Is Your Turbo Subaru On Borrowed Time? Read This and Find Out.

Those of you that follow the 1A Auto Blog may remember the 2006 Subaru Legacy GT project car that I bought a few months ago.  If not, you may want to start off by reading Part 1 and Part 2 of the project before jumping head first into today’s post. Then again, maybe you just want to dig right into the meat and potatoes.  For that, I can’t blame you. In fact, that makes you a straight shooter, and that’s what I’ve always liked about you.

Okay. Here goes…

The new-ish VF40 turbo on the 2006 Legacy GT destroyed itself in hellacious fashion recently. Yes. It was quite an experience that I won’t soon forget. Raining, muddy, on a steep hill, on a high speed road, and then shrouded in disappointment from my “towing service” who shall remain nameless. If I had only known a month ago what I know now, this horrible event would have definitely been avoided. So now, I want to inform turbocharged Subaru owners far and wide of this absolutely simple maintenance that can make a destroyed turbo totally preventable. For me, I can only blame myself for not researching this car & EJ25 engine more, because this info is already out there if you just search for it. Sadly, I just didn’t realize that I needed to. Research, research, research when you buy a car that you are unfamiliar with. Hit the car forums. Ask the people that drive them. Be your own automotive advocate. It WILL save you cash and stress.

Now let’s get to the good stuff! Once the red beauty was towed home and placed in the dry, loving surroundings of the garage, I found that the shaft inside the VF40 turbo had been completely starved of oil, and it broke in half at the center bearing. This left the turbine wheel dancing around inside the turbine housing, which is never optimal for peak performance. With the engine running, the sound could have been mistaken for somebody feeding steel chains into a wood chipper. I immediately asked myself “how the heck did this happen?!” The car had brand new oil in it, only about 2000 miles on the oil that I got it with a couple of months ago, and I knew that the previous owner took amazing care of this car because she loved it. I hit the internet in search for the answer.

Much to my surprise, there was 350+ page thread on Legacygt.com that discussed this exact problem in detail, because hundreds of other Subaru owners have had the same exact problem as me. The cause - the banjo bolt (also known as a “union” bolt) that is part of the oil feed line to the turbo. Inside this banjo bolt is a tiny little (stupid) filter. Over time, this tiny little filter does its job and filters contaminates from going into the turbo. Great, right? No. Not so much. Because most people rarely, if ever, replace them. Left untouched for too long, the filter becomes clogged, and your turbo is starved of oil, which quickly leads it to an early death.

Needless to say, I am no longer a fan of this bolt or the filter that lives inside it, and I decided that there was no way that I was replacing it with the same style system. There just had to be something better out there, like maybe an oil feed line with a washable filter, and more oil volume?  ALAS!  The internet saved the day again! A company called “Infamous Performance” in California created an oil feed kit that appears to be far superior to the factory system. The kit that they sell completely eliminates the factory oil feed, and grabs engine oil from a “better” location. It also has a terrific looking, larger oil filter than can be cleaned out easily at your leisure. Since I also needed a new turbo, I went with a hybrid 16G VF40 from BNRSupercars. Both parts got to me fast, and worked perfectly without any drama whatsoever. The car now is now fixed, the birds are singing, and a beautiful red 2006 Subaru Legacy GT is back on the streets again.

Now, for those of you with turbocharged Subarus, don’t freak out yet.  The first step is to find out if your car even had this banjo (union) bolt with the filter inside it (Not all Subarus do. In fact, the majority don’t.). For the cars that do have it though, it is located on the back of the passenger side cylinder head, and it holds down the turbo oil feed line. A super helpful Subaru owner known as “niemkij” on iwsti.com did a fantastic write-up of how to replace one of these bolts yourself. Currently, a new “union” bolt is around $17 new from a Subaru dealer, and probably take between 15 minutes and an hour to replace, depending on your level of expertise.

For all intents and purposes, replacing this banjo bolt with a new one from the dealer is all you really need to do. I go overboard on everything that I do, so I went with the whole new feed line & fancier turbo instead of the OEM stuff. The moral is, this tiny little turbo oil feed filter needs to be replaced on a regular basis. If you don’t replace it, or don’t know when the last time yours was replaced, you may be risking the life of your turbo. Check it out, and report back your findings. I want to hear about your Subaru.

 

63 comments to Is Your Turbo Subaru On Borrowed Time? Read This and Find Out.

  • james lavelle

    Great write up. Thank you. I heard of oil starvation with the 2010 Legacy GT that I own. If I buy a banjo bolt from the dealer are they hard to change yourself??

