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2003 WRX
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all! I am in the middle of getting my '03 WRX wagon back on the road after, for many reasons, it sat 5 years. It developed some really awesome features like you would expect from a car sitting, including mold and it even became a mouse hotel.

I spent a long weekend removing and cleaning the interior, flushing the fuel system, replacing the fuel filter, doing an oil change, as well as flushing the brake lines, and power steering. A few seized bolts prevented me from changing the transmission and rear differential fluid, but overall, I am happy with where I got it to after the long weekend. All along the car has been starting up just fine and appears to be running at about where it was when I parked it.

My goal was to figure out if the car would be viable to bring back on to the road and so now I am working to figure out how to get it registered (waiting on a replacement title and dealing with out of state registration with covid.) In the mean time I am ordering more replacement parts and working on what I view as the main issue, smoke around the turbo.

When I used to get on it, there would be smoke out the exhaust, but I do not remember smoke in the engine bay. My first thought on it was oh fuck, head gaskets, but my second thought is, might not be the worst since I need to change the timing belt anyway. After doing some more research on here and on NAOSIC, I am leaning more towards a leak in or around the turbo.

For the good stuff: she has high mileage (220k) on the original motor AND I believe the original turbo. It used to burn some oil, which made me think the turbo seals were bad.

I took a video after driving it up and down my road. When the turbo kicks in, you can see and smell the smoke. When turning the car on from a cold start, there was no smoke. I did not think it smelt particularly sweet but it does appear more white than blue.


So I am posting here to see if I could confirm my next steps. Since the car is a few hours away, and I am waiting on registration, I was thinking I would:

1a. Purchase a used turbo and new gaskets. Based on my cars current mileage and the little I drive since I work from home, it seems the best option for troubleshooting myself. I have seen some with around 80k for 200-250 on ebay. Keeping an eye on other forums as well.
1b. Possibly purchase a steel braided oil feed line and some extra hose.
2. When I go back to work on the car, remove the intake, intercooler, and heat shields, to perform more inspection. I can't really tell if its oil or coolant smoke, but I am hoping there is a bad feed line/hose that is causing the leak.
3. If all the hoses appear OK, assume the turbo is simply dead and swap in the replacement turbo and gaskets (note: it already has an aftermarket turbo inlet from the previous owner who took great care of the car so I am hoping that is not the issue.)

Any other feedback would be most appreciated. I've got some time to do more research and won't be able to confirm any hypotheses until I am back at the location of the car.

Bonus: in the video, does engine sounds ok? I haven't been around it in a while and I am forgetting all the smells and clicky sounds! Really excited to being closer to driving it again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would check the feed lines to the turbo. I don't imagine anything inside the turbo would be toast or your hear it and see it at the tail pipe.
Yeah that makes sense XJman. Will a turbo last that long (220k+)? I see so many people replacing turbos sooner and had read about internal seals breaking down on these turbos.
 

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If it's taken care of and not lived a life of abuse, it can. Without the spec and an indicator to check movement in it it's hard to say if it's good.
 

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It's either the feed line or the drain line.

You should replace the oil feed line when replacing the turbo -- oil can get "caked" inside of the hard line.

Make sure you use FRESH copper crush washers on each side of the banjo bolts for the oil feed line. This is critical.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's either the feed line or the drain line.

You should replace the oil feed line when replacing the turbo -- oil can get "caked" inside of the hard line.

Make sure you use FRESH copper crush washers on each side of the banjo bolts for the oil feed line. This is critical.
Thanks! Thoughts on whether I should be swapping the turbo out as well and if so, getting a used one?
 

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Sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you already had purchased a used TD04.

I'd avoid the expense unless it's necessary. If there isn't oil actively leaking, I'd suspect the feed line.

I'd start by purchasing an oil feed line and crush washers. You'll want a new one anyway even if you are replacing the turbo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the ideas! I will update here once I get back to work on it. Still waiting patiently for the title and then I think I have to mail in the registration form so no idea if I'll be back working on it in a week or a month.
 

