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Old 05-16-2015, 06:22 PM   #1
OldManRed04
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Default How to tell 100% turbo seals are bad

Is there a way to verify turbo seals are bad with 100% certainty? I can't seem to find anything regarding this. I'm getting smoke on cold starts. Before you naysayers run and scream "ring lands", read. Engine has approx 10k on rebuild. It has been pro tuned. It runs on e85. Dyno and track times do not support a weak engine. Compression and leak down are both good. Turbo has approx 15k miles on it. Boost is 21psi tapering to 15-16 by redline. Car has a carted Cobb down pipe. Oil is rotella t6. Pcv valve and all related hoses are brand new, from Subaru. Oil rings were all file fit to exact manufacture (mahle) specs. All gaskets, oil pump, crankshaft, bearings, Pistons were replaced with brand new units. Valve job was performed and all clearances set. Tgv valves removed. 1,000cc ID injectors, basic stage 2 mods. Oil pressure is 80psi at cruise. Vacuum shows 21" at idle.

Cold starts the car will smoke approx 2-3 seconds. It is blueish in color. I have modified the cold start tables to reduce injector duration with no effect. The car starts fine, I don't think this is the issue. It doesn't always smoke, but I would say 90-95% of the time it does. Temps on start are approx 70 in the afternoon and upper 50's at night. At the track (1/4 mile) it will smoke much worse after runs if I let it sit approx 5 min or more.

Removed intercooler. Milky white crap in the breather lines which I have learned with several of these cars is normal. Condensation always builds in these lines and mixes with the oil vapors. Not a concern to me. Approx 1/2 cup of oil found in the intercooler and pooling a little behind the throttle plate. Intake manifold looks oily as well.

I draw two conclusions with this.

1). I need an oil to air separator to remove the vapors from this piss poor emissions control system design. That may or may not solve my entire issue.

2). The turbo seals are dying allowing oil to leak into the cold side and contaminate my intercooler and intake. The oil film settles when the car is off and this makes for pools that are burnt off on cold starts. If assume the issue is compounded at the track where the additional rpm/boost aids in drawing oil past the failed seal and further contaminates the intake tract.

Is there any way to know for sure where the oil incoming from? Is there someone with more experience who can weigh in on the issue? Any assistance or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Turbos aren't cheap, and throwing parts at it isn't smart.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:36 PM   #2
Bush57
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Dude. You pretty much just described my exact car. Not trying to steal your thread but I am having the same issues. Except my car had 135K miles on the turbo and right at 34K on the rebuild. If you don't mind me asking, what did your car make power wise. Mine feels like it is down on power for what it has.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:42 PM   #3
Hellchaser
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Pcv valve works good?

Maybe blow by is settling in the intake manifold and overnight the oily residue with the help of gravity makes its way to the intake valves and makes the small amounts of smoke when you start it because it burns in the initial startup.


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Old 05-16-2015, 07:59 PM   #4
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When the head was worked, did you replace valve guides and valve stem seals? i mean im sure it was. a good way to tell if its turbo leak vs crank case blow by is pull the turbo inlet hose off and see if there is oil in the inlet hose... if there is large amount of oil infront of the turbo its probably not the turbo
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wodom86 View Post
When the head was worked, did you replace valve guides and valve stem seals? i mean im sure it was. a good way to tell if its turbo leak vs crank case blow by is pull the turbo inlet hose off and see if there is oil in the inlet hose... if there is large amount of oil infront of the turbo its probably not the turbo

There is definitely oil in the inlet tube. A small pool where the breather line comes in at the front. Seems to be the major source of it. I blew out all junk from the breather lines and cleaned the intercooler very well. I'll monitor it and see what happens.

The machine shop did replace the stem seals. I left it up to them to inspect the guides and determine if replacement was needed. It is a very reputable machine shop and they have done work for me in the past with no issues.

