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How Inadequate Lubrication Can Ruin a Turbocharger

How Inadequate Lubrication Can Ruin a Turbocharger

Companies design turbochargers to be incredibly efficient. The turbos spin at high speeds and operate under extreme temperatures and pressures. But in some ways, turbochargers are a little too efficient; those great speeds and scorching temperatures can be fatal to turbochargers that lack lubrication.

Everyone knows that motor oil is essential for engines to function, but turbocharged engines need this oil even more. Oil maintains engine cleanliness and keeps the turbo's components greased to prevent them from wearing down or breaking.

A lack of oil can lead to a slew of problems, including one that every turbo owner dreads—turbo failure. Are you wondering how inadequate lubrication can ruin a turbocharger? Let's take a look.

Why Is Lubrication so Important?

The answer to this question is simple. Lubrication keeps your turbo running smoothly. On the other hand, a lack of oil results in clunky operation. The bearings will wear down (usually from the heat) and rub against the housing and other components, causing them to wear down as well. This can lead to a severely damaged turbo, which increases the likelihood of turbo failure exponentially.

What Causes Insufficient Lubrication?

You understand how inadequate lubrication can ruin a turbocharger, but what causes a lack of lubrication? You might be surprised to learn that just about any problem with the oil can cause it.

If the oil levels are too low, the oil grade is incorrect, or the oil becomes contaminated, there won't be enough lubrication to keep the turbo in working order. Blockages in the air intake filter, oil inlet gasket, oil feed pipe, and other components can also lead to insufficient lubrication.

How To Identify a Lack of Lubrication

How do you know your turbo doesn't have enough lubrication, then? Unless complete failure occurs, you probably won't notice the signs of inadequate lubrication until you take a dive into the engine and carefully inspect the turbo.

Some telltale signs of insufficient lubrication include:

  • Discolored thrust parts or discolored journal bearings on the shaft and wheel
  • Excessively worn-down thrust pads or journal bearings
  • Material transfer (caused by high temperatures due to friction) on thrust parts and journal bearings on the shaft and wheel

A lack of lubrication isn't the only thing that can lead to turbo failure. Stuck components that result from worn-down actuators can also create problems. If you need a new turbocharger actuator or other replacement parts for your turbo, come and browse Turbo Turbo's wide selection of replacement parts and new, used, and refurbished turbos today!


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