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Old 08-31-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
BrandonDrums
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Default Rod Bearing Failure Nightmares/Stories (One thread to rule them all)

There are tons of rod bearing failure threads around but I think it's worth having a single thread documenting everyone's failure/rebuild stories.

I'd like to see the following

year/model and mileage of failure
what caused the failure
how the rebuild was done
what was swapped/replaced
how long the car has lasted since the rebuild

I have a 2005 wrx that spun a rod bearing at 94k miles

I was getting it dyno tuned when the failure took place

I had the entire longblock replaced with an EJ255 from a 2005 Legacy gt that had a bad ring-land, the rebuilt longblock included weisco pistons and ACL bearings.

The shop that built the new engine re-used the original oil-cooler and oil pan/pickup tube but just cleaned them out. I didn't know this at the time, this was before I knew this shop cut corners and what to look for myself. The shop also used ACL Bearings and matched to OEM clearances and tolerances. They claim to blueprint everything, I asked for the final specs of all of the components but they didn't have any of that on record of course.

The new engine only lasted 18k miles over 1.5 years before spinning a bearing.

I'm looking to rebuild...again with a new shortblock this time, replace all oil recepticales with new - oil pan, oil cooler, oil pump, AVCS/Turbo Oil Feed Lines and I'm going to use ACL race bearings.

Who else has nightmares about this? What have you done and what has worked for you to keep the build on the road?
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Last edited by BrandonDrums; 10-14-2013 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 08-31-2012, 03:33 PM   #2
punchjamesarnol
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... Sorry to hear about your motor... Bummer man! I had mine fail on my stock '10 from ringland failure to finally seizeing the motor... I had her all rebuilt with the good stuff, the oil pump and all lines replaced as well. I'm barely over 3,000 miles and she is well broken in. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:22 AM   #3
BrandonDrums
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Thanks for the reply! Anyone else care to post their rod bearing failure story and post-rebuild success/problems?

Perhaps I should have put this thread in the General discussion since it's not specific to just 2.5's....
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:18 AM   #4
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My brother just bought my 07 wrx from me, drove it about 250 miles missed a shift from 1-2 and then oil pressure dropped off, followed by this... take a listen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh3U...eature=mh_lolz

Is this the sound of rod knock and eng failure?

(I just got back to nm and he lives in reno nv so there is no way for me to get up there and take a look at the car.)
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casaus19 View Post
My brother just bought my 07 wrx from me, drove it about 250 miles missed a shift from 1-2 and then oil pressure dropped off, followed by this... take a listen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh3U...eature=mh_lolz

Is this the sound of rod knock and eng failure?

(I just got back to nm and he lives in reno nv so there is no way for me to get up there and take a look at the car.)
Yup, pretty much without a doubt a Rod Bearing Failure

I'm really sorry man, I highly recommend draining the oil to diagnose rather than running the engine any more. Just to prevent any flake from circulating around the engine any more than needed.

It's funny, a stall out was the last "abuse" event on my car before it spun a bearing. I let my uncle drive my car for a cruise. He's battling prostate cancer and he was telling me about his treatment so he wasn't paying attention. We pulled up to a stopsign after cruising in 5th and he stalled it out reaaaaallly bad. I was trying to tell him "Push in the clutch push in the clutch" but his mind was elsehwere, I had to pull the shifter hard to pull it out of gear but it was too late.

The engine made horrible noises while it stalled in top gear but it started right up and drove fine for a week. I don't know if it was that stall that caused the failure or if the engine builder who put in my last engine re-used the oil cooler from my last spun bearing or if I just abused the car to the point of failure on my own and I'll never know.

I just want to hear more from folks who've had a rod bearing failure and rebuilt to learn how long their rebuilds have lasted without problems after the fact because one of the builders I've talked to for fixing my current bearing issue said the chances of failure after spinning one rod bearing are extremely high unless you replace every single oil passage on the car, replace the entire longblock and even the turbo.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:32 PM   #6
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OP,
Did you install a new crankshaft with the second engine? or was it resurfaced?
Also what was the cause of the failure on that second engine??

*To add a note here,
Im a subaru certified tech, for warranty purposes we cant replace many of these parts like, oil pan, oil pump, oil cooler or any of the related lines. We are instructed to flush them and inspect the oil pump for damage. The oil pump can be completely stripped down, cleaned and inspected. If its scored or scratched in the pump housing then yes, it is to be replaced. Ive yet to ever have a engine come back with spun rod bearings for not replacing any of those parts. You just have to have the right parts cleaner and time to make sure it is 99% clean.

