The turbocharger has numerous parts that require detailed maintenance to ensure the device works, including the actuator. Your truck’s turbo actuator will eventually require replacement, and you’ll need the proper knowledge to make the best repair. Continue reading to find out how to replace an actuator in a truck and give your turbo the strength it needs for the vehicle.
Where Is the Actuator?
Every turbo has a wastegate that opens to release excess exhaust from the turbine. The actuator is the device that connects to the wastegate and causes it to open. The actuator has the shape of a small cylinder with a longer “arm” extending from it, and it will lie horizontally. Look for the side the turbine wheel is on, and you’ll typically find the actuator protruding from that side.
Parts of the Actuator
The actuator is a system of parts that create linear mechanical movement. The primary parts of the actuator include the spring, diaphragm, end-link, and clevis. The spring and the diaphragm work together to keep the wastegate in place by pushing the end-link down.
The clevis is the piece that connects to the wastegate to open and close it when a certain amount of pressure accumulates in the turbine housing. When you replace the actuator in your truck, you will focus on the shaft and clevis, which is essential in removing and installing the new actuator.
Clean the Area Before Starting
Dirt and grime will make their way into mechanical parts and may make your work challenging. Clean the actuator off to improve the visibility of small parts, such as the nuts and clip you’ll need to work with. If the dirt makes its way into the interior of pieces you need to remove, it will make their removal difficult. The dirt will surround the metal, causing it to have a tighter fit.
Use regular dish soap with a pH of less than 2.5 to avoid corrosion, and combine it with warm water. This combination will work on dirt and grime while preventing damage. Use a cotton swab to get into tighter spaces that may accumulate dirt over time.
Replacing the Actuator
It is possible to replace the actuator in your truck yourself if you have the knowledge to do it. Make sure you work step by step and don’t rush to avoid making a mistake that could result in trouble opening the wastegate and a damaged turbo.
Place any parts that you take out on a clean cloth to keep track of them, and clean them if you see there’s dirt on parts that aren’t normally visible. For replacement, you’ll need a flathead screwdriver, an open-end wrench, and a box wrench to remove the parts that secure the actuator. In most cases, you won’t need to remove the turbo from the engine. However, if it’s your first time replacing the actuator, you’ll want to ensure you have the best view of what you’re doing.
Unscrew the Nuts
Two nuts on the bottom of the actuator secure it to the flat metal piece connected to the turbo. Remove these nuts to remove the turbo later, and ensure it doesn’t fall out of place once you remove them. The two wrenches you have will have the most effect on different nuts.
Use the box wrench on the nut closer to the metal part that connects the actuator to the turbo and the open-end wrench on the other. The box wrench will allow better flexibility in turning and unscrewing the nut, while the open-end wrench will have a simpler application. Place both nuts on the clean rag before moving to the next step.
Remove the Actuator Clip
The actuator clip is a small metal piece that holds the clevis in place while it’s connected to the wastegate. The clip remains fastened tightly, but it’s easy to remove with the flathead screwdriver. Lodge the screwdriver between the clip and the peg that the clevis holds onto and pry the clip away until it releases its grip.
This clip is vital to the actuator’s function and how it controls the wastegate. Do not lose it, or the replacement will be a wasted effort when you can’t use the part of the turbo that keeps it from damaging itself.
Remove the Actuator
Once you’ve removed the nuts and the clip, you may remove the actuator from the turbo’s structure. Remove the clevis from the wastegate, and the actuator should slide out easily. Once the actuator is away from the turbo, you must remove it from the metal “cradle” that holds it.
This cradle will slide off easily since the nuts aren’t in place. Have the new actuator nearby for a quick switch, and keep the older one around for references in installation in case something goes wrong.
Adjust the Length of the New Actuator
Along the end link is a nut that you may tighten or loosen to control its length. Align the end-link on your new actuator to match the length of the old one to ensure the new one functions the same. An improper length will result in too much or too little mobility in its reach to the wastegate.
An actuator must have the right length to open and close the wastegate promptly when the pressure around the turbine exceeds its set limit. Place the old turbo next to the new one to compare lengths. Loosen or tighten the nut to match the end link’s length before placing the new actuator into its metal cradle and back onto the turbo.
Install and Replace Parts
After completing these steps, you’ll need to replace everything where it once was. Start by placing the actuator in its original position and place the end-link and pegs into their respective holes. Place the clevis over the wastegate and the actuator clip over it to secure it by nudging it back into place with the screwdriver.
Place the nuts onto the threaded pieces under the actuator with your two wrenches. You may need to hold the actuator down to ensure the nuts secure it to the metal plate connected to the turbo. Once you’ve completed all these steps, you can move on to testing.
Test the Actuator Before Starting the Truck
Testing the actuator is simple, as you’ll need only your thumb. Press down on the actuator with your thumb to see how much it moves. If it moves under half an inch, it’s secure, and if it’s above, you will need to fasten it tighter. If the actuator is too loose, it won’t open the wastegate properly, and you may need to disassemble it again to adjust the end link if tightening doesn’t work.
After you’ve completed the replacement and testing, you’ll have a new turbocharger actuator for your car. Replacements of mechanical parts on a truck aren’t always easy, but when you have the right skills and knowledge, you’ll become the mechanic you need to get the job done.