Turbochargers are sensitive pieces of equipment and are abused many times during everyday driving conditions. They are put through hell, and to survive, they need clean oil, clean air filters, blow-by tubes that are not restricted and cool exhaust gas temperatures before the key is turned off.
They also need a gentle right foot. I’ve written for years that semi-truck drivers need to drive as if they have an uncooked egg between the right foot and the throttle – easy on, easy off. To keep your turbocharger alive and healthy, go back to the basics of driving.
Dirty oil will kill a turbo; it attacks a turbocharger faster than any other part on the diesel engine. When pulling a hill, the turbo can spin as fast as 112,000 rpm, with engine oil being the only thing that keeps it cool and lubricated and keeps metal from touching metal. That’s why engine oil has to be clean.
Lastly, allow your engine to cool before cutting the key off. Your exhaust gas temperature should be below 300 degrees before taking the keys out of the ignition.
Here are a few pictures of some damaged turbos and what caused them:
-Bruce Mallinson is the owner of Pittsburgh Power, an engine performance shop in Saxonburg, Pa.