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Toyota honors ‘drifting’ warranty claim after online backlash

A warranty claim for a Toyota GR86 sports car has been honored, after initially being denied when a social media post showed the vehicle drifting and performing skids.

Japanese car giant Toyota has backflipped on its decision to deny a US customer’s warranty claim after the company faced backlash online for using his social media posts against him.

Toyota had denied GR86 owner Blake Alvardo’s warranty claim for an engine failure when it discovered a photo of the car “drifting” and performing skids at a closed-course event.

However, coverage by multiple US automotive publications – such as Jalopnik, Road & Track give The Drive – led to Toyota reversing its decision, now offering to repair the GR86’s engine under warranty.

Last month, a warranty claim lodged by Alvardo for his GR86’s engine failure was denied by Toyota when one of the car maker’s technicians discovered a photo of the car being driven at a non-competitive track event.

Toyota argued that the photo of him “drifting” in the car was evidence of mistreatment, despite Alvardo’s own inspection of the engine finding a manufacturing fault caused the failure.

Having completed a tear-down of the Toyota GR86’s 2.4-liter petrol engine, Alvardo discovered the oil pick up in the sump had been blocked, causing the engine to seize.

Alvardo found the silicone which Toyota uses as an engine sealant had leaked into the oil, causing the blockage and engine failure.

A Toyota GR86 going sideways at the model’s Australian launch.

Instead, the Toyota technician uncovered the photo of Alvardo “drifting” his car and said the engine failure was caused by the owner’s driving.

The technician also used a YouTube video of a white GR86 competing in an autocross event – titled “Blake’s Run” – as evidence against the customer, despite his vehicle being black.

However, Alvardo now says Toyota USA will honor his warranty claim in the wake of the Facebook post attracting media coverage and online backlash.

Toyota’s backflip occurred at the right time for Alvardo, as the GR86 was set to be worked on by a local Subaru specialist which provided a quote of $US7000 ($10,100) to fit a used engine – far less than the $US11,000 ($ AU15,850) Toyota had quoted him.

Toyota’s US website shows the GR86 drifting, while this particular paint color is named “Track bRED”.

The decision to process the failure as a warranty claim could lead to changes in how Toyota markets the GR86 in the US.

However, the fine-print in NASA’s offer states: “Participation in high performance driving creates a risk of personal injury or death and may cause damage to your vehicle that is not covered by your insurance or warranty.”

“Warranty support for vehicles that are used for non-competitive track use are handled on a case-by-case basis,” said a Toyota Australia spokesperson.

“Generally speaking warranty support for components that have failed as a direct result of track use are not covered.”

In Australia, Hyundai is the only car maker which allows non-competition events at race tracks to be covered by its standard warranty, applying to its range of ‘N’ cars such as the i20 N, Kona N, i30 N Hatch and i30 Sedan N.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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