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VIDEO: Determining Turbocharger Failures

When a turbocharger fails, your CSI skills must be put to work. Determining why it fails may be much more difficult than replacing it. Sponsored by MAHLE.

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When a turbocharger fails, your CSI skills must be put to work. Determining why it fails may be much more difficult than replacing it. Sponsored by MAHLE.

Though failures CAN be traced to the impeller or shaft of the turbocharger, the likelihood they’re the main culprit is pretty slim. Turbos are designed to last the life of an engine, so check carefully for clues that may lead to successfully diagnosing a failure.

Is the air filter dirty – or worse, missing? Little bits of debris can turn into projectiles at the super high speeds of the turbine and compressor wheels. Make sure the entire intake and fresh air system to and from the charge air cooler is clean – and always remove anything from the exhaust pipe.

Dirty, sludgy oil, a poor oil supply or a lack of coolant can all lead to turbo overheating. Be sure the oil is clean and, once it is, make sure the oil return pipe and connection to the crankcase is free of kinks and deposits. Either can lead to blockage and engine failure.

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Many experts recommend replacement of both the charge air cooler and the oil return pipe when you replace a turbo.

As with every part under the hood, proper installation means all connections must be tight so that oil, air, exhaust gases and cooling water flow smoothly. Always use the proper mounting kit – including seals and fasteners. And make sure they’re tight – then check ‘em again. And never reuse old gaskets – they may be deformed or compromised in some way.

Here’s a final tip for your customers who want to be sure they won’t have to deal with turbo problems again – too much isn’t a good thing. The oil level in an engine matters as much as the quality. If the oil level is too high, it can lead to changes in the compression ratio, which forces oil into the turbine and compressor of the turbo. If this oil is sucked in and burnt again by the engine, it can lead to major damage.

You’ll probably be seeing a lot more turbos in your shop. The more you learn now will help you service them then. Thanks for watching.

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