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Some Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ Engines Are Dying After Recall Fix

Reports say some Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sport coupe’s engines are dying after a recent recall fix. See why it’s worse after the engine fix.

Subaru and Toyota issued a massive engine recall late last year for the BRZ and FR-S sport coupes, but recent reports say the fix is causing engine failures. The recall was issued for 2013 Subaru BRZ and 2013 Scion FR-S vehicles. The engine valve springs in these vehicles may fracture causing an engine malfunction or a possible engine stall. But the fix being done at some dealers is worse than the original issue.

Recent reports from FR-S and BRZ forums say some owners have experienced engine failure after the recall fix was done at the dealer. The repairs aren’t cheap as the engine work takes more than 12 hours to complete. Some have suggested that Toyota mechanics aren’t qualified to work on the Subaru 2.0-liter Boxer engine in the FR-S and may be botching the job due to incomplete guidance, inexperience, or both.

Are technicians applying too much sealant?

A common theory has developed at FT86Club that technicians are applying too much sealant when putting the engines back together, causing the liquid gasket to seep into the oil. The procedure needs to be done in a very specific manner that's unique to the construction of the Subaru flat-four engine, a powerplant not found in any other Toyota vehicle outside the Scion FR-S and now the Toyota 86.

A thread on the FT86Club owner's forum has 17 owners reporting everything from sudden power loss, knocking, and complete engine failure in the last month after getting the 2.0-liter Boxer valve spring recall completed. Notably, 15 are Scion FR-S, while only 2 are Subaru BRZ coupes.

Subaru even issued revisions to its instruction package with bold, highlighted sections calling for technicians to “take their time” when performing intricate repair procedures. The most recent bulletin was issued on February 13th, saying “It is critical to make sure all the original sealer is removed and the affected sealing surfaces completely clean before applying any new sealer. A thorough inspection of the front timing cover and inside the cam caps for any small pieces / bits of removed sealer or any other contamination is essential to provide a quality repair. Any contamination can cause (engine failure.)”

In the auto industry, there is a difference in pay for jobs under warranty (recall work) and out of warranty. Jobs covered by manufacturer warranty pay significantly fewer hours than the same jobs on vehicles that are out of warranty. This is because recall work is done for free and reimbursed after the fact by the automaker. Some technicians may be hurrying to get the work done and not properly applying the sealant.

It might be good to wait

According to reports from various owners and dealers around the U.S., it could take almost two years to get the repairs done by Subaru dealers. One report from the Burlington Free Press in Vermont says, dealers are waiting for parts and repairs have not yet begun, but that could be good for owners who wait. It will give techs, especially Toyota, time to get this one figured out.

Bill Hunter, the service director at Burlington Subaru in Vermont says, "We’re still waiting on training which won’t be available to us until February 12th and, due to a limited supply of special tools needed to perform this recall, we only have the ability to perform one of these recalls per day.”

In addition to the 2013 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, the NHTSA recall also includes 2012-2014 Subaru Impreza, 2012-2013 Impreza wagon, and 2013 XV Crosstrek models that use the same FB20 2.0-liter naturally aspirated Subaru Boxer engine. Subaru owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-844-373-6614, Toyota owners may contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-888-270-9371. Subaru's number for this recall is WTY-84.

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Photo credit: Subaru


Anthony Brown (not verified)    March 12, 2019 - 11:26AM

My Subaru BRZ is currently in for recall repair, for the SECOND time. Not 40 miles after the first repair, I got stranded on the side of the road with a trashed torque converter. I am terrified that they have destroyed a car that I have driven for 5 years without even a hiccup. I suspect I may have a long fight ahead of me with Subaru...

Brenda Evaristo (not verified)    May 3, 2020 - 2:15AM

In reply to by Anthony Brown (not verified)

I was wondering what was the outcome of your situation. I am currently experiencing the same thing. My Scion FR-S broke down two weeks ago after having multiple issues following the recall. The dealership told me it was the vaccum pump then that it was an oil leakage that caused the rattling. After the cleaned up the oil leakage, the rattling noise went down but was still present and now two weeks ago my car engine is having issues. The dealership does not want to cover any costs. Were you able to get anywhere with Subaru?