    • Hi James,
      I have only dealt with the 2006 LGT, so I’m not sure what the 2010 is like, or if they still use this same style oil banjo bolt (hopefully they don’t). I think I could probably swap the one on the 2006 Legacy in about 15-20 minutes now. The trickiest part is getting the copper washers back onto the bolt during reinstallation. They tend to fall down and land on top of the subframe. Fishing them out is a hoot. I would recommend checking out http://www.legacygt.com, and http://www.nasioc.com/ if you haven’t already. Both are terrific resources for Subaru information.

  • If you have a pick it’s also possible too pull the screen inside the bolt out and the problem is solved for free. even dirty oil is better than no oil.

    I thought subaru stopped putting the banjo filters in after 2006, much like the uppipe cat but as was stated legacygt.com will have it answered or someone will answer it for you.

    • Ryan, that’s a great point. Many people do rip the filter right out and pretend it never existed. I thought about doing this on my car, but the company that I bought the turbo from recommended the feed kit that I used, so…I ran with the idea.

  • JohnEd

    BUT, contaminants WERE kept outta duh turbo…doncha just luuuv engineers!

  • JohnEd

    Once upon a time and a Volvo, I succumbed to an add spouting the wonders of silicon engine restorer. WELL it clogged the oil sump ‘filter’ (guess it was there to keep odd engine internals out of the oil pump) oil pressure went to zero, clackity-clack before I shut ‘er down, got a trailer, and took it home. De-babited the mains,spewed glitter throughout, and got into the crank on one main. Thirty eight dollars, some 1000 grit shaft tape, and a day later the bomb was back on the road…sans the sump filter. Lot cheaper than a turbo…look on the bright side, time to upgrade to a triple turbo anyway!

  • Chris

    Hi, same thing happened with my 2005 LGT Wagon. However my Banjo bolt was clean after 132k! The problem with mine was the Oil Control Valve also available at Infamous. They sell them at $80 each (Dealer: $130ea) with very easy install. I replaced both to be safe. Have the same BNR 16g now.. NIIICE turbo!!

  • sande

    am buying a used subaru GT legacy 2006 with 100k miles to it. Is there any reason to be worried about?

    • Hi Sande,
      From my perspective: If you are buying a 2006 Legacy GT with 100K miles, you will want to know if / when the timing belt and water pump were replaced, because they are due to be by 100K miles. You will also want to replace the filter that I talk about in this post. I’m sure the local Subaru dealer will know what you are talking about if you ask them to replace the “turbo oil feed filter”. If the one in your new vehicle has never been replaced – replace it! Also – be sure to change your oil frequently, because if you don’t that little filter will clog, and your turbo will implode. Other than that – they are great cars! :)

  • Jessica

    Hi, Jeremy you seem to know what you’re talking about, so here it goes. I have an 05 legacy 2.5 GT and I just had to replace part of my turbo, apparently a bearing broke and killed my turbo (the bearing inside the turbo) is there any way that I can help this from happening again my car is just over 101,000 and it’s a beautiful car, good engine and transmission, but I may have to sell if I can’t find a way to make sure this doesn’t happen to the turbo again, if there’s anything you know that I can do, please let me know!
    -Jess

    • Good morning Jess!
      A well lubricated turbocharger will last a very, very long time. If it isn’t lubricated properly, the bearings wear, and the turbo basically eats itself from the inside out. :( So, if your previous turbo just had a bearing problem that destroyed it, it was likely starved of oil for some reason. If I were you, I would make sure that you replace that union bolt / filter that I mentioned (and showed a picture of) in this blog post above. The hose that feeds your turbo fresh oil has this “union bolt” in the middle of it with a mini filter inside. When that filter clogs, it starves the turbo of oil, which then kills it. So if you haven’t/don’t change this union bolt, then your new turbo may face the same oil starvation issue and die an early death like the first turbo did. For what it is worth, I believe Subaru is recommending that these union bolts are changed every 30K miles now. They are only about $17 at a dealer, and it is very easy to replace. I can’t imagine a shop charging more than an hour to swap it out on your car.
      With all that being said, the reason that these filters inside the union bolts clog is age / dirty oil. If you leave these filters in too long and don’t change them every 30K miles like Subaru (now) recommends, then the filters will clog up and you have turbo issues due to oil starvation. Also, if you go way too long between oil changes, your oil becomes too dirty and it can clog a perfectly good filter.
      So the short answer is: Change that union bolt if you haven’t done it already, and always do oil changes on time, don’t push it longer. I would recommend every 3000 miles, but that is a highly debated topic that nobody agrees on. (All of my cars get 3000 mile oil changes for reference :) )
      Good luck, and feel free to keep me updated on the progress!