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2004 WRX shaggin' wagon , 2000 subaru legacy B4 (f)RSK(y)
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I read on a forum recently that a line for coolant tend to go aswell as the oil lines. most people jump to the conclusio that the turbo is pooched (which on occasions it could be) but who knows, might be able to save a couple bucks in the process if its a loose hose or something simple. my car is smoking aswell but white and def coolant as it smells like grandmas makin cookies in my turbo lol. if you do happen to take the heat shield off do you mind posting pics so i know what to look for if i do have to do mine aswell?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I read on a forum recently that a line for coolant tend to go aswell as the oil lines. most people jump to the conclusio that the turbo is pooched (which on occasions it could be) but who knows, might be able to save a couple bucks in the process if its a loose hose or something simple. my car is smoking aswell but white and def coolant as it smells like grandmas makin cookies in my turbo lol. if you do happen to take the heat shield off do you mind posting pics so i know what to look for if i do have to do mine aswell?
Yeah absolutely! Still a little ways away though.
 

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Hey all! I am in the middle of getting my '03 WRX wagon back on the road after, for many reasons, it sat 5 years. It developed some really awesome features like you would expect from a car sitting, including mold and it even became a mouse hotel.

I spent a long weekend removing and cleaning the interior, flushing the fuel system, replacing the fuel filter, doing an oil change, as well as flushing the brake lines, and power steering. A few seized bolts prevented me from changing the transmission and rear differential fluid, but overall, I am happy with where I got it to after the long weekend. All along the car has been starting up just fine and appears to be running at about where it was when I parked it.

My goal was to figure out if the car would be viable to bring back on to the road and so now I am working to figure out how to get it registered (waiting on a replacement title and dealing with out of state registration with covid.) In the mean time I am ordering more replacement parts and working on what I view as the main issue, smoke around the turbo.

When I used to get on it, there would be smoke out the exhaust, but I do not remember smoke in the engine bay. My first thought on it was oh fuck, head gaskets, but my second thought is, might not be the worst since I need to change the timing belt anyway. After doing some more research on here and on NAOSIC, I am leaning more towards a leak in or around the turbo.

For the good stuff: she has high mileage (220k) on the original motor AND I believe the original turbo. It used to burn some oil, which made me think the turbo seals were bad.

I took a video after driving it up and down my road. When the turbo kicks in, you can see and smell the smoke. When turning the car on from a cold start, there was no smoke. I did not think it smelt particularly sweet but it does appear more white than blue.


So I am posting here to see if I could confirm my next steps. Since the car is a few hours away, and I am waiting on registration, I was thinking I would:

1a. Purchase a used turbo and new gaskets. Based on my cars current mileage and the little I drive since I work from home, it seems the best option for troubleshooting myself. I have seen some with around 80k for 200-250 on ebay. Keeping an eye on other forums as well.
1b. Possibly purchase a steel braided oil feed line and some extra hose.
2. When I go back to work on the car, remove the intake, intercooler, and heat shields, to perform more inspection. I can't really tell if its oil or coolant smoke, but I am hoping there is a bad feed line/hose that is causing the leak.
3. If all the hoses appear OK, assume the turbo is simply dead and swap in the replacement turbo and gaskets (note: it already has an aftermarket turbo inlet from the previous owner who took great care of the car so I am hoping that is not the issue.)

Any other feedback would be most appreciated. I've got some time to do more research and won't be able to confirm any hypotheses until I am back at the location of the car.

Bonus: in the video, does engine sounds ok? I haven't been around it in a while and I am forgetting all the smells and clicky sounds! Really excited to being closer to driving it again.
XJman made fair comment back then however I'd have the turbo off and clearances checked. if ok when it is off you may be able to track leaks or cracks. If you buy another turbo do not buy chinese..buy american or genuine japanese.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So its been a little while, I got back to work on the car and after talking to a mechanic, grabbed a used turbo with 70k from another 2003 WRX.

I changes the down pipe and up pipe gaskets, and the coolant return which was not in great shape (I think this could have contributed to the leak).

I put it back together and primed the turbo (oil added + disabled fuel pump so I could start without the car turning over to get oil flowing)

The idle seems fine but driving it is causing a really bad shrill starting around 2500 RPM and losing boost quickly.

