One of the most common misconceptions about new and reconditioned turbos is their lifespan. It is not at all true, that they are the weaker element of a car, which lasts shorter than the engine itself. With proper maintenance and routine checks it should work as long as the engine itself.
Don’t trust yourself – trust experts

Quite often improper diagnosis leads to extensive repairs or even replacing a turbocharger in good condition, when some other part of the engine has failed. Which is why, before attempting any expensive rebuild, make sure you consult a trained mechanic, who specializes at turbo reconditioning and diagnosis. It can save you a lot of time and money.

Turbocharger repair might sometimes seem as an easy task, yet the part is a very precise machinery, working at extreme speeds (up to 250 000 – 300 000 revolutions per minute). Thus even a slightest mistake might cause irreversible damage – which means additional costs.

It is also not uncommon for non-experts to mistakenly purchase incorrect part for their vehicle. DO NOT ATTEMPT to install a new or recon turbo, which is not dedicated to your car! They are designed for a specific engine displacement, horse power and numerous other factors. It is then advisable to consult experts prior to purchase to make sure you get the correct reconditioned part for your vehicle.

Of course, you can and should pay attention to some signs of the part’s failure. But leave the details to the experts – drive to your nearest garage and ask them to perform appropriate maintenance and diagnosis.

Basic maintenance

However, some of them can be performed by you – if you have the right tools, time and knowledge on the topic.

Oil system:

  • Oil change
    Manufacturers provide exact information on when (after a specific time or mileage) to replace the oil and oil filter in your vehicle. Make sure you follow their instructions, as with time and with more miles travelled, the characteristics of the oil change notably – to put it simply: its quality deteriorates. Bad oil means incorrect greasing of the whole engine (including a turbocharger) which in time leads to damage to the part.
  • Oil filters
    They are crucial elements of the whole system, as any debris, dirt in the oil might be transferred to the engine, thus damaging it. Therefore make sure that at every oil change you perform a maintenance of the filtering system as well.
  • Oil pressure
    Incorrect oil pressure results in incorrect greasing of the engine. Damage to oil pump is actually quite common and might result in serious damage to other parts, including the turbocharger.

Air filter:
Perform regular maintenance, cleaning and replacement of air filter element and the whole system to make sure no solid particles can enter the turbocharger. As mentioned before – even the tiniest one might result in serious damage to the element.

Watch out for…

Vast majority of damages result from incorrect operation of some other systems in the engine. The most common things to watch out for are:

  • deteriorated/dirty oil,
  • low oil pressure,
  • damaged air filter/incorrect air filtration.

All of these causes can be simply avoided by following your maintenance schedule, changing the oil (and oil filter) at correct intervals, making sure the air filtering system operates properly and performing the simplest maintenance tasks by yourself or at your local garage.

At the same time, quite often during maintenance not enough attention is paid to cleaning the elements and keeping the dirt off. As a result, foreign objects enter the oil/air intake and cause immediate damage or gradual degradation of the turbo.

This is why we recommend to turn to specialists with all maintenance tasks, especially with more advanced diagnostic and repair procedures.

It is not always the turbocharger
When “something is wrong” with a car, a lot of people immediately assume that it is the turbo’s fault. No power, strange noises coming from the general direction of the engine might, however, be a result of numerous failures. Drastic oil consumption, oil leaks, lack of power – numerous other parts might cause such behavior. Prior to investing your time and money into turbocharger repair and reconditioning (or even replacement) check other potential culprits as well. Or ask a professional to do it for you.
Noticed potential failure symptoms?

When you notice incorrect operation or first symptoms of turbo failure, immediately turn of the engine and have your mechanic take a look at the part. DO NOT run the engine in such a state, as at initial stages, relatively little amount of work and low costs are usually involved in turbo repairs. However, even a few seconds might sometimes cause serious damage to the part.

So watch out for any unnatural noises, vibrations or oil leaks and immediately react upon noticing them. At the same time do not panic and undertake any unnecessary steps – simply contact an expert and ask for a diagnosis of your whole engine (the cause of leaks, noises might lie somewhere else – not necessarily in the part itself).

Operating a turbocharged vehicle – general advice

Due to the characteristics of a turbocharger operation, there are several guidelines for every driver of a turbocharged vehicle. Respecting them might prolong the lifespan of the part and, in some cases, prevent damage.

  • Do not turn the engine off at high revolutions
    If the engine is turned off in such situation, there is no oil pressure in the system. With no greasing, at around 250 000 –
    300 000 rpm, it takes only a few seconds to damage the part.
  • Wait at least 30 second after the engine starts before revving it
    Give the system enough time to pump the oil into all parts which require greasing.
  • Do not turn the engine off for around 3 minutes after an intensive, prolonged drive
    Turbocharger operates not only at extreme rpm but also at extreme temperatures. After a prolonged or very intensive
    drive (at high rpm) give it time to cool off. Once again, oil is a crucial element in the whole system, as it also cools down
    the engine – and with the engine turned off, there is no oil pressure.
  • Regularly go for a longer drive outside the city
    A lot of cars are operated only within the city limits. However, a turbocharger requires more dynamic work of the engine to
    burn any residual from the housing, which might clog the system and prevent its correct operation.

Taking care of your turbocharger requires basically the same amount of work as taking care of your car in general. Remember about maintenance intervals (oil and air filter systems), keep an eye out for any disturbing symptoms (but do not immediately assume it is the turbocharger) and let the experts take a closer look at the engine in general when in doubt. Also keep in mind, that turbocharged vehicles should be operated with a little bit more attention – no immediate revving, but on the other hand regular dynamic drives outside of the city etc.