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Common Misconceptions About Wastegates

Common Misconceptions About Wastegates

Every part is important in turbochargers, but none is more confusing than wastegate actuators. Also known as wastegates, these devices control the exhaust gasses that bypass the turbine wheel in the turbocharger. This controls the compressor and the resulting boost pressure. Still, there are some common misconceptions about wastegates everyone with a turbocharged engine should know.

Not Needing One

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding wastegates is not needing one. However, this is incredibly risky. Not using a wastegate could destroy your turbocharger and engine. Running a turbo without a wastegate could build too much boost pressure when applying turbine speed for the engine’s RPM. This can blow out the engine and lead to costly repairs.


Some vehicle owners believe if they have a high-powered engine then they need a bigger wastegate. Again, this is false. In certain cases, a smaller wastegate might pack a more powerful punch to increase your boost and horsepower output in the whole engine than a larger one. By design, wastegate actuators control the flow of exhaust gasses from the turbocharger which thereby controls turbine speed and boost pressure. Therefore, a larger wastegate won’t do much. Choose a wastegate respective of your turbo’s size, amount of exhaust bypassed, desired boost pressure, and amount of exhaust gas required to reach the boost pressure. Engines that emit a lot of exhaust gas with low boost levels might need a large wastegate, but high boost levels and little exhaust are fine with smaller ones.


When and why to repair are common misconceptions about wastegates. For starters, some are concerned they won’t operate at extreme temperatures. In fact, external wastegates mount at the hottest part of the exhaust. Exhaust gasses create extra heat, and as long as there is fresh air coming in to cool it, it should be fine. Regardless, wastegates are designed to tolerate extreme temperatures based on their materials and elastomer. Another false concern is a broken or maxed out spring pressure. Even if you believe you’ve maxed out the spring pressure, remember that only a boost controller can increase the boost pressure. Wastegates are fitted with springs based on respective PSIs. These open only at these the pressures, matching these PSI levels to the actuator. Any pressure lower than that will not open the spring force.


The last misconception is when to replace the wastegate entirely. Oftentimes, drivers confuse the sound of a compressor surge with their wastegate, but they are two different components. Compressor surges affect air compression in the turbocharger where outside air draws in and compresses for the engine. Wastegates, on the other hand, affect the turbine where exhaust gasses spin the turbine wheel to operate the compressor. The sound emitted from this action occurs when the throttle is closed and the compressor blades slice through the air. It has nothing to do with the wastegate and requires no replacement.

Nevertheless, if you feel you do need a turbo actuator replacement, check out our selection at TurboTurbos. We carry various products from actuators and electric actuators, solenoid valves, repair kits, and turbochargers for your vehicle. Have a specific one in mind? We carry the top brands, like BorgWarner, Holset, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, IHI, Garrett, and more. As your number one source for OEM, aftermarket, refurbished turbochargers, actuators, and parts, call us today to speak to an expert to find the best item for your engine.

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