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BostonSpecB 05-26-2010 03:21 PM

2009 SpecB, Engine Seized @ 20k mi
I was driving along the highway around 60mph - 70mph with no problems. As I started to slow down to take an exit ramp, the wind noise died down and I started to hear a rumbling from the engine. I shut off the stereo and rolled down the windows and the noise was definitely there and getting loud. No engine power loss just yet. I merged onto a smaller 50mph road off the exit ramp and headed about another half mile while looking for dashboard lights (none yet) and a place to park. The noise got REALLY loud and was a very distinct knocking, now coupled with what can only be described as an awful shrieking death cry coming from the engine compartment. The engine was now losing power and the car was shuddering. I found a parking lot to pull into and as I approached the entrance I ended up at a red light. As the car settled to idle the dashboard lit up like a christmas tree and the engine immediately shut off. The first couple attempts to start the car did not work. I let it sit for about 30 seconds and then tried again. Barely got it started and limped into a parking lot that happened to be right there. I'd read the stories... I knew what this was. AND ON MY BIRTHDAY no less. **sigh**

So I called Subie road side assistance. They were good. Tow truck arrived within 15 minutes and we brought my SpecB to a Subie dealer about 1 mile away. As I described the noises to the service writer, her face got more and more concerned. She asked me to wait a moment and she returned with her boss and one of the technicians. I re-explained what happened and then they of course started in with the battery of questions:
- "How long have you owned the car?" (9 months, and about 12k miles)
- "Do you change the oil regularly?" (Always... right on schedule... and even did all the factory/dealer recommended maintenance)
- "Do you abuse the engine or red line it frequently?" (definitely not. WOT, sure. Red line? practically never)

I explained to them that I had bought this 2009 SpecB in 2009 as a used car with 8,000 miles on it after it had been a "Subaru Executive Demo" out in California. I went on to say that I had only bought a "demo" because it was supposedly treated well by a Subaru executive employee (I know, I know. I got a good deal on it though). After they heard about it having been a demo the service manager and technician excused themselves. They called my service writer out of the room for about 5 minutes and when she came back she was SUPER friendly. Apparently they'd been at another terminal reviewing my maintenance record and they could see that I'd been diligent.

The told me they'd need a day to look at it and let me know what was wrong. This was on a Saturday morning and I did not hear back from them until Monday morning and they told me what I'd pretty much figured, the engine was toast. They said SOA was having them take the engine apart to find out what went wrong. I asked for pics of any damaged parts and they said they'd see what they could do. Again, the staff at the dealer was incredibly responsive and sympathetic. I called back on Wednesday morning and they told me that SOA had approved a whole slew of new parts, completely under warranty, and that they were rush delivering over-night... the major parts being:
- short block
- turbo
- oil pump
And of course a huge pile of gaskets, seals, etc.
They said they were going to flush the oil cooler and I have no idea what they're going to do about metal in the oil pan.

They have yet to give me a definitive answer as to what caused this. The service writer said "I think they said it was the oil pump" but I suspect she was just coming up with a reasonable part from the list rather than having been told the actual cause, but who knows.

I've of course heard about the infamous oil uptake pipe problem so I specifically asked them to inspect that part and replace if needed. We'll see where that goes.

Just thought I'd share the story with you all. I also just want to say, the Subie dealer has been exceptional in their handling of this so far and SOA has been extremely cooperative, not that I see how they could act any other way given the circumstances. Anyone else on here have any thoughts on what I should have them double check or replace?

So now it seems I get to break in a new engine and turbo and will of course treat the engine accordingly for a reasonable break-in period. Anyone have any recommendations on oil? I typically go with the standard 5w30 but after having an engine literally eat itself, I find myself wondering.

Thanks all!

SCSpecB 05-26-2010 03:41 PM

Bummer :(

Glad to hear they're handling it appropriately so far....

Irimis 05-26-2010 03:44 PM


Oh, happy bday.

B-Power-B 05-26-2010 04:05 PM

I believe my 08 spec.b was a demo as well. We all know how well people treat rental cars, I just hope it was was broken in properly.

Keep us posted and good luck

SpecBGuy 05-26-2010 04:09 PM

my 08 specb had 135miles on it when i bought it. its fine for me tho. i drove to vagas from cali 2 times going steady speed of 80mph and maybe 100mph for like 5 sec. did u get a oil change after 1k after purchase?

musty_hustla 05-26-2010 04:46 PM

good luck.

Assuming it was related to the oil pump, shouldn't there had been a drop in pressure to trip the light?

LuckyBob 05-26-2010 05:01 PM


Originally Posted by musty_hustla (Post 2964137)
good luck.

Assuming it was related to the oil pump, shouldn't there had been a drop in pressure to trip the light?

The oil idiot light in our cars isn't a good indicator at all. The general consensus is that if you see it come on (or even flicker), the damage is already done.

bakabakablah 05-26-2010 05:09 PM

I thought the oil pressure light is essentially useless since it turns on when you're basically SOL?

edit: Seems like I was a bit slow with typing my response...

dr_sharp 05-26-2010 05:26 PM

Quick, somebody blame it on the banjo bolt!

Good luck. At least you'll have an engine with 0 miles now...

apexi 05-26-2010 06:38 PM

Which dealer in MA was this? As for break in oil, I would run conventional 5w-30 @ a 3,000mi oil change interval, or less if that makes you feel more comfortable. The only problem with standard 5w-30 is that turbo subie motors shear down the oil to a 20wt fairly easily, so as long as you don't stretch your oil change interval you're ok. I'd probably change to synthetic after 5k or so.

brawline 05-26-2010 08:42 PM

do you have any mods done to the car?

Whatisit 05-26-2010 11:53 PM

Sorry to hear. I think you have the record for the longest running motor. My 09-B's engine died at 16k miles. I didnt keep on driving it like you did, so i didnt actually wait till it seized. SOA did give me a whole new longblock, absolutly no hassel's. they didnt even ask me if I drove it hard. the new engine runs much much better then the old one.

good luck. PM me if you have any questions. SOA knows of the issue and they shouldnt hassel you at all.

Polo08816 05-27-2010 07:06 AM


Originally Posted by bakabakablah (Post 2964158)
I thought the oil pressure light is essentially useless since it turns on when you're basically SOL?

edit: Seems like I was a bit slow with typing my response...

Not so it seems for my Camry. That car burns about 1 qt. of oil every 1000 miles. It's a 94 LE I4 and had 210,000 miles on it. Sometimes I'll go a bit quicker than usual around a corner and the low oil pressure light will come on. Then I'll go WOT back home just to see if the engine will explode and it never does. I'm quite surprised that I haven't had a catastrophic ka-boom after it was starved of oil so many times and subsequently abused. Of course, I really wanted the engine to explode but I could not get it to do so.

JoeFromPA 05-27-2010 07:17 AM

I've met plenty of oil pressure lights and systems that were actually serious. Systems that light up when you are 1.1 quart down, for example.

OP - Sounds, to me, like a bad rod bearing (could be secondary to a bad oil pump or pick-up of course). I'll be very curious.

JoeFromPA 05-27-2010 07:18 AM

P.s. Congrats on getting a new short block and turbo under warranty. I'd recommend breaking it in on whatever fill they give you for 1000 miles, then another 1500 miles on an oil like Castrol GTX 10w30, and then switch over to a full synthetic like Rotella T 5w40 and run normal 3500-3750 mile oil intervals.

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