  • Jack

    Does the WRX STi from 2004 have this bolt? I think it does have the VF40 but I am not certain.

    • Hi Jack,
      I’m actually not sure if the 04 STi has this bolt or not. I’d recommend hopping on NASIOC.com and asking the guys/gals on there. That is by far the biggest Subaru community out there.

  • Doug

    On my 2009 GT my turbo just went and I have metal in the oil pan. Do I just need to replace the turbo and oil feed like you did? Or am I looking a whole engine rebuild?

    • Hi Doug,
      That’s not a fun situation to be in at all. Your repair approach is sort of a judgement call / gamble depending on how much metal is/was in the oil pan, and what the condition of the rest of the engine is. At the very least, you need a new turbo, a new union bolt/filter (I would always recommend a better oil feed line to the new turbo instead of that terrible factory oil feed system), and an oil & filter change. Then you will want to do another oil & filter change very, very soon after (maybe just a few miles miles?). Then clean or replace the union bolt/filter again probably. You really don’t want any metal floating around your oil.

      There is a fair bit of risk involved if you only replace these filters / turbo / oil because if there is still metal floating around inside your engine, you may destroy the new turbo as well. If metal made it into your main or connecting rod bearings, you could develop an enjoy knock soon.

      There are also two other union bolt / filters that control oil going to your cams. If they are clogged with debris, your cams could potentially be starved of oil as well. So replacing those union bolts would be smart too, but they are buried deep behind the timing belt covers if I recall correctly. (read – “labor intensive job”)

      I think the short answer is: It will be an expensive repair no matter what – how big of a gamble do you want to take? :)

  • Shelby

    My 2006 Subaru GT Legacy turbo blew up on me this past weekend. I was not happy to find out that I needed a new turbo.I have always gotten frequent maintenance on this car(oil changes, etc.)and was shocked that this happened. I wish I found this article earlier! I am very interested in the bnrsupercars.com turbo for my car. How much more power did you find it gave your car? If I have to get a new turbo, I want it to be good!

    • Liz

      How many miles were on your car when the turbo blew up?

      • Hi Liz,
        When I first bought the car, I think it had around 140,000 miles on it. It also had a burned exhaust valve and a newer turbo at the time. I took it apart, pulled the engine out, rebuilt the cylinder heads (See this-> http://blog.1aauto.com/2012/03/14/subaru-legacy-gt-limited-part-2/), and got it running again. The “newer” turbo then died a premature death at about 150,000 miles due to the now-famous turbo oil feed line filter being clogged. The mileage itself isn’t so much the issue to worry about. The condition of the oil, and oil change frequency is the factor that matters, because that is what clogs up these miniature oil filters.

        Moral is: Change these banjo-bolt oil filters on your cars and you’ll probably be fine. They are in the oil feed line going to the turbo (pictured here), and they also filter the oil going to the cams. Changing them all is good insurance. I believe there are 3 of them if I recall correctly.

  • Shelby

    I would like to also add to my above comment, is it wise to purchase the turbo oil supply line kit if I buy the new turbo from bnrsupercars?

    • Hi Shelby,
      I’m not sure how much power it added, but the new turbo definitely makes the car pull very nicely! If you buy the turbo from BNRsupercars, I believe he will only warranty it IF you buy the new oil feed/filter line system from Infamous Performance. (They both are very aware that the factory oil feed/filter system on these cars is terrible). I bought the new turbo and oil feed/filter, and both companies were absolutely terrific in every way. I have absolutely no affiliation with either by the way, other than buying these parts from them.
      Good luck, and feel free to let me know how it all works out!
      -Jeremy

  • Lisa

    Hi Jeremy
    I am the prous owner of a 2009 Subaru LGT 2.5 manual transmission. I have had a several instances where I will need to accelerate to get around another car. Press on the gas and the eingine rpm will rev up really high and drop off. Mind you I am not stomping on the accelerator, but even if I was, this doesn’t seem like this should happen in a higher gear going 60mph down the freeway. It seems this can happen in any gear or in sport or intelligent mode and there is a horrible acrid burning smell afterward. I thought it was possibly clutch slippage, but I don’t have the clutch engaged (no need to do so) and there is no screetching or whine as you would expect to hear. I’ve been driving maual transmisssions since I started driving over 25 years ago so I feel really comfortable with manual transmissions. Having read through some of the info that is out there, I’m nor sure if I have a trubo issue or if it’s a clutch issue. I did have my oil change about a month ago and swithced to synthetic, but this had happened before that swith was made. Now I just have this weird rpm variance.
    Any info would be great.
    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,
      How many miles are on your car? To me, it does actually sound a lot like a clutch slipping (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news). On a turbocharged (read: “high torque”) car like yours, it isn’t too outside-the-norm for a clutch to be worn out at a much lower mileage than a non-turbo model. Also, clutches don’t necessarily grind or squeak until they have no material left on them. Most slipping clutches will engage very normally in low gears/low speeds, but begin slipping in higher gears/higher speeds when you hit the gas. A worn clutch may also cause the clutch pedal to “grab” closer to the top of its travel (near the dashboard), rather than the bottom (near the floor). Does this sound like your car?

