Tag Archives: Turbocharger Troubleshooting

Clean Oil Key to Keeping your Turbochargers in Top Condition

Do you feel that your diesel engine is not giving you top performance?  Your turbocharges may not be functioning properly due to damage from dirty oil.
Dirty oil damages the turbocharger by causing heavy scoring of critical bearing surfaces.
To avoid damage, oil and filter should be of a quality that is recommended by an OEM.  These should be changed when a new turbocharger is fitted by Western Turbo.  After that, regular oil and filter changes should keep your turbochargers in great condition.
Dirty oil damage could result from:
–  Blocked, damaged on poor quality oil filter
–  Dirt introduced during servicing
–  Engine wear or manufacturing debris
–  Malfunctioning oil filter by-pass valve
–  Degraded lubrication oil.
Regular maintenance by Winnipeg’s largest diesel service centre should keep your turbochargers spotless.  Western Turbo can set you up on a preventive maintenance program for your individual diesel or fleet requirements.  Whether you are in Winnipeg, or rural Manitoba, give us a call for you next service.

Signs of Diesel Trouble…

If your diesel engine begins to belch excess smoke…

This could be caused by:

• Dirty air cleaner.

• Air intake system restriction.

• Cracked mounting flange/gasket missing.

• Fuel pump/injectors/valve timing incorrectly set.

• Wastegate mechanism set incorrectly.

• Turbocharger damaged.

If your diesel engine lacks Power…

This could be caused by:

• Dirty air cleaner.

• Air intake system restriction.

• Cracked mounting flange/gasket missing.

• Exhaust for foreign object restriction.

• Fuel pump/injectors/valve timing incorrectly set.

• Burnt valves and/or pistons.

• Turbocharger damaged

If your diesel engine is noisy…

Often the noise comes from air/gas leakage due to pre-turbine exhaust gas or an air/boost leaks.

Check all joints – if noise continues check turbocharger clearances and wheels for housing contact.

If your Turbocharger is seized or sluggish…

Noisy/Whistling

If the turbocharger rotor assembly has seized or is tight to rotate, this is often due to lubricating oil degradation, which can cause a high build up of carbon in the bearing housing interior restricting rotation. Insufficient or an intermittent drop in oil pressure can cause the rotor to seize, as can introducing dirt into the lubricating oil.

If your Turbocharger has worn or excessive clearance…

A turbocharger has specific axial and radial rotor clearances. These are sometimes mis-diagnosed as ‘worn bearings’ (See engine manual or come to Western Turbo.  If the clearances are out of specification the cause could be attributed to a lubricating oil problem, i.e. insufficient oil, dirt ingress, oil contamination with coolant.

If any of these signs appear, contact the diesel service experts at Western Turbo.  We will diagnose the problem and then either rebuild or replace your turbocharger.  For all your diesel engine repairs, see us at the Diesel Service Centre on 325 Eagle Road. Winnipeg.

Can a Diesel Particulate Filter Cause Turbo Failure?

There are many articles and technical documents relating to how a faulty turbo can lead to DPF damage, however, the DPF is actually responsible for more turbo related failures than you might think. Here we explore what effect a blocked DPF can have on a turbocharger.

DPF’s (Diesel Particulate Filters) were first introduced in January 2005 with the Euro 4 emission standard, where diesel particulate levels were reduced to extremely low levels to reduce the allowable amount of particulate matter (PM) released into the atmosphere. Reducing the size of PM from the combustion process to this level was not technically possible, so this meant all diesel vehicles after September 2009 were fitted with a filter to capture soot and other harmful particles, preventing them entering the atmosphere. A DPF can remove around 85% of the particulates from the exhaust gas.

A blocked DPF will not work correctly, and in order to clear this blockage there are two types of regeneration that are commonly used to remove the build-up of soot. Newer vehicles engage active regeneration, which is the process of removing accumulated soot from the filter by adding fuel post-combustion to increase exhaust gas temperatures and burn off the soot, providing a temporary solution. Passive regeneration takes place automatically on motorway-type runs when the exhaust temperature is high. Many manufacturers have moved to using active regeneration, as many motorists do not often drive prolonged distances at motorway speeds to clear the DPF and constant short distances are not good for the turbo or exhaust system.

So, what happens to the turbo when a DPF is blocked?
A blocked DPF prevents exhaust gas passing through the exhaust system at the required rate. As a result, back pressure and exhaust gas temperatures increase within the turbine housing.

Increased exhaust gas temperature and back pressure can affect the turbocharger in a number of ways, including problems with efficiencies, oil leaks, carbonisation of oil within the turbo and exhaust gas leaks from the turbo.

