Leaking Turbo Seal
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This is a discussion on Leaking Turbo Seal within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I just traded in my old Honda for a '12 WRX with about 75,000 miles on it. Luckily I bought ...

  1. #1
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    Leaking Turbo Seal

    I just traded in my old Honda for a '12 WRX with about 75,000 miles on it. Luckily I bought the biggest, baddest warranty I could from the Toyota dealership that had it for sale.

    After driving it around conservatively for about ~200 miles I decided to really get on it on a highway ramp and heard a "whooshing" sound that I've never heard in any turbo car before.

    The Toyota dealer claimed that the car had "undergone a 140 point inspection" and was 100% caught up on maintenance and "100% stock". I quit believing that the second I got a look at the air filter. It looked like it had been gummed up with tree sap and road tar or something. I also thought the car was louder than stock so I jacked it up and did an oil and oil filter change. The oil didn't look excessively dark. The exhaust definitely did not look stock. The mufflers were removed but it looked like the cat and the resonator were still intact.

    Even with the air filter replaced the whooshing sound didn't go away so I took it to my local Subaru dealer.

    I had them inspect everything and they found that, besides the exhaust, I also had a performance clutch and a short-shift kit installed by the previous owner .

    The downside was that they found a oil on the hose leading away from the intercooler leading them to believe that the turbo is passing on oil through the intercooler - most likely meaning I had a leaking seal and would require the turbo to be replaced. The hose clamp was essentially spinning freely from the oil. They think the sound I'm hearing is boost leak.

    I invoked my warranty and the Subaru dealer is going to do the work in a week and a half.

    My question is:

    Is it actually safe to be driving around in this condition? The Subaru dealer didn't make it seem like a big deal at all. At the least I'm pumping oil into my intake, at most I could blow my turbo, right? If I break the turbo and send bits of metal through the entire engine...

    I'm already driving very softly (trying to keep it under 3500RPM) but should I quit driving it altogether until fixed? Once the new turbo is in is there anything I can do to flush the intake out or will it just suck everything through and sort itself out? Anyone have anything like this happen to them before?

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  3. #2
    lit fam XJman's Avatar
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    The oil will burn and anything should make its way down the intake to the cylinders for combustion. The question is how much oil. A little is common, if you pour it out you need to have a compression and leak down test done.

    The whooshing could be the bpv, or if they have installed a blow-off valve you are hearing that. Some aftermarket intakes are loud as well. If it has an aftermarket downpipe those also increase turbo sounds. Honestly anything downpipe/intake related is going to require a tune, so if you don't know if its stock get pictures and we can tell you.

    If your turbo is burning oil it's burning the oil your engine uses and can starve it and cause any number of friction related failures. It is important to keep an eye on it. Also oil will get black it gets black because of the heat cycles and the detergents grabbing debris. If your oil looks super clean and new after any period of time you've got a problem especially on an engine with 77k

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    The mechanic at Subaru said the intake and BPV are stock (along with the entire engine). He thinks the woosh noise is boost escaping out of the turbo or the intercooler/hose that was wet with oil. I only hear the noise while accelerating, not when the throttle closes like a BPV noise. The only modifications to the exhaust appear to be axle back, but I'm not 100% positive. I'll probably post pictures later if I jack it up again before I take it in.

    I've been keeping an eye on the oil level and it hasn't moved by any noticeable amount so I don't think it's burning much. The oil doesn't look new but also doesn't look like it's been in the engine for an excessive amount of time. I was just trying to indicate that it did appear that oil changes were being done. So as long as I keep an eye on the oil level it's most likely safe to drive around until my repair appointment? Should I continue driving it extra soft in the mean time or will it not make much of a difference?

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