Tips on Buying a Turbo Car
Ever wanted to own a turbocharged
car, but never knew the right questions to ask?
Here's what you do ...
First check under the bonnet (hood). Check the following ...
Next comes the road test. Check the following ...
Now whilst the engine is at normal operating temperature, leave the engine idling for 10 minutes. Check the following ...
Congratulation. If all the tests above checked out OK, then your probably reaching for your cheque book now, but before you do, read the Turbo Technics Guide to Owning a Turbocharged Car.
Your turbocharger is engineered to match the specific requirements of the engine it is fitted to. Each is dependent on the other to maintain optimum performance. Don't think of the turbo as a bolt-on accessory, rather as an integral part of the engine. The turbo's requirements are similar to the engines, except that the turbo is less tolerant of neglect or poor maintenance. It is, therefore, essential that scheduled servicing, using good quality parts, is central to caring for your turbo.
In many instances Turbo Technics receive turbochargers which have been mis-diagnosed as having a turbo problem, when actually the turbo is not at fault. Incorrect fault finding is often caused by a lack of product knowledge. Many contributory items around the engine bay can trick the unsuspecting into believing the turbo is the culprit, when in fact it is not. Unfortunately, if the real problem is not diagnosed before a replacement turbocharger is fitted, the problem still exists!
We have a saying at Turbo Technics which goes, "Turbos don't die. Theyre killed". A turbo can be killed in many ways, but the most common causes are :
Lack of lubrication is self explanatory, but not always quite as obvious as sometimes thought. The turbocharger is lubricated using engine oil. It is carried from the engine's main oil gallery via either a steel or flexible pipe connected to the top of the turbocharger. One of the most common causes of oil starvation is due not to the turbo, but because the oil pipe or hose becomes restricted or blocked. This will result in the turbocharger seizing. It follows that, if a turbo is replaced, the oil supply line should also be replaced at the same time.
As it is the oil from the engine which also lubricates the turbocharger, engine oil must be replaced at regular intervals using good quality oil. Poor quality oil can sometimes lead to carbon deposits forming inside the turbo. These contribute to restricting the oil flow to the turbochargers bearings, resulting in failure. Should the engine develop a problem which leads to metal particles being introduced into the oil system, they become known as contaminates. In some instances work carried out on an engine can also dislodge very small particles of dirt or carbon. If these particles are not collected by the engine's oil filter, they will enter the turbocharger. Turbocharger bearings can have as little as half the working clearance of that of an engine's bearings. Therefore, very small contaminates in the engine oil, which would have otherwise passed through the engines bearings without causing concern, may lodge in the turbochargers bearings, resulting in bearing failure. With such small working clearances, it becomes clear why cleanliness, when working on a turbocharged engine, is so vital.
Foreign object damage results in either the air intake "compressor wheel" or exhaust "turbine" wheel being damaged. The former is often caused by someone accidentally leaving a nut or other foreign body in the air induction hoses. In the latter case, this may be caused by part of an engine component, such as a piece of valve, exiting the engine in rather a hurry! In both cases it results in severe turbocharger damage instantly.
Turbochargers are simple in operation, but manufactured to precise tolerances as fine as 1/ 1,000,000 of an inch. Turbo Technics balance and test every single turbocharger many times, including final assembly. Designed by Turbo Technics, the balancing methods and procedures are unique. Without them, no turbocharger can be balanced to the ultra-fine tolerances required for todays high speed turbos. It is now common for turbochargers to spin up to 150,000 rpm. Thats approximately 25 times faster than most petrol engines rev at the red line! Sophisticated machinery and highly trained factory staff ensure that the highest standards are always maintained. For these reasons, Turbo Technics is acknowledged as the leading remanufacturer of high-speed turbochargers.