I have had 2 engine Ive built come back, but it was many miles later and in both cases they were on the track during the failure.

For built engines, oil clearances and other things cant be put to OE Spec tolerances or clearances for that matter or you will have failures. It takes lots of time and knowledge to get these things correct. I often have to have bran spakin new crankshafts sent out for machining! Yes even the Nitirde cranks are not good enough for me. Many get .005 thousandths removed to get my clearance right where i want it. I dont do this for warranty jobs, but I do for customers that want built engines.

Keep this in mind too, I NEVER trust machined crankshafts for over size bearings in a Performance application. They dont last!!!! New Nirtide cranks are only $325..... Turned/machined cranks after a bearing failure are just worthless and youre asking for it to happen again very soon. Ive got a pile of cranks here going to the scrap yard. Many are saveable for turning but I just dont risk it anymore.

Last edited by UK-Wagon; 09-04-2012 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UK-Wagon View Post
OP,
Did you install a new crankshaft with the second engine? or was it resurfaced?
Also what was the cause of the failure on that second engine??

*To add a note here,
Im a subaru certified tech, for warranty purposes we cant replace many of these parts like, oil pan, oil pump, oil cooler or any of the related lines. We are instructed to flush them and inspect the oil pump for damage. The oil pump can be completely stripped down, cleaned and inspected. If its scored or scratched in the pump housing then yes, it is to be replaced. Ive yet to ever have a engine come back with spun rod bearings for not replacing any of those parts. You just have to have the right parts cleaner and time to make sure it is 99% clean.

I have had 2 engine Ive built come back, but it was many miles later and in both cases they were on the track during the failure.

For built engines, oil clearances and other things cant be put to OE Spec tolerances or clearances for that matter or you will have failures. It takes lots of time and knowledge to get these things correct. I often have to have bran spakin new crankshafts sent out for machining! Yes even the Nitirde cranks are not good enough for me. Many get .005 thousandths removed to get my clearance right where i want it. I dont do this for warranty jobs, but I do for customers that want built engines.

Keep this in mind too, I NEVER trust machined crankshafts for over size bearings in a Performance application. They dont last!!!! New Nirtide cranks are only $325..... Turned/machined cranks after a bearing failure are just worthless and youre asking for it to happen again very soon. Ive got a pile of cranks here going to the scrap yard. Many are saveable for turning but I just dont risk it anymore.
Humm, that's an interesting take. The rod-bearing material on newer engines is so hard to mate with the nitride cranks, I'm surprised that what you described is still the dealer SOP for those types of repairs. Especcially when throwing all the additional oil passages of AVCS systems into the mix. I can understand the need to throw out the crank because polishing it means removing most if not all of the nitride coating in which case you'd need to use older, softer bearings with because the harder bearings need the nitride coating to prevent them from wiping out. Soft for Soft, Hard for Hard.

All the things you described should actually be replaced on newer, nitride coated engines. Subaru really needs to hop on that bandwagon because those new bearings designed for use on the nitrite cranks are so much more dangerous than the old lead filled bearings. A shard small enough to get past the pickup screen and through every oil passage in the car is still hard enough to seize a bearing now. Those old ones were more like foil and didn't pose a threat if they were small enough to get past the pickup tube every once in a while from what I understand.

To answer your question about my 2nd engine, I think the rods block and heads were original, the crank and the pistons were brand new. The block was bored due to scoring from the blown ringland by .002'' in each cylinder and .002'' cold-gap was used to fit weisco forged pistons and rings.

ACL bearings matched to OEM clearances for the rods and mains were used and the heads were checked for leaks, resurfaced and re-used.

Here's where it gets fuzzy, the oil cooler was used but I don't know if it came from the 2.5 w/ the ringland failure or from my 2.0 with the bearing failure. Judging by the picture, it's certainly used although I was never told explicitly if it was used or not.

You can tell, the oil cooler in this pic is used. By which engine, who knows.


The only thing I've been told by that shop was that "a couple of years ago we never replaced the oil coolers on rod bearing failed engines, we'd just clean them out like crazy but we kept getting those engines back with new failures over and over so now we just replace it" They did my build "a couple of years ago" in Nov of 2010.

