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.
The heart of any vehicle is the engine. It’s what makes it go. Anything that jeopardizes the operation of the engine can have disastrous effects and result in extensive repairs. If the engine is the heart of the vehicle, then surely the cooling system is the “circulatory system” that keeps the engine operating at optimum temperatures. If it doesn’t, bad things are going to happen.
Subaru engines are modern masterpieces of technology and precision. Manufactured of multi-alloy metals and exotic materials, these engines contain more components, weigh less, produce more power and torque and are more durable than the old iron engines of 40 years ago. However, even these high-tech engines can be damaged or destroyed by excessively high internal temperatures.
Though more energy efficient than ever before, the combustion of fuel and air in the cylinders that produces the power that propels the vehicle still creates an enormous amount of waste heat. This is carried away from the cylinders either by venting it out through the exhaust system or via the cooling system. If either of these systems fail to keep the engine at normal operating temperatures, an overheating condition occurs. Of the two, the cooling system is most vulnerable.
The cooling system can easily be contaminated or compromised by anyone putting the wrong products into the radiator or reservoir. Often, Subaru owners or service facilities that are not aware of the specific needs of the vehicle will put incorrect chemicals into the system. In fact, according to figures published by the U. S. Department of Transportation, coolant-related problems are the primary cause of mechanical breakdowns on the highway. Many of these breakdowns could have been avoided by the use of proper coolant and the right additives.
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.
This is a simple overview on diagnosing knock sensor issues with your Subaru Impreza/Forester/Legacy/Etc.
The knock sensor is designed to sense knocking signals from each cylinder. The knock sensor is a piezo-electric type element which converts knocking vibrations into electrical signals. The electrical signal is sent to the ECM, which changes the ignition timing to reduce the engine knock or ping. For this system to work correctly, the knock sensor must first hear the engine ping. The driver of the vehicle may also hear a small engine ping. A delay of approximately 1-2 seconds is normal, depending on the fuel quality, engine load, air temp, etc. At this time, the ECM will retard the timing.
This function can be viewed on the Select Monitor RTRD mode. When the knock is eliminated, the timing is gradually advanced to the specified setting. If engine ping is heard again this process is repeated. This will continue until the knock sensor no longer hears the engine knock or ping.
Note: This is a normal operation of the knock sensor. Do not try to repair it.
The next page will discuss asking the right questions on diagnosing knock sensor failures.
Beginning with the 1997 model year, the 2.2 and 2.5 engines were made more fuel efficient, more powerful, and were given a flatter, more usable torque curve than in previous years. To achieve these objectives, it was necessary to make improvements and modifications to the Subaru engine lineup. The following are some of those improvements:
• Mechanical valve lash adjusters (reduces friction).
• Lightweight pistons (reduces inertia).
• Short skirt, Molybdenum coated pistons (reduces friction).
• Increased compression ratio (improved power output).
• Improved cylinder head design (improved cooling).
• Improved induction system (improved breathing).
As a result of these enhancements, some Subaru engines may exhibit some engine noise during the warm-up period after a cold startup. This engine noise is a consequence of the engine improvements and is not, in any way, an indication of any engine problem.