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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an '05 STI with about 135k miles with the following symptoms:
  • Consuming around 1qt of oil every ~800 miles.
  • LONG overdue for a new timing belt.
  • Valve covers leaking a moderate amount.
  • Small oil pan leak.
  • Radiator cap swollen.
The shop didn't necessarily say I outright had to buy a new short block, but that the engine is old/worn out, and they were in the same boat with theirs and were replacing their short block. I'm not in a position where I could pay the $10-12k rebuild outright, I'd likely need to take out a loan to do it. So, I don't necessarily want to perform unnecessary work if it's not necessary.

Given the cost to fix the valve covers and timing belt will account for 1/5 - 1/4 the cost of the rebuild, would it make sense to just rebuild the engine? Are these symptoms signs that the engine will be dying soon, or is the oil consumption just an annoyance I'd have to deal with for a while? Also, is a 1yr warranty standard for this type of work? I've seen 2yrs at another shop for an IAG engine whereas this would be an OEM engine.

Any input is appreciated. I've never had to do this before, and having lost my WRX recently due to a head gasket failure, I'm not sure what I want to do yet. I'm basically deciding whether to do the timing belt by itself or to rebuild the engine and fix everything at once.
 

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SWP 2012 GR Hatch
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I'd replace it, personally.
I'd go for a cheap built motor over OEM to add durability tho.
Burning that much oil leads me to think other things are wrong with the motor, not just that the timing belt is old and vcg's are leaking.
How is the PCV?
If the PCV is old and neglected, it could be clogged, which would cause oil burning.
PCV's are cheap too, like 20$ cheap.
You could try replacing that first and if the oil consumption remains the same I'd assume the consumption is related to something like head gaskets or pistons and replace the motor.
If you do the timing belt and head gaskets now and realize the motor is toast you'll be spending that money twice.
If you do a shortblock you'll need a new timing kit and the vcg's would get done at that time too while the motor is out, so that's why I say to check the PCV before making expensive decisions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd replace it, personally.
I'd go for a cheap built motor over OEM to add durability tho.
Burning that much oil leads me to think other things are wrong with the motor, not just that the timing belt is old and vcg's are leaking.
How is the PCV?
If the PCV is old and neglected, it could be clogged, which would cause oil burning.
PCV's are cheap too, like 20$ cheap.
You could try replacing that first and if the oil consumption remains the same I'd assume the consumption is related to something like head gaskets or pistons and replace the motor.
If you do the timing belt and head gaskets now and realize the motor is toast you'll be spending that money twice.
If you do a shortblock you'll need a new timing kit and the vcg's would get done at that time too while the motor is out, so that's why I say to check the PCV before making expensive decisions.
I had an IAG AOS installed in 2016, but I probably only put ~20k miles on it since then. The shop did note that the PCV was "Hose Hard and brittle - known to break" and recommended replacement.

The thing that sucks is that the car is at 135k miles and has never had the timing belt done (I know... it's horrible), and it's at the shop now, so if I decide to just do the pcv and other smaller things I wanted to do, I'd be driving a time bomb for a while to see if it had any effect.
 

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If it has an AOS, that replaces the PCV so then it鈥檚 back to the 鈥榖urns lots of oil, should just replace鈥 scenario.
i wouldn鈥檛 do the TB on it if it burns that much I鈥檇 just put the money towards the timing kit when you replace the shortblock.
VCG鈥檚 will get done when the heads are swapped so that鈥檚 another job there is no sense in doing now only to have to do it again shortly after.
 

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Depends on your goals with the car.

I would just put a type RA block in if you're stock turbo. you aren't getting 135k out of that car with a built block, maybe 50k if you're lucky.

If you're planning on swapping turbos and modding then you absolutely need a built short block.
 

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2021 WRX STI
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I would personally do a bit more diagnostic work and pinpoint where the oil is being lost, or ask more questions. Start with a leakdown test and see if you have any blowby, and where you are getting blowby (rings, valves, HG). Has the turbo been ruled out as a cause for oil consumption? How much oil does the pan/valve cover leak? I'd think 1 qt per 800 miles is nearly visible while driving, or at least when taking off...

RE: swollen radiator cap. Are you seeing overheating, or any cooling related symptoms?

....

Another perspective RE: spending the $10-12k on an engine rebuild... Would it make more sense to just by a beater and park the STI for the time being?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would personally do a bit more diagnostic work and pinpoint where the oil is being lost, or ask more questions. Start with a leakdown test and see if you have any blowby, and where you are getting blowby (rings, valves, HG). Has the turbo been ruled out as a cause for oil consumption? How much oil does the pan/valve cover leak? I'd think 1 qt per 800 miles is nearly visible while driving, or at least when taking off...

RE: swollen radiator cap. Are you seeing overheating, or any cooling related symptoms?

