In boats, a marine turbo provides the best performance, and maintaining the turbo is essential to keep this increased performance. Undertake these maintenance tasks for a sustained turbocharger and a better time out on the water.
What Makes a Marine Turbo Different?
Marine turbos share the same principle as turbos used in cars; however, the way they receive gasoline differs. Boat engines will use pistons to take in air that ignites when combined with the fuel, similar to the combustion chamber of a car engine.
The exhaust created from the combustion travels through a gas inlet and into the turbocharger. Here, the gas causes the turbine to spin and the compressor wheel to take in air to compress it. The compressed air passes through a cooling filter that maintains cold temperatures to get the best ignition from the pistons. Marine engines rely on diesel fuel.
Maintenance for Marine Turbos
As these turbos work tirelessly to propel a boat across the waves and supply a sufficient boost, they need maintenance to prevent failure in the open waters. Various maintenance tasks will extend the life of your marine turbo and give your boat the best performance on the water. You’ll need to remain consistent with these tasks and be thorough about cleaning, inspection, or replacement.
Change the Oil Weekly
The oil in the engine is an essential fluid that ensures performance and maintenance remain at their best. Over time, dirt will build up from use and cause contamination. This leads to malfunctions in the engine and turbo from degraded parts.
Change the oil every week to prevent damage to the turbo. Clean oil will ensure that the turbo and its wheels have proper lubrication to move well. Depending on when you take the boat out on the water, you may need to follow a consistent schedule for oil changes, or you may have a few more days before you need to make a change.
Warm Up the Engine After Long-Term Dormancy
During the winter or late fall, you may not want to venture out onto the water since the temperatures will feel colder. The boat will remain dormant until the weather begins to warm up, and during that time, you’ll need to start the engine occasionally. The cold weather will negatively affect the engine and the turbo if you let it sit.
The chemical reaction to start the battery will weaken, causing the spark plugs to sputter when igniting the fuel. This latency may also affect compressed air production and cause inconsistencies in the turbo’s burst.
Start the engine periodically throughout the winter, especially after cold nights with freezing temperatures, and keep the engine idle for at least 10 minutes to warm up the turbo.
Starting the engine multiple times until the spring will ensure that you don’t have poor performance and can keep the turbo in good condition until you can pilot the boat again. Consistent use will also prevent wear from the cold temperatures and breakage when you start the boat after the frost clears.
Inspect Metal for Rust
Your marine turbo has many metal parts, and by using the boat, you expose those parts to water. Water will cause corrosion to the metal of your turbo. This is especially true for seawater, as it has a higher salt concentration. This corrosion may worsen in hotter or colder climates if the water remains on the metal surface for too long.
Rust on your turbo is dangerous for your boat, so performing inspections is an important part of keeping your boat safe. Look around the wastegate for rust and immediately replace or repair necessary components.
If the wastegate falls apart, the turbocharger will malfunction as the exhaust releases, and the turbine doesn’t have the means to spin. Any rusted components need turbo replacement parts for the best performance and the least likelihood of turbo failure.
Clean the Exhaust Manifold
The exhaust manifold is the valve that transports the exhaust from the pistons into the turbocharger. As the fuel and air continue the combustion process, carbon buildup may occur from incomplete combustion. The buildup will appear as black soot and will eventually clog the manifold. When this happens, you’ll notice a significant decrease in boost due to the decrease in exhaust reaching the turbine.
Clean the manifold with an acetone solution to dissolve the carbon, and scrub away any stubborn deposits with a steel wool scrubber. Avoid scrubbing too hard to prevent scratching the manifold’s interior and leaving metal particles that could travel to the turbine and cause damage.
Wipe Away Any Water Around the Engine
If you pilot the boat in choppy waters, you may take on water in various interior parts. The water around the engine may leak inside. Once the water reaches the turbo, it may cause rust and lead to the turbo breaking down.
After rough rides on the water, inspect the area around the engine and wipe up any water you see. Look for any small particulates such as algae or moss; this small vegetation may grow and absorb water, leading to corrosion.
Inspect Charge Air Coolers
The air coolers are essential to the marine turbo and ensure the best burst. Charge air coolers need to remain as clean as possible to keep the air cool enough until it combusts with the fuel. Most charge air coolers use the water underneath the boat to cool down, which creates dirt layers.
There are various ways to clean the coolers, such as submerging them in a cleaner or brushing off the buildup. Inspect and clean the coolers often to avoid inconsistent bursts and keep the compressed air cool.
Frequently Clean Air Filters
Clean air filters are essential to prevent dirt from getting into the piston. Contamination in the pistons will lead to an improper burst and cause other issues, such as carbon buildup. You won’t need to replace the air filters often, but it’s important to clean them to ensure you have a functioning engine.
Clear any debris, dirt, or water from the boat’s interior. The air filters may soak up any contamination around the engine. Large debris may damage the filters and require you to replace them sooner.
Wash the Turbo
Clean parts will prevent little problems and ensure lighter maintenance. Your turbo will accumulate dirt after you take the boat out for numerous rides, so it’s important to clean it along with the rest of the boat.
Use a turbo cleaner to spray the exterior of the turbo. Remember to clean the small crevices of the nuts and bolts with a cotton swab.
Maintenance is an essential part of owning a boat. Use these maintenance tasks to extend the life of your marine turbo and make the most of your time on the water.