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14 harmful things you are doing to your turbo

Turbo charged engines are very popular these days and tons of cars are equipped with them from the factory.   However, many people are unaware of the proper maintenance and driving habits required to ensure your turbo has a nice long life.

We've put together a list of common things that will shorten the life expectancy of your expensive turbo.

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1. Getting into boost while your oil temps are cold. cold oil temps

One of the worst things you can do to your turbo is get into boost hard before oil temperatures are warmed up.  If you don’t have an oil temperature gauge, a good time is usually a few minutes after your car has reached normal operating temperatures. This usually takes 5-10 minutes but depends on oil type and environmental conditions.

2.  Waiting too long before oil changes

waiting too long between oil changes

Your turbo requires clean and healthy oil for maximum lubrication. If you oil has broken down, it’s not receiving the proper lubrication.

 3.  Using cheap non-synthetic oil

cheap oil changes

You don't want to cheap out on your oil.  A synthetic oil is thinner, resists extreme temperatures better and generally lasts longer.

 4. Shutting your car off immediately after driving it hard

shutting off after driving hard

Drive your car gently for the last minute or two of the drive, or let the car idle afterwards for at least 60 seconds. By letting it run. the oil will continue to circulate and cool down the turbo. One of the main reasons your turbo will die is because of oil “coking”.  The oil that lubricates your turbo can heat up and form solid oil deposits. This is especially important under racing conditions.

5. Not checking for boost leaks

having boost leaks Boost leaks can cause your turbo to overspin, which leads to failure.

6. Having PCV system failures

pcv system failures

On many engines the PCV system is linked directly via a diaphragm to the intake manifold. When these fail, the PCV system becomes a large boost leak, over-spinning the turbocharger.

 7. Running too much boost

too much boost

Excessive boost pressure can cause heavy, damaging surge or overspin the turbocharger at the top end of the RPM band.

8. Having a non functioning diverter valve non functioning diverter valve

When your diverter valve fails you get pressure spike between shifts that puts excessive load on your turbo.

 9. Getting your car tuned by an amateur

tuned by amatuer

Building a performance car is an expensive hobby. You can cut corners on certain parts of the build but this is not the place!  Certain factory turbos will tolerate being pushed very hard, but others will not. You need an expert to navigate these waters without shredding your parts.

10.  Having a low priced replica turbo

low priced turbo

Typically these are cheap for a reason. Corners are cut in material quality, assembly tolerances, and balancing which make these frequently short lived.

11.  Revving the car immediately at startup

revving car at startup

It’s important to allow proper lubrication for the turbocharger and other engine parts (such as pistons) to be established before revving the car up.

12. Having a poorly function cooling system

cooling system not functioning properly

The coolant system must be correctly functioning.  If equipped, this includes the after run pump which helps maintain reasonable temperatures within the turbo internals (CHRA) after shutdown.

13. Having improper oil feed and drain lines

improper feed lines and drain lines

This is often overlooked when piecing together turbo kits on your own. As with many things OEM manufacturers do it right. Line size restrictions and routing are the two main failure causes when it comes to turbo oil and coolant lines.

14. Not priming your new turbo after installation

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Replacing your old blow up turbo? Don’t forget to prime the new one! This ensures that your new turbo doesn’t run dry on it’s first startup.

Questions?

While this is a short and brief list, if you have a specific question or want us to get into more detail ask us in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “14 harmful things you are doing to your turbo”

  • Mihaela Gheorghe March 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Yes

    Reply
  • *adding no. 15

    Habit of stressing turbocharger in high REV while the catalytic conveter (CAT) is chocked and sick. The restricted airflow which form back pressure in turbo manifold and lead to turbo damage. Hence, we must always check the CAT condition to ensure it function well.

    Reply
  • Wondering if you will have a bolt on kit for the Mark 7 Golf R ?

    Reply
  • Induction leaks as well. Between the air filter and the turbo. Foreign debris can shell out a turbo quick.

    Reply
  • What's the danger in running an oil leaking turbocharger?

    Reply
    • Integrated Engineering July 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Edwin, most common problems are low oil pressure to the turbo leading to wear and failure and fire. The turbo and manifold are very hot, the leaking oil onto the turbine housing and turbo manifold can catch flame. Unfortunately, this has happened far too often.

      Reply
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