Toyota NZ confirms dealers reused old oil during 86 'valve spring' recalls
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For a long time the Toyota 86and its Subaru cousin, the BRZ, have been darlings of the motoring world in their prioritisation of raw driving thrills through a focus on fun dynamics. But, that reputation took something of a turn late last year when the two firms confirmed their joint global 'valve spring' recall for models built between April 2012 and May 2013. It was found that the valve springs in those models had the potential to fail while under high amounts of load, with various engine issues among the potential resulting symptoms.
And now it's been confirmed that some Toyota New Zealand service departments charged with dealing with the recall were draining the old oil from cars brought in, only to pour that oil back in after the repair had taken place — as opposed to replacing it with new oil.
It's worth mentioning that the valve spring recall is a relatively comprehensive job. It requires the engine of each car to be taken out completely, and takes approximately 10 hours to complete per car. A total of 349 vehicles nationwide were included in the recall, while internationally the recall covered over 400,000 vehicles.
The news comes after a Driven reader notified us that their 86 had old oil fed back into its system following its recall. He had purchased a second-hand 86 earlier this year, only to discover that the oil in its system was "very dirty", despite having had its recall performed relatively recently. Speaking to Driven, the owner said they felt "a great deal of disbelief" when faced with the discovery.
"Anyone with any rudimentary mechanical knowledge would agree that putting used engine oil that was drained from a vehicle back into the motor is an unthinkable action," they said.
While it is possible that oil drained from a car can be in perfectly fine health, that draining process opens up plenty of opportunity for possible contamination through any lingering foreign material the oil interacts with before being returned to the car. Not to mention that the valve spring recall is intended to also cover a fresh oil replacement.
Toyota New Zealand confirmed to Driven that they are aware of the case. "Toyota New Zealand is aware of a few repairs relating to the 86 valve spring recall which have not gone as smoothly as we would expect for our customers, and we are working with them on a resolution as required," said a spokesperson. "We are aware of the customer you are referring to and we are working with him directly to come to the best resolution possible."
While Toyota New Zealand couldn't confirm how widespread the practice of recycling old oil was across its dealership and service network, Driven understands that some dealers did perform incorporate a replacement of fresh oil in their recalls.
The act of reusing old oil instead of new "was a result of an incorrect interpretation of the recall instructions," added the Toyota spokesperson. "We have since refined the repair process and supporting documentation to minimise any chance of a poor quality outcome going forward for our 86 customers."
It's not the first time that the valve spring recall has come under scrutiny. There have been numerous well-covered cases overseas of vehicles developing an engine knock and other issues (including claimed comprehensive engine failures) following their recall work being completed.
For further information on the recall, contact 0800 TOYOTA (0800 869 682).