Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S both suffer rough idling issues

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Scion FR-S

Both the Scion FR-S and its Subaru twin are having idling problems. Image: Moto@Club4AG/Flickr/CC BY

Both the new Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S are having the same issue in the engine control unit (ECU), causing some rough idling. However, Subaru and Toyota are handling the issue in different ways.

Same rough idling problem

It isn’t as surprising as it might seem that the two sporty coupes, both from different automakers, should have the same issue at the same time. Except for some cosmetic difference, the cars are virtually identical, designed and engineered in a joint venture between the two Japanese automakers. But now owners of both are facing the same idling issues. Both automakers agree that the problem stems from the ECU. But each has a different take on how to rectify the problem.

The ECU system in both models is designed to learn an owner’s driving patterns in the first 100 miles of travel. After that, the pattern is locked into the system. However, due to a software glitch, owners are experiencing a rough idle should they drive outside of those set parameters and “confuse” the ECU. In a worst-case scenarios, the engine could stall.

When the problem occurs, the “check engine” light will illuminate. Diagnostic readers will see a fault code of P0019.

Toyota’s fix is mileage-dependent

Toyota says a hardware replacement of the ECU may be in order if the Scion FR-S has been driven beyond that initial 100 miles. Before that time, it says a reflash of the ECU with the correct software mapping will take care of the problem. That, according to Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons, “broadens the tolerance of detection.”

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Unfortunately, help may not be forthcoming. Toyota says the problem will not be handled at Sandy Springs Scion, Atalnta Ga., or at any of its other U.S. dealerships. It will instead be fixed by field technicians. And that could be a slow process.

Lyons said:

“Our field offices are coordinating the remedies.”

Subaru nixes hardware solutions

Subaru, however, believes the reflash is a sufficient fix, no matter what the mileage on the vehicle.

Spokesman Dominick Infante said:

“This is not a mileage-dependent condition. No replacement of the ECU is needed at any mileage to rectify the issue. The ECU re-flash is the fix. There is not a defect concerning the ECU.”

Subaru also says that any cars shipped after the middle of August have already been reflashed and will not exhibit the problem.

Owner complaints

Neither automaker is disclosing a number of how many vehicles may be affected. However, according to Automotive News,  more than 100 owners have complained of the problem with the fan group FT86Club.


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