General information about damage to turbochargers - AutoNorma

What is a turbocharger?

A turbocharger is an inductively driven device that increases the efficiency and performance of an internal combustion engine by providing additional air to the combustion chamber.

This improvement, unlike naturally aspirated engine power, is due to the fact that the compressor can inject more air - and proportionally more fuel - into the combustion chamber than atmospheric pressure alone.

The aim of the turbocharger is to increase the efficiency of the engine by increasing the density of the intake gas (usually air), thus allowing higher power per engine cycle.

The turbocharger compressor draws ambient air and compresses it at elevated pressure before entering the suction pipe. The result is more air entering the cylinders at each suction stroke. The power required to start the compressor is derived from the kinetic energy of the engine exhaust in the exhaust section of the turbocharger.

The life of a turbocharger and what to do to make it longer?

The service life of the turbocharger is 170,000 km with quality oil and proper car maintenance. After 170 ths. Km, it is  advisable to replace bearings, seals, and have the whole mechanism cleaned and adjusted.

The basis is always good engine maintenance, timely oil change, and quality oil which in turn ensures the lubrication of highly stressed parts.

What bearings can withstand such high speeds at such high temperatures?

For trucks, these are special alloy slithery bearings. For passenger cars, there is a single bearing with two working surfaces which is secured against slipping so that only the rotor moves.

In special turbochargers designed for tuning and moto-sport, ball bearings are used. These have a higher load-bearing capacity and, thanks mainly to rolling resistance, have a significantly faster response when the engine starts.

What kind of oil to use and how often should it be changed?

One of the factors that predominantly affects the life of a turbocharger is oil. It is best to use semi or fully synthetic oil as instructed by the engine manufacturer. Oil change is recommended by the oil manufacturer. 

Oil in suction? 

A small amount of oil deposited on the walls which comes from the engine vent that is brought through the turbocharger is nothing rare. It is nothing to be worried about. 

Can I mount a turbo from another engine?

This is not possible if they do not have the same OEM number or turbocharger manufacturer number. Although turbochargers have the same installation, they do characteristically differ. 

The engine goes into safe mode, the fault is gone when the key is turned off. Is the turbocharger the cause?

In 95% of cases, there is a problem in the turbocharger. This means that the blades tilting malfunctions, subsequently causing the boost pressure to be exceeded or not reached, and as a result the control unit automatically sets the so-called emergency mode.

To eliminate this defect, the blade mechanism must be disassembled. It is necessary to seal the bearing surface, and it is  also imperative to adjust the minimum flow rate at a test station again.

Why is it important to balance the turbocharger?

The lack of accurate balancing can manifest itself in malignant vibrations, consequently resulting in shorter bearing life or reduced efficiency as well as unpleasant noise.  

Black smoke

Black smoke can be most often seen on modified turbo diesel. However, this phenomenon may not necessarily indicate a malfunction. In fact, it might be caused by burning of an extremely rich mixture, a mixture so rich that all the fuel cannot be burned. Thus, the remainder, then in the form of soot, is pushed out through the exhaust system.

For example, this may be due to a defective fuel injector, clogged fuel return pipe, or a defective fuel pressure regulator.

On the air inlet side, this could mean some obstacles to the suction, mostly a clogged air filter.

White smoke

White smoke can be caused by two phenomena. The first is that water vapor is discharged from the exhaust which is generated by heating the air moisture condensed on the walls of the exhaust pipe.

The more serious cause is the flow of white smoke while the engine is hot when it is apparent that water enters the exhaust pipe from elsewhere, such as a cracked cylinder head gasket. Thus, coolant enters the combustion chambers and then travels out through the exhaust pipe. If this is neglected, it can have fatal consequences for your engine.

Blue-ish smoke

Blue smoke is indicative of a problem with the turbocharger. At idle speed, oil enters the intake and intercooler through the turbocharger which burns at once in the engine after acceleration.