That's not the point though, my engine was put through hell through it's relatively short life. The first tune on it was absolute crap and the street tune that replaced that first tune turned out to knock around 3200 rpm a whole lot when I bought a laptop and started to log and peek at learningview. For 4 months it had been knocking and learning view was a nice little hodgepodge of 5-10 degrees of learned timing retard, namely from .7-1.10 g/s of load at 2600-3400rpm. THAT'S when I decided to learn how to tune myself which lead to other abuses.

Last edited by BrandonDrums; 09-04-2012 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:43 PM   #8
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no more failure and rebuild stories?
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:10 PM   #9
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Default my short story

Hi, I'm new here and this is my first post/reply. I've been an ASE certified master tech for a few years now. I have rebuilt 3 1/2 air cooled porsche 911 engines and I'm in the process of rebuilding #2 &3 water cooled porsche engines. I bought an 02 wrx wagon (my favorite) off of craigslist for $2200. Yes, it was knocking, but besides some hail damage it was in really good condition. So, i pulled the engine and found the number 4 connecting rod bearing had spun. This car has 173k on the original engine, so i guess it was about due. It had wiped out the crankshaft, so i bought a brand new one from the local dealer along with one connecting rod. I have no plans on building lots of horsepower, so the stock will do. Had the connecting rods sized and will be balancing the pistons and then the assemblies. I have ported and polished the turbo, turbine and compressor side, will be pnp-ing the heads, intake, tumble flap housings, exhaust pipes, throttle body, and anything else that looks like it needs it. I want to do this once, and so any advice on fault proofing would be appreciated. I will post updates on progress and how its doing after.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:38 PM   #10
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I myself have been blessed with a wonderful rod failure also. I orginally cracked a ringland on piston 4 when running the car with a Stage 2 setup. I then bought a used but new short block that spun a rod only 3k miles later. This time around I built a completely new long block with all forged internals. Currently have 2500 miles on the setup and 415whp
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackeymx View Post
I myself have been blessed with a wonderful rod failure also. I orginally cracked a ringland on piston 4 when running the car with a Stage 2 setup. I then bought a used but new short block that spun a rod only 3k miles later. This time around I built a completely new long block with all forged internals. Currently have 2500 miles on the setup and 415whp
Oh jeez, that's tough stuff. What do you think caused the bearing failure so quick? Was it a cracked oil feed tube or debris in the oil system or perhaps just a improperly assembled block?

I'm trying to see what the average life of a repair is after a failure. Some say repeat failure is imminent if you don't change out every single oil related component. Not just the oil cooler but oil feed lines, oil pump, avcs oil passages and cam pulley actuators, oil pan and pickup tube.

I'd like to hear of someone getting over 100k miles after a rod-bearing failure repair that wasn't just a longblock swap.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonDrums View Post
Oh jeez, that's tough stuff. What do you think caused the bearing failure so quick? Was it a cracked oil feed tube or debris in the oil system or perhaps just a improperly assembled block?

I'm trying to see what the average life of a repair is after a failure. Some say repeat failure is imminent if you don't change out every single oil related component. Not just the oil cooler but oil feed lines, oil pump, avcs oil passages and cam pulley actuators, oil pan and pickup tube.

I'd like to hear of someone getting over 100k miles after a rod-bearing failure repair that wasn't just a longblock swap.
I am in the midst of a build on my 07 Limited due to rod bearing failure (or what I suspect to be)...car has 66K miles on it and has been Stage II (Cobb custom 20 psi tune, CAI, Cattless TBE, APS DR525 FMIC) since 5K miles old.

I ran into an unknown low oil situation due to blow-by combined with a hard downshift caused the failure. I've yet to pull the motor apart but all signs point to a rod bearing. The car ran and drove after the "incident" but had a strong rattling sound.

I got a old but brand new 2010 shortblock from a local rally team with the nitrided crank and a local shop is installing standard bore Mahle's. I wasn't considering replacing the entire lubrication system other than the oil pump, but I too would like to see mileage numbers from members who've reused oil pickups (already have the Killer Bee, along with the windage tray), and the topend parts mentioned.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:27 AM   #13
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I understand the importance of cleaning and/or replacing the oil pump, oil cooler, etc. when rebuilding a motor with a spun rod bearing, but the fact is almost all spun rod bearings are due to incorrect clearance, heat expansion, or oil starvation; not a piece of debris in the oil getting in between the clearance area . Flame suit on, but it's just a fact.