Took a video of it to share the terrible sound and stutter when it loses power

The new/used turbo did not have a wastegate so I pulled the one off my old turbo which worked fine. Could it be related to the sound and/or the drop off?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Also of note: the down pipe gasket on the old turbo was pretty bad. It was also a nightmare to get off and one stud would probably need to be replaced to go back to that turbo.

My turbo inlet pipe is pretty whooped too and I definitely poked a hole in it using a hose tool to get it over the turbo inlet. Not sure if this would cause the drastic drop in power I'm getting. It seems associated with the sound.
 

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Understanding the desperation driving you to try a replacement turbo (condition unknown other than purported mileage...which doesn't ensure it is ok...) it's a lot of work and in fact has made a diagnosis more uncertain. You wrote it 'kicked in' then later suggested it may be 'dead'....if it 'kicks-in' it's not dead of course. The turbo works off exhaust gases and is cooled either with coolant or oil or both. Yours is probably built inside a water-cooled shell. Leaks or cracks do happen to metal and to seals..

The heat when turbo 'kicks-in' may be loosening up more condensation into steam in your exhaust, or water could be leaking into one or more cylinders ...how long does the white smoke last?...Over such a long storage the coolant could have affected the head gaskets or allowed rust to form. Inside your exhaust could have partly collapsed also trapping 'more' condensation. Looking at your video the smoke seems localised...I'd take it one step at a time (too late now?) so you know what has been checked and what hasn't. Whilst not your vehicle, you may find some interesting facts/advice in here:

#10
Feb 26, 2010
....the turbo itself is an added component with its own problems and a finite life:
Smell and smoke coming from turbo area
Smoking turbo
Whats going on is this my Turbo?


(I have a Cosworth in France up on blocks since 2007, my house has been unvisited by me since then... ...and that's a worry for me whenever I think about it...acid in sump oil and problems from dormant coolant....sediment in radiator ....welsh plugs...thank the stars it's not an auto.)
 

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The shrill noise sounds like an up pipe leak. Check all the gaskets again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yes...well it gets filtered-out...the information is on subaruforester.org under
"turbo engine reliability?" I think you'll find the URL's interesting
Thanks! Will do more research here. I've been coming from a ways away to work on it over some weekends so its not the end of the world for it to sit a little longer.

Yeah, my immediate thought was, true mileage unknown used turbo was a mistake, but after futzing with the hoses a little more to make sure everything was ok, and listening more carefully I am thinking its related to a pressure leak, since the turbo does kick in and I hear it working and feel it giving a little more power, until it stops giving power.

Also, re: the original smoke, it was a lot better today after I ran it idling for a while and tested when I first encountered this issue and then a little more driving today.

Also, 2007, you have me beat. Its going to take some work!

The shrill noise sounds like an up pipe leak. Check all the gaskets again.
Thanks! I will check them either later tonight or tomorrow.

I checked more hoses and drove it a little more. I am definitely thinking its a leak. Basically it will drive normal through first gear if I don't whoop on it and then in second gear and third gear, it loses power and I hear the turbo blow off valve release.

Chances all of this could be related to an improper seal on the up pipe?

Either way, I am going to try to get it to a garage thats close by tomorrow as they are changing my tires and I might try to hand off some of the problem to them as I have to get back to my home this weekend.
 

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HAHA I was actually looking up some comps and I really would like a WRX in Green!!!

I feel like I may have seen one of these once before. Think they look great.

Update: took the WRX to the shop. Like an idiot I had not tightened down the bypass valve on the intercooler BUT the new-used turbo is also pissing oil SO I'm getting a remanufactured turbo with a warranty and will have the shop install it and replace all the gaskets again.

Fun little $ mistake with the used turbo and the wasted gaskets. Hopefully this gets the Subaru good to go for a bit. I'm ok investing some money as unmolested bugeyes are becoming so rare and I think keeping it in good condition now will be a good investment.

If I run into any serious engine trouble I think I will swap it for a lower miles one. I'm seeing a lot of deals on engines around the 70k mark. The body is still in great shape (minus a few paint chips) and think the history of it (I'm the second owner) will help with it in the future as well.

Will update on the smokies once I get the new turbo and everything cleaned and installed.
 
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