First-Gen Toyota GT86 – Buyers guide & Common problems

Toyota GT86 is the perfect small RWD coupe that delivers nothing but joy. Is buying it and owning it the same joy? I would say yes. Despite what CarThrottle has to say, the first generation GT86 is one amazing little car.

Sure there are some signs of cost cutting, that I wouldn’t expect from Toyota, but then again, these problems are really minor.

Common first-generation Toyota GT86 problems include:

  • Risk of major issues in heavily modified models.
  • Clutch wear and camshaft timing chain noise reported.
  • Condensation in rear lights, random interior sounds.
  • Scratched windows, rust near quarter window, and premature wear on front seat bolsters.
  • Battery drainage, unstable engine revs, and GPS signal loss.
  • Key with metal tag needed for the alarm code.
  • 2016 recall for powered steering in certain production periods.

Want to know about each problem? Stay with me!

Engine Problems

Major Faults

  • There are currently no reported major faults for this vehicle. This is a rare occurrence, so good job Toyota!
  • Heavily tuned examples of the GT86 experience major problems with connecting rods and bearings, which is why you should avoid buying heavily modified examples.

    This is being commonly discussed as a GT86 problem, but in all honesty, the owners who left their engine stock, very rarely experienced any problems. I do not count this as a factory GT86 problem.

Other and Minor Faults

  1. Rattling noise while switching gears: Indicator of a worn-out clutch. Replace before further damage occurs.
  2. Coil pack failures: Coil packs are known to be a common problem on GT86s engine. This isn’t a major issue though, and it’s definitely not something that should stop you from making a purchase.
  3. Camshaft timing chain noise: Tends to make a ringing noise when starting a cold engine; usually goes away when the engine warms up. If the noise persists when the engine is warm, immediately check the chain and tensioner.
  4. Fast wear of rear tires: Due to the nature of the car, expect fast wear of the rear tires. Many owners are reporting this problem.
  5. Loud fuel pumps: Many owners report loud fuel pumps, which usually ends with the pump dying and needing to be replaced. On the other hand, there are quite a few owner, who simply learned to live with the loud fuel pump for years, before it eventually malfunctioned.
  6. Front brakes squeaking: Many owners also report front brakes squeaking.
  7. Oil leaks: As these cars age, many owners report oil leaks that occur in several places around the engine. A common oil leak is on the cam cover plate.

Body and Interior Problems with the GT86 Toyota

  1. Condensation problems with rear lights: Some owners report condensation problems with the rear lights. Replacing the seals on the lights resolves the issues. It’s also much cheaper than replacing the lights completely.
  2. Random sounds in the interior: Many owners complain about random sounds the interior is making, which can get annoying, not something you would expect from a Toyota.
  3. Delamination of the rearview mirror: Some owners experience delamination of the rearview mirror.
  4. Scratched windows: A small number of owners are reporting scratched windows. Scratches on the side windows occur because of bad window rollers.
  5. Rust issues: Owners report rust occurring near the rear quarter window and rusty door pillars.
  6. Rust problems under the front hood weather seal: Owners also report rust problems under the front hood weather seal.
  7. Premature wear and tear on front seat bolsters: Front seat bolsters tend to suffer premature wear and tear. Again, not something I would expect from Toyota.
  8. Rear seat latches and buttons: A small number of Toyota GT86 examples experience problems with rear seat latches and buttons for the latches.

Electronic Problems

  1. Battery draining: Many owners report the battery draining while the car is not in use. Most of the time, the cause is the same as in other Toyotas, the interior dimmer switch. Make sure that the older version (48 Ah) battery was replaced with the newer 65 Ah replacement battery.
  2. Unstable engine revs in neutral: A big number of owners report unstable engine revs in neutral. This is usually fixed by reprogramming the ECU. Some owners needed to replace the ECU.
  3. GPS unit problems: Frequent problems with the stock GPS unit. It loses signal or has a very weak signal making it useless.
  4. Alarm code: Make sure that the car you are buying has a metal tag on one of the keys that contain the code for the alarm.

Official Recalls of the Toyota GT86

Recall issued on the 4th of October in 2016. The cause was a problem with the powered steering. Affected cars were made from April of 2012 to March 2015.

Our Recommendation

Let’s keep it short; the Toyota GT86 is an amazing little car. It is strong enough, the engine is simple and reliable. And it’s RWD, a recipe for fun times. Compare this buyer guide to the BMW E90 and see how shorter the list of problems is for the GT86.

It also drives really well and prices are steadily dropping, go for it! Avoid GT86s that were or are heavily modded and tuned. Don’t forget to check our detailed used car buying guide before buying!

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