By on November 1, 2018

Image: Subaru

The defunct Scion brand isn’t done making headlines, it seems. The rear-drive FR-S 2+2 sport coupe is among a number of vehicles — mainly Subarus — recalled over valve springs that could break, leading to serious engine damage.

In total, some 400,000 vehicles built between 2012 and 2013 are included in the recall; among them, Subaru BRZs, Foresters, and Imprezas. The Japanese-market Toyota 86 and North American-market Scion FR-S, twins of the BRZ, feature the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

Of the group, Toyota has the smaller share, with 80,000 vehicles affected. Some 25,000 U.S. FR-S vehicles are included in the callback, all manufactured between March 2012 and July 2013. Subaru’s share includes 101,000 vehicles sold in Japan and an undisclosed number sold in the U.S. The production dates for these vehicles range from January 2012 to September 2013.

Ideally, drivers want their intake and exhaust valves closed during the combustion process, but that won’t be the case if one of your valve springs shatters. Both automakers warn of sudden engine stalls, which carries its own danger, and unavoidable engine damage should this occur.

Major financial damage might occur, too, but not to the driver. Subaru expects to pick up a major bill for the recall work, the Wall Street Journal reports, with the automaker planning to outline the financial cost in next week’s earnings report.

Scion owners should be notified of the recall in December, but there’s no word yet on when Subaru owners should check their mailboxes.

[Image: Subaru]

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16 Comments on “Fragile Valve Springs Leads to Global Toyota-Subaru Recall...”


  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    If I were a Subee owner, the one thing that I would fear most is anything to do with the heads. They have the most difficult access of any mass production car today.
    Good luck with an easy fix on this.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Never worked on one, would it be easier to lower the engine/trans/subframe down instead of trying to do an in-car overhaul?

      • 0 avatar
        Yankee

        Not sure about the access in the BRZ/86, but I’ve done plenty of head gaskets on other Subarus over the years (around 100k seems to be the magic number when they start leaking at the bottom). They have to be the easiest engine to remove of any modern car. Transmission stays put in the mounts, exhaust easily unbolts from the bottom of the heads (leave the whole exhaust connected and lower as a unit onto a jack stand or block of wood). After the lines and connectors and engine-to-transmission bolts are removed, there are just two nuts that hold the engine mounts in the lower crossmember and then you just pull the whole thing out the top. Once removed and on an engine stand, the heads are a simple job to remove. I’m not a Subaru fanboy, but they’re not bad cars, and having to do the heads at 100k doesn’t seem like a huge penalty if you need something all wheel drive that is otherwise reliable. From my experience they give plenty of warning in terms of leaks and don’t mix oil and coolant or things like that.

        • 0 avatar
          EAF

          On a FRS/BRZ indeed the engine must be removed in order to service the heads. It isn’t incredibly difficult, but of course, it does add extra labor when compared to other 4 cylinders whose head can be removed with the engine in place.

          These series engines have timing chains and it’s a lot more work to break the seal and eventually re-seal than the EJ engine was, which used a timing belt.

          I would upgrade the valve springs, service all timing components, service the water pump, and service the clutch. May as well, it’s all out anyway. I would
          also re-ring if it were an oil burner (very likely).

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yup an experienced person can get an engine out in under an hour, as you say it is the easiest engine to remove, by a mile, at least since the old air cooled Beetles.

          So while it is possible to remove the heads in the vehicle the ease of engine R&R means that it is quicker and easier to remove the engine than it is to do it in the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Subarus legendary reliability strikes again!

  • avatar
    nels0300

    About ready to bring the wife’s 2013 Forester in for an oil consumption test.

    It’s been burning oil since new, has ~60K miles on it now, I figure now is the time to take advantage of Subaru’s free shortblock offer (because her Forester WILL fail the test). Going to have the clutch replaced while they’re in there. And I guess, now, the valve springs too.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve always felt that Toyota’s and Subaru’s roles on this project were the wrong way around; Toyota should have made the drivetrain, and Subaru the chassis.

    And +1 to the comments above – those cylinder heads will be $$$ to replace.

    Love – it’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I’ve always felt that Toyota’s and Subaru’s roles on this project were the wrong way around;

      Same as the world ending up with a Supra with a BMW engine? ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      They won’t be replacing the heads or even removing them. They may authorize popping the engine out, but certainly not pulling the heads. They authorized procedure will be to pressurize the cylinder and use a on-the-car style spring compressor. Yes, they will probably pull the engine so I expect the warranty time to be around 4hrs.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Recall, my fellow gearheads, that BMWs 2nd gen 3-series, came with an ‘Eta’, for “efficiency” 6-cylinder starting in 1984.

    This engine was tuned for “low end torque” and “efficiency”. Part of the deal was “less robust valve springs” for less friction. This resulted in a red-line of 4700 rpm.

    I was a teen/20-something, and I was offended that BMW would foist this MOST unsporting drivetrain on my gullible fellow Americans, and yet, there it was. Weak valve springs.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    Well….when the springs break and car won’t go you can always use the car as a dog house :=)

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I am waiting for some Subaru fanatics come and say, “my subaru ….” is super reliable.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’ve never seen a valve spring shatter. When they fail they almost always break into 2 pieces. On non-interference engines the valve won’t get bent and only the spring will need to be replaced. On interference engines yes that valve will often get bent.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Are there any non-interference engines anymore? Ford used to have policy on non-interference engines. They actually demanded Mazda to follow the trait. I loved that. Never changed timing belt in my Protege. But I think, besides may be some V8, probably no such engines are made anymore. again, I think

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah I got lucky when the timing belt broke on my 1997 Escort (joint Mazda/Ford design) for the 2.0 SOHC 4. The belt took out the crankshaft position sensor when it snapped but no head damage.


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