How to spot a turbocharger that has suffered from DPF problems:

  • Discolouration of parts within the core assembly (CHRA) usually with evidence that the heat is transferring through the CHRA from the turbine side. This excessive temperature within the CHRA is caused by back pressure forcing the exhaust gas through the piston ring seals and into the CHRA. The high temperature exhaust gas can prevent efficient oil cooling within the CHRA and even carbonise the oil, restricting oil feeds and causing wear to the bearing systems. This type of failure can often be mistaken as a lack of lubrication or contaminated oil.
  • Carbon build-up in the turbine side piston ring groove caused by the increased exhaust gas temperatures.
  • Oil leaks into the compressor housing can be seen as a consequence of exhaust gas forcing its way into the CHRA from the turbine side and forcing oil through the oil seal on the compressor side.
  • A blocked DPF can force exhaust gas through the smallest of gaps, including the clearances in the bearing housing VNT lever arm and turbine housing waste gate mechanisms. If this occurs, carbon build up in these mechanisms can restrict movement of the levers affecting performance of the turbo. In some cases soot build up can be seen on the back face of the seal plate where the exhaust gas has been forced through.
  • Turbine wheel failure through high cycle fatigue (HCF) caused by temperature increase.

How can you prevent these failures from occurring?

As a starting point, it is essential to identify the failure mode and determine whether a DPF related issue is the root cause. If the entire rotor assembly is ok, and there are some signs of overheating towards the turbine side of the core assembly then the failure is likely to be caused by excessive exhaust gas temperatures. High amounts of carbon build-up within the VNT mechanism and lever arms indicate a blocked DPF, and the driver may experience turbo lag or over boost of the turbo.

To help prevent turbo failure caused by DPFs:

  • Determine whether the DPF is blocked.
  • Contact a DPF specialist for advice.
  • Replace the DPF with a high quality replacement – lower cost DPF’s will often not operate as efficiently as the original. This can replicate the environment of a blocked DPF.
  • If the DPF is blocked, always replace the turbocharger core assembly to prevent possible oil leaks.
  • Check the actuator achieves its full range of movement, particularly if electronic, as internal components could be worn.

One final consideration, it takes time for a DPF to block, sometimes years. Once blocked though, turbo failure can occur very quickly. If you don’t check for a DPF issue when installing a replacement turbo, there is a very high chance the replacement turbo will suffer the same failure, as it will be subject to the same operating environment as the previous unit.

Why Did Your Turbocharger Die?

A turbocharger is simple in concept, but complex in operation.

In a nutshell, a turbocharger uses exhaust gases produced by the engine, which are pushed out of the engine at a velocity that corresponds with the speed of the engine’s rotation to push fresh air into the engine. The faster the engine “revs” the higher the volume and speed of the exhaust that escapes it is. Exhaust consists of air and the by products of fuel combustion (carbon monoxide, and a lot of other chemicals).

In a normally aspirated engine, air is taken in at atmospheric pressure. In a turbocharged engine, air is pushed in to the combustion chamber under pressure. Because the air is compressed, more fuel can be introduced into the engine while still maintaining the ideal mixture ratio between air and fuel. Simply put, being able to put more fuel into the engine results in more power.

Because the exhaust gases would be emitted anyway, harnessing them to increase performance also increases efficiency. The turbocharger plays a big role in making diesel engines the powerhouses that they are.

Unfortunately, the high temperatures and speeds involved in a turbocharger can be hard on it. The turbine is the component that hot exhaust gases push against to drive the unit. It’s subject to extremely high temperatures, and speeds up to 150,000 rpm. The compressor wheel “squeezes” air into the compression chamber. When air is compressed, it gets hot. Even at the “cool” end of the turbocharger temperatures can exceed 200 degrees Celsius.

The turbocharger needs a healthy supply of engine oil to lubricate its moving parts, and to help cool it. Often, an impediment to oil circulation and/or dirty oil, can cause the turbocharger to fail. In fact, short of component failure in the turbocharger, nearly every turbocharger failure is caused by something else in the engine not working correctly. Air and gas leaks, worn piston rings, clogged exhaust, carbon build-up and a hundred other things can cause turbocharger failure. When this is the case, simply replacing your turbocharger may appear to solve the problem, but it will likely reoccur in a relatively short time.

IAmDIESEL is the Diesel Service Centre at Western Turbo and Fuel Injection in Winnipeg. We’re the area’s premiere diesel service centre. If you’ve experienced a turbocharger problem, bring it to us. Because we understand diesel engines better than anyone else, we will diagnose and repair the root cause of your problem, not just the symptom.

