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Old 06-14-2013, 10:02 AM   #1
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Major engine Failures - one year overview

Owning this car for almost a year now and belonging to this fantastic forum the posts that catch my attention the most are the major engine failures. Now of course this happens with all new cars, especially new engine designs so I'm not chicken little, just looking at the reports from an objective perspective.

The interesting thing is we all thought the ultra-high compression ratio would point to the short-block being the weak link, remember when nay-sayers were claiming FI would be impossible without swaping pistons?

Well FB proved that not to be the case, the short-block surviving amazing boost and torque levels. At the time we all thought these were bullet proof engines with full blown's work, really looks like Subaru did their homework with the short-block.

But now we are still seeing folks with blown-up engines and not just FI guys, many reported completely stock. The common theme are the cylinder heads. We've had broken camshafts, broken rocker arms, burnt coilpacks from hot cylinder heads, and of course the blown DI O-rings leading to catastrophic failure. Not saying the heads are the root cause but all these issue's are cylinder head localized.

Its not too surprising considering this is the first NA H-4 Subaru boxer with a 7400 redline and 100hp/L, all that performance is made possible from the head design/geometry/DI integration. Does Toyota, Subaru, or Yamaha manufacture the cylinder heads, did they push too far?

I know a lot of us bought these cars for Toyota/Scion reliability, Subaru boxer reliability was rock solid till the late 90's, back then a Subaru engine was good for an easy 300k miles. And lets face it most any Toyota engine made will last that long if it is maintained. It will be interesting to see how these FA20 engines hold up the next few years.


Are these failures just a isolated cases or will these issues prove to be a long term issue affecting more and more owners the longer they own their cars? I firmly believe the long term success for this car absolutely depends on engine durability as the Toyota reputation is a big reason for the huge sales.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:16 AM   #2
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I have to stop you here. You can't expect every single motor to be perfect. That's what failure rates are. How many cars are on the road now? How many have blown engines?

The thing about forums like this is that every little thing gets brought to attention. Then all of a sudden, everyone starts saying, "I have that noise too."

Many of these cases are related to improper FI builds (which is something that no motor can with stand) and cars that see the track every weekend. Yes the motor should be able to withstand tracking, but that doesn't it can't fail. A good example would be the cars that are running in the 24hr races. Try that with even the most reliable motors.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:19 AM   #3
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I have to stop you here. You can't expect every single motor to be perfect. That's what failure rates are. How many cars are on the road now? How many have blown engines?

The thing about forums like this is that every little thing gets brought to attention. Then all of a sudden, everyone starts saying, "I have that noise too."

Many of these cases are related to improper FI builds (which is something that no motor can with stand) and cars that see the track every weekend. Yes the motor should be able to withstand tracking, but that doesn't it can't fail. A good example would be the cars that are running in the 24hr races. Try that with even the most reliable motors.

Did you read all of OP's post? he basically touched on everything you did.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:24 AM   #4
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Did you read all of OP's post? he basically touched on everything you did.
The only common aspect of our two posts are the FI parts.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:25 AM   #5
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:26 AM   #6
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:47 AM   #7
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Did you read all of OP's post? he basically touched on everything you did.

Yea I said I'm not playing chicken little, the problems aren't widespread. But its important to study up, because the more we learn about these engines from completely stock to full blown the sooner we learn the quirks and can take counter measures to ensure a long engine life.

Look at any good any car forum and there is usually a long thread about a problem that goes on for a while then someone figures out a fix. Raising awareness is the first step, not burying your head in the sand and thinking the OEM will solve all problems. It rarely works out that way.

My favorite example is Spyderchat. The last Toyota sports car (MR2 Spyder) had an issue where the cats on the header crumbled and the ceramic got sucked into the cylinders, quite a few blown motors. Toyota never really acknowledged the problem, but on that forum there is an FAQ that says the first thing you do when buying an MR-S is a compression check then degut those cats. Simple solution to a big problem.

That is what forums like this can be good for.
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:15 AM   #8
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Yea I said I'm not playing chicken little, the problems aren't widespread. But its important to study up, because the more we learn about these engines from completely stock to full blown the sooner we learn the quirks and can take counter measures to ensure a long engine life.

Look at any good any car forum and there is usually a long thread about a problem that goes on for a while then someone figures out a fix. Raising awareness is the first step, not burying your head in the sand and thinking the OEM will solve all problems. It rarely works out that way.

My favorite example is Spyderchat. The last Toyota sports car (MR2 Spyder) had an issue where the cats on the header crumbled and the ceramic got sucked into the cylinders, quite a few blown motors. Toyota never really acknowledged the problem, but on that forum there is an FAQ that says the first thing you do when buying an MR-S is a compression check then degut those cats. Simple solution to a big problem.

That is what forums like this can be good for.
Ya sorry, I was kind of ranting at the mass hysteria type thing more than anything else. I completely agree with you though.
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:30 AM   #9
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No mass hysteria at all, heck my FR-S is running like a top and I couldn't be happier with it. But I want us all to learn from folks with blown motors so we can prevent it.

