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Old 08-03-2003, 07:45 PM   #1
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 8351
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Alabama
2002 WRX Wagon

Default For those who get occasional smoke off the turbo or out the exhaust...

For the past few months I've been getting some white smoke either out the exhaust or off of the turbo under varying conditions (not WOT). At first it was once every blue moon during long idles, just recently it started being more common on stop and go trips. It seems that the coolant seal in the stock turbo was just a little out of spec and under certain circumstances it would allow some coolant to push by it. Once the car was fully warmed up, it never smoked.

I put off replacing the turbo because I kept hoping it would go away (right...) I finally got some time and a used stock turbo with about a 100 miles on it. I swapped it on and everything was good for a day.

My stock turbo defintely had a bad center section, as the exhaust turbine on the outlet side was literally white (from vaporized coolant), and the inside of the downpipe was white in places too, and there were "water" spots further down the exhaust. Also, the downpipe gasket had what looked like a spot where coolant had pooled and made its way past the gasket to the exterior of the turbo. The inlet to the exhaust turbine was fine (i.e., all black), so I'm convinced it was the turbo.

Then driving with the new turbo under WOT and full boost I heard a little "pop" and when I coasted to a stop, I heard a metallic fluttering, kind of like a pressure cooker. I though maybe I blew an exhuast gasket or something as it sounded like an exhuast leak. I gingerly drove home and pulled it apart today. It turned out the wastegate actuator on the used turbo was damaged. I noticed the arm going to the wastegate flapper was a different shape (bent) than my other one, but didn't look closely enough...it wasn't keeping the wastgate sealed, as the flapper could be easily moved around in a circle with my finger. Also, that pop I heard must have been something in the actuator, because I couldn't get it to budge a mm...stuck closed and leaking! Great...I swapped on the wastegate actuator from my old turbo which held the flapper door securely and all is fine now. The car feels healthier and doesn't smoke.

So, if you're getting intermittent smoke, I would seriously think about getting a new turbo. I put it off and it just got worse. Some factors that may have helped my seals along to a quick death are:

daily commutes from 9200ft to 6000ft and back.
moded for 50K miles (running 14-16.5 psi with supporting mods)

Running at high boost and high altitude just puts the stock turbo out of its efficiency range and makes it operate at RPMs that are too high.

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Old 08-03-2003, 10:35 PM   #2
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 23796
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Delaware/PA border
2006 STi


Man, I've been checking everything 'cause of same symptoms. Today I puuled my I/C convincing myself it was a major problem. Pulled I/c and no wet oil residue. Thought it was the replacement crank breather hose that showed signs of pinching(severe). Rerouted line and drove for 120+mi. Pulled up in my driveway(incline) still smoking like before. I can kill every bug within 20 ft after 3 min of idling on an incline. Only on an incline. I hope mine is only the turbo seals
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