Saturday, August 10, 2013

He broke the mirrors off his Cadillac 'cause he doesn't like it lookin' like he looks back

I'll call this one my post of shame. No, I haven't been working on the car much in the past month like I had planned. This is due to my daily driver, a Subaru Legacy GT. I think I am cursed when it comes to this car. Every time I try to do some simple maintenance, something goes wrong. Normally I'm not this incompetent, but apparently this Subaru turns me into a ham fisted mouth breather.

It all started when I decided to change my spark plugs. When I had almost finished the job, I was installing the last ignition coil, and the coil connector broke. This was on a Saturday, and the part was a special order part. On Sunday I had to leave for a business trip and didn't get back until a week and a half later. I got the part and finished the job. When I started the vehicle it started fine, but there was absolutely no power or throttle response. I spent almost the next weeks after work checking everything I could think of. I installed and uninstalled the spark plugs so many times I'm considering going semi-pro in Legacy GT spark plug changing. I also double and triple checked the coil wiring and it was spot on. I then remembered that I had found a bolt on my driveway that looked out of place...

The offending bolt.
 As I looked further, I noticed a hole in the timing cover. I knew that this was fairly recent because I had replaced this cover only about three months ago. At that time, the AC idler bolt had come loose and been pushed back through the timing cover and into the timing belt, breaking several timing covers and causing the cam timing to jump a few teeth. Well this same problem happened again, but this time it was a different bolt, but the same problem, just not as severe. One of the cams had jumped one tooth and then the bolt was ejected, putting a hole in the cover. I figured I had found the problem, so I replaced the timing belt and broken cover.
 This helped a little bit but it turns out it was just one of the problems, not THE problem. I was now very worried that I had somehow bent the intake and exhaust valves. To find out if this was the case, I removed the spark plugs one more time and performed a cylinder pressure test. The pressure was a little low, with all cylinders right around 130 psi, but the results were consistent, leading me to beleive that the problem was not the valves.
My buddy Luis is a Subaru guy so I started picking his brain. He brought over a tuning cable and we connected to my Engine Control Unit. This way we would be able to view the data that was being used by the ECU to control the engine. As we looked at the data, the only thing I noticed that seemed strange to me is that the MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) signal seemed low. Any car at wide open throttle near sea level should be able to easily attain a MAP value of around 101 kPa, which is the normal atmospheric pressure at sea level. Any reading below this indicates an obstruction in the intake. At wide open throttle, I was only getting around 50 kPa. I thought that the ECU might have gone into limp mode to protect the engine,  but strangely there were no check engine lights or trouble codes. We removed the intercooler and made a strange discovery.

The creature from the black lagoon shaved and left his beard trimmings in my intercooler.
 There was some sort of gunk in the intercooler. It looked like shredded shop towel soaked in oil. There was a lot of oil in my intake.

The black lagoon.
 I'm not sure why it took us so long to come to this idea, but after seeing this and talking about it over the course of a few days, we wondered if there might somehow be a shop towel stuck in my turbo. I pulled off the intake hose (which is about a 26 step process) and BEHOLD:

It's like running a 400m sprint with a football player's sock shoved down your throat.

You probably wouldn't be too surprised to know how much of a difference removing a shop towel and all its remnants makes for an engine's ability to run properly. But let me just say OHMYFREAKINGCRAPYOUBETTABELIEVESHERUNSAWHOLELOTBETTERILOVEBACON!!!

With that out of the way, I've been collecting parts. I now have all the major parts necessary for my brake system. I still need to order all the lines and fittings, etc. Happy birthday to me. No for real, it showed up on my birthday. And because of that, I'm also going to post a picture of my birthday cake.


OK so it's not a cake, it's a pie.

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