How can I tell if turbo is blown?
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This is a discussion on How can I tell if turbo is blown? within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I have a 06 wrx wagon, automatic, no turbo guage, 115k miles, stock, maintained well. I noticed this last week ...

  1. #1
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    How can I tell if turbo is blown?

    I have a 06 wrx wagon, automatic, no turbo guage, 115k miles, stock, maintained well.

    I noticed this last week that the turbo is not kicking in when it usually does (around 4000rpm?), and not at all. Service engine light is not on. I haven't noticed any ongoing unusual noises. Only odd thing I can think of is a couple days ago I heard a sound under the car that sounded like I ran something over in the street - like a twig or something small that kicked up under the car - but when I looked in the rear view I didn't see anything. I wasn't in turbo mode, just at an average 30mph cruising speed. Also hadn't used the turbo for a while before that. In fact I may have noticed the lack of turbo before that incident. As I said, I haven't noticed anything else out of the ordinary.

    How can I tell if the "turbo is blown" and needs full replacing or if it is something else?

    Would the service engine light go on?

    Any tell tale signs under the hood? I am a relative noob.

    Recently replaced power steering belt.

    Any advice on stearing away from getting screwed if I take it in to be checked out and/or fixed?

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  3. #2
    Registered User teflon_jones's Avatar
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    The CEL wouldn't necessarily be on if there's something wrong with the turbo since that's a mechanical issue that won't always trigger an electrical fault. You could also have a code on your ECU that isn't triggering a CEL. The best thing to do is go to Autozone or the like and get the ECU read for free (which any auto parts store will do). Make sure you have pen and paper to write down any codes and then post those here.

    If your turbo refuses to spool, that's usually a boost leak and not a blown turbo. With your mileage/year, it's entirely likely you could have either, but I'd look for a boost leak first. Visually inspect all of the hoses for any loose fittings or holes. The best way to check them is a smoke test, but it doesn't sound like you know how to do that.
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    I do not know how to do a smoke test but it sounds like my next step is autozone. Looked under the hood and didn't see anything unusual, no oil or anything obvious. Will have to take a closer look at the hoses.

    I also noticed that there is no lag before the turbo is supposed to kick in. Don't know if that means anything or not, i.e. blown hose vs. blown turbine.

    Thanks tj.
    Last edited by DH13; 03-10-2013 at 04:58 PM.

  5. #4
    Registered User kprugbyplaya's Avatar
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    Wouldn't the whistle be really loud and annoying if the turbo is blown?

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    Moderator Donkey's Avatar
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    I highly suggest getting a boost gauge. I would try doing a boost leak test.


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    Can't really get a boost guage, don't know how to do a boost leak test.

    I had the ECU read and everything checked out fine. The guy testing it said a blown turbo wouldn't necessarily show up with a code. It's tough to really see where all the hoses are running and connecting but I couldn't see anything bad when I looked.

    I would be interested in hearing opinions on the "annoying whistling sound" question because mine sounds fine during regular operation. Turbo just never kicks in.

    Next step?

  8. #7
    Moderator Donkey's Avatar
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    Search "boost leak test". A definite sign of a blown turbo is 0 boost. This is where the boost gauge comes into play.......
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    Couldn't a 0 indicate a leak in a hose?

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    Good news, everyone! xxxxxxxAnub1s's Avatar
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    It could, yes, and that's why more than a light visual inspection is needed in this case. Removing the intercooler is a pretty easy thing to do, and all of your charge piping is under there.

    Also, it's hard to know if there actually is no positive pressure if you don't have a boost guage or a way to datalog and see what the ECU is reading.
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    I would probably have to take it to a shop to do the boost check. I'd rather not install a guage if that's what you meant. I had the ECU read today and nothing came up.

  12. #11
    Registered User UEDan's Avatar
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    Dataloging and reading CEL codes are two completely different things. You're right, unless you datalog/install a gauge you should take it to a shop.

    Posted from a fone.

  13. #12
    Registered User Ruh Roh's Avatar
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    A boost gauge is very easy to install and will be helpful for times like this, also the shop that does the boost leak test could most likely install one.
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