      I checked out one of the bigger Subaru Legacy forums, and found this post about a car similar to yours with 46K miles and a slipping clutch. Needless to say, the owner was less than happy. But it does prove that it is possible with these cars.

      (Note: skip over any childish banter in this post, as there is some decent info as well.) http://legacygt.com/forums/showthread.php/05-legacy-gt-clutch-slipping-46k-milesiii-103974.html

      Now, a clutch can slip because of a variety of reasons other than just being worn out. Like a stuck hydraulic slave cylinder, or leaking oil/antifreeze on the clutch disc, or a damaged pressure plate, or damaged throw-out bearing, or miss-adjusted clutch pedal. So, it is worth having somebody knowledgeable and trustworthy diagnose it in person before throwing down the cash on a new clutch. Lastly, I have seen a weird scenario on a different model AWD turbo car that acted exactly like a slipping clutch. It was a broken rear axle. The owner was 100% sure that the clutch needed to be replaced and brought it to me to do. When I checked out the car, I found the rear axle had looked totally normal, but was actually broken behind the axle boot. This caused the center differential to act like a slipping clutch. Replacing the axle was about $100, which the owner was thrilled to pay.

      Oh, and if it makes you feel any better, I actually just replaced the clutch in my Mazda Rx8 at ~53,000 miles because it was slipping badly, and it was having the same rev up-drop off, slipping at high speed, smelly condition as yours.

      I hope that helps, and feel free to keep me updated, as I would love to know how it plays out.

      -Jeremy

      p.s. I’m fairly confident your turbo is safe, for now. ;)

  • Dusty

    Hey Jeremy,
    Great article and valuable information. I have an 05 Outback needing its 2nd turbo replaced, and I’ve read a lot about the VF40 sucking and BNR 16G being the replacement. Thinking BNR and Infamous is the way to go, but I haven’t read any long term results with that setup. How many miles are on you BNR turbo now?

    • Hi Dusty! I actually ended up selling the car to a family member that fell madly in love with it. I know that it is still driving around happily, but I will get the current mileage stats, and report back ASAP.

    • Hi Dusty! Here is the update: The car has gone about 21,000 miles since I repaired the valves, and probably about 19,000 since the turbo swap. As of right now, the car is still performing perfectly. The owner is also doing ~4000 mile synthetic oil changes if you are curious.

  • Glenn Drumheller

    Mine Just Blew. 2005 Legacy GT. Sudden Failure. 80,000K, Oil Changes, Manufacturer Recommended. Then, about every 4000-5000K with semi synthetic oil. Sudden Failure. No Warning. I checked oil and transmission two weeks prior to 400 mile round trip, all were fine. CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT?
    Glenn

  • Michelle

    What does a failing turbo sound like? I have a 2005 Legacy GT which is now making a whining noise at 4 rpm in park & while driving. It is an automatic. I’ve always changed to oil regularly with synthetic. Could this noise possibly be the turbo? There is no loss of power either.

  • Ryan

    The whining sound could possibly be the wastegate solenoid valve. Mine was making a whining noise at partial throttle, and after I swapped out the solenoid, the noise went away. It’s a $20 part, and is right at the front of the motor (5 minutes to swap it out). Might be worth a shot.

  • deb

    I am looking at buying a 2005 subaru forester xt that says turbocharged, has 113,606 miles on it. How do I know if it has this banjo bolt? Thanks

  • Liz

    How many miles were on your subaru when this happened? I own a 2006 Legacy GT & and i’m the process of buying a 2008 Legacy GT as well….just wondering when this bolt should be replaced…

  • Imad

    Hi Jeremy,

    Just bought a 2009 subaru forester xt automatic. Since I drove the car it has been making similar sounds of feeding loose chains into a wood chipper. Then when I’m driving at 80km/h cruise speed makes no sound and turbo seems to not respond like its dead. Sort of a load whineing sound.

    Then took it home tried to find out if the sound is from the turbo and starts noticing smoke coming out from the rear (exhaust) thought mayb turbo is blown ??

    Had a friend come out who has a obd11 scanner said his computer said something about the turbo/solenoid not 100% sure

    Is there still a chance to save the turbo or would I need to replace it

    Thanks heaps for your kind advice.

