Lost engine compression in 1 cylinder... Any ideas?
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This is a discussion on Lost engine compression in 1 cylinder... Any ideas? within the Engine Modifications forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Hi there. Hoping I might find someone here to help me out... My 2003 WRX started shaking violently this morning ...

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    Lost engine compression in 1 cylinder... Any ideas?

    Hi there. Hoping I might find someone here to help me out...
    My 2003 WRX started shaking violently this morning at idle after a 60 mile stretch of highway driving. The check engine light came on, and thankfully I was 5 miles from the Subaru delar that had serviced my car. The head mechanic put it in neutral, popped the hood, and 3 mechanics just stared. They had never seen a WRX with the engine rocking violently. No noises, just rocking.
    They have yet to pull the engine, but I was told it completely lost compression in only 1 cylinder... There was almost no oil. I just had the oil changed 2600 miles ago, and checked it less than 500 miles ago. It was perfect. I am up to date on the 30 and 60 thousand mile service, and just a few thousand away from the 90.
    This car has been perfect. My question is, what happened? They had no idea. Does anyone have any ideas? Ever heard of anything like this happening to a WRX?
    Thanks in advance!

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    Registered User lukeskywrx's Avatar
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    noticed any smoke recently?

    check the intercooler for oil to see if cylinder pressure is forcing oil out the breathers. or open the oil filler cap when running to check if it has bad rings.

    pry at least a rebuild but with shortblocks so cheep it could be time to upgrade.

    luke
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    Thanks for the reply, Luke...
    Nope, no smoke, or strange sounds, or loss of power either. They did a borescope today and found no problems... So at least it didn't blow a hole through the piston.
    The plug on that one cylinder and the others, looked fine, as did the injectors.
    The mechanic is insiting it is not a fuel delivery issue, and not an oil issue. They will need to pull the engine and have a look.
    Best case scenario, a valve. Worst case, new shortblock. I have to wait a week before they can even pull the damn engine...
    Thanks,
    COWRX






    Can anyone suggest a shop in Colorado? Thanks in advance.

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    Registered User cheeseybacon's Avatar
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    This is very odd. Let us know what you find out.
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    the answer...

    Burnt exhaust valve... That was the only problem. They have no idea what caused it... Now, I am getting asked why I was using 87 octane, They told me to, as I live at high elevation (drive between 6,000 and 11,000 feet weekly) so I was annoyed that they told me that could be the problem. Any ideas?
    Thanks.

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    Also, could the lower octane gasoling cause problems with the valve timing? I really don't know much about cars, being female and all, but wondered if this might have caused a problem with all of the high altitude driving I do... (live in Colorado and drive over Vail Pass (10,600') and the Continental Dvide (11,000') a few times a week, then down to about 6,000' in a matter of 2 hours driving time...

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    Your car requires 93 octane. So this was most likely the reason of the problem.

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    Registered User cheeseybacon's Avatar
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    Ouch! 87 octane? I'm willing to bet pre-ignition was to blame.
    The a/f mix probably started burned much sooner than it was supposed to.

    If the problem was indeed preignition, then you were lucky that a exhaust valve was the only problem you had.
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    Thanks so much for your replies... I thought it quite strange that the Subaru dealership would recommend 85 or 87 octane gasoline at this altitude then tell me it was most likely the problem... Now I am told that the other cylinders need to be redrilled(?) because of excessive carbon build-up...What the hell is going on other than taking advantage of a female... They told me the problem was infrequent ol changes (which is BS since I have always changed the oil at 3,000 miles) or the crappy gasoline quality here in the mountains of Colorado... Grrrrrrr.

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    BTW... we don't even have 93 octane octane up here... Only 91

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    wow, sorry to hear about your problem... i was gonna say to have a leakdown test done to find out the problem. But obviously that was done already. If they havent checked the rest of the cylinders, make sure they do.

    i dunno why anyone would recommend 87 octane, with a car like this, you ALWAYS use the best gas you can find... the reason the exhaust valve is burnt is probably cuz of preignition causing lean conditions and extremely high EGT's.

    i just hope you have some proof on paper about the 87 octane thing... otherwise, unless these guys fess up, you're screwed.
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    Angry

    Not only did these guys tell me to use 87 octane in my WRX, the service director is quoted in our local paper telling people this... I asked the mechanic about this on the phone today and he said that he has customers running their WRX on 85 with no problems... STILL doesn't explain why my cylinders were "coated with carbon"... They tried to blame infrequest oil changes (not an issue) or low octane fuel... Which they had recommended. I cannot believe this. Here is the quote from the paper...


