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Turbocharger Basics

A quick reIresher course in turbocharger basics is required prior to beginning a discussion on

servicing the turbocharger. The internal combustion engine produces exhaust that is extremely
hot and Iull oI energy. Turbochargers harness that heat and energy by returning it to the engine's
combustion cycle.
Turbos turn waste into work. The engine exhaust drives a turbine wheel, which is connected via
a common shaIt to a compressor wheel, which compresses air and pumps it directly into the
engine's intake system. The result is a denser charge oI air resulting in more eIIicient
combustion, which creates a cleaner exhaust (reduced emissions) and more useable power.
The turbine wheel shaIt rotates in a housing located between the compressor and turbine sides
which contains the turbo's vital bearing system which, along with the engine's oil supply,
lubricates and cools the rapidly rotating wheel and shaIt assembly. There are several diIIerent
types oI bearing systems used by turbo manuIacturers today, but most are Iree-Iloating journal
bearings which rotate approximately one-third the speed oI the shaIt on a thin Iilm oI oil.
Causes Of Turbocharger Failures
Approximately 40 oI all turbocharger Iailures are oil-related. Contaminated or dirty oil leads to
bearing scratching and scoring which cause excessive bearing wear and premature bearing
Iailure. Another oil-related turbocharger Iailure is lack oI lubrication. As mentioned earlier, the
turbo runs at very high speeds. Without Iull oil pressure to the turbocharger bearings, even a
momentary loss oI oil pressure can quickly cause overheating and destroy the bearing system.
Lack oI lubrication results not only Irom low oil pressure, but also Irom kinks and/or clogs in the
oil inlet line. Occasionally, gasket sealant used between the oil inlet hose and the bearing
housing seeps and clogs the oil passages.
Another cause oI turbocharger Iailures is inlet restrictions Irom plugged air cleaners, collapsing
hose connections or undersized air pipes. These restrictions reduce the air supply to the turbo and
ultimately to the engine resulting in excessive exhaust temperatures leading to turbine housing
cracking and scaling or even turbine wheel Iailures.
Inlet restrictions also can produce a vacuum inside the compressor. This can cause over speed
conditions in the turbo which can lead to premature bearing Iailure or even make a compressor
wheel burst. This vacuum inside the compressor also can cause oil leakage into the compressor.
The turbo's oil seals depend upon a positive air pressure inside the compressor and turbine to
"push" the oil inside the bearing housing and keep oil Irom seeping into the outer housings. In an
inlet restriction situation, the vacuum wants to "pull" the oil past the oil seals. Prolonged oil
leakage into the compressor can lead to oil seal damage and excessive engine smoking.
Prolonged engine idling also can cause turbocharger oil seal Iailure, this time on the turbine side.
Continued idling causes the turbo to rotate without producing boost. Consequently, a vacuum
condition on the turbine side tries to "pull" oil past the turbine-side oil seal and into the turbine
Over-Iueling also can lead to premature turbo Iailure by producing excessive exhaust
temperatures which can cause turbine housing scaling and cracking. As the turbine housing
continues to deteriorate Irom the excessive heat, pieces oI the housing can crack oII and cause
turbine wheel Iailure.
Hot engine shutdown also can lead to turbocharger oil leakage by causing the oil to coke up
inside the oil drain and Iorcing the oil out the turbine and compressor seals. A clogged or
collapsed oil outlet hose also can cause oil to leak.
Another common cause oI turbo Iailures is Ioreign object damage to either the compressor or
turbine wheels. A rapidly rotating wheel quickly disintegrates when a Ioreign body tries to pass
through the wheel's blades. This type oI turbine wheel damage is the result oI pieces oI burned or
broken valves and combustion cups passing through the exhaust system. Other turbine damage is
due to casting Ilash that may break out oI the maniIolds and ports.
Occasionally improperly installed gaskets will allow pieces oI the gasket to overhang a port and
break oII into the exhaust system. Damage caused by nuts and washers that are dropped into the
exhaust system is also very Irequent. ScuIIed and broken pistons oIten Iind their way out oI the
engine and into the turbocharger turbine wheel.
Compressor wheel breakage also can occur Irom Ioreign object material although not as
Irequently as turbine wheel damage. Sometimes pieces oI the air cleaner will break loose and go
through the compressor. There also have been instances where hose connections Iail and pieces
oI rubber or wire reinIorcing Irom the hose get into the compressor wheel. Again, carelessness in
allowing nuts, bolts, washers, rocks, rags and even screwdrivers to get into the intake systems
will cause compressor wheel Iailures.
!reventing Turbo Failures
AIter examining the various causes oI turbocharger Iailures, common-sense can prevent such
Iailures in the Iuture. Keep the engine Iull oI clean oil to the engine manuIacturer's
speciIications. Also keep the air Iilter clean and unrestricted. The duct work Irom the air cleaner
to the turbocharger compressor should be Iree Irom holes and all connections should be tight to
prevent leaks which could allow dirt and debris to enter the turbocharger.
Warm up the engine Ior two to Iive minutes prior to throttling up the engine. This procedure
assures proper oil pressure to the turbocharger prior to operation under load conditions. Let the
engine idle Ior approximately two minutes prior to engine shut down. This cool-down period
prevents oil coking and oil varnishing on the turbine wheel and shaIt. Varnishing is a build up oI
oil on the shaIt which increases clearances and decreases the Ilow oI oil to cool and lubricate the