I've taken apart a many a spun rod bearing motor, ones that were ran a good while after the initial failure. The other surviving bearings did have scuff marks from the debris in the oil, but none ever spun due to the debris.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:16 PM   #14
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never.....NEVER re-use the oil cooler

and NEVER use any 5w30 oil
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zackbo View Post
I understand the importance of cleaning and/or replacing the oil pump, oil cooler, etc. when rebuilding a motor with a spun rod bearing, but the fact is almost all spun rod bearings are due to incorrect clearance, heat expansion, or oil starvation; not a piece of debris in the oil getting in between the clearance area . Flame suit on, but it's just a fact.

I've taken apart a many a spun rod bearing motor, ones that were ran a good while after the initial failure. The other surviving bearings did have scuff marks from the debris in the oil, but none ever spun due to the debris.

the VERY VAST MAJORITY of spun bearings comes from metal to metal contact due to the WRONG OIL BEING USED

this wrong oil shears piss thin and is consumed by the engine through the pcv system...THIS causes knock....the knock then pushes the metal parts together through the sheared oil film in the bearings..

and p0p goes the bearing

all done

the MORAL of this story is this:

USE GOOD OIL THAT WONT SHEAR AND BE CONSUMED AND YOUR ENGINE WILL LAST A LOT LONGER
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty View Post
never.....NEVER re-use the oil cooler

and NEVER use any 5w30 oil
On any wrx?? new motor or used/rebuilt??? In winter and summer??
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquid167 View Post
On any wrx?? new motor or used/rebuilt??? In winter and summer??

d00000000000000d....there are SO MANY GOOD oil choices out there that dont involve any 5w30 oil

read...learn...read some more....keep reading until yer eyes bleed

then ya see where im comin from.....a couple of these NEW 'SN' 5w30 oils MAY prove to be OK...but im still not drinkin any of that k00l-aid....not yet

and all of what you are thinkin, above, can be easily handled by something other than a 5w30
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:49 PM   #18
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Default so, whats good?

We specialize in high end foreign cars, mostly benz, BMW, and Porsche and we use either 10w30 motul or 5w30 LiquiMoly, both fully synthetic. It seems to be really good oil, and it meets the warranty spec for those guys, but i always like to get other peoples take on hard to quantify stuff like oil. A lot of people have opinions about oil and like the saying goes, most of them stink. So, any facts, numbers, personal experience would be great. Both my 230k toyota and 240k Tahoe use the sybthetic stuff and run great with it.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:08 PM   #19
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I am another lucky one who has suffered from a rod bearing failure. I stepped up the ladder. Sold my 02 2.5rs And i needed to go turbo so i purchased an 04 wrx stock with 130k miles in january of 2012. I thought i had it all figured out. Went to get a tune up, through in some 5w30 oil, cuz thats what the manuel said i should use. In march flashed to a cobb stage II ots map, literally a week later, one of the rod bearings went. I heArd that dreaded noise u see on those youtube videos of when rod bearings go... Mind u in NYC traffic. Luckily i was near an exit and got the car towed to a shop. Dont know if it was neglegence on my part or just piss thin oil f**ked me over.
I have now rebuilt the engine with a 2.5L bottom end, machined stock heads (chambers opened up), Mahle stock sized pistons and a 16g. The cars noisy on start up and after it warms up still a bit noisy. So fAr 10k miles on engine & ive been running mostly 15w40 oil. Car made to Arkansas & back (NY) this summer so go figure..
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:11 PM   #20
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O yea forgot to mention put in new oil pump, and new oil cooler. Just to be on safe side.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:59 PM   #21
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Let me start by saying that we have had zero bearing failures from engines that we built with our methods. We have hundreds of engines around the globe running for years on high power, high rpm operation with zero failures. The only ones to ever fail are when customers insist on reusing certain parts: Rods, oil pan, oil pump, oil cooler etc.
When we did airplane engines we had NUMEROUS oil pump relief valves stick from small amounts of particulate left over in the oil pan. Regardless of how well it was cleaned, there is ALWAYS metal in it.

If a customer comes in with a spun bearing, we won't work on it until he agrees that he is changing:
Pan,
Pump
Cooler.
All our engine builds use new components so no more worry with resized rods, turned cranks etc.
Heads are disassembled and thoroughly cleaned.

