Update: We received word from Blake Alvarado, the owner of this Toyota GR86, that Toyota has reversed course and will cover his engine repair under warranty.
Update 2: We received the following statement from Toyota. Specific details on the reversal aren't provided, though the automaker offers additional context for GR86 warranty coverage as it pertains to performance driving events.
"Regarding the 2022 GR86 issue in question, the Toyota Gazoo Racing brand is driven by enthusiasts and focused on delivering incredible experiences wherever the driver may take their vehicles, including the closed-course settings for which their vehicles are designed, so long as they are driven in a manner that falls within the terms of the warranty.
While the vehicle’s warranty excludes damage that results from activities such as misuse and racing, simply participating in National Auto Sport Association (NASA) High Performance Driving Events (HPDE) or similar NASA instructional events provided complimentary to GR owners would not, in and of itself, void the warranty. Warranty claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Based on further review, we’ve determined the repair of Mr. Alvarado’s vehicle in this case is covered under warranty.
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."
The current-generation Toyota GR86 debuted in 2021. Since then, it's been marketed by Toyota as a fun-to-drive sports car that, according to the automaker's website, is "track bred." Toyota even offers a one-year membership in the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) with every GR86 purchase. So when Blake Alvarado experienced an engine failure in his 2022 model at 13,000 miles, he thought it would be taken care of.
According to a Facebook post from Alvarado, Toyota instead presented a photo of him getting a little sideways at a driving event three months prior to the engine failure. He was also shown a video of him driving a GR86 that wasn't his, and then he was handed a repair bill for $11,000. Toyota decided his actions in the photo and video were enough to deny him warranty coverage.
Alvarado details his full story in the post embedded above, but here's a quick summary. The engine failed on July 10 due to oil starvation. A subsequent examination of the engine showed a rod bearing had failed, and Alvarado says he found gray sealant in the oil pickup tube – a condition he says has been reported by others.
However, he claims a Toyota field technician specialist assigned to the situation never inspected the engine, instead turning to social media for potentially incriminating images or videos of Alvarado in his Toyota. Per the Facebook post, the tech denied the claim based on the images, allegedly saying such engine issues were common when drifting.
Alvarado says he tried to strike a compromise with the Toyota dealership, offering to split costs but the dealer didn't want to run afoul of Toyota corporate. He's since paid $7,000 to have a low-mileage engine installed at a Subaru specialty shop, because let's not forget, the GR86 shares its platform with the Subaru BRZ. But as you can imagine, he's not remotely happy about any of this.
For Toyota, there is certainly an inconvenient truth at play here. The GR86 is heavily marketed as an exciting car for enthusiasts to drive. In addition to offering free membership in NASA with each GR86 purchase (where high-performance driving is certainly expected), Toyota has promoted the GR86 to the public by getting plenty sideways in various venues. If such driving can lead to engine failure when drifting – as Toyota's field tech allegedly stated – it certainly doesn't look good when the automaker tries to sell the car using the exact same behavior.
Motor1.com contacted Toyota regarding this situation. A company spokesperson offered the following statement:
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.