardown revealed grey sealant material in the oil pickup, an issue that is now being tracked in a spreadsheet by GR86.org, which currently lists five suspected instances of the issue causing engine failure, not including similar claims dating back all the way to 2013, as Alvarado says.
But Toyota wouldn’t know firsthand about the cause of Alvarado’s engine failure, as he says the assigned field technician never checked the engine in determining his warranty claim. Here’s what happened, according to the Facebook post: “Instead either he or someone at the dealer looked me up on social media. They showed me a photo of me 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).”
Based on this “evidence,” any warranty claim was denied and Alvarado was instead quoted an $11,000 repair estimate, or told he had to remove his car from the dealership. His attempt to negotiate with the dealer’s service manager was denied, so Alvarado had the car towed to a Subaru specialty shop where he was quoted $7,000 for a low-mileage engine replacement.
The real kicker in this situation is Toyota’s own apparently misleading marketing materials. As Alvarado points out, Toyota’s marketing frequently mentions the GR86 being “track tested,” and even let new owners sign up for a complimentary NASA track day as a promotion, which is used for the Toyota Supra, as well. MotorTrend reached out to Toyota, and a spokesperson provided the following response:
“Toyota takes its customer concerns seriously. We work hard to deliver a rewarding ownership experience, and we stand behind the quality of our products. A vehicle’s warranty excludes damages from activities such as misuse, improper maintenance, or modifications. Toyota is currently looking into the case you referenced and will continue to work with the customer directly on this issue. 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) when a dealer is not able to resolve a matter.”
In the meantime, Alvarado urged other enthusiasts to be wary about posting photos and videos of their warranty-covered cars out of extra precaution, as you never know how an automaker is going to respond to vehicles being driven in any manner other than daily duty.
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