....

Another perspective RE: spending the $10-12k on an engine rebuild... Would it make more sense to just by a beater and park the STI for the time being?
I actually went in asking for compression and leak-down, and they told me it would be a waste of money and that they wouldn't be able to determine the cause of the oil consumption without doing an engine tear down. I was a bit surprised to hear that since I almost always see recommendations to do that for engine issues, but this shop was recommended by several people in my area. They said the valve covers were leaking about 5/10, the drain pan was 3/10. I haven't been having any issues with overheating, but I do have a leaky hose going to my IAG AOS that I need to replace.

As far as the beater goes, I've actually had two cars die in the last 3 years. An '02 WRX (that I loved) that had a head gasket failure I couldn't afford to fix at the time, and a $10k Fiat 500 (first and last I'll ever own) with about 20K miles on it that completely chunked to the extent that repairs were more than the cost of the car. So, I'm in a "from my cold dead hands" mindset at the moment about this car.

For power goals, I'm going to keep it stock-ish for a while. I probably won't go for a larger turbo, but I may throw on an EBCS and a better pump to make the most of the turbo-back I have. The tuner I spoke with when I still lived in Texas said I wouldn't be touching 300whp (mustang dyno) without a larger turbo and supporting mods. And the more I look into it, the more it seems like larger turbo = forged pistons = 50k-80k mile engine for most people.
 

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What initially led you to bring the car in?

I would be a bit suspect of that advice without some type of data to back it up RE: replacing the shortblock. If they can't determine the cause, can they at least determine what isn't the cause?

For the oil leak, are these leaks where if you park for a few min after the car is warmed up, there is a nice puddle on the ground? Or is it a drop or two? Based on that, how much would fixing those improve that oil consumption number...(?)

If you aren't having overheating issues, then the cooling system is probably fine, and radiator caps are a few dollars. Again, wouldn't just tear into this without having a reason.

And I def wasn't suggesting replace the STI with another car. I was just saying pick something up off CL/Marketplace in addition to the STI for a couple thousand that will provide reliable transportation so you aren't in a bind getting the car fixed and can take some time to make a decision so you aren't rushed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What initially led you to bring the car in?

I would be a bit suspect of that advice without some type of data to back it up RE: replacing the shortblock. If they can't determine the cause, can they at least determine what isn't the cause?

For the oil leak, are these leaks where if you park for a few min after the car is warmed up, there is a nice puddle on the ground? Or is it a drop or two? Based on that, how much would fixing those improve that oil consumption number...(?)

If you aren't having overheating issues, then the cooling system is probably fine, and radiator caps are a few dollars. Again, wouldn't just tear into this without having a reason.

And I def wasn't suggesting replace the STI with another car. I was just saying pick something up off CL/Marketplace in addition to the STI for a couple thousand that will provide reliable transportation so you aren't in a bind getting the car fixed and can take some time to make a decision so you aren't rushed.
Honestly, the original reason was that I have two CV boots that were torn, and the timing belt was way overdue. I've been concerned about the oil consumption for a while, but there wasn't any kind of "event" that drove me to take the car in due to that consumption. I haven't noticed any pools of oil underneath the car, but if I floor it, there is a faint cloud of smoke from the exhaust. That said, I'm using an OTS tune that I'm not particularly happy with, so it may be from running rich, or it may be that the catalytic converter is toast, and I just don't know it.

At this point, I'm kind of leaning toward just doing the CV joints and timing belt, doing more diagnostics, and then looking at a block again once I get back to Texas in the next 7 months. If I do need a new block, I'd like to have the shop that tunes the car and the shop that builds the engine be the same people, and I don't necessarily want those people to be 2,000 miles away from my new location.
 

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I actually went in asking for compression and leak-down, and they told me it would be a waste of money and that they wouldn't be able to determine the cause of the oil consumption without doing an engine tear down. I was a bit surprised to hear that since I almost always see recommendations to do that for engine issues, but this shop was recommended by several people in my area. They said the valve covers were leaking about 5/10, the drain pan was 3/10. I haven't been having any issues with overheating, but I do have a leaky hose going to my IAG AOS that I need to replace.

As far as the beater goes, I've actually had two cars die in the last 3 years. An '02 WRX (that I loved) that had a head gasket failure I couldn't afford to fix at the time, and a $10k Fiat 500 (first and last I'll ever own) with about 20K miles on it that completely chunked to the extent that repairs were more than the cost of the car. So, I'm in a "from my cold dead hands" mindset at the moment about this car.