    "Oddly enough, in high elevations some vehicles ping or knock using high octane and stop when consumers use lower octane — which is the exact opposite of what people are taught, said Bryan Harman, service director at Silverthorne Automotive Group.

    He sees a difference, especially in Subarus, in cold weather. When Subaru owners use lower octane, engines tend to run better, start easier and avoid engine light problems, he said.

    About octane
    Octane ratings indicate the gasoline’s ability to resist engine knock. Knocking or pinging sounds in engines result from the fuel-air mixture burning unevenly.

    Raising octane levels delays the residual gases that remain in the cylinder block from igniting.

    The higher the octane, the longer delay in residual gases. But at high elevations, an 85 rating maintains the same time delay as an 87 rating at sea level, Bournazian said.

    “There are a lot of misconceptions about octane,” he said. “High octane won’t get you better miles per gallon, and it’s not better for your engine. It’s strictly blended for anti-knocking.”

    However, knocking or pinging can destroy an engine within a week, he said. If a vehicle knocks or pings with low octane, especially at high speeds, consumers need to increase the octane rating they use, he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by COWRX
    Not only did these guys tell me to use 87 octane in my WRX, the service director is quoted in our local paper telling people this... I asked the mechanic about this on the phone today and he said that he has customers running their WRX on 85 with no problems... STILL doesn't explain why my cylinders were "coated with carbon"... They tried to blame infrequest oil changes (not an issue) or low octane fuel... Which they had recommended. I cannot believe this. Here is the quote from the paper...


    "Oddly enough, in high elevations some vehicles ping or knock using high octane and stop when consumers use lower octane — which is the exact opposite of what people are taught, said Bryan Harman, service director at Silverthorne Automotive Group.

    He sees a difference, especially in Subarus, in cold weather. When Subaru owners use lower octane, engines tend to run better, start easier and avoid engine light problems, he said.

    About octane
    Octane ratings indicate the gasoline’s ability to resist engine knock. Knocking or pinging sounds in engines result from the fuel-air mixture burning unevenly.

    Raising octane levels delays the residual gases that remain in the cylinder block from igniting.

    The higher the octane, the longer delay in residual gases. But at high elevations, an 85 rating maintains the same time delay as an 87 rating at sea level, Bournazian said.

    “There are a lot of misconceptions about octane,” he said. “High octane won’t get you better miles per gallon, and it’s not better for your engine. It’s strictly blended for anti-knocking.”

    However, knocking or pinging can destroy an engine within a week, he said. If a vehicle knocks or pings with low octane, especially at high speeds, consumers need to increase the octane rating they use, he said.
    LOL!

    ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use the highest octane gas you can get your hands on when you have a turbocharged engine.... Octane is your friend...

    lower octane fuel in theory may lead to easier starts since it is more likely to combust, but that is where the perks (if any) end with a turbocharged engine.

    If it is 91 octane that you can find, use it.... If you can get higher, use that to keep your engine as happy as possible.

    How long have you been using cowpiss for gas???
    02 WRX WRBP sedan..
    Upgrades??? stock...

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    Man... I wish there were something I could do to get Subaru to set these guys straight... And maybe pay some of my repair bill...

    I was using 91 until my fiancee, and the Subaru mechanics told me not to bother. I still had my doubts, so I asked again... Started using 87 in August. Then this article came out, so I figured I was ok.

    So, guys, do I have any retribution at all? Any ideas who to contact at Subaru? And, be assured I shall set my fiancee straight. Just sucks that this *****ed up my car. I knew better, and I was talked out of it... Imagine that.

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    Hmmm... I thought pre-ignition would have blown a hole in the piston, or destroyed the rings. Neither of these happened.

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