Recommendations for Turbocharger Servicing & Care

The following recommendations come from years of experience as well as guidelines from the world’s leading turbocharger manufacturers.

How to Care For Your Turbo

In theory, a turbo is designed such that it will usually last as long as the engine. It does not require any special maintenance; and inspection is limited to a few periodic checks. However, to ensure that the turbo’s lifetime is prolonged, the following engine manufacturer’s service instructions must be strictly observed:

Oil change intervals
Correct oil as specified by engine manufacturer
Oil filter system maintenance
Always ensure correct oil-pressure is maintained
Air filter system maintenance
On diesel engines, use the best quality diesel available
Poor quality diesel will block the catalytic converter, which will lead to turbo failure
It is not uncommon to remove/replace blocked catalytic converters in order to prolong the life of the turbo
Any ECU re-mapping should only be done by professionals to ensure your turbocharger isn’t damaged in the process.  Turboworks is equipped to do ECU re-mapping within safe parameters that won’t damage the engine, turbocharger or injectors of your vehicle
Always ensure services are performed by a reputable mechanical workshop

Turbo Failure – Causes

90 % of all turbo failures are due to the following causes:

Penetration of foreign bodies into the turbine or the compressor
Dirt in the oil
Inadequate oil supply (oil pressure/filter system/carbon-build-up in oil-supply pipe )
High exhaust gas temperatures (ignition system/injection system)
Faulty electronic actuator on turbocharger

Many of these failures can be avoided by regular maintenance. When maintaining the air filter system, for example, care should be taken that no foreign material gets into the turbo

Effect of Rebuilding an Engine

Rebuilding an engine could have an effect on the turbo as follows:

Loose carbon, if not flushed out before fitting the turbo, will lead to turbo failure
Grinding-paste, if not flushed out properly before fitting the turbo, will lead to turbo failure

Always ensure your engine is rebuilt by professionals!

Turbo Installation

When fitting a turbo, the following should be checked carefully:

Air Intake
Oil Supply
Exhaust Manifold
Oil-supply and drain pipe for leaks, foreign bodies & restrictions and replace or clean as necessary.
You ensure that the oil is that recommended by the engine manufacturer.
You ensure lock-plates to be fastened after realignment.
Remember that the turbocharger contains little or no oil and must be pre-oiled by pouring clean oil into the turbo centre housing oil inlet for initial lubrication.
Install turbo on engine replacing all gaskets.
Ensure no gaskets sealants or compound are used – a small amount of silicon inside a bearing-housing will lead to turbo seizure.
Leave oil pipes disconnected and crank engine until oil flows from feed pipe with the fuel shut-off in die “off” position and the solenoid disconnected (on engines equipped with electric shut-off.)
Connect oil feed pipe.
Crank engine until oil flows from oil outlet.
Connect drain pipe and crank engine for 5 seconds.
Start engine and idle for 3 to 5 minutes before accelerating.
Before engine is switched off it is important that it is allowed to idle for 3 to 5 minutes.

Failure Diagnosis

If the engine does not operate properly, one should not assume that the turbo is the cause of failure. In many cases a turbo is replaced, although the fault is engine-related and not caused by a faulty turbo.

It might be that the problem shows up at the turbo, although the turbo is in perfect condition (for example engine blow-by/sump-compression, pushing oil through the oil-return back and forcing oil past the oil-rings of the turbo). In other cases, an engine-fault could damage the turbo, and after replacing the turbo, the engine still needs to be attended to.

In general, the following could also play a role in proper functioning of the turbo although it’s not part of the turbo:

Air-mass meter
Boost-control sensors
Engine Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve
Engine Control Unit (ECU)

TURBOWORKS is a 5 star graded workshop by the RMI (MIWA) and is fully equipped to do a thorough fault-analysis on your vehicle.