    • Hello Imad,
      Unfortunately, it kind of sounds like your turbo is totally dead. I would recommend bringing it to a respectable repair shop in your area and having them confirm it. I don’t want to scare you any further, but if there is also smoke coming out your exhaust, you are also burning some type of important fluid – either oil or antifreeze. So you may want to run out to the driveway right now and check the level of both. Most likely, one of them will be very low. When a turbo dies a violent death, it usually does begin to burn oil and/or antifreeze depending on how it breaks, so your situation sounds quite standard from what I have seen. Regardless of which fluid you are burning and spitting out your exhaust, you will want to get this problem corrected as soon as possible before it begins to do more damage to the rest of the engine.
      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. :( Good luck!

      -Jeremy N.

  • Kerry

    Hi Jeremy,

    I just read your thread on the Subaru Turbos. I can attest to the fact that a clogged screen will take out a turbo really quick! However, Subaru did continue to put screens in their banjo bolts in 2006. Mine is a 2006 Baja Turbo that was bought new in 2007, from the dealer. Oil changed every 3,000 (4,000 at most) and still lost a turbo. New question: I have annoying oil leak.; It does not matter what type or brand of filter used, oil runs down the side. Bosch is the closest to not leaking if you tighten it more that I like to. Any suggestions? *I hate using the dealer for anything.

    • Hi Kerry,
      Sorry to hear about your turbo, I have been there and I feel your pain. ;)

      As for the oil leak – I would start by cleaning the whole oil filter area of the engine with some brake cleaner or something similar. Then drive the car for a day and double check the oily area. While it could be the oil filter seal leaking, it could also easily be a gasket/seal right above it. That area of the Subaru engine has a lot of gaskets and seals. I know this because on my Legacy GT, after I rebuilt everything and replaced the turbo, I also ended up with an oil leak. Mine turned out to be a cam seal that wasn’t sealing properly (even though it was brand new – Grrr!). It was a total bummer to fix because the timing belt had to come back off again. Hopefully yours isn’t a cam seal. That said, yours could also be a valve cover gasket, a banjo bolt, or maybe even something up higher dripping down into the oil filer area. The only way to be sure is the clean the area really, really well and follow the oil back to the source. It’s not the most fun job, but when you fix the leak, it is quite rewarding!

      Good luck, and feel free to update me with the results!

  • Andrew Cuchessi

    Hi Jeremy,

    Heres my blown turbo story. I was driving my car when it lost power about 2.5k rpm. Along with the loss in power, it occasionally made a swoosh noise. Im assuming the is the turbo pulling all of the oil out of the engine. I had the car towed to a shop. The turbo had not yet started to making the blown bearing noise. I told the shop I had a good idea that the banjo bolt was clogged and starving the turbo. They write my car up for “tow in, losing power @2.5k rpm, engine light on with flashing cruise light” and a charge for an hours service. I ask to speak to a mechanic to make sure they know about this issue. I get shrugged off and told I’ll get a call and can come back and speak to one before any work is done. I get a call that the turbo was bad a few days later. Go down and talk to a mechanic and when I ask how he diagnosed the bad turbo, he gave me a real serious look and didn’t really want to tell me. I eventually get him to tell me that a guy drove the car around to the back and that they had to run the car to test the turbo. He tells me they had checked the oil and saw that there was nothing on the dip stick, trying to make it seem like it was my fault for not having any oil in the car. But they are the ones who started and drove a towed in car @ their shop and blew my bearing. So my question is was my turbo still able to be saved when I brought the car in?

    • Wow Andrew, that is an unfortunate situation. Typically the way that engines are built, there is an order in which parts are oiled inside the engine. I’m not sure if Subarus work like this or not, but many engines do. So – when an engine runs low on oil, the first things that are starved are the “external” items, like turbos (sorry). From there, the cams starve, run dry, and start making horrible noises that will actually make a car-enthusiast cringe (I’ve seen it!). Once the turbo and the cams are running dry, the next thing to become starved of oil is the main and connecting rod bearings. If those are run dry, typically the rest of the engine is pretty well spent. Last on the list is pistons. They lose their will to live and melt themselves to the cylinder walls in glorious fashion. I have seen people throw engines back together after events like this and reuse cams and other misc items with varied successes and failures. Your best bet is to thoroughly inspect all the oil-related parts and determine one-by-one, what is savable and what isn’t. If you see heat damage on anything or tolerances are greater than what they should be, you’re better off getting other parts to use, because the original parts are on borrowed time. Hopefully things work out for you, and I apologize for being the bearer of such bad news!

