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Reasons Why Turbocharger Actuators Fail

Reasons Why Turbocharger Actuators Fail

Actuators are important for turbochargers. They’re responsible for directing exhaust gases away from the turbine wheel that can otherwise reduce fuel efficiency and engine performance. When VGT, airflow, and pneumatic actuators fail, it can cost you precious time and money to fix. Learn these common reasons why turbocharger actuators fail and what you can do to avoid them.

Faulty Valves

Most of the time, turbocharger actuators fail because of faulty valves. Whether it’s a worn-out valve stem, obstructions, too much torque, or connection issues, a dysfunctional valve is responsible for most actuator issues. Valves become faulty when neglected, as is often the case with VGT turbos. A VGT turbo fails when soot, carbon, rust, and corrosion build up in the turbine housing, causing the exhaust gases to seize up. Although repairing actuator valves can be costly in terms of both time and money, there are ways to troubleshoot valve issues without seeing a mechanic. Put your turbocharger into manual override and operate the valves manually. You can see if the valve is stuck and determine the issue from there. Relatedly, the actuator drive nut could fail. This connects the turbocharge to the valves. Remove the center column and investigate any potential issues with the valve stem.

Motor Issues

While this commonly occurs more with electric actuators, motor issues can affect the torque that operates the valves. Motor blowouts can stall the whole actuator. The duty cycle and insulation class are important for ensuring proper motor capability. Also, a damaged pneumatic actuator will stall the engine. If the actuator doesn’t work properly, the engine will face serious functional issues and potentially need a full replacement. Motor issues can cause VGT actuator issues as well. Because of excessive oil consumption, mechanical faults, and electrical faults, a failing VGT actuator can cause motor issues in a diesel-fueled engine.

Inaccurate Fuel Ratios

The last main reason why turbocharger actuators fail is due to inaccurate fuel ratios. The pneumatic actuator could send the wrong information to the engine bay and throw off the air-to-fuel ratio. This might cause the engine to stall or consume more fuel than it needs. Additionally, this can emit greater exhaust smoke than normal. Similarly, airflow control actuators use pressure-independent control characteristics with integrated airflow sensors to deliver designated flow despite any pressure fluctuations in the turbo. If this fails, you’ll see inaccurate fuel consumption and gas ratio in your performance. Your fuel economy diminishes, meaning you’ll need more fuel to travel a shorter distance. Ultimately, this might require a complete actuator replacement to fix your turbocharger.

If you’re in need of a turbo actuator replacement, check out our selection at TurboTurbos. We carry a wide variety of turbocharger actuators for sale sourced from various vehicles around the globe. We carry products for Honda, Ford, Navistar, Dacia, Chevy, CAT, John Deere, Audi, VW, Garrett, and Dodge for a variety of cars, pickup trucks, trailers, boats, and other motorized vehicles. Our team of expert technicians will find the right one for you. Don’t wait, though, as a lot of our actuators are in limited supply and sell out fast.


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