I remember the 2005 turbo forester, around 30-70k miles quite a few folks were blowing up their engines. All sorts of theories, everyone thought it was the turbo blades breaking apart and ending up seizing the pistons, many right after the warranty was up. Turned out that the folks who removed the cat before the turbo never had a problem (it was the cat destroying the turbo, then the turbo destroying the engine.) Figuring out stuff like that early will only benefit all of us. DI is a new challenge for many of us, but I am sure as a group it can be solved.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:32 PM   #10
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I know the FA motors are a lot different than the EJ ones, but a very common failure on the EJ motors is the AVCS system. There are small screens inside the banjo bolts for the oil lines, meant to be in line filters. On the EJ's the screens can get clogged or rip out and get sucked into the AVCS system which can cause valve overlap or at the very least very rough running. I haven't taken apart any FA20's yet, but odds are the banjo bolt screen system is still there. Removing the screens would be my first move on any Subaru motor.
If anyone has the time and tools to do it, I encourage you to check to see if there are screens in there and report back. Also if anyone is taking off their oil pan, be sure to inspect the oil pickup tube.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:57 PM   #11
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If one is to look for a good statistical analysis of the situation, the forum is not a good place for that... any forum. Problem is, people with NO issues don't just post up every day and report that they have no issues. By the very nature of a forum, only people with issues are posting, looking for a solution/suggestions/comments. I bet the actual stats of blow motor is very low world wide. Throwing out the FI blown motor, how many truly stock motors are blow that wasn't a cause of the driving situation (over rev, low oil, etc)? It is hard to say judging purely on what is said via the internet.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:16 PM   #12
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If one is to look for a good statistical analysis of the situation, the forum is not a good place for that... any forum. Problem is, people with NO issues don't just post up every day and report that they have no issues. By the very nature of a forum, only people with issues are posting, looking for a solution/suggestions/comments. I bet the actual stats of blow motor is very low world wide. Throwing out the FI blown motor, how many truly stock motors are blow that wasn't a cause of the driving situation (over rev, low oil, etc)? It is hard to say judging purely on what is said via the internet.
Completely agree. Most people seek out these types of forums when in search of solutions to some kind of problem.

Also on this forum I've noticed the vast majority of threads pertaining to failed motors or the DI failure are all started by the same few people. I'm not implying that these folks are not knowledgeable, as they seem to be far more knowledgeable than most, myself included. Almost everyone else aside from the OP of these threads is just speculating or being a car hypochondriac.

I feel like the common denominators are FI or heavy tracking, which immediately cuts the potentially affected group to a very small number. Then within this group, few motors have outright failed. Just seems like if it were a actual manufacturing flaw it would be happening much more often to bone stock daily drivers and people who never track the car.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:28 PM   #13
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No mass hysteria at all, heck my FR-S is running like a top and I couldn't be happier with it. But I want us all to learn from folks with blown motors so we can prevent it.

I remember the 2005 turbo forester, around 30-70k miles quite a few folks were blowing up their engines. All sorts of theories, everyone thought it was the turbo blades breaking apart and ending up seizing the pistons, many right after the warranty was up. Turned out that the folks who removed the cat before the turbo never had a problem (it was the cat destroying the turbo, then the turbo destroying the engine.) Figuring out stuff like that early will only benefit all of us. DI is a new challenge for many of us, but I am sure as a group it can be solved.
I think the DI problem is going to be a "forum fix" for sure on the early model 86's. It'll be one of those things that we will post in our "For Sale" threads in a year or so. "The car has been tuned to prevent detonation" and something we ask about when buying a first year 86. "Has it been tuned?" Great thread. Crossing my fingers that the conspiracy theorists don't ruin it. I plan to keep this car for a LONG time as a DD and potentially a track car in the future (cheap car, great balance, and I won't be out a TON of money if I wreck it), so thread is a great one for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shingles View Post
If one is to look for a good statistical analysis of the situation, the forum is not a good place for that... any forum. Problem is, people with NO issues don't just post up every day and report that they have no issues. By the very nature of a forum, only people with issues are posting, looking for a solution/suggestions/comments. I bet the actual stats of blow motor is very low world wide. Throwing out the FI blown motor, how many truly stock motors are blow that wasn't a cause of the driving situation (over rev, low oil, etc)? It is hard to say judging purely on what is said via the internet.
I agree with you, and from what I can tell so does the OP. I think this thread is more information searching. Even with the forums going crazy over some failures, they are still few and far between thankfully....even here. That is good news in my eyes. :happy0180:
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:44 AM   #14
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I think the DI problem is going to be a "forum fix" for sure on the early model 86's. It'll be one of those things that we will post in our "For Sale" threads in a year or so. "The car has been tuned to prevent detonation" and something we ask about when buying a first year 86. "Has it been tuned?" Great thread. Crossing my fingers that the conspiracy theorists don't ruin it. I plan to keep this car for a LONG time as a DD and potentially a track car in the future (cheap car, great balance, and I won't be out a TON of money if I wreck it), so thread is a great one for me.



I agree with you, and from what I can tell so does the OP. I think this thread is more information searching. Even with the forums going crazy over some failures, they are still few and far between thankfully....even here. That is good news in my eyes. :happy0180:

I still have no clue, when is the "detonation" said to happen? What situation causes the engine knock?
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