  • hello.
    Liked your article about the Subaru turbo. My daughters 2006 Outback with automatic seems to have this problem and more. I wonder if anyone else has had a problem with their Subaru that my daughter has had. The car has a check engine light come on, the car starts to run poorly and then quits running. Then the fun starts. The car can not be taken out of drive and put into park, most often this happens on a hill and the car starts to roll back down the hill. The emergency does not hold the car and away you go. We are on our second dealer now and are trying to find out why the car locks in drive and can not be put into park. Any ideas?

    • Thomas, when this problem happens and the engine stops – is the car completely dead of battery voltage, or is the dash still lit up like a Christmas tree? Unfortunately I haven’t messed around much with Subaru transmissions or their linkage, but some vehicles do have electric switches that allow the shifter to move certain directions under certain conditions (AKA – no putting the car in reverse at highway speeds). If the car loses all battery voltage when it is in drive, the engine would most certainly stop, and IF the car has one of these “smart” shifters in it, I would imagine a situation happening like you had explained. If the electricity isn’t there, the switches may not allow the shifter to move at all. Kind of silly right? Like I said, I am not super familiar with Subaru automatic transmissions, but I know Cadillacs had “features” like this years ago. Back then, people would spill coffee in their console, it would freeze in the winter, and then these little switches would be stuck, which meant the shifter wouldn’t move.

      Good luck with the car, and keep me updated with your findings. I would love to hear the results. (blog@1aauto.com)

      -Jeremy

  • Alan

    This is a great article! I am looking at an 05 legacy gt. any way to tell what kind of shape the turbo is in before I buy it? Thanks for the help

    • Hi Alan,
      Unfortunately there isn’t a great way of easily knowing if the turbo is in good shape or not without disassembling some intake piping. That being said, if I were to buy another one of these cars (which I may someday), I would replace all of those “union” (banjo) bolts, along with the oil, as soon as I got it as a preventative maintenance. It is also smart to be on time with your oil changes because dirty oil is the root cause of this whole problem.
      Good luck with the car, they are wonderful when they are running properly!
      -Jeremy

  • David

    I am getting ready to buy an 05 legacy by. Are their instances where these cars have no turbo problems even after 130k without great care to the car. I am having a hard time making up my mind about buying one.

    • Hi David,
      The car in this blog post had the original turbo past 130K miles. It was then replaced by the dealer, but the “union” (banjo) bolt for the turbo feed line never was. So the new turbo was starved of oil right from the start. That new turbo only lasted a couple thousand miles because of this.

      Moral – If you buy one of these cars, replace the union bolt that is in the oil feed line immediately (you can do it yourself if you are handy with tools), and always be timely on the oil change intervals.

  • I just ordered the IP&T Filtered Turbo Oil Supply Line Kit for my 2005 Outback XT Limited. It has 232K miles on it and the stock turbo. I will be getting the same turbo you mentioned in your article.

    Did you get a tune to taper boost toward redline with your setup? I am completely stock at this point with a 5 Speed MT.

    I have not pulled anything apart to confirm, but I suspect my turbo is on it’s last legs. My car uses about 3 qts of oil between changes (3750 drain interval) but doesn’t smoke or leak. I have a hunch one of the seals on the turbo is blown.

    • Hi Shawn,
      I didn’t get any retune on my car, though I am sure that it would have gained me more horsepower if I did. There is now about 30K miles on the setup mentioned in this blog post, and the car is running great.
      If you find yourself bored one day, you can always pull your intercooler off and see if it is full of oil. That is a pretty easy way to see if your turbo is the reason that you are going through so much oil. On one of my Mitsubishi projects years ago, I poured over a quart of oil from my intercooler. Needless to say, the turbo was pretty spent. Good luck on the new turbo and oil feed! They are terrific products!

  • Terry

    My 2009 Legacy GT Turbo suddenly suffered complete turbo disintegration at 66,000 miles. The turbo and engine block had to be replaced. But I am told that Subaru is stepping up to the plate on this and if so I will be a very satisfied customer. Thanks for the article. From now on I will only have the oil change done by my dealer and will make sure they periodically address the banjo bolt.

    • Hi Terry!
      It would be great to know that Subaru is doing something for their customers to resolve this problem, because it is a bit of an epidemic (and has been for several years). The sad part is that most owners find out about this once it is too late. As for the oil changes – I don’t think it necessarily needs to be done by a dealer as long as it is done on a regular oil change interval. I personally change the oil in my cars at 3000 miles, which some people say is too early. That being said, where I only drive about 12,000 miles per year, it comes out to around $100 per year or slightly over $8 per month if I do it myself (which I do). I see it as cheap insurance!

