Toyota Risks Backlash After Denying GR86 Owner Warranty Claim Over "Racing Abuse"

Toyota risks backlash after denying GR86 owner warranty claim over “racing abuse” 6 photos
Photo: Blake Alvarado / Facebook
Toyota risks backlash after denying GR86 owner warranty claim over “racing abuse”Toyota risks backlash after denying GR86 owner warranty claim over “racing abuse”Toyota risks backlash after denying GR86 owner warranty claim over “racing abuse”2022 Toyota GR86 in its FasterClass advertising campaign2022 Toyota GR86 in its FasterClass advertising campaign
When the engine failed, one unlucky GR86 owner had its warranty revoked after a Toyota rep saw a picture of him drifting the car on social media. This was despite Toyota marketing the GR86 as a sports coupe and selling it with a 12-month NASA membership.
The GT86 changed the perception of Toyota being a maker of white goods on wheels. The second generation, whose name was changed to GR86 to reflect its enhanced sporty character, cemented Toyota’s ambitions. It even launched in the U.S. with a complimentary NASA (National Auto Sport Association) membership, including a free NASA high-performance driving experience. All this to lure people in search of a performance coupe.

But despite all the marketing behind the GR86 American career, Toyota doesn’t want its U.S. customers to actually go racing. Unlike in Europe, where Toyota states that “Track Days or similar events do not invalidate the vehicle’s warranty,” the U.S. version of the contract says explicitly that racing and abuse will void the warranty. This is one thing that Blake Alvarado found out the hard way after his GR86 suffered an “engine failure due to oil starvation.”

His Toyota GR86 was only 13,770 miles (22,160 km) when it spun a bearing on July 10. After the engine teardown, it was determined that cylinder number four rod bearing failed. According to Blake’s post on Facebook, there was grey sealant in the oil pickup tube, which is a well-known problem with the GT86. Instead of inspecting the engine, the technician assigned to the case looked him up on social media and found a photo of him at a local Test & Tune event in March. There he was testing different setups and playing around with tire pressures.

Based on this and the technician’s remark that drifting can cause oil starvation, Blake was denied the warranty claim, a decision that the service manager and Toyota Corporate stood by. Blake was told to pay $11,000 for the engine repairs or take his car off the dealer’s lot. This all without even inspecting the engine or listening to his reasoning. Blake saw no other option than going to a Subaru dealership and ordering a low-mileage pullout motor for around $7,000.

Dozens of Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 owners complained about the sealant in the oil pickup leading to oil starvation. The forums and social media are flooded with such accounts. Apparently, only Toyota is reluctant to offer warranty repairs, whereas Subaru is relatively easy, according to owners. Even inspecting the car is challenging, as dealers charge as much as $2,000 just to pull the oil pan and check whether the sealant is present in the lubrication system.

According to The Drive, Toyota is aware of the situation and said it is looking into the issue. After Blake’s story became viral, many GR86 owners said they had experienced the same problem. The story might backfire on Toyota, which is trying to build a new image on a range of performance vehicles. The Japanese carmaker is counting on GR Corolla and GR Supra to boost its image in the U.S. It is unclear how they would do that if they deny warranty for models that are advertised as race cars.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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