What do we really know about that Toyota GR86 engine failure?

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Aug 4, 2022 | Toyota, gr86, Engine Failure

Photography Credit: Courtesy Toyota

You may have noticed that we haven’t said much about a situation currently sweeping social media: the non-warranty of a detonated 2022 Toyota GR86 after the dealership learned the owner was using it in “drifting” events (which was actually an autocross).

We haven’t discussed it much because we don’t have complete or verifiable information. Most of us don’t, which is a big reason this story has become so big so quickly.

See, the story entered the court of social media long before there was a resolution, or even a path to a resolution. Armed with incomplete details, the mob–something we’ve all been guilty of being a part of–jumped to a lot of conclusions very quickly.

Unfortunately, in the real world, actual conclusions are difficult to come by, particularly when a large, multinational company like Toyota is involved.

We are pursuing the story, and while we haven’t done a complete deep dive on every nut and bolt of the incident, we do know a few things after conversations on background with some of the parties involved. In the interest of maybe keeping the discussion constructive, here are a few things to think about as this story develops:

  • Most of the information in the automotive media currently is all stemming from the same source, the original social media dustup. Outlets are feeding off each other to get content up as soon as possible. We get it, it’s part of the game, and we all have bills to pay. But don’t think that when outlet X posts something that it “adds” to the discussion, because outlet X’s post is mostly just a rephrasing of outlet Y’s coverage, which simply used outlet Z’s original story as a source.
  • The body denying the warranty claim is NOT Toyota. It’s Gulf States ToyotaGulf States Toyota is an independent distributor that buys cars from Toyota and resells them to the public through its dealer network. At this time, we do not believe that Toyota corporate had knowledge of the issue before it hit social media.
  • We are working to ascertain at what level Toyota corporate is aware of this particular situation and of a possible larger issue with the engines in question. It’s important to note that, at this time, we see no evidence that Toyota believes this failure is part of a larger pattern, but there is enough public concern that it is deeply investigating the matter.
  • One of the takeaway messages here is this: If you have an issue with a car under warranty and can’t get satisfaction from the dealer, escalate your concern to a corporate-level source. The fact that this issue has not been resolved satisfactorily seems to stem, in large part, from difficult dealings with Gulf States Toyota, which, because of its operation outside the corporate sphere, comes with a difficult trail of accountability as things escalate.
  • Finally, remember to be a responsible consumer of media. Check sources, even if it means just opening a second browser tab and googling the name of a person or a company. It seems a lot of the heat around this incident stems from information that is quickly thrown into the public sphere and lacks context. Sometimes, simply providing that context can help better ground a story in reality.

We hope this situation is resolved satisfactorily for all involved. In the meantime, we’ll continue to report on it when we have verifiable information to report.

Update | August 4, 9:00 a.m.:

We talked to Blake, the owner of the GR86 in question, yesterday around 5:30 p.m., and a lot had happened in the 24 hours since the story broke.

Long story short, the issue reached Toyota corporate, and they have expressed to him that they are going to take care of him under warranty. Aside from that, there's really not much we can say because the rest of the situation is now under investigation to determine what information that got out to the public was true, what was hyperbole, what was outright false, and who might have been responsible for the mishandling of this claim, or whether the claim was handled properly but the policy was bad, or a million other permutations of situations to determine how it went from a guy buying a brand-new car that should theoretically have been able to handle such use to a guy with a broken car and an internet firestorm.

Another matter at hand is the assembly of the engines in question, and whether there is indeed a related production problem leading to this failure. There is anecdotal evidence in the public sphere at the moment showing that this RTV situation might not be an isolated incident. Anecdotes are not data, but anecdotes are worthy of further exploration to determine whether data is present, and it is our understanding that Toyota is currently at that point. We're pursuing that line of investigation and will update you when we know stuff.

Another, more holistic, question emerges from this incident that affects all of us, though: As car manufacturers lean more heavily into using track performance as a marketing tool on the front end, how does that affect the service model on the back end? If you pitch a car as a track day monster, are you obliged to service it as such? We’ll be discussing this in editorial meetings and hopefully with manufacturer reps in the near future.

Update | August 4, 12:45 p.m.:

From Blake, owner of the GR86:

Toyota has decided to honor the warranty claim on my engine. I'm very happy that my situation is finally on a path to resolution. I'd like to personally thank my motorsports family as well as the internet at large for supporting my situation.

The public response ultimately brought to light the elephant in the room that is marketing vs warranty policy. This is something that won't get solved overnight, but I would like to see Toyota regain the trust of the enthusiast market it intends to capture with their GR brand. A step toward this would be reaffirming that track days and similar events should NOT void a valid warranty claim for a manufacturer defect.

