Common turbo failure symptoms

Friday 26th April 2019

Common turbo failure symptoms

If you have a turbocharged vehicle, it’s important to know what common turbo faults to look out for. Knowing the early signs of turbo failure can prevent you from having to fork out for maintenance and replacements later down the line. Learn everything you need to know about turbo failure symptoms and faults today.

Common turbo faults

There are certain causes of turbocharger damage and turbo faults to look out for. These include:

  • Oil – turbos need a constant flow of clean oil to work effectively. Changing the oil and oil filter regularly should ensure that your turbo remains in good condition.
  • Dust, stones & leaves – sometimes foreign elements get caught in the turbocharger, like small stones, leaves, dirt, and dust particles. This causes impact damage and abrasion to the compressor wheels and turbine blades. Servicing your air filter regularly should prevent this from happening.
  • Wear and tear – as the same with most motoring parts, general wear and tear to your turbo can mean it will develop faults over time. The life expectancy of a turbocharger can last between 100,000 – 150,000 miles, but this varies based on each driver’s habits. Ensuring you keep an eye on your mileage and driving style will help you to maximise the life of your turbo.
  • Leaks/cracks – if there’s any leaks or cracks between the compressor and the engine, the turbo will have to work harder to increase the air pressure in the engine – which is how a turbo works, essentially meaning its functionality is compromised. This could be caused by wear and tear or general aging of the turbo – it’s advised to have your turbo serviced regularly, and, if it is older, consider replacing it.

Signs of turbo failure

So, now we know the faults, what are the early signs of turbo failure – and how can you spot them?

  • Engine warning lights – modern cars are designed to pick up on problems such as turbo failure, so always check your warning lights on the dashboard – as this could be suggesting your engine (or your turbo) needs looking into.
  • Loss of power – perhaps your turbocharged vehicle isn’t exerting as much power as usual? If it’s showing a slower acceleration – or can’t reach expected speeds – this could be an indication of a problem.
  • Unusual noises – a loud whining noise may be heard from your engine if your turbo has a fault. It will sound something similar to a dentist drill or a police siren – so if you hear this noise, it’s definitely worth checking out, as this is a sign of turbo failure.
  • Exhaust smoking – if the turbo housing has cracked, you will begin to see oil leaking out of your exhaust system. Blue/grey smoke will then appear – more so when the engine revs after being stationary.
  • Boost gauge – this lets you know how much boost your turbo is producing. A sign of turbo failure would be if your boost gauge isn’t going up as much as it used to.

Suspect a problem with your turbo or need some more advice? Find your nearest Formula One Autocentre today – our helpful team can be on hand to support you, whatever your motoring needs.

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