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Blown head gasket on '03 turbo.

2711 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  rgdavis3
My '03 turbo overheated and when I checked the coolant level, it was obviously mixed with oil--frothy looking, greenish brown sludge in overflow tank. Took it to a mechanic who told me he could fix it in 3-4 days. Two and a half weeks later, I get my car back and the next day check engine light comes on. Back to mechanic and same cycle repeated twice more. In the meantime, he tells me that the radiator needed replacing, the water pump needed replacing and the timing belt. I get the car back and he tells me that the turbo is the problem because it is oil and water cooled and that is where the leaking is happening. I now have a $3000 paperweight from these repairs--it cannot be driven further than 2 miles before overheating. Any help will be appreciated.
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· Premium Member
6,102 Posts
Welcome to the forum. What are you really wanting? Funny thing about cars in the past 15 years or so, they are pretty much designed so a dealer or specialty shop is needed to work on them. I imagine a factory shop manual would give a better clue as to the oil and water to the turbo, I was not aware of this myself, maybe someone else knows more about it. Another funny thing about engine problems is, the end result of a blown head gasket from overheating does not necessarily indicate what the problem is every time. You might not have had a blown head gasket in the first place, water pump may not have been bad and all that stuff, even though that is what the symptoms showed, and this wouldn't be the first time one assumed fixed problem would fix everything, it just continues until the real problem is found, which sounds like it is your turbo itself. At least it's a cool $3000 paperweight, that can be fixed.

· Super Moderator
1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
17,276 Posts
Sorry about your very expensive conundrum. The turbo bearing is water-cooled and fed engine oil for both lube and an extra degree of cooling. Leaks at this turbo bearing seal can be difficult to diagnose and the head gasket may have been OK all along.
Look for a reman turbo with a warranty.
I don't know about water pump damage from this (maybe the mechanic can explain), but if it is time for a t/belt then the w/pump and idler pulley should also be done at the same time.
Sludge and oil is very difficult to flush from the cooling system. It may take several complete flushes with a safe detergent-based flush additive. The coolant reservoir can be removed for draining and cleaning in a sink with soap and warm water.
See if the shop will work with you on the repair estimate and help you out a little. Ask for a possible 10% 'preferred customer' discount? You sound like a good customer to them and the worst that they can say is no. Work with them as well. A turbo change is really a shop job on a lift and would be difficult to do in a driveway.
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