Turbochargers – Operational Tips

Turbocharger is a very precise device, at the same time its mechanism is relatively simple, durable and efficient. With appropriate handling and maintenance, turbocharger is capable of reliable operation for many years even though its rotation speed reaches sometimes 200 000 rpm.

Turbochargers are designed in such way to be able to work with the engine reliably throughout its entire life. It does not require any special overhauls, you only need to pay attention to proper operating conditions, and verification should be limited to a few basic steps in line with the instructions provided by the turbocharger’s manufacturer.

The above actions should include:
•    regular exchange of engine oil;
•    maintenance of oil filtration system (oil filter, oil pipes);
•    oil pressure check;
•    maintenance of air supply system (air filter, air pipes).
If you have a car equiped with turbocharger, it is good to know a few useful tips.

1. Turbocharger as an integral part of the engine.

Turbochargers are designed in such way to be apply to dedicated engines. Engine and turbocharger depend on each other in order to achieve the best efficiency of both. Turbocharger is not an additional device that could be dismantled in case of wear or failure. It requires the same care as an engine, especially regular oil exchange and verification of its fastenings.

2. Engine malfunctions ? It doesn’t have to be a turbocharger.
Very often a turbocharger in perfect condition is dismantled and exchange for a new one due to poor operation suspicion , which is actually comes from the other engine components or its adjustments, not from turbocharger itself:
- blue color of exhaust gases ? Before dismantling make sure the air filter is not dirt. The cause of excessive oil consumption can also be located in the engine itself (e.g. engine blow);
- noise from turbocharger ? It simply happens that connections of air charging pipes are not sealed properly.
- black smoke? Power output decrease? Once more, check the engine first.

3. Three main enemies of the turbocharger.
- Insufficient  oil engine level;
results damage of turbocharger bearing system, which leads to friction between  rotor’s gears and inner surface of both housings, in consequence even to breakage of the shaft. It should be noticed that engine oil is also responsible for turbocharger’s cooling, not only lubrication, and its lack is easy to diagnose by thermal discoloration on the shaft.
- Foreign objects in the air intake or exhaust gas;

May cause damage to the compressor wheel vanes or turbine wheel, which leads to imbalance of the rotating system and to the destruction of the entire component.
- Impurities in engine oil;

May cause damage on both the bearing and sliding surfaces of the shaft and they are mostly  smaller or larger particles of the metal remaining from the previous failure, or carbon deposits formed during the combustion of the oil. Other contaminants such a silicone used instead of gaskets can effectively blocked the oil flow and lead to the wear of turbocharger.

4.Not for self-maintenance of turbocharger.
Although the automotive market provides the spare parts or entire kits for repair of turbochargers, we do not recommend to repair them by yourself. While the turbocharger is quite simple device, its parts operate with tolerances of a few microns. Please also note that you should not install turbochargers without previous balance test, because its rotor speed reaches up to 250 000 rpm. Also, the increasing use of electronic components to build the turbochargers is significant.

5. Failure prediction.
If you will notice oil leaks, unusual vibrations or noise coming from the turbocharger, stop the engine immediately. The turbocharger rotates at high speed, so that the smallest anomaly can quickly cause a serious accident (only few seconds without insufficient lubrication can destroy the bearings). With appropriate and quick diagnose, failure can be removed with minimum efforts and costs.

6. Not for turbocharger non-dedicated for the engine.
Every turbocharger is built for a specific engine type and its conditions of use. Various parameters such as engine capacity, power output, way of operation, the vehicle load, these are the factors that are taken into account while turbocharger’s designing. Only an authorized workshop may offer the exchange of original turbocharger to another without the risk of changing engine’s parameters.

7. Why do we supercharge the engine
The engines of various vehicles and other machines and devices are equipped with a turbocharger for different reasons:
• to increase the power output and engine torque,
• to compensate the air pressure drop at higher altitudes,
• to reduce of fuel consumption and the amount of impurities in the exhaust gases
Do not increase the level of the turbocharger boost, in particular to change the settings of the boost pressure regulator. It is set in such way to obtain optimum engine efficiency. Too high boost pressure can cause an increase of engine temperature and damage the pistons or engine bearings surface.

8. Driver/operator training
Even the most advanced equipment will not perform its best unless the user is not prepared to support it. Supercharged engines require special attention:
• in order to avoid too rapid wear of the turbocharger bearings do not shut down the engine when running at high speed, because the turbocharger still rotates also at high speed, while the oil pressure drops to zero,
• while starting the engine, please wait at least 30 seconds to fill the oil lines, then you can accelerate the engine speed
• it is recommended to leave the engine after intensive use at least 2-3 minutes at idle speed (the time required to cool down the turbocharger). It was mentioned that the oil also cools our turbocharger, by shutting down the engine rapidly we turn off the oil pump which supplies the engine and our turbocharger with oil.
Currently, most of cars are used in city traffic and this is unfortunately not only for the DPF / FAP systems , but also for the proper operation of the turbocharger. Therefore, it is worth from time to time to take more dynamic driving experience in order to burn off the soot accumulated in the exhaust manifold and very often inside the turbocharger, which blocks the system of variable geometry.