Frequent basic checks around the area of the turbo can prevent problems developing at a later date. Check for oil leaks and split air hoses, and rectify problems when they are noticed. Although, at an early stage, some problems may appear minor, they can lead to more serious problems later. For instance, if unfiltered air is allowed to enter the turbocharger through a split hose, this can cause rapid wear to the turbocharger's compressor wheel. Also, keep an eye on oil lines and the engine's crankcase breather system for cracked or split hoses. The way in which fumes are evacuated from a turbocharged engine's crankcase is critical to the turbos long term reliability. If this ventilation system were to become restricted or blocked, it could lead to the turbocharger smoking, especially whilst the engine is idling. If in doubt, replace breather hoses and breather valves before condemning the turbocharger.
If a turbocharger fails and requires a replacement, under no circumstances replace it with a turbo of a different type or part number. Although from the outside many turbochargers can look very similar, and may also be of the same model type (such as a Garrett T3), with very few exceptions, internally they will be very different. The variations may include different internal diameters within the exhaust turbine housing, different grades and strengths of individual component materials, different size compressor wheels, different spring rates to operate the wastegate, and different type oil seal arrangements inside the turbocharger bearing housing. The effects of fitting the incorrect type turbocharger to an engine can include loss of performance, high fuel consumption, high oil consumption or, in some circumstances, complete failure of the turbo, leading to engine damage!
Whenever an engine's specifications are changed, the turbocharger specifications must also be carefully considered. For example, if a car has been chipped, overbored to a larger capacity, or the camshaft changed, the effect of these modifications will undoubtedly affect the turbocharger. Quite often, if overlooked, the turbocharger's service life can be cut prematurely. Bleed valves can be used to increase the boost pressure, but again, the turbo will be on borrowed time in many instances. The solution is a replacement turbocharger that is designed to take into consideration the modifications that have been carried out on the engine. These turbochargers are called hybrid turbos and are developed using experience in designing competition turbochargers for our customers throughout the world. Turbo Technics' hybrid turbochargers cover a wide range of common cars in various stages of tuning. For example, a Stage 1 hybrid turbo may be advised on a modestly upgraded or chipped car, whereas a stage 3 hybrid would be fitted to a highly modified engine. To fit a stage 3 hybrid to an engine with little or no modifications would not be beneficial. No additional power would be released - only poorer turbo response, with increased turbo lag! To understand and interpret which would be the ideal hybrid turbocharger for any different combination of engine tune takes experience. Turbo Technics revel in the opportunity to match turbochargers exactly to a customer's road or competition car so that optimum performance is realised.
Useful tips when driving any turbocharged engine, whether it be petrol or diesel, are to always allow the engine to warm-up fully, until the water temperature gauge reaches normal, before full throttle is used. Try to plan the end of your journey sympathetically. Dont use full throttle or allow the engine to labour during the last few miles. This will prevent excessive heat build-up within the turbo when the engine is turned off. Also, when coming to a standstill, try to leave the engine idling for a few extra seconds to allow the heat to decrease. Never rev the engine just as the ignition is turned off. Remember the turbo spins at a far greater speed then the engine, but is lubricated with engine oil. Once the engine stops the oil supply ceases. In reality, none of the above traits will cause a turbocharger to fail immediately, but repeatedly over a long period, they could reduce the life of your turbocharger.
If it becomes necessary to seek advice about a turbocharger or a turbo related problem, always rely on a professional. Turbo Technics are the UKs leading turbo specialist, and are acknowledged as one of the most experienced turbo design companies in the world. Within the U.K, we have authorised appointed dealers and fitting centres to advise customers with turbocharged cars on a wide variety of questions and issues relating to owning and running a turbo car. As turbo specialists, replacement turbochargers are fitted by those who have a thorough understanding and experience in this field.
It cannot be stressed too much how important it is, when purchasing a replacement turbocharger, always to choose the top brand name -Turbo Technics. Consider this. As with so many things in life, quality costs, and there are sometimes cheaper turbos for sale. Without the safeguard of using a Turbo Technics turbocharger, you run a serious risk that your short-term saving may turn out to be a long-term nightmare.