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Old 02-25-2021, 12:32 PM   #1
Foxtrot214
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Default Preemptive Ringland Fix?

I have an '18 STi that is pro-tuned for 300 whp/335wtq. The engine is healthy, but the tuner tells me that it's only a matter of time before the ringlands fail. Not because of the power I'm making so much as that's just what the ringlands do.

What do you all think about preemptive ringland upgrades? Is this a thing people do? Or do they just wait for them to fail and then do an engine build?
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Old 02-25-2021, 01:09 PM   #2
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I have an '18 STi that is pro-tuned for 315 whp/335wtq. The engine is healthy, but the tuner tells me that it's only a matter of time before the ringlands fail. Not because of the power I'm making so much as that's just what the ringlands do.

I asked their opinion on whether or not people preemptively upgrade the ringlands to a stronger material. Their response was since the rings are part of the piston this would be part of on engine build and therefore cost upwards of $9k or more.

I want to open this question to you. What do you all think about preemptive ringland upgrades? Is this a thing people do? Or do they just wait for them to fail and then do an engine build? I have the same question about head gaskets.
There are plenty of people that have ran that kind of power through a stock block for a long time. Ringland longevity depends on several factors, the biggest being the aggressiveness of the tune and the driving style. To say that it's just a matter of time before they fail is inaccurate. That sounds like a tuner trying to cover his ass. I don't necessarily blame him for that because as I mentioned, driving style also plays a big part and that's something he can't control.

When deciding weather or not to build an engine you need to ask yourself what your goals are with the car. If you want to put out huge power then it's something that your going to have to consider.

There are component that you can add to reduce the risk of rainland failure, such as a cylinder 4 cooling mod (Get a Dom Tune makes a great kit) and equal length to name a few.
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:01 PM   #3
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There are plenty of people that have ran that kind of power through a stock block for a long time. Ringland longevity depends on several factors, the biggest being the aggressiveness of the tune and the driving style. To say that it's just a matter of time before they fail is inaccurate. That sounds like a tuner trying to cover his ass. I don't necessarily blame him for that because as I mentioned, driving style also plays a big part and that's something he can't control.

When deciding weather or not to build an engine you need to ask yourself what your goals are with the car. If you want to put out huge power then it's something that your going to have to consider.

There are component that you can add to reduce the risk of rainland failure, such as a cylinder 4 cooling mod (Get a Dom Tune makes a great kit) and equal length to name a few.
Thanks. I definitely don't baby the car, but I'm not always driving WOT either. But I'm pretty on top of checking oil, making sure I'm putting in good oil, and I do have some of the mods to help, such as an AOS and high-flow catted DP. I will definitely check out the Dom Tune mod you suggest. RN I want a fun daily driver and I think the car is perfect where its at for what I want.

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Old 02-25-2021, 02:13 PM   #4
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I think thats a pretty crappy thing for a tuner to say to a customer. Its not like your making 500whp on a stock block. There are plenty of guys making your power level for years without issue, myself being one of them. I dont blame him for trying to cover his ass but you know it also makes you wonder why he would even say that in the first place.

I think there are a couple of "preventive" mods the help against ringland failure but nothing is really guaranteed. I think it has alot to do with the tune and the driving style. I think good habits like not lugging the engine and checking oil levels often really goes along way. Also keeping on top of your maintenance and even doing it earlier is another good thing to practice.

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Old 02-25-2021, 02:24 PM   #5
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I think thats a pretty crappy thing for a tuner to say to a customer. Its not like your making 500whp on a stock block. There are plenty of guys making that power level for years without issue, myself being one of them. I dont blame him for trying to cover his ass but you know it also makes you wonder why he would even say that in the first place.

I think there are a couple of "preventive" mods the help against ringland failure but nothing is really guaranteed. I think it has alot to do with the tune and the driving style. I think good habits like not lugging the engine and checking oil levels often really goes along way. Also keeping on top of your maintenance and even doing it earlier is another good thing to practice.
Honestly, I'm glad to hear you say that cuz I thought it sounded a little hyperbolic. I like my tune and tuner, but it just made me nervous like I'm just always going to be waiting for something catastrophic to happen now.
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:32 PM   #6
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Honestly, I'm glad to hear you say that cuz I thought it sounded a little hyperbolic. I like my tune and tuner, but it just made me nervous like I'm just always going to be waiting for something catastrophic to happen now.
I think there's a general stigma with Subaru's that the "ringlands will blow at any time".

It's true to an extent, but ... ultimately it comes down to the system as a whole. Usually, there's a catalyst for blowing a ringland: leaning out, too much boost, or too much timing.

In my case, when I blew my ringlands on my stock block it was due to an injector o-ring that was damaged.

I personally know a guy that had an 06 STi with a GT3582r on a stock block, and the motor took the abuse for 50,000 miles until he sold it.

To tie it all together, if your car is well maintained, and your tuner makes the tune somewhat conversative, it can last a long time. Adding a flex-fuel + fuel pressure sensor kit to the car can improve the reliability of the car, as can an electronic boost controller. By having those components in place, the ECU can gimp boost and timing if fueling is looking off (failing fuel pump, clogged filter, etc.)
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:43 PM   #7
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I asked their opinion on whether or not people preemptively upgrade the ringlands to a stronger material.
sorry I just had to point out this question is so insanely worded it's face palm city.