Tim tackett (not verified)    June 4, 2022 - 1:40AM

In reply to by Anthony Brown (not verified)

Yes took my wife’s 2013 Toyota FRS 86 edition into Jonesboro Arkansas at the Toyota dealership to have this recall done took them almost a month it was a lot of BS and they finally got our car done had a scratch on the front bumper after the service car made it maybe 60 miles to 100 miles and have had it towed home called the Toyota dealership send a wrecker to my house to pick the car up got the car up there and said they needed us to pay $1000 to tear back into it to see what the problem was but before all this they were supposed to get the car in one day when I took it told me that they couldn’t get it in that day either Mechanic was busy after telling me at lunchtime as soon as I got back he would have them get it in I said there until 4 o’clock that evening went back in and said they didn’t have time today it would be first thing tomorrow morning while I went around the block as I was coming over at five guys pushing the car in in a hurry so I thought that was kind of strange they waited until I left so overall I didn’t feel like I should I had to pay them $1000 to fix a problem that wasn’t there before the car went to the shop so I tore it down at home and found out that they forgot to put a oil sale in the front timing chain cover for the oil pump starve the Robb Bank$ from oil and they told us that is pretty much my problem now go figure anybody haveAny ideas what’s being done on this Issue?

Anthony olie (not verified)    February 28, 2023 - 11:45PM

In reply to by Anthony Brown (not verified)

After reading all these comments I am so glad I didnt let them do the recall on my new to me 2013 frs when I took it in for the clutch and flywheel job after the damned throw out bearing went bad. Clutch was fine too thats what sucked. But the car has 118k miles with a good service history and no recall done. They tried real hard to get me to do it but I read horror stories like these and said no. This is insane. I hope all of you guys documented the damage with pics and notes and take them to court with a class action law suite! I am def willing to take the risk NOT to have it done. Wish you all the best hope you get to enjoy this awesome car again. If my engine ever blows I am getting a k20a swap for the same price of a new fa20 ..

Kevin (not verified)    March 12, 2019 - 2:14PM

We JUST went through this with 2013 BRZ: new noise from engine days after warranty work. Took it back to dealer whom adamantly swears it is not from anything they have done and basically washed their hands of it. Now, a week after that, the noise is much louder & it has developed a secondary noise. Suppose it is only a matter of time before this engine dies as well, and then what is our recourse? These failures seem to be exponentially gaining with each online search. Do we need a class action here?

Scott Melville (not verified)    June 15, 2020 - 12:07AM

In reply to by Kevin (not verified)

My FRS is in for the same knocking problem after having the recall work done a year ago,Im waiting for a answer from the dealership whether they will cover the cost.In my opinion it would be better to replace the engine with a 2015 or newer.The mechanics dont work on these engine which complicates the problem

lee kohn (not verified)    March 16, 2019 - 12:46PM

Had the recall done a couple weeks ago, got it back and have driven it maybe 20 miles when I go to turn it on this morning and it's making an awful clicking noise. Had it towed to the dealership and I waiting to hear back...

David Cox (not verified)    March 21, 2019 - 7:50PM

2013 Scion FR-S owner in San Juan Capistrano, CA. When going in to replace my clutch, I had them perform the recall as well. My car was gone for over a month as they said during test driving the valve cover cracked and had to be replaced. Once I got my car back, the knocking of my engine started within 24 hours. It went from a slight knocking to huge vibrations in the engine and stalling out within about 10 miles. Besides needing a clutch, my car was driving fine prior to taking it in, but now my engine is inoperable.
Update- car gone for another 2 weeks this time and just got notified from dealership that they are NOT taking responsibility for this issue and that the repair will cost 8-10k for new engine block.
PLEASE, if anyone else is experiencing this contact corporate Toyota/Subaru so they cannot ignore this anymore and take responsibility!