      Good luck with the new engine and turbo, and feel free to check back in with us over time! We’ll be here, and I always enjoy automotive updates!

      • Ken

        Jeremy,
        I’m researching the turbos as I am looking at a Baja purchase. Many posts about using synthetic oil and replacing every 3k miles. Not meaning to save $$ but trying to understand better. I could see swapping the filter every 3k miles to make sure oil & filter are clean and filter doesn’t go into “blow by mode”. Isn’t synthetic oil supposed to maintaining viscosity (not breakdown). If so, changing the filter and topping off the oil should be good right? I mean shouldn’t synthetic oil last around 3x conventional oil? Are the turbos that much harder on the oil. Do the turbos cause the synthetic oil to breakdown earlier than advertised?
        Thanks in advance,
        Ken

        • Hi Ken,
          Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Turbo engines are, in fact, that much harder on engine oil. When driven hard, a turbo can actually become red hot. This is really impressive for us humans to see, but the oil inside the engine hates us for it! Synthetic oils do handle these higher temperatures much better than conventional oils do, but having great viscosity is just one of several jobs that the engine oil has. Whether you run synthetic or conventional oil, the engine oil will suspend dust, moisture, carbon, and any other unwanted grime that it comes in contact with. The longer the oil lives inside the engine, the more debris it will be suspending. Sure the main engine oil filter will catch the big stuff, but the reason the oil turns black over time is because it is chock full of carbon & various other fancy bits. Having all of those random microscopic particles swimming around your engine all willy-nilly is terrible for the turbo because that is the lifeblood of it, and those particles don’t have the same viscosity as the oil that they are suspended within. Combine that dirty oil with extreme turbo heat, and you have a recipe for a really bad day. Although synthetic will likely hold its viscosity for a longer length of time, it is just as susceptible to carrying grime & moisture around inside the engine, after all, that is one of it’s main jobs! :)

          Something else to stew on: Assuming the average car goes 12,000 miles per year – that equates to four oil changes per year based on the 3000 mile “rule” (which is highly debated). Assuming the car is brought to a shop, and uses conventional oil, four oil changes would probably cost $140 per year. On average, most people own their cars for 6 years if they buy them new, so that is $840 over the 6 year ownership of the vehicle. Considering the original purchase price of the car, I think the $840 is cheap insurance. If you do the oil changes yourself, it would probably be a couple hundred less than that. For me, as a former Cadillac technician and life-long car-guy, the 3000 mile oil change is worth the peace of mind, but many people and manufacturers will wholeheartedly disagree. Like most things fun things in life, it comes down to risk vs. reward.

          Hopefully that helped a bit. If not, I apologize. Let me know, and I can give it another shot!

  • Abdullah Gaibie

    Hi. I got a beauty of a Subaru 2000 model 2.0lt twin turbo GT. Love my car, drives awesome. Recently though, i have lost boost and i am getting the sound of pressure being released from first and second turbo. Any idea what causes this?

  • Patty Davidson

    Jeremy,
    My daughter just bought a 2004 Subaru Forrester turbo 120,000 miles. Two weeks after she bought it while on a road trip the turbo blew. This was a one owner car and they had taken very good care of it using the synthetic oil, the whole nine yards. In one of your post it mentioned that Subaru was stepping up to the plate with this type of problem. Did that mean they were helping to fix the problem? How would I find out?. Is a blown turbo hard and costly to fix?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Patty,
      I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s car, that is a real bummer that I can relate with! Unfortunately, I actually don’t know if Subaru is doing anything about this yet (or if they ever will), but it may be worth calling your local dealer to ask, or checking out the Subaru car forums (www.nasioc.com is great) to see if the people on there have any more info on it. Like your car, my Subaru was a one-owner car before I owned it, and meticulously well maintained by the dealer. Sadly, nobody had ever changed the little oil filter (called the “union bolt”) in the turbo’s oil feed line, and that is what caused the turbo to fail. I’d bet your car is the same scenario. As you can see by the comments in this post, it is quite common.

      A blown turbo is not an easy task for a first time DIY’er, but for an average backyard mechanic, it is very doable. Be sure to read through my post above, and replace the “union” bolt with the tiny filter inside. If you don’t, the new turbo will die immediately. As for cost – I don’t recall exactly what I spent, but I think the parts alone were in the neighborhood of ~$1200. I did the work myself, so I didn’t pay for labor. I imagine that labor could be a bit pricey though (I’d guess ~4 hours of labor for a good technician?). If you don’t intend on doing this repair yourself, you may want to ask around (or check the Subaru car forums) for local enthusiasts or private repair shops that could possibly help you out. Sometimes the hard-core, brand-loyal car enthusiasts are a much better resource than a dealership.