I think I saw a ring land kit on ebay.

Ring lands fail due to horrible tunes where people want a number on a piece of paper instead of a streetable car and they end up pushing the limits so far they get massive detonation. That's basically it within the bounds of a realistic build, kind of to the point of the guy stating that you aren't making 500+ HP or something which is a totally different story and so far outside the threshold of this platform you'd be asking for a failure.

If you are boosting as high as possible and running ridiculous ignition timing just to get a little more on that dyno sheet, then you might get detonation that will fail anything over time.

If the tune is streetable and responsible it will be fine.
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:46 PM   #8
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The engine is healthy, but the tuner tells me that it's only a matter of time before the ringlands fail. Not because of the power I'm making so much as that's just what the ringlands do.
That's emphatically not true in general. If it's true in your turner's experience, you should run (not walk) away since he's basically saying "I can't tune for **** and this tune is going to eventually ruin your engine."
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:48 PM   #9
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I think there's a general stigma with Subaru's that the "ringlands will blow at any time".

It's true to an extent, but ... ultimately it comes down to the system as a whole. Usually, there's a catalyst for blowing a ringland: leaning out, too much boost, or too much timing.

In my case, when I blew my ringlands on my stock block it was due to an injector o-ring that was damaged.

I personally know a guy that had an 06 STi with a GT3582r on a stock block, and the motor took the abuse for 50,000 miles until he sold it.

To tie it all together, if your car is well maintained, and your tuner makes the tune somewhat conversative, it can last a long time. Adding a flex-fuel + fuel pressure sensor kit to the car can improve the reliability of the car, as can an electronic boost controller. By having those components in place, the ECU can gimp boost and timing if fueling is looking off (failing fuel pump, clogged filter, etc.)
What did you do when yours failed?
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Old 02-25-2021, 03:06 PM   #10
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If the tune is streetable and responsible it will be fine.
Yes, this was my goal with the tune. I'm feeling better already!
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Old 02-25-2021, 03:33 PM   #11
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What did you do when yours failed?
Pulled the engine, rebuilt it myself with forged internals, looser clearances, and a new crank.
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Old 02-25-2021, 03:59 PM   #12
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Pulled the engine, rebuilt it myself with forged internals, looser clearances, and a new crank.
Cool. That's badass. Beyond my capabilities but helps answer what I was trying to ask. Thanks!
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Old 02-25-2021, 04:07 PM   #13
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Cool. That's badass. Beyond my capabilities but helps answer what I was trying to ask. Thanks!
And if you'll note, he said he had an injector o ring fail, which means he lost fuel pressure to that single injector causing an ultra lean situation in one cylinder while the others ran fine (masking the problem temporarily),
Lean. . . .wicked detonation. . . .ring land failure

If that happened on anything from a Camry driven by Obama's grandmom to a hot rod driven by that half brain dead dude Jesse James it would cause that kind of failure eventually.
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Old 02-25-2021, 04:17 PM   #14
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And if you'll note, he said he had an injector o ring fail, which means he lost fuel pressure to that single injector causing an ultra lean situation in one cylinder while the others ran fine (masking the problem temporarily),
Lean. . . .wicked detonation. . . .ring land failure
Makes total sense.
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Old 02-25-2021, 04:58 PM   #15
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There's a lot of debate out there about why the EJ has a tendency to break ringlands. My belief is that it's caused by the super-tight ring gaps Subaru runs from the factory. When the rings get hot due to running conditions, detonation etc, they expand and the ring ends butt together, causing the ring to seize to the cylinder wall for a fraction of a second, enough to pop a ringland.

The factory gaps are 0.0079 to 0.0098" for the top and 0.015" to 0.020" for the middle. Pretty tight for a turbo motor with a ~3.9" bore.

Pull the pistons out and open the top and middle ring gaps up: 0.004" per inch of bore is pretty safe for the top and 0.006"/in for middle.

That would net gaps of ~0.016" for the top minimum and ~0.023" minimum for the middle.


If you're not willing to go into the engine to address this then your next best option is to keep things cool in the chamber so the ring gaps don't close: run a fat tune and keep the boost sane. You'll sacrifice some ultimate power for a measure of reliability.
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Old 02-25-2021, 05:29 PM   #16
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When the rings get hot due to running conditions, detonation etc, they expand and the ring ends butt together, causing the ring to seize to the cylinder wall for a fraction of a second, enough to pop a ringland.
Super helpful! I was under the impression it was due to being a weak metal, but what you said helps me understand that's not necessarily the case.

I don't have the skills to go into an engine like that but knowing what the issue is is a great help. I'd love to learn one day.
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Old 02-25-2021, 06:26 PM   #17
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+1 for opening up ring end gaps. on a new short block that's the first thing I do.
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Old 02-25-2021, 08:22 PM   #18
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Your tuner is giving you bad advice, time to stop listening to that. Tuners tune. They ain't mechanics nor engineers.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:00 AM   #19
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Super helpful! I was under the impression it was due to being a weak metal, but what you said helps me understand that's not necessarily the case.

