Engine tuning status; the condition of the rotating components; operational condition of the control sensors and components; the presence of any air leaks in the turbocharger system; the control settings; and even the weather.
■ Boost Leak
When air (boost) is leaking within the turbo system or intake, it is referred to as “boost leak.” This may be caused by loose assembly of the components, a bad seal or a cracked component. Under such a condition, the turbocharger may not create enough boost pressure, or reach adequate levels.
■ Boost Spike
A boost spike is an erratic increase in boost pressure, mainly experienced when the vehicle is accelerating through the lower gears and the controller can’t adjust to the changes in engine speeds as quickly as would be ideal.
Several factors can influence boost pressure and affect turbocharger efficiency.
The key factors are:
Ambient Air Temperature and Pressure
As the air temperature rises, the ability of the turbocharger to compress the warmer air decreases. This phenomenon is directly due to the decrease in air density and the physical limitation of the turbocharger.
Even when the air temperature is low, the air density (barometric pressure or boost pressure) may be low. Under these conditions, lower than expected boost pressure may be experienced. The diameter of the exhaust system will vary the pressure differential across the turbine. A larger exhaust allows the turbocharger to rotate faster, which results in higher boost pressure.
Any increase in boost pressure would require “re-mapping” of the ECM programs to accommodate different air flow rates and resultant ignition change requirements. Over-revving of the turbine – trying to supply enough boost – can lead to turbocharger failure, particularly in conjunction with the increase in the pressure differential across the turbine.
Here are some service procedures, including steps to properly remove turbocharger components, and tests and inspections you can perform to check component operation.
You may need to remove the intercooler to work on other components beneath it. Removal of the intercooler must be performed carefully so that no damage occurs.
1.) Disconnect battery. Remove the two bolts that attach the bypass valve, then the valve.
2.) Remove the bolts from each end of the intercooler and disconnect the crankcase ventilation hoses from the intercooler.
3.) Loosen the clamps at the throttle body and outlet of the turbocharger.
4.) Gently move the intercooler side to side until the tension of the hoses at the turbocharger and throttle body loosen.
5.) Remove the intercooler from the engine compartment and cover the open areas with tape to prevent foreign material from entering, which could cause damage to the engine or turbocharger after re-installation.
Turbochargers are fairly simple in concept, but adapting the system to modern vehicles can be quite complex. This primer for those new to servicing turbos and review for veterans lays out the function and operation of turbocharging in Subaru vehicles.
The return of turbocharging in the 2002 Impreza WRX marked an absence of nearly a decade for Subaru vehicles. While the new generation has been around for half a decade, not everyone understands the function and operation of Subaru turbocharging systems.
Naturally, everyone knows these blowers are designed to get the maximum power out of engines by packing more air and fuel into the cylinders to get the biggest bang possible. Just how that is accomplished, however, may be a bit of a mystery to you. Here’s a primer on turbocharging and how it applies to Subaru vehicles.
Subaru Turbocharger Explained:
A Brief History of Turbochargers
Turbochargers were originally invented to increase the volume of air pushed into the cylinders of internal combustion engines, and, along with increased fuel, raise the level of energy produced by the combustion process
Historical references indicate that Swiss engineer Alfred J. Buchi adapted the turbines from steam engines to diesel engines as a method to improve air induction, and, therefore, smoother operation in internal combustion engines. In 1905, Buchi’s idea of powering the forced air induction by exhaust flow was granted a patent. Good idea or not, the fairly crude engines of the day could not sustain even or adequate boost pressures. Buchi worked another ten years before he could produce a working model of a turbocharged diesel engine. By that time, other companies had also produced turbocharging systems
The massive building boom of internal combustion engines to supply ships, trucks and airplanes for World War I saw technologies take a giant leap forward. The first turbocharged diesel engines for ships and locomotives appeared around 1920. Shortly thereafter, European car manufacturers began incorporating them into factory race cars and a few sporty luxury models.
The next milestone for turbocharging came with the military build-up for World War II, when turbo systems were fitted to fighter planes and bombers to allow them to fly at higher altitudes where the thinner air could be compacted into the engines to provide sufficient combustion. However, direct-driven superchargers quickly proved more reliable, efficient and more easily controlled, leaving turbochargers by the wayside.
It wasn’t until the mid-1950s when turbochargers started appearing on diesel trucks that modern turbos began to make a dent in the automotive market. Today, the vast majority of truck engines are turbodiesels.
When turbocharged vehicles began to dominate the international racing scene in the 1960s, car manufacturers began to use them in sporty models to appeal to performance-oriented drivers. By the 1980s, turbochargers for cars were a bona fide success, particularly in Subaru vehicles, due to improved metallurgy, intercooling and efficient boost controls.
The main components of a Subaru turbocharger system are a water-cooled turbocharger, an air-cooled intercooler, a wastegate control solenoid valve, sensors and a controller. Let’s review the individual components and the role they play in the system.