The car dynod 338whp/423wtq. It has gone 12.4 @ 111mph so far.
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:35 AM   #6
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Journal bearing turbo: enough shaft play side to side that it can contact the housing. Any in and out shaft play is bad.

bb turbo: any side to side shaft play is bad, a tiny bit of in and out is normal

Valve seals can be leaky as well. You can pull your plugs and see if any of them are wet with oil after you see blue smoke.
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstroy View Post
Journal bearing turbo: enough shaft play side to side that it can contact the housing. Any in and out shaft play is bad.

bb turbo: any side to side shaft play is bad, a tiny bit of in and out is normal

Valve seals can be leaky as well. You can pull your plugs and see if any of them are wet with oil after you see blue smoke.

Plugs have never been wet. Valve stem seals will
Not lead to wet plugs. If they do, you have much worse issues such as severely worn guides. As I said, the heads have been gone through and have brand new stem seals.

The turbo has absolutely no in and out play. Very very slight side to side as it should. I'm well aware of how to check out a turbo physically. I'm more interested in how to pin point the source of my oil. It appears to be come from the valve cover breathers and then it's getting introduced into the intake.
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Old 05-17-2015, 01:25 PM   #8
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Definitely blow by, its normal for it to get worse when the car is working harder. Harder working car=more crank case pressure=more oil entering intake. A good AOS would probably help quite a bit. Im assuming you went with forged pistons. Im not sure on the composition specifics but the harder piston the less likely it will expand out to stockish tolerances to the cylinder wall. This alone causes blow by in many built motors. Who did the boring and piston sizing? I would ask for exact tolerances for the pistons and rings and compare them to other people with blow bye issues in the built motor forum
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Old 05-17-2015, 03:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wodom86 View Post
Definitely blow by, its normal for it to get worse when the car is working harder. Harder working car=more crank case pressure=more oil entering intake. A good AOS would probably help quite a bit. Im assuming you went with forged pistons. Im not sure on the composition specifics but the harder piston the less likely it will expand out to stockish tolerances to the cylinder wall. This alone causes blow by in many built motors. Who did the boring and piston sizing? I would ask for exact tolerances for the pistons and rings and compare them to other people with blow bye issues in the built motor forum

PTW was set to manufacture specs. If I recall correctly I went with 3 thou. The rings gaps I personally filed each ring to spec. I don't have the exact measurements memorized anymore, but everything was correctly set. Yes, they are forged Pistons. Mahles.
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldManRed04 View Post
Plugs have never been wet. Valve stem seals will
Not lead to wet plugs. If they do, you have much worse issues such as severely worn guides. As I said, the heads have been gone through and have brand new stem seals.

The turbo has absolutely no in and out play. Very very slight side to side as it should. I'm well aware of how to check out a turbo physically. I'm more interested in how to pin point the source of my oil. It appears to be come from the valve cover breathers and then it's getting introduced into the intake.
Quoted for further reference.
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Old 05-21-2015, 11:05 PM   #11
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Oldmanred04, perfectly normal modded turbo motor. Going through exact same thing. Crawford aos or similar is solution. Installing it as I type. Draining oil from intercooler. Stuffed paper towels inside intake after removing throttle body.
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Old 05-23-2015, 01:46 PM   #12
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It's been about two weeks now and the intake remains dry. There is even no more film forming where the breather connects to the turbo inlet. There has been no issue with smoke on cold start and I even returned to the drag strip where I had zero issues with smoke. Seems pretty clear to me that overfilling the oil caused a drastic increase in vapors which led to the clogging and saturation of the intercooler.

Among other good news, moving the shift point to 6,300rpms I was able to run 12.31 @ 112.6, improving both my et and my trap speed. There's more in it, just need more seat time. This made a total of 54 passes in this car since I got it.
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Old 07-22-2015, 07:04 AM   #13
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So this was just your oil being overfilled? No other fixes?
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Old 02-03-2020, 05:18 PM   #14
Jack14hatch
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So cleaned out pcv and presto? Everything checked out?
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