Engine problems for Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ

MATT CAMPBELL
Last updated 14:56 10/10/2012
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The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ may be two of the most desirable cars on the market, but some owners claim to be experiencing engine issues with the sporty Japanese twin coupes.

A report from Automotive News states the Toyota and Subaru two-doors – which were co-developed and are powered by the same 2.0-litre ''boxer'' engine – are experiencing rough engine idle symptoms and occasional stalling.

According to the article, Subaru and Toyota representatives have stated the issue is related to a software problem. It states the car's ECU (engine control unit) is an adaptive computer that picks up on how the owner drives the car in the first 100 miles (161 kilometres), and sets the engine to perform accordingly. The ECU may then pick up if the car is being driven outside of these tolerances, and send an error code, causing the engine to idle roughly or stall.

Toyota says the problem is not mechanical, and that the ECU's software will need to be re-mapped (or ''re-flashed'' in car jargon) if it has less than 100 miles on the clock. It says that if the odometer reading is higher, the ECU should be replaced.

Automotive News quotes Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons as saying: "It does involve the variable valve timing, but it does not involve a mechanical repair."

Subaru, however, claims the fix is not dependent on how far the car has been driven – instead, it claims the ECU simply needs to be re-flashed.

"This is not a mileage-dependent condition," Subaru spokesman Dominick Infante is quoted as saying. "No replacement of the ECU is needed at any mileage to rectify the issue. The ECU re-flash is the fix. There is not a defect concerning the ECU."

International enthusiast sites such as FT86club.com are openly discussing the problem, with more than 100 registered complaints about rough idle issues including one forum member who says their car has been "in the shop" for three weeks with parts including the engine's oil control valve and variable valve timing cam gear requiring replacement. In a number of cases, those who have complained and had their ECU re-flashed have stated the rough-idle problem is still occurring.

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