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Version 8 STi oil exploded all over the engine bay?


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I recently purchased a JDM Version 8 WRX STi with a supposedly “blown motor”, managed to get it for a really good price and knew it would be a great project which would really stretch my skillset.. win win. I have a fair bit of experience doing general maintenance and mods to cars, but this is a whole different league for me.

I didn’t get a very clear description of what happened from the previous owner, what he did tell me was that he was driving the car under boost and then something gave up. He pulled over, and found that there was engine oil sprayed all over the battery side of the engine (not that much made it to the intake side). Lots of white smoke from all the oil and it apparently started to develop a slight ticking sound. He has a video from when it happened, personally I can’t hear any unusual ticking noise, I suspect he may have just been hearing the classic Subaru ticking you get on these engines.


It’s been about two weeks since that happened and as of yesterday I have the car sitting in my driveway. I’ve begun the process of diagnosing the issue, here is what I have figured out so far.

  • The engine isn’t seized and turns over well, sounds completely normal when it is cranking IMO. Granted I have only briefly turned it over as I didn’t think it was a good idea to have it cranking with such a small amount of oil left in the engine. Here is a link to a video of it cranking
  • I have fully drained the remaining engine oil, there was about 2.5L left. There is no coolant mixed into the oil. I cannot see any glimmering or signs of metal having made it into the oil.
  • Not sure what type of oil was in the car or how long ago it was changed, but it is quite thick and doesn’t smell very good, it kind of has a fishy odour.
  • The coolant system is still full, it seems to be completely intact and has no oil mixed in it.
  • I’ve removed the top mount intercooler, there was a SOLID amount of oil inside this. Not a healthy amount at all, it was enough that it poured out onto the block. This photo just shows the left over in the intake plenum.
  • There is also oil a reasonable amount of oil in the cold side of the turbo (possible turbo seal? But doesn’t explain how all the oil sprayed into the engine bay).
  • No oil found in the air filter.
  • Cannot see any holes or damage in the block
  • Cannot see any damage to piping or lines around the engine (this is really leaving me stumped as to how so much oil made it out of the engine)

I think the next step is to run a compression test, hopefully this tells me if something is seriously wrong inside the block.

If anybody has any ideas on what is wrong with this engine or suggestions on next steps for diagnosing the problem, then I would greatly appreciate any advice.


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6 minutes ago, Gripless said:

Oil could go out the dipstick, and it’d then also go through to the intake if the breathers lines are all connected up which would explain the turbo sucking through the oil.


What could have caused 2 litres of oil to come out the dipstick?

Edited by eZ_Harry
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Buildup of crankcase pressure would do that. 
Check all of the crank and cam case vents, check the PCV etc. 
Does it have an oil catch can, or the stock recirculation system?


The worse option is that the rings could be bad, and the cylinder pressure is over-pressurising the crank case. This could be tested with a Cylinder leak-down test, if you do one, and you notice the air coming out of the dipstick (some will no matter what), then it's likely the rings.


I had issues with my Rally car and crankcase pressure, Turns out I had all 3 vents (EJ20G) going to one catch can with one small breather, it couldn't vent well enough, and push oil out the turbo and through the intercooler etc. 
I adjusted the system so that it'd breath better, and suddenly I had less oiling issues. 


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