TGIF[R-S]: Tightening the Screws

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TGIF[R-S]: Tightening the Screws
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It’s now been three months of Scion FR-S ownership, and while it has been fun, there have been a few hiccups along the way. The car isn’t perfect and within a month I noticed some annoying teething issues.

Thankfully, there have been some updates in regards to a pair of nagging issues with the FR-S – though no solid solutions.

Recap: FR-S Problems

First, the car sounded terrible. A high-pitched chirping noise came from the engine bay, which was louder when I used fuel that had any ethanol content. Filling up meant that I’d have to go out of my way to find a gas station with non-Ethanol 91 Octane to avoid a tank full of loud crickets.

I went to my dealer about it for advice. They didn’t help. They said it was a normal sound of the car’s direct injection noise, and that if using ethanol-free gas helped, then I should keep using ethanol-free gas. I was not enthusiastic with that answer.

The other issue I had occurred less frequently. When idling at a red light, the engine RPM would drop to about 400, and then bounce back up to normal idling speed. Whenever this happened the car would shake roughly, and feel like it was on the verge of stalling. Headlights would even dim like the car was about to stall out. It’s only occurred four times, and when I brought it up with my dealer they tried to diagnose the issue, but couldn’t recreate the problem. They said without a check-engine light, there’s not much they can do.

TSB: Toyota Squashes Bugs?

I reached out to Toyota corporate for help on both of these subjects and was advised to contact my dealer, which (as discussed) has already been no help at all. I was just about to give up on finding some answers, when a TSB was issued for the car last week.

A technical service bulletin (TSB) is a recommended procedure for repairing a vehicle. These aren’t quite recalls, because they don’t affect the safety of the car.

The TSB (#S-SB-0023-12) referenced the chirping noise, and explains “Some vehicles may exhibit a high pitch chirp or squeak noise from the High Pressure Fuel Pump Assembly when the engine is fully warmed up and idling.”

However, there are some oddities here. The part numbers for the replacement high pressure fuel pump are the same as the parts that are already in the car. I asked a Toyota representative if the parts were the same, or whether or not the new parts received any update. The person I spoke to at Toyota said that “the part is the same” but that there is no information as to what the cause of the problem is.

I guess the real test is to get the part replaced, but the TSB is for the USA only, so far, and not issued in Canada yet. I’ve reached out to my dealer to contact me when it applies to Canadians.

Another story has surfaced regarding the idle issues. Apparently there’s a fix to the ECU that will cause the idle drop to stop happening.

The problem is associated only with early production models and my car falls into that category being number 3,417.

I’ve reached out to my dealer to see if I can get this fix as a precaution, even without a check-engine light, because right now I’m just waiting for a stall to happen.

Waiting For Fixes

I hope that other FR-S owners aren’t running into these issues like I am. I can’t help but think that if an auto journalist who writes a column on his car every week can’t get any solution from Toyota, then your average FR-S owner must be completely ignored.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really enjoying the car and these small nagging issues are bearable, and as long as they’re not damaging anything, I’m in good spirits. Still, the lack of concern from my dealer is disappointing. I’d expect that the latest, hottest vehicle would get a little more attention from the folks at Toyota but that’s not what I’m experiencing. I also wonder if BRZ owners are getting the same service, and if the price difference between the two vehicles could have reflected a difference in corporate mentality.

Coming Up

Along with following up on these issues, I’m working on some exciting stories for the next few installments of TGIF[R-S]. First, after auto-crossing the car and getting a ride around a track by someone else, I’ve finally had the chance to take my car to its limits – and we have video to prove it!

Additionally, I’m getting ready to prepare the car for the winter season, and have a brand new set of Vredestein Wintrac Extreme tires that are just waiting for the temperatures to drop. While I have no doubt that winter driving in the FR-S will be fun, I want it to be safe too, so hopefully these tires are the right answer. My recent track time also has me thinking ahead, and I’ve grabbed a set of new Cooper Zeon RS3-S tires that will be going on the car in the new year.

  • Bill Butters

    I had a very similar idle issue with my 07 Lexus GS350 – even after the valve spring recall was performed. The dealer was no help, and neither was Toyota. I dumped my Lexus and will never own another Toyota-made car again. Up to that point, all I had ever owned was Toyota and Lexus vehicles. It is sad that they don’t take better care of their customers.

  • skibunne

    Thanks for posting this and updating on the TSB, my FR-S exhibits identical issues to yours, having been built in mid-May.  Ethanol-free fuel fixed the cricket noise, but my dealership was as clueless as yours about the idle hunting issue.  It remains unrepaired in my vehicle since I don’t want them tearing mine apart hunting for an issue they have no info from Toyota on :(

  • Mike

    I wish they would stop selling that shitty ethanol gas.