I'm on pins and needles right now-and no, it's not because I'm going through some midlife crisis or having some girl issues. My Subaru STI recently picked up boost to the tune of 32 psi due to a faulty internal wastegate actuator and have no one to blame but myself. While the seat of the pants powering the EJ25 motor produced at 30-plus psi and made me feel invincible to any chump who tried to race me on the street, the engine didn't take too well to the boost pressures and 91-octane gas. Now I'm paying the price as I've been methodically troubleshooting the problems that have formed over the past week on the car.
Sporadic bubbling from the reservoir coolant system makes me believe it's the head gasket, but a proper leakdown test and block check kit picked up at the local Napa Auto Parts store says otherwise. With my past history of blown head gaskets I should be somewhat of a guru when it comes to tracking down the symptoms, but this one has me stumped. Should I mention I have another MY03 WRX Impreza sitting in storage in dire need of a head gasket change from driving the snot out of it at Buttonwillow Raceway? Now it collects dust with my repertoire of problematic cars.
Head gasket dilemmas? They seem to come in bunches. My '95 Civic, as well, is showing symptoms of possible head gasket failure, which I should mention wasn't entirely my fault. The ass clowns who stole my car last year ganked my perfectly working stock radiator and replaced it with a cracked unit of their own. Then, they proceeded to drive around town, overheating the engine in the process-thanks a lot jerkfaces.
For anyone who's been through the same gasket of boost scenario, I feel your pain. I've finally come to the conclusion that there's no simple fix to this problem, and the only cure to this mystery is to yank the engine out (thanks Subaru for making cylinder head removals such a pain in the ass) and inspect the block, heads, rings, and pistons for detonation or hairline fractures before the symptoms get worse. In all the madness that ensued after my wastegate failure, I'd like to think something positive came out of this catastrophe, seeing that now the engine will be built to my specs and able to handle the heavy right foot and neck-snapping shifts that I plan to throw at the STI once it's up and running again.
Just like everyone else, I'm not immune to blowing engines. But it's the learning experience along the way that helps us as tuners, enthusiasts, and engine builders to make them stronger and more reliable with every mishap. Until then, I'll be crossing my fingers hoping that the damage is minimal.