Turbo Trivia Part 2 – Common Turbocharger Problems

A turbocharger is a finely balanced system.  Very high temperatures and extreme rotation speeds mean that it needs to be one of the most carefully engineered systems in your vehicle.  It’s a highly evolved piece of technology that, despite the extreme demands placed on it, will likely last as long as the rest of your vehicle if properly maintained.  Quite often, a turbocharger failure is a symptom of an underlying engine problem that will need to be addressed before simply replacing the turbo unit, or it will repeat itself.  Here are some more symptoms and their possible causes:

Insufficient Power or Boost Pressure Too Low

If a turbocharger doesn’t produce enough boost pressure, it won’t work.  There can be any number of causes of this condition, from a worn engine to a broken or damaged turbocharger bearing.  Low pressure can also be caused by leaking lines or gaskets (allowing pressure to escape before driving air into the cylinders, improper filter maintenance, and a worn or sticky poppet valve can also cause this condition.

Oil Leakage at the Compressor

There can be a whole lot of explanations for leakage at the compressor.  One of the problems we find most often at Western Turbo to explain this problem is a buildup of combustion by-products (coke and sludge) in the turbocharger housing.  The reasons for this buildup can be many – a dirty air filter system, exhaust that leaks upstream of the turbine, some kind of kink or clog impeding oil flow to the turbine.  Sometimes this buildup is caused by failure of the turbocharger bearings themselves, or a loss of compression in the engine.

Oil Leakage at the Turbine

Turbine oil leakage causes mirror those problems that cause the compressor itself to leak.  The first thing to check for is a buildup of sludge inside the casing of the turbocharger.  If present, look for the underlying cause, which is usually a problem with oil flow to the turbocharger.

Noise from the Turbocharger

In the case of a noisy turbocharger unit, it’s imperative that you trust your ears and look into the cause before a unit failure results.  Often, if you catch it early, you can prevent extensive damage to your turbocharger.  The leading causes of increased noise from your turbo unit are too little flow of air or oil, or foreign material in the bearings.

If you’re experiencing turbocharger difficulties, consult Winnipeg’s turbocharger and fuel injection expert, Western Turbo.  We do more than just maintain and repair turbocharger units – we find the root cause of the problem and correct it, so you won’t just have a recurrence.

Turbo Trivia Part 1 – Common Turbocharger Problems

While modern turbochargers are highly evolved systems that provide relatively trouble-free service for the lifetime of your engine, it’s good to be able to recognize the symptoms of turbocharger troubles and their causes, to simplify repair of one of your vehicle’s key performance improvement systems.  Very often, a turbocharger problem is the result of an issue elsewhere in the system, and will recur unless the underlying issue is addressed.

Exhaust Smoke – Black

There are a lot of issues that can cause excessive black particulate in your vehicles exhaust.  Look to the air filter system and the supply of oil to the turbocharger, as well as damage to the unit itself.  Often the turbine housing, flap, or turbocharger bearing will have failed, or the boost pressure control swing valve isn’t closing properly.  This problem can also be caused by problems elsewhere in the engine – worn valve guides, piston rings, or cylinder walls can cause blow by that manifests itself as black smoke.

Exhaust Smoke – Blue

Blue smoke can be caused by a number of factors, including overall engine wear.  Turbocharger related causes of this symptom include dirty compressors, excessive exhaust flow resistance, or bearing damage.  Look out for dirty air filter systems, or a buildup of coke and sludge buildup in the turbocharger housing.

Excessive Boost Pressure

If your boost pressure is too high, the likely cause is in the swing or poppet valve or the associated pipe assembly to it.  It could also be caused by a fuel injection problem.

Defective Compressor or Turbine Wheels

The high-speed spinning parts of the turbo unit can be damaged by excessive heat and friction caused by improper lubrication.  If these parts are worn or broken, they’ll need to be replaced.

Oil Consumption

High oil consumption can be caused by a number of factors, including worn out engine components like piston rings, valve guides, and cylinder walls.  It could also be a symptom of something as simple as a dirty air filter system, or an improperly vented crankcase.

For expert diagnosis of your diesel engine in Winnipeg, visit Western Turbo.  In addition to maintenance and repair of turbo systems, we provide new equipment for the leading brands in the business – Holset, BorgWarner, and Garrett.

Western Turbo is located at 325 Eagle Drive in Winnipeg.

Turbocharger Care and Maintenance

One of the most efficient ways to increase the power output of any engine, gasoline or diesel, without increasing the size and weight of the engine, is to add a turbocharger.

Turbochargers are used on all kinds of vehicles – racecars and big diesel truck engines both commonly employ them, because they’re often asked to provide maximum horsepower to get their jobs done.

Turbochargers improve engine performance by using the engine’s exhaust to power a compressor, which will force air into the cylinders of the engine, so that more fuel can be added while still maintaining the optimum ratio for efficient combustion.  Because more air and fuel are in the cylinder, the explosion produced on the power stroke provides more energy.  The performance improvement provided by a turbocharger far outweigh the increased load the system puts on the engine’s exhaust.

