Last post on Aug 12, 2010 at 12:33 PM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Car Buying, Car Comparisons, Sedan, Wagon
Jul 09, 2008 (5:13 pm)
I am owner of 2003 VW Passat 1.8T and 2005 Subaru Legacy GT.
I see similarities between two sludge/turbo/engine issues.
VW originally suggested use of oils meeting VW 502.00 specification but it was not requirement. They ended up with plenty (I guess thousands) of engines that developed sludge because even though their OCI was prescribed 5000 miles the oil was not good enough. As a remedy VW changed the wording of the manual and now it states that oil MUST meet VW 502.00 spec, oil filter is now twice as big (if not 2.5 times) and 5000 miles is absolute maximum.
Subaru's (or maybe SOA) approach is different. Original oil spec stays the same (any 5W30 is good enough unless in hot climate then 40 weight oil is fine) but they halved OCI from 7500 miles to 3750. Now any turbo engined car requires "severe duty" cycle. In a letter available on mysubaru.com they suggest 30 sec cool down after driving, oil change before and after track event (somehow they do not ask for oil change pit stop).
I called dealer in my home country (Poland) and they change oil every 15000km (9000 miles) in Forester XT. I wonder how?
In both cases the problem is with oil starvation because some passages are clogged by sludge. In VW it is pick up screen and in Subaru it is "banjo-bolt".
In VW it causes engine failure and in Subaru turbo failure (unless failed turbo granades engine).
Jul 10, 2008 (6:36 am)
I also had a 2001 VW 1.8T. The problem in the VW was made worse by the smaller oil capacity of the longitudal mounted engine in the Passat... that was part of the reason for the larger oil filter recomendation so as to increase oil capacity. I started using the gigantic TDI oil filter in my car for the extra oil capacity. I got rid of the car because of the plethora of other problems I had with the car not related to the turbo.
From what I understand, the Toyota sludge issue was caused by a bad maintenance interval recommendation that had oil changes on regular oil extending to 10k miles or more. I don't think it was caused by a design problem with the engine but with the manual.
I see the turbo issues in the VW and Subaru as half maintenace issues and half design and just nature of the turbo beast. I would NEVER use anything but full synthetic oil changed every 3-5k miles in ANY turbo car. I am amazed that some Subaru dealers are still recommending AGAINST using synth oil in turbos.
#15 of 23 Re: Turbo [shrinermonkey]
Jul 10, 2008 (7:51 pm)
As far as I know the Banjo bolt screen can be removed w/o issue and on later models after 05 or 06 it is not on the car to begin with.
I haven't removed it on mine yet, but may do so at some point.
I have found that the turbo cars do burn a bit more oil than the non turbo cars, and should be checked every 1k miles. (you shold be checking it this often anyway) and my guess like most cars (turbo or not) the manufacturer spec is that they can consume up to 1q oil per 1,000 miles.
From my sources inside SOA, a lot of the failures of the turbos are due to folks not even checking their oil during the 7,000 or 3,500 mile intervals.
I track my car and run amsoil in it. My change interval is about 8,000 - 10,000 miles with a check every 1k miles. So far in 60k miles she's been nothing but pleasure to drive with no major issues related to the turbo, I fully expect it to run to 150k-200k miles as it stands right now.
#16 of 23 Re: Turbo [paisan]
Jul 12, 2008 (8:39 am)
Your comment about the banjo bolt screen being removed on later models is precisely why I am now a frustrated Subaru owner. I have owned my car since July 2004 (Legacy GT Auto Wagon). I was an early adopter of the redesign and had purchased two prior Subarus, and several more through extended family. I change the oil religiously; never over 3500 miles and check oil level at every other fillup. In short, I did everything I could do to avoid a turbo failure.
When I did have a failure, I was out of town and the closest Subaru dealership tried to take advantage with claims of numerous expensive repairs - all of which would have to be paid cash. SOA did the right thing and intervened. It ruined a vacation and involved a week of hassle, but I don't hold that against SOA.
My frustration is I have asked numerous times what I can do to prevent a second failure down the line. The car is like new and given that you cannot buy new GT wagons, I have no desire to get rid of the car next year at the five year mark. If SOA would only admit that the banjo screen is a problem and explicitly remove them from cars (at least after a turbo failure), I would feel like a second failure is not an inevitable problem.
Instead, I have received three "official" responses urging that I change the oil every 3.5 months/3500 miles, which is what I have always done.
I was probably one of the most passionate Subaru fans in the Philadelphia area. Certainly not as vocal as the members of this board, because I was always a reader- not a poster. Still, in my eight years of Subaru ownership, I have convinced over 20 people to buy the cars. I drive past SOA headquarters at least once a week, and have met several of their employees in the past through Marketing conferences, etc. When I was having the troubles with the "dishonest dealership," I called people within the company that I knew, but don't want to ask them to intervene now as I imagine I would now be viewed as a "pesky owner" and won't ask friends to go out on a limb for me.
