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Old 07-18-2012, 07:16 PM   #1
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Smoking! Turbo? Valve Stem Seals? Help!

Help! I bought a 9k Aero a few months back and I've been struggling to get it to pass CA smog inspection. When I bought it, the turbo had tons of shaft play, and had started grinding away the compressor wheel against the central housing. Also, it smoked like a freight train. Tons of oil had been flowing down the downpipe and burning up. Surprisingly, when I tore into it, I only found a very small amount of oil in the intercooler and IC piping, which I cleaned out with soap and water. I replaced the turbo (well, I replaced the CHRA) with a used unit from a 1999 SAAB 9-3 I bought on eBay for $150. It looked to be in good shape, and the eBay seller said the car was running great when he parted it out after blowing the transmission. Anyway, when I received the new (to me) CHRA, I checked for shaft play, and found more than I liked, so I bought a T25 rebuild kit off eBay and rebuilt the turbo, using the guide found here, and also several videos on youtube. Everything went as it should, according to the guide. I also removed the oil feed and return lines and cleaned them thoroughly with soap/water/degreaser, and then blew them out with an air compressor. I oiled up the CHRA, re-installed the turbo, hooked up all the lines nice and tight, and started the car. It smoked a bit, naturally, probably from leftover oil. I have since driven the car ~200mi and seen much improvement, but not enough. Unfortunately, I have recently noticed that the turbo appears to be leaking oil from where the CHRA bolts into the exhaust housing, and dripping onto the outside of the downpipe, causing some smoke in the engine bay. Also, after the car idles for a few minutes, and I get in and rev it up (also known as a snap-throttle test at the SMOG station, apparently), it produces a cloud of bluish-whitish smoke about the size of another car, then clears up and blows clean exhaust. I am wondering what to check first. I have checked the intake side of the turbocharger, and it's very clean, no oil deposits whatsoever. Also, all the IC piping is still clean, as is the throttle body. The engine has good compression (~150PSI in all 4), I'm not losing coolant, the car runs great other than the smoke. Any advice on what to check? I'm stumped, and I'd really like to get my good-running to pass smog, and get it registered so I can drive it!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:04 PM   #2
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Turbo still has to be your main suspect, even with doing the work yourself sounds like oil is getting past a seal. Can you 'borrow' a used turbo to try?

Also have you done an idle vacum test?
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:58 AM   #3
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That was my tentative conclusion, as well... no, I have no way to borrow a turbo. I have a brand new TD04 I was thinking of putting in, but that requires rather more effort than I was hoping to do just for a simple smog test.

I have not done an idle vacuum test, how is that performed?
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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Connect to vacum source on intake manifold, blocl other end of what you removed, note readings ar idle and say 1200 rpm, variations or very low vacum at steady rpm = problem somewhere.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:01 PM   #5
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OK, I will try that when I get the car running again.

I removed my intercooler and turbo tonight. The IC didn't have much slime/oil in it at all, but I cleaned it anyway with simple green and lots of water, flushing it over and over until it was clean. I also cleaned all the IC elbows and piping. The turbo is leaking oil from the exhaust side somehow. I have a sneaking suspicion that the piston ring at the end of the turbine shaft may not be seated correctly, or something. I couldn't find my big snap ring pliers to get the compressor housing off, so further dis-assembly will have to wait. Somehow, oil is getting into the exhaust housing, and leaking out between the machined area where the central housing goes into the exhaust housing. I have attached pictures to clarify. I did wipe off most of the oil before I thought to take pictures, but you can clearly see on the heat shield and turbine there are black deposits from oil burning, and also around the rim of the exhaust housing flange, and on the flange plates.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2012-07-19 20.24.51.jpg (216.0 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg 2012-07-19 20.25.00.jpg (247.8 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg 2012-07-19 20.25.13.jpg (247.6 KB, 11 views)
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Old 07-19-2012, 10:46 PM   #6
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Usually best to go with the obvious, you have a turbo problem, fix it, and see where you are.

Gas works real well for clean-up, then little soap and rinse. Should not see any oil on exhaust side.

Good luck.
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
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After much cleaning and scrubbing, and a new (used) turbo charger from WSW (thanks again!), the problem has been solved! No more smoking issues, the car runs and drives great and has been smogged, registered, and put back on the road. Another SAAB saved from the scrapyard!
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:54 AM   #8
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why didnt you put the new td-04 you have in?
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:58 AM   #9
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Actually, the TD04 I had ordered was for a 9-3/9-5. The intake fitting on the compressor housing was a v-band type flange, which is the wrong kind for my 9000, and the central housing was clocked improperly. Since I didn't want to void my turbo warranty by modifying it, I returned it and purchased a stock t25 from WSW. Eventually, I do hope to complete a TD04 swap, but from what I've learned, it's pointless without an accompanying T5 tune, which I do not have the ability/knowledge to do myself, and don't have access to a local SAAB tuner. So, for now, I'll drive it as/is.
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Old 08-02-2012, 06:09 AM   #10
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Good deal! Glad you got it fixed!
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