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2005 Dodge Neon Question: White Smoke from Exhaust

 

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Sylent, 2.4L 4 Cylinder Turbo, Sierra Vista, AZ, December 15, 2010, 08:18
 Rookie

I recently replaced the turbo with a slightly upgraded one. The car has always burned oil because of a factory blow-by issue so I can't tell if its being burned because of something else. When I go WOT (Wide open throttle) I get a ton of white smoke out of the exhaust. Drivability seems just the same regardless, the car still pulls very strong. I only have a DTC for my cat converter because I replaced the exhaust system. I have done a compression test and on cyl. 1-3 i get 120, and cyl.4 is about 110. The coolant does not smell like exhaust fumes. The coolant does not appear to be "chocolatey", but if I run my finger across the rubber inside the coolant cap it appears to have oil on it. Again it only smokes when I run WOT, and also there is a small amount of smoke coming from around the exhaust manifold somewhere, but I can't pinpoint where its coming from. I will most likely have a shop do a leak down test very soon as I don't have the equipment to do it myself. What should I expect to pay for a leak down test? Does this sound like a head gasket sealing issue? What should I expect to pay to have the gasket replaced? If I pay for the parts and have the shop perform the work, what would the price difference be? Any insight is much appreciated!

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  • Answer #1

    Superbob December 15, 2010, 11:27
     Master

    A leakdown test should cost about an hour of shop time. Around here, that's about $110. Where you are it's hopefully less. The white smoke could be oil (or coolant if there's coolant running through the turbo - and there probably is) from a defective turbo seal. I'm wondering if the turbo is running the boost pressure up too high and overcoming the piston rings. I also wonder if the head gasket is failing and just beginning to leak. I've seen aftermarket turbos blow engines, of course, the car runs really great with the added pressure and the driver loves it until the engine fails. If you don't have a boost gauge, get one installed. You need to know that you're not running too high a pressure and asking for failure.
    I don't have an estimate resource right now so you'll have to call a Chrysler specialist for a figure. If you bring in your own parts most shops won't guarantee their work or will refuse if they're smart. Let the shop supply the parts or if you want something special, talk to the manager about it. Shops make their hard-earned money on parts, too, so you may find some resistance there.
    FYI, it's the motor oil that gets 'chocolatey', not the coolant, although if there's a major leak you can get motor oil in the coolant, but it's usually separated, not emulsified like in the crankcase. Coolant in the oil is an indication of a blown head gasket.
    Here's a directory link for you:
    http://repairpal.com/directory?address=85635&car_bran...

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    Sylent, December 15, 2010, 12:57
     Rookie

    Thank you for the info, Superbob. Your the only one that, like myself, has suspicions towards the turbo for being a likely culprit here. I do have a gauge which doubles as an Electronic Boost Controller. I have had the EBC off so only the Wastegate Actuator is controlling the boost. Under WOT it spikes about 15lbs. The stock fuel equipment can support up to 18-19lbs safely. The reason I ask about getting my own parts is because for one I may be able to save a bit of cash and for two I primarily buy my parts from an online dealer out of Texas who specialize in OEM and aftermarket performance parts for my vehicle.

    More about the turbo:
    The turbo is basically a refurbished stock model that has it's internals gutted and replaced. They take the stock shell, bore the inlit a bit, and clip the turbines to push a bit more power (about 45 hp+ at 17lbs over stock setup). When I first received the unit, I installed everything and followed their directions to a T. I primed the turbo for about 15 seconds, then turned it over and let it idle until at full operating temps. By the time I got to the end of the road I was pouring white smoke. I removed the unit and put the stocker back on, everything was fine. I sent it back to them thinking it had to have been a bad seal or something. They inspected it and said everything looked fine, but they would send me another out of a whole new batch they were receiving. Once again I put the new turbo on, and by the time I was at the end of my road again white smoke everywhere. Just going around the block, I had about 3-4 table spoons of oil sitting in my charge pipe (in between the turbo outlet and before the intercooler). After scratching my head for some time, I figured it must have been an issue with oil not being able to drain properly. I inspected the oil return line from the turbo for any kinks. I then turned my attention to a gasket they provided with the turbo for the oil return line. On my stock unit, I never had a gasket inbetween the line and the turbo. I figured that maybe I just installed it wrong or it shifted and is blocking the oil return. I did some sort of acrobatics with a small mirror, the turbo, and the return line to make sure there was no way it was blocking the line, then reinstalled everything. Again white smoke. I finally just removed the gasket and viola, not any smoke whatsoever. Since then Ive babied the car, never boosting above 5-6 lbs. A short while after that, I took it to the tracks and ran about 4 times, no issues. After that I babied it again. just a few days ago I got on it heavy and that's when I discovered the smoke cloud I left, so based on my past experiences, I am leaning towards it being the turbo, but its just so hard to find any clue as to what it could be, especially with the low compression numbers in the mix.

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