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Oil Consumption, Rotary Upgrades, Nitrous, E85, and More - Question It

Fixing what you broke

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Got a burning question or simply need some advice with problems you’ve encountered while wrenching on your current/future projects? Ask our automotive guru Eric Hsu anything—literally, he’s going to answer every single question, as long as it’s automotive related.

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Oil Consumption

I own a ’02 Toyota Celica GT (five-speed) with TRD exhaust and AEM CAI. Recently, I have been experiencing issues with the motor, which has about 140K on the clock, beginning to consume oil along with a bluish smoke coming out of the exhaust. I assume the oil consumption is caused from burning oil, and the smoke is the result of oil blow-by from the piston rings. Of course, I am no expert but I experienced the same problem on another car I previously purchased. To make a long story short, the dealership replaced the rings, which cured the problem. How hard is it and what is involved in replacing the piston rings? Also, what tools and parts are required? I’m sure the head gasket needs to be replaced when opening the engine along with new piston rings.

Johnny Balash
Wadsworth, Ohio

Oil typically enters the combustion chambers through worn piston rings/cylinder bores or leaky intake valve stem seals. In extreme cases, there could also be cracks in the cylinder head, but this usually only occurs on engines involved in accidents or extreme overheating. Blue smoke can also come from leaky exhaust valve stem seals with oil getting heated in the exhaust manifold or catalytic converter. A leakdown test should be able to help point you in the right direction. If it is valve stem seals, then they can be replaced without taking the cylinder head off the engine with some special tools.

If you need to replace the rings and that’s all you want to do, you can do this by dropping the oil pan and removing the cylinder head. You can remove the pistons from the top of the engine by unbolting the big end of the connecting rod and removing them from the bottom. Measure the bores to ensure there is no excessive cylinder wear using a dial bore gauge or at the very least a T-shaped snap gauge and a micrometer. Since the 1ZZ-GE engine has iron liners, you’ll need a BRM ball hone to “rough” up the cylinders so the new piston rings will break in correctly. You’ll also need some feeler gauges to measure ring endgaps. If the rod bearings are in good shape, you can reuse them or buy some new bearings from Toyota of the same grade (see the Celica service manual for this information). If your engine was burning oil in the cylinders, then you’ll also need to give the pistons a good cleaning since there will likely be a ton of burnt oil on them. You can use an overnight dip or some carburetor cleaner and some elbow grease to do this. Of course when you’re putting it all back together, you’ll need a brand-new head gasket and new cylinder head bolts. The Toyota 1ZZ has torque to yield bolts and should not be reused. Remember that you can never be too clean when building an engine. I’ve seen people put together engines without cleaning the parts or attention to detail with bad results. Attention to detail is what the best engine builders are good at.

Horsepower Potential

I’m looking into giving my Honda S2000 (AP1) some more horsepower. I’ve decided that I’m going for a turbo instead of a supercharger mainly for the fact that I’m a firm believer that turbocharging should be associated with import cars and superchargers belong on domestics, even though I know you can get more horsepower from a supercharger for the S2000s—but to each his own. I’m leaning toward a Greddy turbo kit, mainly because it’s CARB legal and a true bolt-on kit.

I am aware that the Greddy kit isn’t the biggest turbocharger you can get due to the fact that more usable midrange power can be achieved with this type of turbo. The goal is to make anywhere between 400 to 500 street legal horsepower. What are your thoughts on the Greddy kit? From what I’ve read the Greddy kit can’t make those kind of numbers. I’m also looking into getting the ECS kit from Design Craft Fabrication to convert the F20C into iVTEC. I’ve heard that this kit improves midrange power as well, and I like the fact that it is a bolt-on system and I know I can do all the work myself.

Josh Alexander,

It’s important to remember that a CARB-legal turbo kit is designed around the confines of being smog legal, which means retaining the factory catalytic converter (not a high-flow aftermarket unit) and all other factory smog devices. For this reason, Greddy optimized the performance of their turbo kit around the factory smog components. The T518Z turbo features an 18G compressor section so it should be good for a solid 350 whp with a little more boost, proper tuning, and good parts selection. The Design Craft Fabrication ECS is a pretty trick piece, but requires a stand-alone AEM ECU or Hondata K-Pro conversion to control the iVTEC. Most of these mods can be done yourself with a complete set of tools and some elbow grease, but I would suggest the ECU tuning should be left to a professional if you’re not familiar with the process.

As for making 400-500 “street legal” horsepower that would depend on what state you live in. Some states have a looser definition of what “street legal” is. In California for example, this means CARB legal and not a single modification otherwise to the car. In Montana, “street legal” almost means as long as the car can drive on the street. A Full-Race S2000 turbo system with a “high flow” catalytic converter might be a good compromise if you aren’t too worried about the cops sweating you.

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