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Old 08-10-2004, 12:35 PM   #1
Oneliner
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Default Turbo trouble... hope you guys can help

I've posted this on ClubWRX.net, but I thought I'd try it here also.

This is going to be long, but I'll write it up as clearly as possible. I've hit a wall with ideas as to what is causing periodic smoke to rise from my turbo. When I first swapped out the stocker dp for my scoobysport one, everything ran fine. I had to take the car in for some work and decided to change back to the stock dp. When I did I began to notice, every so often smoke would rise from the hood scoop. It's smelt like burning oil, ie: when you spill some on your block during an oil change and it heats up. Since then I've put the ss dp back on and the problem is still present.

I've looked at the turbo, lines, hoses from every angle, without disasembling the thing, and concluded that the oil seemed to be seeping out from the bottom bolt on the dp side of the turbo housing. I realized that there shouldn't be oil in the exhaust housing... So I ordered a new OEM turbo-dp gasket, but before I installed it I did a flury of searches. So yesterday I swapped out the old rusty gasket for a shinny new OEM gasket.

While I had the dp and IC off I made some observations:
1. There was a very thin coating of oil on the compresser - IC of the turbo, and very thin coating on the TB. From what I've read this is normal
2. I wiggled the shaft of the turbine, and there was no shaft play. none. It also spun fine, no funny noises
3. There was good evidence of burnt oil in the exhaust housing of the turbo, plus it smelled like burnt oil. I checked the dp bellmouth and also noticed alot of black soot.
4. The old gasket had an orange ting to it, it also smelt like burnt oil
5. The only time I've seen black smoke from the tailpipe was during startup, after the car has been running and is still hot. But mostly the exhaust is smoke-free.

So after putting in a new gasket, the problem still remains. Although a lot less smoke than before. I've only had my accessport for <1week, and the problem hasn't worsened or lessened. Now the funny thing is, the turbo does't always smoke. It only does it, it seems like, after I go on boost

I've searched through alot of threads with very similar problems, and from what I've gathered I can think of a couple reasons:
Either I have a leaky oil seal in the turbo, or I have a partially block oil return line, or I'm getting blow by during boost in which case a catch can is in order.

I'm not concerned about the pistons or engine internals....yet. The car runs fine, boost builds quick and my gauge read 15-16psi on the nose(cobb stg 2).

So if any of you are still reading this, thank you for coming this far. But I'm stumped as to what is the cause of this, and I hope anybody has ideas on what could be wrong?!
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Last edited by Oneliner; 08-10-2004 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 08-10-2004, 01:15 PM   #2
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The oil seal or the sheild on your exhaust side of the center section is most likely shot. I had smoke like described and it was because I over-spun the stock turbo by pushing its limits. By the time I removed it for a VF22 oil was running out the exhaust side and a rebuild was required. Stock turbos dont like much more boost than stock without blowing that seal.
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Old 08-10-2004, 01:21 PM   #3
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I also had another thought, have you changed oil weight recently?
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Old 08-10-2004, 01:26 PM   #4
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Vote 2 for blown seal.
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Old 08-10-2004, 02:59 PM   #5
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no, It's had 5W-30 in it since it was new. I'm running mobil 1, though not sure if that makes a difference. The problem is wierd, it's driving me nuts. Take today for example. I drove about 30 miles today to drop off my brother, some highway, some stop and go traffic... nothing, no smoke, no smell. I stop the car for 15 mins, when I made a stop at the auto store. Start 'er back up and a small puff of smoke comes out the back. I drive off and at the next set of lights, little trickle of smoke from the scoop.

So it's a seal then, I guess I'm in the market for a new turbo. What about the option that I'm getting blow by, or would there be other syptoms? Thanks for the quick replies too!

Last edited by Oneliner; 08-10-2004 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 08-11-2004, 12:02 AM   #6
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oil seal. mine did the same thing. New vf-34, problem gone
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Old 08-11-2004, 12:53 AM   #7
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This is gonna sound dumb, but is it fixable. A broken oil seal in the turbo? Is it something that a DIY could do? Also, is there a way to prevent the same thing from happening a second time if I get a working TD04?

I'd love to get a VF-34 or 30, but School starts for me in less than a month, so I'll have to track done a gently used stocker. Is there a DIY turbo install guide anywhere?

Thanks for the help
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Old 08-11-2004, 06:09 AM   #8
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probably a blown seal. What are your mods?
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Old 08-11-2004, 06:21 AM   #9
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Yes, Turbos are completely rebuildable, however it should be professionally rebuilt IMO. The problem you'll run into though is that rebuilding one of our OEM turbo's costs more than buying a used one, sometimes even more than an after-market new turbo.(vf-22 is $699, vf34 & vf30 are $750).
Shop around, if you decide you want a used OEM, PM me, I have one off my 03 sedan with approx 3000 miles on it.

Kent
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Old 08-11-2004, 09:44 AM   #10
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scrappydoo - My mods are IC hose, Scoobysport DP, SPT axelback, Cobb accessport stg2. But I first noticed the problem before I had the axelback and the accessport.

wrx plus - Thanks I'll keep that in mind when I'm shopping for a new turbo.
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Old 08-12-2004, 03:33 AM   #11
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Did you check the banjo bolt for the oil line? That may be leaking.
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Old 08-12-2004, 01:26 PM   #12
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Scrappydoo - The banjo bolt seems fine from the outside. No leaks or smoke there.

Alright, here's an update. After driving around alot this morning, and having the car sit for about 2 hours. I started it back up, and after a few mins alittle bit of smoke started to come out the tailpipe. It had a slight burnt rubbery smell to it, much like burning oil. I drove it around the block, and didn't notice much smoke out the back. So I shut the car off opened the hood, and noticed a few drops off liquid on my CV boot, directly below the Turbo-DP. I fetched a little mirror and looked underneath the turbo. I saw, that the lowest bolt on the Turbo-DP had liquid on and around it. I took some paper towel to dab it in the liquid, and it was slippery and brown...oil.

I took off the intercooler to check the IC hose, TB and compressor for oil build up. Nothing, TB, IC and IC hose are all clean. While the compressor has a very very think layer of oil.

With this info, does it lock down the bad oil seal theory?
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:17 PM   #13
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Any more ideas? I got this too.
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Old 04-10-2005, 06:09 PM   #14
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i seem to have just started havin the same problem my car is a 04 with about 18,000 miles on it and 2 weeks ago or so i had a helix uppipe and downpipe put in and yesterday at the track my gf noticed when i was at the line holding my revs a small line of smoke was coming out but none as i went down the 1/4 and after my run when i returned i got out while the car was runnin and i cought alittle bit of smoke comin out and now when im cruisin down the road and i get into boost i can smell burnt oil through the vents slightly so could my turbo seal be gone also??????Also while i was at the track i saw another 04/05 wrx run and he had the same thing goin on except his smoked from idle and then the whole 1/4mile i tryed to talk with him but he left after i saw him run.
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Old 04-16-2005, 01:21 PM   #15
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civichunter2 if your running catless you will notice some of those things, however if your smelling burnt through the vents while stopped than something may be up. Keep an eye on your oil levels and see if they are dropping much.

As for a little update on this thread I started, it did turn out to be a blown oil seal in the turbo. I replaced my bum turbo with another stocker, and haven't had the same problem yet. Although I'm running the stock dp/mp now, with just a catless up. If this problem happens again I'm throwing the TD04 on the railway tracks and getting a VF34.
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