I still love the car as it's one of the most engaging and fun-to-drive vehicles currently on the market. I'd love to see Toyota and the GR brand take more involvement in supporting amateur motorsports and the enthusiasts who buy these cars.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Toyota, gr86 and Engine Failure news.
Comments
paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/3/22 11:16 a.m.

It's intriguing that a strong brand like Toyota still has private distributors vs a 50-state national sales company. 

Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/3/22 11:18 a.m.

Thank you for following up on this.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/3/22 11:26 a.m.
paddygarcia said:

It's intriguing that a strong brand like Toyota still has private distributors vs a 50-state national sales company. 

I think they go WAY back. Take Toyota South East/Jim Moran here in South Florida. They helped Toyota become what they are today, its a partnership from day 1 of Toyota in the USA.

Jim Moran

"In early 1968, he was contacted by a friend from Chicago who said that Toyota wanted to establish a dealer network in the Southeast U.S. and wanted to talk to Jim Moran, who asked what a Toyota was. The company had been unsuccessful at breaking into the American market at the end of the 1950s and was trying again. Moran declined, but his friend was insistent that Moran drive one. According to Moran, he tested everything to see if it would break. While cruising at 55 mph on the interstate, Moran shifted into reverse, and the engine and transmission survived. Moran concluded that although Toyotas weren't as stylish or comfortable as domestic vehicles, they were well-built, reasonably priced, and destined to change the automotive business.[11] On October 26, 1968 he entered into an agreement to distribute Toyota vehicles from the port in Jacksonville, Florida to the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina. His Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) was founded that year[12] and in 2006, distributed over 400,000 vehicles, 20% of all new Toyotas sold in the United States. "

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/3/22 11:32 a.m.
  • Finally, remember to be a responsible consumer of media. Check sources, even if it means just opening a second browser tab and googling the name of a person or a company. It seems a lot of the heat around this incident stems from information that is quickly thrown into the public sphere and lacks context. Sometimes, simply providing that context can help better ground a story in reality.

Truth!

Sk1dmark (Forum Supporter)
Sk1dmark (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/3/22 11:33 a.m.

In reply to Slippery :

And sure enough from the wikipedia page Gulf States Toyota opened in 1969, making them early adopters in the US.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/3/22 11:34 a.m.

I think what we're really learning from this is how byzantine corporate structures can become. When you're buying a Toyota from a dealer, there might be a couple of different levels between the dealer and the actual entity that bolted the car together - especially since it's a Subaru. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/3/22 12:05 p.m.

This rational, cautious approach to a controversial subject is a good example of why I am proud to be a member of the GRM community.

ztnedman1
ztnedman1 Reader
8/3/22 12:44 p.m.

I have no dog in the fight other than I'm no Toyota cheerleader.

 

That being said, denying on the basis of motorsport(just the use not even modified), for a car that is advertised as motorsport, that comes with motorsport stuff upon purchase means they are in the wrong.

 

Mazda did it right with the ND1.

 

Companies spend how much in advertising?  How much has the GR marketing and advertising cost?  Part of that marketing is creating fans who then buy the boring stuff from you too.  We are told this segment is insignificant.  We are told the % of people who use it for intended use is insignificant.  It's so insignificant in fact, that apparently 11k is worth denying vs the MILLIONs spent to get that buyer into that position. 

 

The failure isn't the problem.  The denial isn't the problem.  It's why they denied it that is the problem.  

 

Rakem through the coals. 

 

And the nonsense about Toyota corporate not knowing... Seems like they should know that kind of E36 M3 in their biggest market by far.  That's the same excuse college coaches used and NFL coaches, and politicians...etc it doesn't matter if you didn't know, you should have known, so guilty by association.

 

 

logdog (Forum Supporter)
logdog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/3/22 12:49 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

I think what we're really learning from this is how byzantine corporate structures can become. When you're buying a Toyota from a dealer, there might be a couple of different levels between the dealer and the actual entity that bolted the car together - especially since it's a Subaru. 

Thats a good point.  It especially gets complicated with import companies.  Generally speaking if you buy a domestic in the US you are buying something the parent company designed, engineered and built, then retailed to dealers for sale to customers.

Disclaimer - These are just assumptions based on experience dealing with imports at a corporate level-

With an import like Toyota you may have a set up where the parent company is in Japan.  Then you have Toyota Motor North America that is a "totally separate company (wink wink)" that buys the cars from the parent in Japan, then sells them to distributors that then sell them to the dealers.  The fact they name their US plants things like "Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky" and their R&D "Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America" tells me those are also likely "totally separate companies (wink wink)".

What you end up with is a giant pair of Japanese pants with pockets all over the world arguing about who gets to hold the money laugh

gcmak
gcmak
8/3/22 1:03 p.m.

Looking forward to the additional details your team uncovers. Staying tuned.

You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners
JirVUAb7urExpEgqVy04SaCpJqc9auvvkcprakeY3x2cwtxw7Qj33DdAjiezyqlh