Turbochargers have been in use for a long time, and the systems are quite evolved.  You can generally expect your turbo system to last as long as your engine does.  There are, however, some considerations you need to make surrounding maintenance of a turbocharged engine.

The main problems that confront turbochargers are heat and lubrication related. Because of the extremely high speed that the turbo is required to spin at, conventional bearings would fail very quickly.  Turbochargers use a fluid bearing – a thin layer of oil that separates the mechanical parts to prevent wear and keep the moving parts in the compressor or the turbine cool.  Most turbocharger failures are caused by inadequate lubrication, or foreign particles in the oil.  This means that the key maintenance requirements for a turbocharged engine are oil changes at prescribed intervals, oil and air filter system maintenance, and oil pressure control.

Western Turbo is your Winnipeg area turbocharger expert.  In addition to maintenance and repair of turbo systems, we provide new equipment for the leading brands in the business – Holset, BorgWarner, and Garrett.

Your turbocharged engine is safe in the hands of our trained technicians.  Conveniently located at 325 Eagle Drive in Winnipeg, we are standing by to keep your diesel powered in tip-top shape.

Insist on OEM

It has been said that stock runs best. Simply put, low grade aftermarket parts are no particular bargain if they don’t perform properly or possess the same degree of longevity that original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts provide. When it comes to your livelihood, as it pertains to your turbochargers, insist on OEM replacement parts purchased through a reputable source.

Most modern diesel engines are turbocharged. A turbocharger allows the engine’s horsepower and torque to be multiplied through forced air induction. Inside the turbocharger housing is both a turbine and an air pump. Both are driven using the same shaft. Spent exhaust gases, escaping the compression chamber, are used to drive a turbine at very high RPM. As the exhaust turns the turbine, the air pump impeller draws high-volume, low-pressure ambient air into the engine. The ambient air is drawn in through the front air-dam and the intercooler, in order to ensure that a steady source of cooler, denser air is available to the air pump. This additional air induction allows the engine to burn an increased amount of fuel, resulting in more horsepower and torque.

Why buy OEM Turbochargers?

Aftermarket turbochargers aren’t manufactured to the same stringent specifications as OEM one, neither are they made from the same top-quality steel and components. Turbochargers are by nature very powerful, yet they operate under very delicate circumstances. The turbine wheel and housing must be meticulously machined and assembled; tolerances between the impeller and housing can be well under several thousandths of an inch. Extreme temperatures from the exhaust, which drives the air pump, coupled with these very close tolerances demand that the turbocharger be designed, engineered, and manufactured to the most rigid guidelines. You just don’t get that type of quality anywhere but OEM for turbochargers.

The next time that you have a problem with your turbo diesel, trust the professionals at Western Turbo to provide you with quality parts and experienced, courteous service.

Tips for Troubleshooting Your Diesel Turbocharger

A faulty or damaged turbocharger can do more than just rob your diesel engine of needed power boost. If left untreated, it can easily lead to total engine failure and very expensive additional engine component damage. So it’s important that you be able to identify any problems in your turbocharger, and their potential causes before they get more serious, and more costly.

Engine Lacks Power

If your engine is lacking in power, there are several possible causes other than your turbocharger. Check first to make certain that there are no airflow issues. Make sure that the air cleaner is clean, replaced regularly per manufacturer recommendations, using OEM replacement parts. Check fuel injectors and fuel pump for adequate flow; make sure ignition timing is set to manufacturer specs. If you suspect the trouble is with the turbocharger, examine the impeller blades for any wear or damage. This is usually indicative of foreign objects getting into the turbo housing.

Turbo Unit Seized

When the turbocharger seizes up, or works sluggishly, a likely cause is poor lubrication or damage to the unit. If the rotor assembly doesn’t rotate freely, it could indicate a high buildup of carbon in the assembly. This could be the result of low oil pressure, dirty or degraded lubricating oil. Check oil for dirt or contaminants, replace per recommended intervals with the appropriate grade lube oil.

Improper Rotor Clearance

Regardless of the make and model of an engine, each turbocharger assembly has very specific tolerances with regard to the clearances for its rotors. Deviations from these clearances will adversely affect engine performance and can be due to defective bearings, or poor or dirty lubricant oil. Check as above for dirty, insufficient or degraded lubricant.

Noisy / Whistling Turbo

When a turbocharger whistles or produces excessive noise, the cause is most often an air or gas leak, or a leak in the EGR cooler. Check for air leaks, broken, missing or worn gaskets, etc. As above, check for proper clearances.