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4 Common Subaru WRX STI Turbocharger Problems

4 Common Subaru WRX STI Turbocharger Problems

Turbochargers give vehicles more torque without sacrificing fuel economy. And even though racecars were once the only vehicles utilizing them, turbochargers are becoming more and more popular in consumer car engines, including Subaru vehicles.

While a turbo can be beneficial when you’re passing or merging, there have been some Subaru turbo problems. Learning to spot the four common Subaru WRX STI turbocharger problems early is crucial to avoid permanent damage to your car.

Oil Starvation

Oil starvation is when oil doesn’t reach essential parts of your engine. The oil pump is large enough to provide an adequate oil supply, and the engine resists that flow, creating oil pressure. One of the places that oil passes through is the oil filter, and on the Subaru WRX STI, some drivers have noticed turbo issues that are causing oil starvation because of the turbo’s oil supply line. A bolt responsible for the oil supply line leading to the turbo restricts the oil supply. To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to check the oil supply bolts during every oil change.

Rod Bearing Failure

If your vehicle is suffering from oil starvation, you might also notice rod bearing failure. Rod bearings connect the connecting rods to the crankshaft, and while they often suffer a fair amount of abuse, they are one of the first areas of a vehicle to fail when there is an oil flow problem. You’ll want to get this checked out as soon as possible because the knocking rod bearings can create a hole in the engine block or seize the engine.


Another problem caused by the Subaru turbo is misfiring, meaning there isn’t combustion or lack of combustion inside one of your car’s cylinders. The driver will notice shaking as the car is running. The turbo could be responsible for a boost leak, bad piston, or a tight exhaust valve clearance. If you’re experiencing misfires, you’ll want to get your vehicle checked sooner rather than later because this issue can lead to more expensive repairs if ignored.

Ringland and Piston Problems

Some of the most common Subaru WRX STI turbocharger problems are issues with the pistons and the ringlands, the areas in between the pistons. The pressure from the turbocharger can cause them to crack, which can lead to losing part of a piston or ringland. Losing any part of the piston is a serious problem because it compresses the cylinder walls. There are a few signs of this issue, including engine knocking, power loss, or smoke coming from the hood.

Ordering Subaru Turbochargers

It’s vital to find the right OEM turbo if you’re upgrading your vehicle on your own. If you have questions about the role turbochargers play in a vehicle, contact us at TurboTurbos!

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