The Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S have been struck by a minor gremlin, but the repair is turning into an episode that ends with "Stay Tuned" rather than a definite conclusion. Automotive News reports that a software mapping hiccup can cause the adaptive engine ECU to get out of whack with the engine, which can, in turn, cause rough idling and stalling.

Toyota said the issue does "involve the variable valve timing," but both Subaru and Toyota say the issue is entirely about the software, that the ECU can develop a "handshake issue" with the engine after having an unfavorable "reaction to normal mechanical variations" in a small number of cases.

The two automakers diverge on the remedy, however. After 100 miles of learning the powertrain and the driver's driving style, AN reports that the ECU's mapping is pretty much baked in. If engine operation exceeds the established parameters, at low revs the engine succumbs to uneven idling and stalling as the ECU tries to recalibrate to a new range of tolerances. Toyota has said that if the issue is suffered by a car with less than 100 miles, the ECU should be reflashed, but that cars with more than 100 miles should have their ECUs replaced. Subaru, though, has said that the ECU doesn't need to be replaced no matter the mileage – a reflash is all that's required. It appears that some owners who have had the reflash have suffered the problem again.

We don't have any hard numbers on how many of the coupes are afflicted and how many have been fixed, so it's impossible to know how big or little the issue is. But with the popularity of the twins and the vociferousness of the fans who queued up to buy them, the situation will either be adequately resolved or we'll be hearing a lot more about it soon enough.


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  • 30 Comments
      zigzagz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ft 86 Club has a huge thread on this CEL/Idle issue: http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15577 It is a small sampling but at least 124 members have been affected
      Willie
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love the looks of the Subaru and as a person who already knows I don't want children (I enjoy being the fun uncle), this just may be my next car a few years from now (or the new Mazda6). There are so many great cars out right now. I wish I was rich, my garage would rival Jay Leno.
        Jonathan Ippolito
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Willie
        Mazda 6 compaired to the Subi, Toyota twins really . ! This is such an easy decision . The Subi Toyota twins hands down are the choice . But I'd go look at the Chevy Camaro V6,Ford Mustang V6 and Genisis V6 instead if I were you .
          Hello, Brian
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jonathan Ippolito
          Why can't he make his own decision? You decide what you want to own, and he can do the same. That is the beauty of choice. Personally, I would never even consider either of these Toyobarus, but I don't begrudge those who would. Buy what you love.
      mufpixtintrix
      • 2 Years Ago
      A minor hiccup indeed. I always go by that general rule of thumb that you don't purchase a new vehicle, or electronics, on its first manufacturing run.
      Joe Schmoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toyota/Subaru: this flaw and your handling of it, as well as the MR2 Spyder catalytic converter/engine failure handling (should be a recall) has lost you customers. First year car or not, we were prepared to purchase an FR-S. We moved on. Nice job.
        Cain Gray
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joe Schmoe
        I was one of the MR2 owners with the cat issue. Toyota NEVER acknowledged the issue, and that it was pretty much guaranteed to happen. They seem to be on the ball with this one.
      Leather Bear
      • 2 Years Ago
      18 comments so far and not one complaint of "200hp isn't enough for a sports car", "I'd rather have a Mustang V6 at that price", and endless other variations, etc., etc. Could the maturity level of the average Autoblog commenter be going up? NAH!!!
      miketim1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thats what toyota gets for not doing it on their own..........
        Rr778
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        This isn't a big deal. But have you seen how awful the sales number are for this car? Chevy sells more volts haha
          Rr778
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rr778
          Time spent in dealer lots doesn't put $$$ in shareholders pockets. Sales do. I don't know what country you are from where sales don't matter to an auto manufacturer.
          404 not found
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rr778
          These 2 cars spent the least amount of time on dealer lots this year. Your argument is invalid.
          Rr778
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rr778
          The marketing ploy "fastest selling car" should be a signal that you need to look a little deeper. Interesting note the Nissan z is outsold several months in The last year by the leaf
          McLovin
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rr778
          No ****... These cars have a very limited run... That's like saying chevy sells more corvette's than shelbys
        Hello, Brian
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        Toyota has no experience in boxer engines.
      Toneron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah they forgot to test that during 4 years of development and validation cycles.
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 2 Years Ago
      So, for the first 100 miles drive it like you stole it? I always break in every new car, bike, lawn mower, weedeater, whatever at WOT. Breaking in an engine by babying it is a recipe for disaster.
      michael.cha
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Volts sale will fall off cliff after federal subsidy ends.
        Rr778
        • 2 Years Ago
        @michael.cha
        Are you referring to the 7500 tax rebate credit that does not apply to all buyers?
      d.hari
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love seeing this car on the road. Gives me hope! This makes me smile too lol http://youtu.be/XcibYNRvOk4
      Radioactive Flea
      • 2 Years Ago
      So its got a few growing pains. no big deal.
      Karfreek
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unfortunately the first crop of these cars were flogged on by sales managers and lookie loos for the majority of that 100 miles. So who's driving style were they learning? It seems like it should have variable adaptives that constantly adjust over the life of the car like most manufactures have.
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