      Good luck and feel free to keep us updated on the outcome.
      -Jeremy

  • steve-o

    thanx for the info .. i am looking for a good winter car for the UP of michigan and after months of researching and searching in general i have decided on finding an ’05-’06 legacy GT.. an ’05 more than an ’06 for some reason ..running my income info through a lender as we speak on an ’05 legacy gt with 111k on it from a dealership for 6995 .. has a 6 month 7500 mile warranty .. so i was searching trouble spots and things to look for.. i had originally set my sights on a WRX or a saab 92-x (more) but it seems a better likelihood for a WRX to have been “enjoyed” more than a legacy and the 2.5 in the legacy has boundless possibilities .. i hope to be “in the club” soon..lol ..thanx again , steve-o

  • Ed

    Hello,

    In your post above you mentioned “The kit that they sell completely eliminates the factory oil feed, and grabs engine oil from a “better” location.” Do the instructions that come with the kit show where the other location is to grab the oil from? Also if not using the existing location do they provide the bolts to block the factory ports? I don’t want to spend that kind of money and not have the info beforehand.

    Thanks,

    Edward

    • Hi Edward,
      When I bought the kit, it did come with paper instructions, along with the block off for the factory ports. It was everything I needed to stop using the factory line, and start using the new aftermarket one with the larger filter. That being said, I did this project over 2 years ago now, so I would encourage you to give the company a call before you order from them. I have no relationship with that company other than buying their product, so I’d say a 5 minute phone call to ease your mind is well worth it! Good luck!

      -Jeremy

  • tyler

    Jeremy,
    My 05 GT turbo just went and the subaru repair shop reported that there was tons of metal in the pan. aside from this, an oil seal was ruptured, presumably from the metal feeding through the engine, which unleaded hot iiil onto the plastic bit under the fender causing it to catch fire. no fire damage aside from the plastic bit, but they are recommending replacing the engine. The estimate is around 8k. my insurance will cover it but I’m assuming they will decide to total it at this point. I absolutely loved my car and I want it to be fixed but if i can’t do that I would like to get another one. what should I look for in cars I’m looking at that may tell me if this will happen again? Is it real just this little filter or are there other commonly occuring problems?
    Thanks.

    • Hi Tyler! I think that you are 100% right that if your 2005 LGT needs $8K of work, it will be totaled. If you are looking to buy another Legacy GT, you could always go with a newer model that has less of these types of issues. If you go with an 05/06 model again, you will want to know that all of the services are done already. You want the new turbo feed filter (union bolt), new timing belt, water pump, timing tensioners, along with typical transmission service, good brakes & tires, rear differential fluid change, and a history of on-time oil changes. If all of those are in line, then you will be in good shape. If I were in your shoes, I would try to get a newer model – because – why not? New fancy features, less mileages, less age – it’s a total win! That being said, I would also encourage you to test drive a few different models, because who knows – you may like some other car even better! While the Legacy GT is undoubtedly an awesome car for a variety of reasons, I often see my friends and family buy the first car that is convenient for them. This seems silly to me because if the average person spends 12,000 miles per year in a car – it should be in a vehicle that you thoroughly enjoy driving.

      Good luck and feel free to keep us updated!
      -Jeremy

  • Steve G

    Hello, I have a 2005 Legacy GT 116k and a 2005 Outback XT 88k, both turbos. I have been researching the banjo bolt. Instead of waiting for the filter to plug over time, what about just removing it? I change the oil and filter every 3k with high quality oil. What do you think???
    Thanks, Steve

    • Hi Steve!
      That is a very common solution that people do. They pull the union bolt out and then pull the filter from the inside of it. The downside of doing this is that you are then sending “unfiltered” oil to your turbo. That being said, there are plenty of other cars that do exactly that from the factory, so I am not sure how important the union bolt filter really is. To me, it seems like it never should have existed in the first place, but I’m not an engineer either. I would recommend checking out THIS Massive Post in the Legacy GT forum. It is all about LGT owners doing exactly what you are talking about. Many have great advice and experiences to share.

      Good Luck!

      -Jeremy

  • JD

    Thanks for the detailed description on banjo bolts, i want to instal the same oil feed line from infamous performance (only the second version) on my 05 legacy gt, could you please tell me how you installed the feed line and everything in greater detail, my car appears to be set up the same engine wise from what i can tell from the pictures. Thanks!

    • Hi JD – I actually installed that feed line over 2 years ago, and sold the car, so the details of the install are a bit foggy. I would recommend contacting Infamous for detailed instructions or bringing it to somebody that is familiar with these engines. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

      -Jeremy

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