David Cox (not verified)    May 4, 2020 - 1:23PM

In reply to by David Cox (not verified)

Hey there!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get anywhere. My fight was actually with Toyota since mine had the scion badge, but they would not accept any responsibility and just tried to deflect blame pointing at some aftermarket mods as an indication that my car had been driven “hard.” It was honestly complete Bs. A couple of the technicians there would admit there were issues with the recall off the record, but their management basically said there was absolutely nothing they could do for me. I ended up having to sell my car for parts

David Watkins (not verified)    May 9, 2019 - 10:31PM

Well, got my recall done and on the 3rd cold start I had an incredibly loud pop out of the exhaust. Loud enough that a person 25' from me dropped their food and hit the deck face first after leaving the fast food joint. Well, thought it could be a one time thing, I mean the engine had just been pulled and replaced. Then about 50 starts later it happened again. It's not throwing any codes that I can tell, but called the dealer and they said they would have a loaner ready for me first thing in the morning if that was convenient for me, and if not they could bring it to me on a flatbed and take mine back to the dealership on the same flatbed. I think they are taking this issue seriously now. More details to follow.

Rida Alvi (not verified)    May 30, 2019 - 12:30PM

Got this repair done back in February and received the car back a couple days later (2013 FR-S). Immediately noticed a light ticking noise that wasn't there before. Took it back in case it was an issue, Toyota of Poway took it back in to assess the noise. Turns out it was an oil starvation issue that had scuffed some of the main bearings. The car has been at the shop since then (it's almost June), with 4 attempts to give it back to me. Each time, the knocking is worse when they fire it up to show me it's "fixed". They've even replaced the short block as part of their fixes. Not sure if they check their work over there. Toyota Corporate has been 100% unhelpful and are saying it isn't their problem and Toyota of Poway technicians have been extremely short with their attitude towards the problem.

Fortunately, I haven't had to pay and have been using a loaner car since February. It'd be cheaper at this point to trade the two cars... The best option would have been to wait on this recall for Toyota to figure out the issue.

Kulwinder Singh (not verified)    August 30, 2019 - 1:26PM

I have the same problem for my 2013 Scion FRS, I heard a knocking sound from my engine after they done the recall to the car. I spoke to the service people at the Toyota dealership nearest to my area and they told me that this situation is related to the recall problem, told me to take the car to the place where I got the recall done. They told me that it’s not covered but I only drove my car under 5,000 KM after the recall. They mentioned how I have to Change the engine but the engine has no problems before the recall. Can someone help me and tell me what I should do.
Thank you

Dylan Robert Munroe (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 7:45PM

In reply to by Kulwinder Singh (not verified)

My brz is dead after recall and suby says it's not there fault was to much sealent theres have an inch sticking out in to the block in some places looks like a bday cake

David Carter (not verified)    October 30, 2019 - 9:39AM

I had my recall work done earlier this year around March. It had 67k miles so I had everything due between 60k & 80k miles done too, ran about another $1200.

My car died in Texas when it threw a rod two weeks ago and 6k mi later. The dealer there told me sealant was put in the wrong place on cam caps and #4 bearing was definitely starved of oil. Toyota Corp comes back and says "everything was done right" and are basically washing their hands of me. I still owe $3k and the car was worth $10k before this happened. I expected to have paid off a perfectly reliable car in 7 mo time but now I will either be in the hole on this car or under a new note for another 5+yrs.

Ken M (not verified)    January 31, 2021 - 1:43PM

We just purchased a 2013 Scion FRS that has this recall which hasn't been done. A local Toyota dealership has the parts on order, and we are scheduled to have this recall done in the next couple of weeks. I'm wondering if any updates/corrections have been done to this recall. Should we hold off on having this done? The car has seemingly been very well taken care of and has no other known issues.

David Cox (not verified)    February 1, 2021 - 3:03PM

In reply to by Ken M (not verified)

I don’t know if updates to this recall have been done, only that in the end I had to sell my car for parts as the cost of a new engine were going to be more than the car was worth. Despite the fact that I had a car that worked perfectly fine (except needing a new clutch) before the recall and had a blown engine a couple days after the recall, Toyota still took no responsibility. To cover yourself just make sure they verify prior to the recall that there is no pre-existing damage. They tried to claim that the car was driven “hard” and that resulted in blown engine... even though they didn’t provide any evidence regarding this. Good luck!

David (not verified)    January 28, 2023 - 2:02PM

Had the recall completed on my 2013 Scion FRS, took three months. After two weeks of having it back, cylinder blew so they replaced the engine waited another month. Got it back less then a month later clutch is burned up and flywheel is discolored. Not it's not covered and they want 2 grand to fix it. Wish I never had this recall done in the first place. Can't afford this, just going to have to pick it up and drop it in the yard.