A major component of the Subaru OBD-II system is the system’s ability to monitor the evaporative emissions system. Today’s vehicles are producing very low emissions from the tailpipe, so it has become increasingly important to monitor and contain emissions from other vehicle sources.
A potentially large source of emissions is the vehicle’s fuel system. If not properly contained, vapors escaping from the fuel tank could produce a larger quantity of harmful emissions while the vehicle was standing still than what would be emitted via the tailpipe when the engine was running and the vehicle was driving down the road.
The Subaru OBD-II system monitors the evaporative emissions system by drawing the system to a negative pressure. If the system holds vacuum, it passes the test. If the system fails to hold vacuum for the prescribed period, it fails and a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) P04440 is stored in the ECM memory. The malfunction indicator light (MIL) also comes on in the dash to alert the driver to the problem.
The charts that follow were collected through the data link connector using the New Select Monitor (NSM), during the diagnosis of a DTC P0440 on a 1997 Subaru Legacy 2.5 liter. We’ll begin with a description of system operation under normal operating conditions.
The common causes for overboost or underboost: This is a basic guide on the possible causes and some solutions to those causes of a overboost or a underboost situation in a turbocharged subaru.
1.) Decat + High flow induction – Cure: Reduction of the solenoid duty cycle or alteration of restrictor size will help return boost output to its normal level.
2.) Split, poor fitting, or disconnected pipes – Cure: Replace or refit pipes, the pipes that will cause this issue are between the wastegate actuator, solenoid, and the turbo. Including up to the restrictor on the return pipe of the 3 port solenoid.
3.) Manual Boost Controller – Electronic Boost Controller set too high – Cure: Don’t be so greedy and back the boost duty/adjuster off to a safe level.
4.) Restrictor Pill not fitted / size incorrect – Cure: Ensure restrictor pill is fitted (3 port) if so on a 3 port reduce the restrictor size and on the 2 port increase the restrictor size to reduce the boost to a safe level.
5.) Clogged 3-port solenoid: It is possible that the flow of air through the 3-port solenoid could be restricted between the turbo outlet port and the wastegate actuator port if the solenoid is very dirty (usually oil vapor from the intake system), this allows the wastegate to remain clamped shut longer than it should be causing a potential overboost situation. Cure: Clean with carb or clutch/brake cleaner.
6.)Loss of solenoid funcation: Although this is not bverboost it shows itself with very simmilar symptoms, its an interesting scenario. It is possible for the solenoid to fail or even stick shut while under boost. This will result in a rapid reduction of boost pressure to wastegate pressure approx 0.5 BAR. So if you were running at full boost 1.0 BAR for example and the solenoid was to fail shut it would feel just like overboost as the wastegate rapidly opens due to the solenoid blocking off the spill from the wastegate. Cure: Either clean the solenoid with carb or clutch+brake cleaner or replace the solenoid.
Boost creep is a situation where your wastegate port is not large enough to allow the exhaust gas to bypass the turbo. What happens is the exhaust gas will choke the wastegate port preventing further gas flow through the port. Then, the exhaust gas has to take the path of least resistance which is through the turbine of the turbo. This will spool the turbo ‘uncontrolled’ beyond your normal controlled max boost level.
The turbo will be spooling past wastegate spring rate pressure even though the wastegate is fully open thus it is uncontrolled. The best way to check for boost creep is to connect the turbo outlet port directly to the wastegate actuator port and go for a drive. In 4th gear you should normally get a stable boost level of about 0.5 BAR, if you have boost creep the boost will hit 0.5 BAR and will continue to rise with rpm until you either back off or hit overboost fuel cut.
Boost creep should only be present on a turbo that has very little restriction. For example a fully de-catted and high flow induction. It’s been found that the fast spooling IHI VF35 is very prone to boost creep. The cure is to remove the turbo and enlarge the wastegate port. Then, fit a stronger actuator 0.75 BAR the reason for this is because you have made the wastegate port larger. The effective size of the wastegate plate acting against the exhaust gas flow is larger which allows the exhaust gas excert more force on the wastegate plate.
This in effect weakens the effectiveness of the actuator. Before the increase in size of your wastegate port the actuator would open at 0.5 BAR, after the increase the actuator would open earlier at 0.3–0.4 BAR. After these changes are made to the turbo either a boost controller or a remap (to adjust solenoid duty cycle) should be sought to control the boost to a safe level.
This guide covers most boost related issues including a short introduction on how your boost systems work. This information is based on the Classic Impreza’s, but will cover the newer WRX/STi cars to a certain extent.
Safe boost levels:
When modding your car without mapping (full de-cat and high flow induction etc) you increase the efficiency of your turbo which could result in engine damage due to lean running at high rpm / max boost. To prevent damage always try and keep your boost level as close to standard as possible until your car is mapped for the increase in boost pressure.
TLDR: Don’t screw with your boost levels until you get the car tuned by someone who knows what they are doing. Otherwise you’ll probably end up with a blown up Subaru.