Turbo Failure – Symptoms? Reasons? How to Prevent it?

Turbo Failure, Turbo Idling

Emission norms are getting tougher day by day. Moreover, consumers demand both power and efficiency. To meet all the requirements, manufacturers have started producing small capacity turbocharged engines. Turbocharged cars are fun to drive yet fuel-efficient. If you happen to be a user of a turbocharged car then you must be aware of premature turbo failure and the huge cost of repair/replacement associated with it. This comprehensive article covers the symptoms, reasons and prevention of a turbo failure.


The symptoms of a Turbo Failure are –

  • Loss of power and poor acceleration as against the car’s performance before
  • Noise
  • Blue or grey smoke caused by the burning of oil leaked through worn oil seals
  • Lowered engine oil level on the dip-stick


The reasons for the Turbo Failure are –

1) Lack of lubrication –

Oil inlet supply restriction, incorrect gasket placement or poor quality of lubricant leads to high temperature and metal friction. Eventually, it destroys the turbocharger due to fatigue cracking and material transfer.

2) Oil contamination –

Carbon deposits in the engine oil obstruct the lubrication as well as damage to the bearings. Also, a major engine overhaul would suspend steel shots into the engine oil which can damage the bearings of the turbocharger.

3) Damage to the compressor & nozzle assembly due to the foreign objects – 

The entry of a very tiny piece of debris into the turbocharger can do huge damage to the compressor and nozzle assembly due to its high rpm. Damage to the compressor and nozzle assembly causes an imbalance in the turbocharger eventually destroying the whole turbocharger within some seconds.

4) Overspeeding and Hot Stops –

Modding the car for extra horsepower and torque can lead to excessive load on the turbocharger exceeding its designed limits.

Hot stops can be defined as turning of the engine soon after an aggressive run. This puts a high temperature on the critical components of the turbocharger.


Prevent the Premature Turbo Failure –

  • Always follow the preventive scheduled maintenance of your car. Get the jobs done only at the authorised service centre for professional care and protection of your car’s warranty.
  • Engine oil is the blood of the engine and the turbocharger. Keep your attention on the engine oil’s quality and level. Replace the engine oil and engine oil filter on the recommended interval.
  • Air inlet is the only entry for the foreign particles to enter inside the turbocharger. Get the air filter cleaned periodically and replace it on the recommended interval. If you happen to be living in a region with more dust particles in the air, replace the air filter more frequently.
  • NEVER perform a hot stop. It is the rudest thing the owner can do with their turbocharged cars. The turbocharger might still be running even after turning off the engine due to its high rpm. Always practice turbo-idling.


How to Practice Turbo-Idling?

Turbo-idling is a very simple process to cool down the turbocharger.

  1. Whenever the journey is about to end, refrain from pushing the engine at higher rpm. Try to be gentle on your engine for the last 3 km by maintaining the rpm below 1500 yet not lugging the engine.
  2. On reaching the destination, always put the car into the neutral and wait for 60 seconds on idle condition before turning off the engine. This will allow sufficient time for the turbocharger to cool down.

Turbochargers are designed to perform lifelong and the turbocharged cars are always fun to drive. Practice the above rules and have fun with your car for unlimited miles.


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