Subaru 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine Problems And Reliability

Here is a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated EL154 engine. And there is nothing outstanding in it, except for the boxer design. Its light-alloy cylinder blocks are covered by twin-camshaft cylinder heads.

Phase shifters are installed on the intake camshafts. In general, this EL154 engine is based on the design of the EJ-series engines. For example, a piston stroke of 79 mm is the same as that of a 2.5-liter engine.

The crankshaft and connecting rods of this “one and a half” are simply borrowed from the largest boxer “four” Subaru. In general, this EL154 engine can easily be attributed to the good old EJ-series.

The 1.5-liter EL154 engine from 2006 to 2011 was installed on the restyled 2nd generation Subaru Impreza (GD / GG) and on the 3rd generation Impreza (GH / GR).

In Eastern markets, this EL154 engine was produced for some time in parallel with the older aspirated EJ15.

Read Also: Subaru FA20/FA20DIT 2.0L Engine Problems

Subaru 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine Reliability

“Impreza” with a 1.5-liter engine are quite common, because. quite affordable for the price. Moreover, there are even front-wheel drive cars.

In general, the 1.5 EL154 engine turned out to be somehow compromised and problematic. Subaru fans, with all their love for the brand, consider this engine the most stupid. Its 110-hp. Very sadly they are taking the Impreza.

But the most unpleasant thing is that this “aspirated” barely nurses 150,000 km and generally “dies like a fly.”

But due to its close relationship with the EJ-series engines, many owners change it to a 2-liter aspirated without any problems and do not know more problems.

In general, this engine began to knock with liners or jammed, breaking through one of the half-blocks, with a run of 60,000 km. Most often for overhaul or “swap”, i.e. an aggregate replacement for another engine, it hit with a run of 100,000 – 120,000 km.

Rare specimens in the hands of 1-2 owners live up to 200,000 km. Units lived up to 250,000 km. And then, the owners need to put a lot of effort and care in order for this “one and a half” to live 200,000 km.

The whole problem is the consumption of oil by this engine. Now let’s talk about everything in detail.

Subaru 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine Problems

In general, before serious problems and repairs, which we will talk about at the end of the review, this engine serves completely flawlessly.

Although by a run of 100,000 km it may be necessary to change lambda probes (specific errors will tell about this) and resolve the issue with catalysts.

There may also be oil leaks from under the valve cover gaskets. Also look for the area under the generator – an oil pressure sensor is installed in this place.

The sensor often leaks through the contact connector. The sensor will have to be replaced with a new one.

Less often, on running engines, oil leaks appear through the camshaft oil seals, the crankshaft oil seal and through the o-rings on the phase shifters.

1. Spark plug replacement

We add that to replace the spark plugs on the Impreza, you do not need to remove the engine and drill the front spars (this is the “folk way”).

But you have to remove the battery and its platform on the left, and dismantle the air filter housing on the right.

And then in tight spaces, you can remove the ignition coils and turn out the candles with keys with cardan shafts.

2. Errors in phase shifters

This one and a half liter engine has two phase shifters. Naturally, both control the opening phases of the intake valves.

Often, the engine control unit fixes error P0011 due to the out of sync of the intake camshafts. As a rule, a malfunction in the operation of the variable valve timing system occurs due to problems with the oil supply to the phase shifters.

On the front of the cylinder head of the 1.5 EL154 engine there are two tubes with fittings in which there are steel mesh filters.

The filters become clogged with burnt oil, which then disrupts the oil supply to the system spools and the phase shifters themselves. In many cases, cleaning these grids helps – the system starts working correctly.

The same error can also appear if the phase shifters themselves are contaminated and if the marks in the timing drive are violated.

3. Timing belt

Surprisingly, quite a few 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine have bent valves due to a broken timing belt. Moreover, this happened even with the original belt, i.e. before its first change.

This belt needs to be changed every 105,000 km, and you can look and evaluate its condition after removing the casing from the left cylinder head. If cracks appear on the surface of the belt, it must be changed as soon as possible.

The timing belt and shafts are installed very simply: there are 5 marks on the belt itself and on the pulleys, which must match with each other.

The timing belt tensioner also needs attention. The roller swings on a lever in which there is a damper. In good condition, the damper rod is pressed in with a force of about 27 kg.

If the damper is pressed in with your fingers, then it must be replaced with a new one. A new roller with a damper will cost $100. By the way, a worn damper makes an extraneous clattering sound.

Also, the thread in the bracket to which the tensioner is attached is often broken. Bracket (13156-AA062) can be purchased for $30.

4. Cylinder head

The Subaru 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine does not complain about the quality of cylinder head gaskets: it does not blow through them.

The cylinder heads themselves also serve without problems, unless, of course, this engine is overheated.

Nothing special happens to the cylinder block either. Reasons for significant expenses are caused by other circumstances.

5. Oil consumption

The owner of a Subaru with an 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine has one big concern – to monitor the oil level. In practice, these engine ran up to 60,000 – 80,000 km without oil consumption, and then they began to actively “eat” it.

About 4 liters of oil are placed in the oil pan, and the oil consumption at first can reach 300 – 500 grams per 1000 km. Those this EL154 engine is able to easily and naturally “eat” all the oil between replacements.

It was because of the “dry operation” that this engine lifted up the liners and jammed. As a rule, several glasses of oil splashed in the pans of knocked 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine.

When massive breakdowns of this engine began, fans of the 1.5-liter Impreza began to monitor the oil level literally every morning.

In general, with mileage, the rate of oil consumption only grows and easily reaches 1 liter or even more per 1000 km. In this case, the owners begin to save money for a swap for a 2-liter EJ204.

More or less normally, this engine runs on engine oil with a good base number, because. with high detergent properties.

The original instruction manual gives a wide range of permissible viscosity: from normal 5W-30 to 10W-40 and 5W-50.

As practice shows, with thicker oils, this EL154 engine becomes less greedy for lubrication. But viscous oil is not suitable for regions with cold winters.

Well, in fact, the whole reason for the oil consumption lies in unsuccessful piston rings. Oil scraper rings are thin, so they quickly coke.

And they get tired by a run of 150,000 km, i.e. wear out and lose elasticity. Theoretically, replacing piston rings with progressive oil consumption can extend the trouble-free operation of this engine by another 100,000 km.

By the way, there are original piston rings and pistons of two repair sizes on sale. So the EL154 engine is suitable for overhaul.

6. Swap features

Infrequently, owners of a 1.5 EL154 Boxer Engine Subaru Impreza decide to overhaul the engine. In fact, for quite sane money, you can replace this engine with a much more hassle-free EJ204 with a capacity of 180 hp.

In fact, these are the same engines: all sensors from the 1.5-liter EL154 need to be rearranged to the 2-liter donor.

You don’t need to change the original wiring of the engine compartment and even the ECU, but you will have to flash the control unit for 2 liters.

However, for a complete rework on a 2-liter engine, it is still worth installing an intake and exhaust from it.

7. Tuning possibilities

Also, on the basis of this engine block, you can build a turbo engine of almost any configuration. In fact, the cylinder block is strong and durable.

Oil nozzles can be installed in it, half-blocks can be covered with a cylinder head from a 2.5-liter turbo engine and continue to play with turbocharging.

You can get a monster with a power of 250 hp, which will serve and please more than the original atmospheric “one and a half”.

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