Updated: Jan 9
A turbocharger is a forced induction method that compresses air into the engine to increase power; the idea is simple, but its design is intricate. They can fail in a number of different ways.
Can a turbocharger be fixed if it fails? Although a failing turbo can usually be fixed, there are situations when buying a new turbo would be more cost-effective. However, if damage is done to the turbine wheel or housing, it can be beyond repair.
Although repairing and reconditioning a turbocharger is possible in some cases and might save you money, it is still recommended to install a brand new turbocharger.
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Signs of a Failing Turbocharger
There are some common signs of a failing turbocharger, as listed below.
Reduction in power output
Smoke coming from the engine bay or exhaust
Excessive use of fuel
Oil leakage from the turbocharger
Be aware that faults in multiple other components might show comparable or identical symptoms.
If the turbo starts whistling, there may be an air leak. Examine the connections and piping; you could find damage there, or the clamps might just have come loose.
Another option is to remove the induction or exhaust system and inspect the turbocharger impellers for problems with rotation or clearance.
Another possibility is that the problem is caused by deteriorated oil. When oil degrades, carbon can accumulate in the bearing housing. Rotation of moving parts will become more difficult due to the accumulation of carbon.
The turbo may seize if there is a drop in oil pressure or if there is dirt or debris in the oil.
Check the turbine wheel or impeller to see if any debris or foreign objects have entered inside the turbo. It may be possible to see any material that has entered the compressor or turbine.
The turbo is unrepairable if the turbo blades are damaged. Look for metal that has fallen off the turbo in the intake tubes. Metal fragments might cause more harm to the engine and shouldn't be started until the problem is fixed.
Repairing a Turbocharger
Find a professional to help you once you've discovered what's wrong with the turbocharger.
Because they are a key component of your car, you don't want to risk its reliability by entrusting it to a mechanic who isn't knowledgeable with turbochargers.
A trained technician can often fix a turbocharger. The turbocharger is only irreparably broken if the turbines and impeller have sustained considerable damage.
How to Prevent Turbo Failure
The methods listed below can help reduce the risk of turbo failure.
Service Your Vehicle Regularly
One of the best methods to ensure that your turbo and engine last for a long time is to service your vehicle regularly. This will ensure that the engine oil is properly absorbing any metal particles and lubricating moving parts.
Not regularly servicing your vehicles oil (more than 15,000 miles) can cause a gradual buildup of carbon, which will make it less efficient at removing heat, lubricating, and protecting against suspended metal and debris particles.
This may necessitate the replacement of parts by quickly causing engine and turbo failure.
Perform maintenance as directed in your car's manual, which is usually every 6,000 to 15,000 miles.
Warming Up & Cooling Down Sufficiently
Premature engine and turbo failure can be prevented by allowing sufficient time for the engine coolant and oil to warm up and cool down before and after hard driving.
The engine and turbo may be damaged if they are not allowed to warm up to their ideal operating temperatures, and the oil may become inefficient.
After driving, properly cooling down may improve coolant and oil circulation, minimise hot spots, and guarantee proper cool down of the engine and turbocharger.
To ensure appropriate coolant and oil circulation, wait 10 to 20 minutes after engine start-up before using the maximum throttle. After heavy driving, let the engine idle for one to two minutes. Driving within one minute after starting the engine warms it up considerably faster than idling.
Installing a Turbo Timer
This relates to cooling down correctly after driving; using a turbo timer (or idling after driving) can prevent carbon buildup in the turbo, bearing seizure, and help in adequate cool down.
Filtering Intake Air Properly
Debris and foreign objects can't enter the engine when a suitable air filter is used on the intake system. If you have the standard OEM air filter, maintaining and replacing it on a regular basis can ensure effective filtering and also slightly improve power by reducing restriction in the filter.
Cleaning your aftermarket air filter (foam filter, paper filter, etc.) on a regular basis helps increase air flow and prevent debris from getting into the intake system, turbo, and engine.
To further enhance the air filter you may also: