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Unread 06-27-2007, 10:09 PM   #1
Rich Z
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Default STS oil leak problem...

Man, what a CRAPPY day today was.

To start things off, I was planning on heading to the post office, and since I hadn't driven the C5Z for a while, was looking forward to the drive. Aw hell, DIC says "Low voltage" and it wouldn't crank over. Damn... That is a fairly new Exide Orbital battery in there, so no way it should be dying this soon. So I went and got the sears battery charger (these are probably worth their weight in gold if you don't already have one) and charged up the battery to about 90 percent, and then set it to START and cranked up the vette. I tried several cycles of turning it off and starting the car with no problems, so I figured it would be safe to drive it into town and not get stranded.

I had to stop in at the grocery store first, to pick up a couple of items. This is about 20 miles or so from my home. When I came out of the store, I noticed a puddle underneath my car, and at first thought it was just condensation or something from the A/C. But wait a minute! That puddle is under the tailpipes! What the hell? Well that puddle was OIL. And a fair amount of it. The entire back of my car was COVERED with oil as well.

Uh oh.... NOT good. I abandoned plans to go to the post office and just headed on home. Well I got most of the way there, and noticed the oil pressure gauge needle was dropping. So I put it on the DIC and watched it slide on down through 15 psi and hit around 12. That's when the lifters started tapping. Luckily there was a convenience store nearby, so I drifted in there and shut the engine down pronto. Bought 3 quarts of oil (they didn't have synthetic, but I had no choice) and put them into the crank case. Then bought two more to take with me. Oil pressure went right back up and I made it back home without losing my engine.

When I got home, I checked out everything thoroughly. As best I could tell, the oil was solely coming out of the tail pipes and not being blown back from the front of the car. No smoke telling me it was coming from the engine itself, and no splatters of oil underneath the vehicle. Looks like it was blowing out the tail pipes and then splattered on the back of the vehicle from air flow. NOT a pretty picture at all! Hell of a mess, actually.

So my guess was that the problem was in the turbos. Somehow oil was getting into the exhaust part of them and being blown out the tailpipes. So I called up Greg at AntiVenom for help. He told me some things to check, but honestly I had never bothered to LOOK to see where the parts were, so I wasn't even sure what I was looking at. But I eventually got things oriented and best I could tell the return oil pump (this brings oil back from the turbos and then dumps it back into the crankcase via a fitting in the driver's side valve cover. Greg put a quick connect there, so it was REAL easy to pull off and check.

When I tried later to get Greg on the phone, I was unable to reach him so I called STS and spoke to a guy named Chris. He gave me a bunch of things to check and waited on the phone while I checked them out. Never knew there was a toggle switch on that oil pump to put it in low and high mode. But it certainly showed me that the pump was working via audible cues. Anyway, Chris suggested that I put the pump into high mode and take it out for a spin to see if that helps. Which I did, and it did appear to stop the oil from blowing out of the tailpipes. Not sure what it means, though, as obviously something is amiss that needs to get fixed. But perhaps at least now I can drive it to wherever I need to go to get it fixed. Otherwise it appeared I was going to have to flatbed it, as there are no STS authorized repair stations anywhere less than 3 hours away. Which would mean I would have to throw about 300 gallons of oil in the trunk. Would be a LOT cheaper to flatbed it.....

So I need to call Chris tomorrow to see what he suggests. Most importantly whether I can trust it to drive several hours to get it fixed.

And, of course, I'm wondering whether it will even start up tomorrow. That battery problem is still lurking........

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Unread 06-27-2007, 10:51 PM   #2
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No, that is not good. I wouldn't chance it Rich, I would be putting it on a flatbed.
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Unread 06-27-2007, 11:10 PM   #3
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Another thing that puzzles me about this is why the oil is so dark looking. I change it WAY more than any normal person would do, and just had it changed a few weeks ago. Even looking at the oil going from the return pump through that hose I checked, it looks real dark to me, even though it was fresh oil put in TODAY.

Oh, another odd point. The STS system has an alarm that is supposed to trigger if that oil pump fails. It appears that it was not working, at least not in that lower setting, and yet there was never any alarm sounded. So how can that be?

Not sure how much flatbedding it down to Sefner would cost. I may see if STS would authorize a local shop to do the repair if they can walk the tech through doing the work. I doubt they would foot the bill for the flatbed, and I'm not real happy about that expense potentially coming out of my pocket.

I'm just glad I wasn't in the middle of nowhere when this happened. Otherwise I would have been hoofing it when the crankcase ran out of oil.
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Unread 06-28-2007, 05:55 AM   #4
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holy cow...what a mess...Hope you get the problem fixed.
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Unread 06-28-2007, 06:05 AM   #5
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Can't tell you why ,but I can tell ya it's not good .
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Unread 06-28-2007, 06:08 AM   #6
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Hey Rich, Wow sorry for the mess you have. Been there similarly. Oil will look dark no matter what. It doesn't take but a few minutes to get dark. That is normal. The other problem is beyond my brain waves. sorry. If I can help in any way let me know.
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Unread 06-28-2007, 07:18 AM   #7
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That really sucks Rich. Glad the motor is ok. I remember reading a thread not too long ago where you took out the taillights and cleaned the air filters. I wonder if they might have gotten clogged or restricted in any way causing this. You might want to check out your throttle body and intake for oil and hopefully the seals and bearings in the turbos are ok. Possibly a short in the pump or maybe a wiring problem causing the pump to malfunction. Good luck and keep us up to date.

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Unread 06-28-2007, 07:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Rich Z
Man, what a CRAPPY day today was.

Better get in touch with Joe over at Flash's to see what he's got that will clean that mess up. Hope that no one was following you
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Unread 06-28-2007, 07:40 AM   #9
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Obviously something something is amiss with the oil return pump system!!!
I'm not real familiar with pumped turbo oil returns,but I have had some experience with Turbo Charged engines!!!Turbos are bad to get coked up in the oil return lines and cause oil pumping through the engine!! The oil is dark back there because it has been run through the induction system and cylinders of the engine!!! This also could be caused by bad seals in the turbos,and this would be my guess!!!! It is very important to let a turbo engine to Idle for 1-2 minuets before you shut the engine off!!! Even just driving it easy with out boosting the turbo is ready to boost and the impeller is turning 50-100,000 rpm's!!! If you roll in off the street and just shut it off,you have shut the oil off to the turbo and it still is turning those kind of rpm's!!! So it is very important to just let it idle and settle down a little so it won't run out of lubrication before it stops!!! Some set up's have a pump that send oil to the turbo for 30- 90 seconds after the engine is shut down and this will eliminate this problem!!! I hope this helps and they can get it worked out for you!! PS Synthetic oil will burn in a engine with little or no smoke!!!!
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Unread 06-28-2007, 07:52 AM   #10
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Can't help you at all regarding the oil but glad you didn't fry the engine

Do you have AAA Plus? If not, get it pronto. They'll cover up to 100 miles free

Have them drop it at 100 miles (find a station or a friends house or something).

You could use it again the later in the day (since your friend or the station obviously didnt' have the parts/capabilities to repair it properly as originally thought), for another 100 miles.

Also, check your insurance policies. Some have built in emergency roadside towing. If it's available, I'd get it also.

There are a couple other on-line motor clubs that have large towing limits as well. You could always join, tow, dump

Just a couple of suggestions.
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