The issue is this, if a manufacturer has loyal advocates as Subaru does, don't deny problems that will impact those most loyal fans. A simple note that "real-world experience has led to rethinking of the banjo-bolt screen, thus we do not replace it after turbo failure" would eliminate my future concerns and would have prevented me from becoming an annoyed, former advocate. A simple lesson in PR. SOA used to have an employee monitor these boards on a regular basis (Patty). I hope my notes are making it to the attention of someone who is more of a Marketer than a liability attorney.
Jul 12, 2008 (11:03 am)
I do not think that screen in banjo bolt is THE PROBLEM. The problem is that something is get cought. If screen is not present then "something" (I suspect sludge or coke) will get further into the system and still cause a failure, just a different one.
ABZ, you followed new SOA recommendation (OCI 3750 miles) from very begining and you still had turbo failure?
My bet is that SOA oil specification allows usage of oils that do not work well in 2.5 turbocharged engine.
It looks awfully similar to VW 1.8T issue. VW also underspecified the oil in the beginning.
#18 of 23 Re: Turbo [abz]
Jul 12, 2008 (4:55 pm)
Since you know how to remedy the problem, why not just remedy it yourself?
Subarus aren't perfect. I've had to do tweaks on almost all my cars. Imprezas had ball bearings in the wheels but the legacies had barrel ones. Whenever we replaced a bearing on an impreza we slipped in the legacy ones for either ourselves or our customers.
I haven't removed the banjo bolt on mine yet but probably will do it when I do my Upipe and Downpipe since we'll be in there anyway.
I have actually kept in contact with Patty and she is great. SOA really does try to do the right thing, depsite what folks think. They now hold an annual breakfast for the subaru owners who do the 48hrs of Tristate http://48hrs.info where we kickoff the event which raises money for The American Cancer Society at SOA headquarters, have breakfast, and meet the CEO and the rest of the management team. This past year they matched, dollar for dollar whatever we raised!
#19 of 23 Re: Turbo [paisan]
Jul 12, 2008 (5:36 pm)
I am still under powertrain warranty and didn't know that SOA has since removed the banjo bolt screen. I have read on other forums that aftermarket tuners recommend removing the screen, but the last thing I want is to have a future warranty repair denied due to having removed the screen on my own.
I am mechanically inclined, but do little maintenance on my own vehicle. What can I say, MG's were far easier to work on. If I won't invalidate my warranty, I will probably download the instructions and remove this screen at some point in the future. Again, all I wanted from SOA was a statement that they now recommend removing the screen. I am tired of being told to change the oil. I already had to provide them four years of oil change records in order to get them to cover the turbo under warranty. They know very well I change my oil at 3 months/3000 miles.
I will stop posting on this issue at this point. The question started with the durability of Subaru turbos, and my experience would suggest there are some unresolved issues.
#20 of 23 Re: Turbo [abz]
Jul 12, 2008 (5:43 pm)
I doubt that SOA will say "go ahead and remove it" and I'm not sure you'd be covered under warranty. I've never heard of them requiring your maintenance records for a simple turbo replacement. Maybe an engine replacement but it's weird to hear it on a turbo.
#21 of 23 Re: Turbo [paisan]
Jul 13, 2008 (6:11 am)
Now you can understand why I am so soured on turbo Subarus.
I was 100 miles from home at the start (interrupted) of a family vacation. I had two daughters with me (seven years and sixteen months). I am stranded in this town where I had my Subaru towed. The quote from the Service Manager (attributed to the SOA regional rep is "the number one cause of turbo failures is neglect. We won't even order parts for your car as a warranty repair until you provide copies of all oil change receipts.")
I had already provided the phone number and address of my local Subaru dealership where the vast majority of work had been done. When I made it back home (in a rented car), I had to run to my local dealer to get a copy of a single missing receipt. The Manager of that dealership was pissed off about the whole situation because he quickly pointed out that my records were already in the networked computer system accessible to all Subaru dealerships.
Long story short, my local dealership is incredible, but if I suffer problems elsewhere I am very likely to be screwed. This experience has formed my opinion of Subaru turbos. The form letter responses I get from SOA are not encouraging as to whether they will stand behind their cars in the future.
Buyer beware. There is an issue with the turbo design. Subaru eventually made good on the head gasket issue which impacted the previous generation engine. My hope is they realize that while the turbo issue impacts a much smaller number of cars, it has as great an impact on owner loyalty.
#22 of 23 Re: Turbo [abz]
Jul 13, 2008 (7:43 am)
I think you may have hit one bad dealer, from your description above, it seems that the repairing dealer didn't want to deal with it nor honor the warranty. As you said, your local dealer was outstanding in the situation.