While they’ve come a long way since its mass-market adoption in the 1950s, turbochargers remain one of the most sensitive components in an automobile.
Heat, in particular, coupled with the highly pressurized conditions under which the average turbo operates, it can quickly damage sensitive components. When the engine overheats, for example, the turbo is likely to take a hit as well.
A broken turbocharger can lead to more serious problems and costly repairs, so keeping it in good condition is a necessity.
Here are five ways you can keep your turbo running longer (and save repair bills in the process):
1. Change your oil regularly
The first and most effective way to extend the life of the turbocharger is a regular oil change.
It is especially true for older turbos that rely heavily on engine oil to cool down.
Modern turbochargers are designed to use coolant to dissipate heat, but these engines can still get hot quickly once the oil starts to deteriorate.
How often you change the oil depends on your vehicle, but between 5,000 to 7,000 miles is the sweet spot. We also recommend switching to fully synthetic oil brands, as it absorbs heat more efficiently.
Check with your vehicle’s manual on the type of synthetic blend that works best for your ride.
2. Start things warm
When running from a cold start, do not throttle the engine onto full power until the oil has warmed thoroughly.
Cold engine oil is thick, and it will not be able to cool down the turbocharger effectively. The resulting heat will strain the oil seals, which could lead to oil seepage and damage within the turbo’s internal components.
The engine should idle for at least ten seconds initially. It allows the oil to thin enough to circulate easily inside the turbocharger.
We also recommend having the engine run at a steady rate for another ten minutes to allow moisture and other impurities to evaporate from the oil pan.
3. Run idle after a long drive
Sustained high speeds put extreme strain on the turbocharger, and so does shutting down the engine immediately after a long run. Both actions can damage the turbine irreparably.
If you’ve driven a considerable distance, be sure to have the engine idle for at least thirty seconds before switching off the ignition. For vehicles with “stop-start” technology, disable this feature as well so that the choice is switchable.
4. Install blow-off valves (if you still don’t have one)
Blow-off valves or BOVs can now be found in most turbocharged engines. It relieves the strain and releases pressure off the turbo when the throttle is released too quickly. BOVs can also prevent oil from clogging inside the engine, improving turning and shifting performance.
5. Let the gears do the heavy lifting
Are you driving a manual vehicle? Be sure to choose a lower gear when climbing hills.
Driving at a lower gear at an incline uses less booster pressure and prevents a potential downshift. A lower gear also keeps the engine within its “power band,” which is the range of RPMs where it is operating at its most efficient.
Call on the experts at Taylor Diesel for more information on turbochargers or any other diesel engine questions.