Engines Keep Failing as the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S Valve Spring Recall Debacle Drags On

While the newly redesigned 2022 Subaru BRZ is currently enjoying the limelight, we want to take the opportunity to revisit a story concerning its predecessor. Avid readers will likely remember the saga of the BRZ and Scion FR-S valve spring recall in 2019, where a number of owners reported catastrophic engine failure after taking their cars into the dealership for the required fix. For everyone else, here’s a quick refresher.

In late 2018, Subaru and Toyota issued a formal recall on 400,000 cars over valve springs that can fracture and cause the Subaru-sourced 2.0-liter flat-four engine to stall. The 2013 BRZ and its Scion (pour one out) FR-S platform-mate were also included in the bulletin. Starting in early 2019, we reported on how dozens of owners—full disclosure, myself included—watched their formerly-fine engines grenade themselves shortly after having the recall work done. The issue caught the attention of the Center for Auto Safety and culminated in a class-action lawsuit filed against both Subaru and Toyota late last year.

It’s been a year since that suit was filed, and there hasn’t been much public noise about the matter since. 2020’s kept us busy in other ways. Despite that, our own inboxes and the comment section on the original story have continued to see a steady stream of BRZ and FR-S owners alleging the same thing: the recall is still destroying their cars’ engines.

As recently as a couple of weeks ago, one 2013 BRZ owner reached out to us in an email saying, “I have a BRZ that engine failed after recall less than 3,000 miles. First, they said it would cost me $6,900. Now $3,200.” Last month, a comment was left on our old story outlining the lawsuit, saying, “I’m having the same issue, rod knock after recall work. [Car] only has 31,000 miles on it. When I call Subaru dealer they tell me the internet is a place for crazies and they haven’t seen any issues.”

I won’t comment on whether or not the internet is, indeed, “a place for crazies” or not, but despite the assertions of that particular Subie shop, post-recall engine failure clearly was and still is an ongoing issue and, for that reason, we thought it’d be a good idea to give everybody an update. 

We got in touch with Jonathan Jagher, a partner at Freed Kanner London & Millen LLC and one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs on the class-action lawsuit. The bad news is that, according to Jagher, the suit is sort of in a holding pattern right now. Since it was first filed back in September 2019, Subaru and Toyota have subsequently filed a motion to have the case dismissed and they are all now waiting on Judge Joshua D. Wolson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to either dismiss the case or not. The good news, however, is that Jagher says he and his team will continue to “aggressively pursue” the action.

When we asked what the best course of action would currently be on behalf of affected owners, Jagher replied, “Keep all of their records showing ownership of their vehicle, documents showing the recall was performed and invoices for any repairs/replacements of the engine.”

When we reached out to both Toyota and Subaru to get their take on things, the latter issued the following statement: “Subaru strongly disagrees with the allegations made in the lawsuit and we have filed with Toyota a Joint Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Consolidated Amended Complaint,” Subaru spokesperson Dominick Infante told The Drive. “On the recall side, we have completed about 75 percent and still encourage owners to bring their cars to a retailer to have the recall performed,” he added.

“The safety and security of our customers is a top priority,” Toyota spokesperson Victor Vanov told The Drive. “Toyota encourages customers to have the remedy for any open safety recall completed. A customer can see if their vehicle is involved in a safety recall by visiting Toyota.com/recall or nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or license plate information. Regarding this lawsuit, we will respond to the allegations in the appropriate forum.”

Got a tip? Own an affected Subaru/Scion that’s failed after the valve spring recall? Feel free to contact the author at [email protected] If you’re in the U.S., you can contact attorney Jonathan Jagher at [email protected] or 610-234-6486.

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