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Old 01-13-2016, 03:54 AM   #1
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Default Turbo #4 currently being installed...please help!

Hey guys, this is my first real post, so hopefully I can get all the info on the first try.
I purchased my used 2013 LTZ Hatchback 1.4 turbo 6 speed manual in October of 2014. On Thanksgiving 2014, my wife and I were driving from Minneapolis, MN to Appleton, WI in sub-zero temps when I noticed a substantial lose in power. I could not accelerate to more than 75 mph at WOT. Going up hills, my speed dropped below 70. Eventually, the check engine light came on. I dropped my Sonic off the next day at Bergstroms Chevrolet in Neenah, WI. The tech found an underboost code (P0299), and determined that the waste gate was sticking; waste gate actuator wouldn’t budge. The turbo assembly was replaced at ~35K miles and all was back to normal…for a while.
In late December of 2015, my wife and I were driving from Minneapolis to Grand Forks, ND, in single digit temps, when again I notice a loss in power. Not as severe as the first time, but notable. My UltraGauge indicated a maximum boost pressure of ~5psi; typically I see 10 – 12 psi at WOT. During my daily commute to work later that week (150 miles round trip at ~78 mph) in sub-zero temps, the power loss became substantial, with max boost pressures around 2 – 3psi. So to get the ECU to through the P0299 code, I dropped into 5th and floored it. I dropped it off at Gateway Chevrolet in Fargo, ND the next day. Service tech again found an issue with the waste gate and replaced the turbo assembly at ~72K miles.
After a few days of driving (roughly 500 miles) I noted power loss and reduced boost pressures. Maximum attainable engine load on the UltraGauge was ~80% with boost pressure maxing out at 3 psi; hitting 100% has never been an issue with a properly operating turbo. Going down the on-ramp this morning at temps below -10F, boost pressures were climbing up to ~5.5psi, then suddenly I lost all boost and the check engine light came on; it felt like the ECU went into limp home mode. My Sonic is again at the dealership for I’m sure another turbo at ~75K miles.
The common denominator of all my turbo failures is cold air temps, below 0F. Has anyone had issues similar to this??? Am I working the 1.4T too hard; 78mph for 2 hours a day? I would really appreciate it if Chevrolet Customer Care would chime in and let me know what my options are, because at this rate, I’ll be replacing the turbo every time the temps dip below 0f, which happens all the time in northern ND/MN. Do lemon laws apply to used vehicles? Any insight is much appreciated.
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:15 AM   #2
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I have driven 80+mph for 20+hours at a time (not literally straight, because refuel and rest stops every few hours... but close) Plenty of others here are driving long distances daily. I have seen very few turbo replacements mentioned, and you certainly hold the record for the most on one vehicle.

The failure you're reporting isn't in a "wear and tear" area of the turbo, either, you aren't having trouble with the turbo itself, but rather the wastegate. Your stealership isn't addressing the problem, they're replacing the whole unit lock stock and barrel. But clearly whatever is causing your wastegates to fail is not a part of the turbo unit itself, unless you are just randomly winning the "bad turbo lottery". I don't like coincidence as a diagnosis.

How about the bypass, or the bypass solenoid?
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Old 01-13-2016, 12:15 PM   #3
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Hey! I have seen this repeatability in Subaru turbos. Normally, their is a need for a high quality synthetic. Or the dealer is not replacing the oil feed line when they replace the turbo. Or their is an another oil starvation issue upstream of the turbo (oil pump issues, etc). The wastegate actuators are known to have issues, but I thought they solved this production problem.

What oil are you currently using?

I would immediately switch to either Mobil1 Extended Performance Full Syn or Pennzoil Ultra Platinum. They both need to be 5w-30.

Good luck!