For power goals, I'm going to keep it stock-ish for a while. I probably won't go for a larger turbo, but I may throw on an EBCS and a better pump to make the most of the turbo-back I have. The tuner I spoke with when I still lived in Texas said I wouldn't be touching 300whp (mustang dyno) without a larger turbo and supporting mods. And the more I look into it, the more it seems like larger turbo = forged pistons = 50k-80k mile engine for most people.
i'm not sure where you are getting those numbers. I have spent around 20k on mine (including suspension/visual mods, power alone is probably 13-15k ish), and made 377whp/401wtq (dynojet, sae correction). and with just a different turbo (or fuel if i had just bit the bullet and gone to e85 right away), i could easily be mid 400s without much more money. you can easily make good power with a built block without spending anywhere near 50k. shoot if i had 50k to spend i would be sitting in the 600s more than likely, with a bunch of other mods lol. just saying while it's expensive, it's not 50k expensive.

that said, based on everything here, i'd run a type ra block, and if you had the desire to, you could run an 18g or even a 20g turbo. have it tuned on pump gas to a safe level, and with either of those you should make well into the 300s (on most dyno's at least). and if you ever wanted more save the block you have that isnt good and have it rebuilt to go with more power.

note, if you plan to do any racing lookup class rules first.
 

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Honestly, the original reason was that I have two CV boots that were torn, and the timing belt was way overdue. I've been concerned about the oil consumption for a while, but there wasn't any kind of "event" that drove me to take the car in due to that consumption. I haven't noticed any pools of oil underneath the car, but if I floor it, there is a faint cloud of smoke from the exhaust. That said, I'm using an OTS tune that I'm not particularly happy with, so it may be from running rich, or it may be that the catalytic converter is toast, and I just don't know it.

At this point, I'm kind of leaning toward just doing the CV joints and timing belt, doing more diagnostics, and then looking at a block again once I get back to Texas in the next 7 months. If I do need a new block, I'd like to have the shop that tunes the car and the shop that builds the engine be the same people, and I don't necessarily want those people to be 2,000 miles away from my new location.
I have definitely read of people having cracked ringlands and not knowing it, so not ruling that out even though you didn't have any events. A leakdown test would probably diagnose it pretty easily.

For the smoke, I'm sure you know but black smoke == rich, blue smoke == oil.

And I would probably lean that direction too (iffy on timing belt), and try to diagnose what I can in the meantime. I definitely would not want to just replace the block and throw everything right back on a good engine without making sure the tune and the rest of the system is good. I'd personally just keep adding oil, save money, figure out what I can, and plan to do a block replacement + tune at the shop you are thinking of in TX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
i'm not sure where you are getting those numbers. I have spent around 20k on mine (including suspension/visual mods, power alone is probably 13-15k ish), and made 377whp/401wtq (dynojet, sae correction). and with just a different turbo (or fuel if i had just bit the bullet and gone to e85 right away), i could easily be mid 400s without much more money. you can easily make good power with a built block without spending anywhere near 50k. shoot if i had 50k to spend i would be sitting in the 600s more than likely, with a bunch of other mods lol. just saying while it's expensive, it's not 50k expensive.

that said, based on everything here, i'd run a type ra block, and if you had the desire to, you could run an 18g or even a 20g turbo. have it tuned on pump gas to a safe level, and with either of those you should make well into the 300s (on most dyno's at least). and if you ever wanted more save the block you have that isnt good and have it rebuilt to go with more power.

note, if you plan to do any racing lookup class rules first.
I meant a built block is usually only good for 50k - 80k miles (for most people, some people are luckier), not that it costs $50k - $80. I'm guessing this tuners dyno reads pretty low, so 275 on his is probably over 300 on most others. That said, that estimate was when I talked to him a few years ago before I moved, so he may have different recommendations or target power levels nowadays.
 

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I meant a built block is usually only good for 50k - 80k miles (for most people, some people are luckier), not that it costs $50k - $80. I'm guessing this tuners dyno reads pretty low, so 275 on his is probably over 300 on most others. That said, that estimate was when I talked to him a few years ago before I moved, so he may have different recommendations or target power levels nowadays.
ohhhhhh i misunderstood that lol. i thought you meant cost, i was like dang you could build a super competitive race car for 50-80k haha. i understand. the other thing to consider is that while a built block wont "last" as long, you can easily get it refreshed and it would be significantly cheaper than getting another. i know i'm at like 45k ish on mine and it's still pulling strong with no signs of letting up whatsoever. so i wouldnt worry as much as people make it out to be on that (ive heard of multiple IAG shortblocks lasting well into the 100k range from guys local to me with them). you also have to consider for most people, putting 50k on a car is right around 5 years. in which you could build your other block that comes out of the car, or save little by little to get another new one. i'm biased towards IAG blocks, as mine, as well as multiple frineds of mine have had them for years and never had issues with them.

but a simple 18g or 20g turbo will get you a fun setup and will last on a stock type ra block for years to come so long as you have a conservative tune and dont get power hungry.
 
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