I don't have the skills to go into an engine like that but knowing what the issue is is a great help. I'd love to learn one day.
It's definitely not a trivial undertaking; removing the engine, removing the heads and pulling the pistons out.

If the engine is low-miles maybe all it needs is a ring-gap opening. But if there are some miles, you might need to deglaze the bore and put in new rings. If there's been enough miles to glaze the bore a bit then you need to break the glaze, get the bore gauge out and check for wear and taper and, at a minimum, put new rings in it. Or maybe you take the opportunity to drop in forged pistons and fresh rings. It can become a bit of a can of worms.
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Old 02-26-2021, 12:58 PM   #20
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It's definitely not a trivial undertaking; removing the engine, removing the heads and pulling the pistons out.

If the engine is low-miles maybe all it needs is a ring-gap opening. But if there are some miles, you might need to deglaze the bore and put in new rings. If there's been enough miles to glaze the bore a bit then you need to break the glaze, get the bore gauge out and check for wear and taper and, at a minimum, put new rings in it. Or maybe you take the opportunity to drop in forged pistons and fresh rings. It can become a bit of a can of worms.
Yeah, best to just prepare for the worst and do things right from the get-go.

What I've done before is save money and build a block on the side. Then, when the stock motor blows, or proactively, put the new motor in.

The rings are part of the equation, but being that the OEM pistons are cast, there's only so much abuse that it can take.
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:26 PM   #21
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I personally also built for reliability such as a proper cooling upgrade, elh, aos, also regularly run cleaners such as seafoam and atf in the fuel to help keep carbon buildup down as well as quality fuel
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Old 03-20-2021, 12:11 PM   #22
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There's a lot of debate out there about why the EJ has a tendency to break ringlands. My belief is that it's caused by the super-tight ring gaps Subaru runs from the factory. When the rings get hot due to running conditions, detonation etc, they expand and the ring ends butt together, causing the ring to seize to the cylinder wall for a fraction of a second, enough to pop a ringland.

The factory gaps are 0.0079 to 0.0098" for the top and 0.015" to 0.020" for the middle. Pretty tight for a turbo motor with a ~3.9" bore.

Pull the pistons out and open the top and middle ring gaps up: 0.004" per inch of bore is pretty safe for the top and 0.006"/in for middle.

That would net gaps of ~0.016" for the top minimum and ~0.023" minimum for the middle.


If you're not willing to go into the engine to address this then your next best option is to keep things cool in the chamber so the ring gaps don't close: run a fat tune and keep the boost sane. You'll sacrifice some ultimate power for a measure of reliability.
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+1 for opening up ring end gaps. on a new short block that's the first thing I do.
Does this advice hold true for stock replacement SBs? I was very close to dropping in an 2018-19 RA SB back into my DD '05 FXT to replace an EJ255 with blown HGs at 170k. It is as stock as can be and will likely never even see 300hp. It is all together but still on the engine stand. If Im gonna pull the slugs and re gap the rings, this is the time to do it but I don't want to tear back into it unnecessarily. Did the 255 have slightly larger ring gaps or did I just get lucky?

Thoughts?
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Old 03-20-2021, 06:36 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Blackfin View Post
There's a lot of debate out there about why the EJ has a tendency to break ringlands. My belief is that it's caused by the super-tight ring gaps Subaru runs from the factory. When the rings get hot due to running conditions, detonation etc, they expand and the ring ends butt together, causing the ring to seize to the cylinder wall for a fraction of a second, enough to pop a ringland.

The factory gaps are 0.0079 to 0.0098" for the top and 0.015" to 0.020" for the middle. Pretty tight for a turbo motor with a ~3.9" bore.

Pull the pistons out and open the top and middle ring gaps up: 0.004" per inch of bore is pretty safe for the top and 0.006"/in for middle.

That would net gaps of ~0.016" for the top minimum and ~0.023" minimum for the middle.


If you're not willing to go into the engine to address this then your next best option is to keep things cool in the chamber so the ring gaps don't close: run a fat tune and keep the boost sane. You'll sacrifice some ultimate power for a measure of reliability.
The top compression rings on my 2019 factory short block measured at .012.

Last edited by undyjr; 03-20-2021 at 08:30 PM. Reason: measured the gap again
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Old 03-20-2021, 07:01 PM   #24
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The top compression rings on my 2019 factory short block measured at .015.
I'm referencing a shop manual for a 2010. I would be interested to know if Subaru altered the specification in later years: Anyone have service manuals (from other years up to present) they can check to see if the spec had changed at any point?
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Old 03-20-2021, 08:07 PM   #25
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I'm referencing a shop manual for a 2010. I would be interested to know if Subaru altered the specification in later years: Anyone have service manuals (from other years up to present) they can check to see if the spec had changed at any point?
According to the 2019 FSM the top ring is .0091-.0110 and the second ring is .015-.0205.
https://img.nasioc.com/image/he7Tn

Last edited by undyjr; 03-20-2021 at 08:28 PM. Reason: initially listed ring to ringland gap. added pic link
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