Correct Turbocharger Installation And Servicing
While this may sound obvious, make sure that the turbo used is correct Ior the engine
application. Turbochargers are precisely matched to the application and misapplication can lead
to turbo Iailure and/or severe engine damage.
Inspect the intake and exhaust systems leading to and Irom the turbocharger to ensure absence oI
all Ioreign material including burrs, nuts, bolts, washers, rags and loose lining Iragments. Be
thorough-even small particles can cause severe compressor or turbine damage iI inducted during
high speed operation.
Use new and approved gaskets at the various air, oil and exhaust connections to the turbocharger.
Do not use any type oI sealing or jointing compounds at oil inlet or outlet Ilange connectors.
Check maniIold studs and nuts and check Ior obvious signs oI maniIold deterioration (cracking,
scaling, etc.). Use a high temperature antiseize compound (such as Fel-Pro C5A) on all threaded
Iasteners connected to the turbocharger.
Limit drain port tilt to 20 degrees Irom bottom center in either direction. Tilting in excess oI this
amount can create a Low idle leakage tendency at both the turbine and compressor seals.
Fill the oil inlet port to overIlowing with clean engine oil beIore connecting the oil Ieed hose to
the turbocharger. Then, prior to mounting the turbo on the engine, spin the compressor wheel by
hand to make sure it spins Ireely.
II the clamp tabs or V-bands are loosened Ior angular orientation oI the compressor cover or
turbine housing, be certain that the mating Ilanges are tightly reseated, and that the Iasteners are
retightened to the correct torque levels. Complete the orientation oI the cover and housing beIore
making any rigid connections to the compressor inlet and outlet, or to the turbine outlet. Then,
make certain that all ducting aligns closely with the turbocharger; this will minimize the external
stresses acting on the unit. BeIore connecting the oil drain hose, crank the engine without Iiring
until a steady stream oI oil Ilows Irom the drain port. Make sure the oil drain hose is not blocked.
Operate the engine at low idle Ior at least three minutes aIter completing the installation oI any
turbocharger. This will prevent oil starvation damage to the bearing systems, and will tend to
purge any residual contaminants Irom the bearing housing prior to unit acceleration.
Only qualified manufacturer approved maintenance personnel should perform maintenance
to turbochargers. Use the correct manufacturers replacement parts. Ensure that proper
records of turbocharger service documents and letters are obtained and kept to ensure that
proper maintenance and service can be scheduled. Operate the turbochargers within the
operational design parameters. Ensure proper care and maintenance of the turbocharger.
Regular water cleaning of compressors and turbines and cleaning and changing of air intake
filters. Regular inspection of turbocharger parameters while in operation.

Why do ! need one?
One very simple reason: a turbo can significantly boost an engine's horsepower without significantly
increasing its weight. Assuming it's working properly, of course, which is where we come in. Once your
turbo repair is complete or you've managed to fix your own with our turbocharger repair kits here are all
the wonderful things you can expect from your turbocharger:
O ore power from the same engine volume over a regular engine.
O asier fitting than alternative methods of forced induction (the term given to compressing air within
the cylinder).
O &maller and lighter than alternatives.
O etter efficiency not only over 'regular' engines but also supercharged engines since much of the
exhaust heat and pressure which would normally go to waste is used to compress the air.
O uel conomy. e Creen! Well, sort of. Cet the oomph of a more powerful car for the same amount
of fuel you're currently using. ]ust to be clear although adding a turbocharger itself does not save
fuel, it will allow a vehicle to use a smaller engine while achieving power levels of a much larger
engine, while attaining near normal fuel economy while off boost/cruising. This is because without
boost, only the normal amount of fuel and air are combusted.

Workshop Services
O Dynamic balancing of rotors & shafts
O Material cleaning & handling is according to OEM guide lines
O Reconditioning of core components such as turbine blades, radial turbines, compressor wheels, inducers,
impellers, shafts, re-blading rotors, journals & replacement of gland strips
O Segregated working areas minimize contamination & improve overall quality & responsiveness
O Trouble shooting, complete overhauls & detailed repairs
MSHS offers a comprehensive package of repair solution tailored made for turbochargers in its turbocharger
reconditioning center. We focus on providing reliable and cost-effective solution to end users and fleet managers to
better plan and control maintenance costs.
We currently offer reconditioning for the following components:
O Turbine blades
O Turbine wheels
O mpellers and nducers
O Shaft ends
O Shaft Journals
O Nozzle rings

Turbocharger functions