All that is fine and dandy, but the most important part of an engine build is getting the clearance correct. ALL the clearances. The main bearings are more important than rod bearing clearances. When building engines with used blocks the mains are ALWAYS over 3 thou and sometimes closer to 5. If your builder says they aren't, uses HX bearings or something else, he's wrong. In hundreds of cases I have Never ever ever seen a used case come out with proper clearances using standard size bearings. Now some logic has to be used here in that most used cases are over 30k miles. If you have a 5k mile case, then I suppose the mains could still come out. However, we don't get 5k mile cases. I can't imagine many people do.

Now you're probably wondering "wait you said you use all new components, but now you're saying you use used cases".
Let me clarify:
1. For new builds we no longer use old cases. This policy has been in effect for about two years. We used to rebuild a lot of motors but they took more money and time than they were worth.
2. We only use used cases for sleeved, high horsepower cases. In each of those cases we mill the inside surface of the case flat and shoot the mains again. They are NEVER even close to being flat when we get them. This is because the engine has been cycled, seasoned and stress relieved. This is why the mains are always big on used cases. That is the same reason we use them for sleeving. We don't want the cases to wander after sleeving.

Lastly:
DON'T USE 5W-30!! Read the owner's manual. It even says not to use 5w-30 for anything other than commuting and daily driving. If you're trying to make power on 5w-30, you'll be spinning a bearing.
Don't use Mobile 1. Why?
1. Mobile 1 engines are always some of the cleanest engines when we take them apart. No oil residue anywhere. That makes no sense to me. If your oil is adhering to surfaces and providing lubrication there should at least be a little residue.
2. The only engines I have ever seen with bucket or cam failure have been Mobile 1 engines.
3. I have seen oil tests that cover film thickness, viscosity and friction over the temperature and pressure range and that oil just doesn't cut it.

CN:
replace it once or replace it twice
do it right once
don't use 5w-30 or mobile 1
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:23 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UK-Wagon View Post
OP,
Did you install a new crankshaft with the second engine? or was it resurfaced?
Also what was the cause of the failure on that second engine??

*To add a note here,
Im a subaru certified tech, for warranty purposes we cant replace many of these parts like, oil pan, oil pump, oil cooler or any of the related lines. We are instructed to flush them and inspect the oil pump for damage. The oil pump can be completely stripped down, cleaned and inspected. If its scored or scratched in the pump housing then yes, it is to be replaced. Ive yet to ever have a engine come back with spun rod bearings for not replacing any of those parts. You just have to have the right parts cleaner and time to make sure it is 99% clean.

I have had 2 engine Ive built come back, but it was many miles later and in both cases they were on the track during the failure.

For built engines, oil clearances and other things cant be put to OE Spec tolerances or clearances for that matter or you will have failures. It takes lots of time and knowledge to get these things correct. I often have to have bran spakin new crankshafts sent out for machining! Yes even the Nitirde cranks are not good enough for me. Many get .005 thousandths removed to get my clearance right where i want it. I dont do this for warranty jobs, but I do for customers that want built engines.

Keep this in mind too, I NEVER trust machined crankshafts for over size bearings in a Performance application. They dont last!!!! New Nirtide cranks are only $325..... Turned/machined cranks after a bearing failure are just worthless and youre asking for it to happen again very soon. Ive got a pile of cranks here going to the scrap yard. Many are saveable for turning but I just dont risk it anymore.
How do you guys clean out the oil cooler? I've argued that it can be cleaned with a combo of higher pressure and super sonic cleaning with degrease. After a thorough cleaning, I was still able to shake particles out ...
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:33 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxwell Power View Post
Lastly:
DON'T USE 5W-30!! Read the owner's manual. It even says not to use 5w-30 for anything other than commuting and daily driving. If you're trying to make power on 5w-30, you'll be spinning a bearing.

CN:
...
don't use 5w-30...
So what do you put in YOUR subaru?
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:43 PM   #24
EROCS04SBRUSTI
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Member#: 234397
Join Date: Jan 2010
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Elyria,Ohio
Vehicle:
2004 WRX STI
WORLD RALLY BLUE

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I think this is good info!!
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:02 PM   #25
john 1badSTI
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: grove city ohio
Vehicle:
04 sti 10.51@138.5
on e85@ 30psi--spinning

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Dom as always is spot on with his info and I think he will agree that a lot of the spun brgs are also due to tunes,all it takes is 1 bad incidence of det and bamm the oil cushion gets pushed out due to the increased cylinder pressure from the det and you get metal to metal.Once this happens the brgs life goes down hill quick,once the damage is done its done,it just gets worse.
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