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Metal shavings in oil -90 LEgacy


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Gnuman

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 02:06 PM

OK, I got a 90 Legacy wagon for the ex-wife so she would have safe reliable transportation to cart our daughter around. Tranny is good, and I'm adding a few upgrades to it to make it better for her (LS seats, alloy wheels, LS rear swaybar. . .) We intend for this car to be a long lasting addition to the family.

The engine has a "whistling" on #3 (also low compression there), so I plan on pulling the heads to see what's up. I have the engine out of the car, and on a stand, in her garage. I drained the oil prepatory to opening it up, and found metal flakes in the oil. OK, I know this is not a good sign, and that the lower end is probably toast. I expect to be getting annother engine to toss in there fairly soon. What I want to know is this:
In that I'm not hearing any rod knock, how much longer can I expect this engine to last her? It has 198K on it now. Is it even worth putting any time into getting this one on the road? (if I can get 20-30K more out of the engine, I call that worth it, BTW). I have no history on the car either, other than it was an auction car, and I got it cheap. When I got it, half of the knobs ans switches from the center console were missing, as well as the corner lights. In addition, the tires are really worn, but I have nearly new ones on the alloys that I'm giving her. Sounds like this car has been poorly maintained, and perhaps the engine can be brought back to life (or even given a decent chance of it) given some TLC. Drivetrain and body are expected to last a good long time, as she does not beat on her cars, and I'll be giving them a bit of TLC before she gets the car. The engine is what worries me. I have drained hundreds of gallons of oil from Subie engines and have never found flakes in the pan before. But I also do not hear any bottom end knocking, which I would expect. the metal was fairly small, like the flakes you get in metalic paint. Perhaps it was caught in time?
TIA for your opinions!!

#2 Wayne Boncyk

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 02:21 PM

Well....

I've never seen this in a subie engine, but I've pulled apart my share of old GM blocks over the years, and IMHO the metal flakes are not a good sign. It means that it was probably run dry, and then somebody tried to "fix" the situation by re-filling the crankcase and hoping (or praying) for the best. My take on it is to consider that engine as very near the end of its life -- because a rod bearing is gonna fail shortly. They don't take too kindly to being run with direct metal-to-metal contact without any oil in there!

If you choose to put 'er back together without a complete teardown and inspection (and posibly replacing every moving part below the heads), then I wish you luck -- its anyone's guess how long it will last. My money's on maybe 1000 miles... if you're lucky.

#3 Subarian

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 02:24 PM

If you still have a good sample of the oil, I would take it to someone locally who can do an oil analysis. My local Caterpillar dealer does them for about 10 or 15 dollars. They'll give you a printout of exactly what is in the oil, and an analysis that tells you what parts are likely failing.

#4 nipper

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 03:41 PM

Can you see if the peices are aluminum or steel. DO get an anlysis. The oil filter should have traped these unless you have a bearing in the process of going south. What brand filter do you use, how often do you change oil (and kind). Has the car ever overheated? and DO a wet/dry compression test first. What you may think is a bad vlave may be a bad piston ring or worse.

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#5 grossgary

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 03:56 PM

it could last 1,000 or another 100,000 there's no way to put a number on it. if it's wasn't large pieces i'd be inclined to say it would go in the 10's of thousands of range...10,000 or more but who knows i certainly wouldn't be surprised if it ran a week. be nice to know what they are saying. aluminum or not? if it's aluminum and you can pinpoint some cylinder wall issues that aren't too sever the car will run nearly as long as you want to maintain it, assuming you replace any oil it wants to burn. if it's bearings....ah, not long.

#6 Wayne Boncyk

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 06:07 PM

If the flakes are large enough, and if you have a relatively strong magnet handy, you can do a little simple metal analysis yourself. Take the oil with the metal flakes in it, mix with a solvent (mineral spirits or kerosene), and then pour the mix through a paper coffee filter. The metal flakes will be left behind, and if you then rinse a couple of more times by pouring clean solvent thru the filter and then let it dry, you'll have isolated the flakes from the oil. Next, do the magnet test -- steel will adhere to the magnet and aluminum will not. Steel = Bad (probable bearing on the way to self-destruction), Aluminum = Better (probably just scoring of the cylinder and although you'll push some oil out the exhaust with a config like that, you'll be OK to drive it for a while longer).

#7 Setright

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:37 PM

If as you say there is no knocking noise, but low compression on cylinder #3, perhaps you need to pull the piston out. Could be a cracked ring-land.

#8 Gnuman

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 10:36 PM

Sorry I have not responded sooner, I have been away from my computer. The engine in question is a 15 3/4 (read that as fifteen and three quarter) valve EJ22B (for broken). One of the exaust valves on #3 was really badly messed up. New valve is in hand now, but I cannot find a spring compressor that will fit the keeper on Subaru engines (any help on that score greatly appreciated). Cylinder walls look good. The metal bits looked like brass. I also found similar shavings in the oil from Emily, and that engine has been very well treated. I have never run it dry, and this is the first time I have noticed any shavings in the oil. Emilys engine runs so well that I fully expect it to last at least annother 200K miles. If I find shavings in the next oil drain, I will take a sample of it to have it tested. The engine refered to in this thread title, is on a car I just got, and I have no history on the engine at all. I do have the right head off, and I'm preparing to replace the one bad valve in it (I have the lapping compound and lapping tools ready and waiting)




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