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.

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