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Old 01-13-2016, 05:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by head View Post
I dropped my Sonic off the next day at Bergstroms Chevrolet in Neenah, WI. The tech found an underboost code (P0299), and determined that the waste gate was sticking; waste gate actuator wouldn’t budge. The turbo assembly was replaced at ~35K miles and all was back to normal…for a while.
I would almost guarantee Bergstrom missed the real cause of the failure. Several years ago with my last car I took it there for the turn signal not working. Was told the computer diagnosed it as a bad turn signal micro-switch and the steering column would need to be replaced at almost $2000!! Didn't sound right to me, and the fact that the service manager said the "computer diagnosed" so I asked about an ASE certified tech, they advertise on the wall and was told they had 1 ASE certified tech and he wasn't working that day. Took the car to a local independent mechanic and he replaced the turn signal relay for $150 and the turn signals started working again. End Rant.


But on the topic of your repeated turbo replacements. My experience as a service and repair tech for appliances and electronics says the repeated failure of a component is a symptom of another issue. So the failure of the wastegate is just the readily visible failure caused by the underlying issue.


kevjam79 might be on to something with it being an oil issue. I'm not an expert in motor oil, but I do know the user manual for the Sonic calls for the use of Dexos1 motor oil, of which it appears most is full synthetic. Just like the manual calls for "Top Tier" gas.
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Old 01-13-2016, 06:39 PM   #5
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does oil feed the waste gate "area" at all? it's just used to cool and lube the turbine bearings isn't it?... isn't the rest vacuum controlled?
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:04 PM   #6
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Default Turbo #4 currently being installed...please help!

You could look at the temperature as the common denominator, which it certainly is one. You could also look at the fact that the replaced turbo system isn't fixing the problem a the common denominator though. I agree with the guys above, was that's going out is a symptom of your problem, the root cause has yet to be identified and addressed by the dealership.


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Old 01-13-2016, 08:28 PM   #7
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Cant the look at the turbo when they take it out and make some diagnosis as to why it failed?

Don't let them just replace it..escalated it to GM... this seems unusual and they need to look at. Just the title of your thread should get anyone's attention.
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Old 01-13-2016, 09:18 PM   #8
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Lol, oil has nothing to do with the waste gate actuator seizing.

As the other posters have noted, the dealerships haven't found the cause of your troubles, most likely nothing to do with the actual turbo unit itself but something else causing the actuator to seize. Probably a very minor issue somewhere. You need to take the car to someone who knows how to fault find, not a service tech who only knows how to read a computer & replace a broken part.
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Old 01-13-2016, 09:54 PM   #9
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Default Turbo #4 currently being installed...please help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natesriv View Post
does oil feed the waste gate "area" at all? it's just used to cool and lube the turbine bearings isn't it?... isn't the rest vacuum controlled?

This is really my point. The reason for the underboost code being thrown is because the turbine quits spinning following failure of the oil cooled bearing.

On the other hand, there is a known (TSB) underboost issue associated with wear of the wastegate actuator pin. This a $5 part not a complete turbo replacement.

I would have them replace the oil feed line and start running one of those two oils on turbo #4.

The cold temps would play into only one way... High oil temps created by high engine temps which are created by either an unknown lean condition (unmetered air entering the induction path, etc) or a failed water pump. ... Or potentially by tasking the turbo unit ... High boost/high prop rpms.

Do you have other issues with the car?


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Old 01-14-2016, 01:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogz View Post
Lol, oil has nothing to do with the waste gate actuator seizing.

As the other posters have noted, the dealerships haven't found the cause of your troubles, most likely nothing to do with the actual turbo unit itself but something else causing the actuator to seize. Probably a very minor issue somewhere. You need to take the car to someone who knows how to fault find, not a service tech who only knows how to read a computer & replace a broken part.
This. The wastegate is simply a metal rod with a metal plate attached to it which pivots, kinda like a little throttle body. All it does is direct exhaust flow through or around the turbine wheel. When desired boost is reached it starts to pivot, opening the plate which allows exhaust to bypass the turbine, which slows it down and reduces boost.

Oil wouldn't come into play here, actually I'm having a hard time imagining what would cause this. Constant salt spray seizing the rod in it's bore? Unlikely. Physical damage causing the pivot rod to bind in its bore? I just don't see that either.
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