It isn’t every day that you see a newer car roll into the shop with catastrophic engine failure—but it does occasionally happen. Today’s example happens to be a new GR Corolla that didn’t just fail silently. Instead, it sent a rod through the block.
The busted Corolla was recently spotted by Road and Track which has been following the chronicles of the tiny three-cylinder engine’s teardown on a technician’s YouTube page. While the epilogue has yet to be written on this tale, its other acts have been a sad story for the enthusiast-focused hot hatch.
The first video shows the tiny three-cylinder already plucked from the Corolla and sitting on a shop floor. Along with the motor sits the head (already separated from the block), as well as the car’s six-speed manual gearbox and transfer case.
From the outside, it’s clear as day that the engine is damaged. For starters, there’s a giant hole in the block. Peeking inside one of the cylinder banks shows that a connecting rod caused the carnage to the casting. The rod and piston are both missing from the bank with chunks of metal sitting at the bottom of the block with the crankshaft.
A quick overlooking of the head also shows a significant amount of catastrophic damage to the valves and casting, likely kicked off after the bottom-end failure sent fragments of metal between the piston and head. The valves are bent and wedged into the casting, meaning that some serious interference must have occurred during the failure.
In a separate video, the YouTuber pulled off the oil pan to further inspect for damage.
Amongst the metal chucks were parts that could be identified as the missing piston and connecting rod which were previously occupying the cylinder (albeit now in a million tiny pieces, mostly). There are also parts of the engine casting, oil pump, and balance shaft scattered into the mess.
I do have to say that the bottom end of that engine is quite clean, which I would hope would be the case given that the GR Corolla has only been on dealer lots for a few months.
The YouTuber says that Toyota hasn’t released the exact cause of the problem—likely, it’s still working to figure out the cause since it asked for last little part (yes, that includes the metal shavings and fragments) back. However, the shop predicts that valve float may have also occurred, which could point to an over-rev condition, such as an accidental downshift—also known as a “money shift.”
The good news for the car’s owner, however, is that everything will be covered under warranty. In fact, Toyota is footing the bill to cover more than $32,000 worth of parts to replace the damaged engine components. Call it a defect or just plain luck, either way, it’s a relief when the manufacturer is footing the bill. Hopefully, this isn’t the start of a pattern.
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