Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly series: TGIF[R-S], where Features Editor Sami Haj-Assaad details the ownership experience of the Scion FR-S. If you haven’t seen the latest articles, be sure to check out the whole archive of them.
Now that my break-in interval has been dealt with, it’s time to get to business. The FR-S, as with almost every new car, has special additives in the oil to help deal with the ‘settling in’ of the engine. The first batch of oil is also likely full of metal-shavings and the like from the new parts getting worked in.
The 3,000 mile lubrication service was recommended to me by my Scion dealer as soon as I took delivery of the car. While that first 1,000 miles to get to the break in period seemed to take forever, the next 2,000 just blew by.
Finally the time came. For the most part, Scion dealers are part of a larger Toyota dealership, meaning service and maintenance takes place by the same mechanics and service techs. As a result, there are no special Scion service bays with neon lights flashing or bass-beats thumping; just your typical Toyota service area.
A nice feature of my local Toyota/Scion dealership is that you can schedule appointments online. This means not having to be put on hold, or looking for what day is available. It’s all there online. I put in a request for my lubrication service a week away, and got an answer within an hour.
You hear a lot of marketing chatter from automakers about targeting Gen Y, but small items like this make all the difference for a generation that has evolved beyond the phone.
Scion says that the first service is free of charge. It’s obviously a smart way to get car buyers to come back to the dealership and hopefully lock them in as long time service customers. I’ll admit to taking the bait. Did I mention its free? Plus, it gives me a chance to see the type of quality to expect from Toyota and see whether I want to continue getting service done there.
STARTING A PAPER TRAIL
When I brought the car in, the advisor re-assured me that the service was free of charge, and asked if there are any problems with the vehicle. I noted my two issues I had and he went looking for a TSB, or any notice on those issues. He also said he’d investigate.
The issue of the inconsistent idle, which I’ve seen mentioned by other FR-S owners online had me quite nervous. Now it’s occurred twice over my month and a half of ownership, and both times the car nearly stalled while sitting still at a red-light. I can’t seem to figure out what exactly is causing it, but I do know that both times the A/C was on and at full blast. There are quite a few videos online showing off what I’m experiencing, but these folks seem to have it more frequently than I do. The other issue is slightly less serious, and has to do with the type of fuel I put into the car. It seems fuel with 10% ethanol make a loud noise from under the hood. Switiching to non-ethanol blends seems to resolve that issue.
I left the FR-S in the hands of the professionals and went on with my days business. I originally thought that an oil change would only take about an hour at the most, but I didn’t hear back from the team at Toyota for quite some time. I didn’t worry about it at first, I was at work, and wouldn’t be able to get it until later anyways. Besides, Toyota was holding on to my FR-S for free, which is a lot less cash than parking at the AutoGuide offices.
DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR?
Then the hours started to pass. My mind went into full paranoia mode.“Were they joy riding in my FR-S? Maybe they broke something? Maybe my idle issue was a big deal?” All thoughts made me very nervous.
About four hours after I dropped off my car, I got a phone call from the team at Toyota. They apologized for the delay and said the car is ready to be picked up. The reason for taking so long? They didn’t have any oil filters for the car in stock, and had to wait for one to come in. I wonder if they had to go to Subaru for some help.
The advisor took note of my issues, and said he hooked up the diagnostics tool to the car and drove it a bit to see if he could reproduce the idle problem. Unfortunately he found no issues with it yet. There is a log on the file, which means if a TSB comes up later, they’ll let me know.
Overall the service was adequate. Yes it took time, and the fact that they didn’t have a filter in stock, even though I booked the service a week in advance shows that they weren’t prepared for my vehicle. I’m glad that they investigated my idle issue, and logged it for later occurrences. The folks also returned my car to me clean, inside and out.
Following the service, I found the car to have a bit of a smoother feel, especially in terms of shifting. It feels like they lubricated the clutch a bit too, making for slick pedal travel. My exhaust note also seems to be a little fuller now. It all might be a placebo, but this service seems to have had an impressive effect on my car.
WILL I BE BACK?
It’s likely, but maybe for more serious maintenance. This lubrication service was little more than an oil change, something that can be done in my own driveway. As the miles rack up, other service intervals will require more work that I just won’t have the tools for. Then I’ll have to make the tough decision to go to the dealer for help, or an independent mechanic. Right now, I’m still leaning towards the dealer, but if they turn out to be too expensive, or unprepared for my car again, I’ll be forced to ditch them.