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Turbochargers are here to stay in the auto industry. With the on going energy crisis, the turbocharger is answer for many auto manufacturers who are searching for better fuel economy, while keeping the performance that many consumers are after. Manufacturers are looking to replace the large V8 engines with smaller, V6 and 4 cylinder turbocharged engines. The smaller engines with turbochargers can easily produce the same power, or more power, than the larger naturally aspirated engines that are being replaced.

These turbochargers sometimes reach a limit and have to be rebuilt or replaced. Here at TAPCO, we have years of knowledge in the turbo industry and we are able to handle your turbocharger needs. Anything from removal and installation, to a standard rebuild service. These services we provide can save a customer thousands of dollars in comparison to going to the dealer for turbocharger work.

What is a Turbocharger?

In its simplest form a turbocharger is an exhaust driven centrifugal compressor that feeds your engine with more air than it can normally ingest allowing a greater amount of power to be produced than the same engine normally aspirated. Since all internal combustion engines rely on oxygen to burn their fuel, feeding more air, or oxygen, by the use of a turbocharger, more power can be produced. In most cases, power increases of 50-75% will be achieved with turbo charging. Normally, the exhaust gas by product of the combustion process is expelled from the engine out into the atmosphere. A turbocharger utilizes this normally wasted gas as an energy source to drive the turbine wheel before being returned to the exhaust system. The turbine wheel has a shaft that connects it directly to the compressor wheel located on the opposite end of the turbocharger. This compressor wheel draws in fresh air from the air filter assembly, then compresses it to provide a force fed charge of air for your engine utilize in combustion. The turbocharger spins at an extremely high speed, some models approach 160,000 revolutions per minute to provide enough air flow to feed a hungry engine. The turbo relies on oil suspended bearings to allow its shaft to rotate. The speed at which the turbo turns, combined with the heat generated by the exhaust system equates to a very sophisticated part made with very specialized materials, machined and manufactured to strict tolerances. A turbocharger rebuilding process is very labor intensive and requires specialized equipment and strong experience, we recommend always sending your turbocharger to a professional for repairs any needed.

Common causes of Turbocharge failure:

– Improper Lubrication / Lack of maintenance

– Foreign object damage

– Overspeeding

What causes failure and how to take care of my Turbocharge:

The number one cause of most turbocharger failure can be traced back to the engines lubrication system. The turbochargers bearings depend on a constant flow of clean oil to function properly. Several factors can lead to the break down of the oiling system, lack of maintenance, improper oil or filter, severe driving conditions, or in most cases simply the age of the vehicle can contribute to degradation of the turbochargers supply of oil.

The bearings in 90% of all production turbochargers are a full floating bronze bushing which supports the turbochargers rotating group.  The clearances between the bearings and housing are very tight so any contaminants held within the oil can do damage very quickly if not corrected.  The best defense you have against oil borne contaminates is a very strict maintenance schedule.  Often the OE manufacturers recommended interval between oil changes will not be sufficient. I recommend changing your oil and filter any time the oil starts to change from its original golden brown to a darker brown color.  In some higher mileage cars this could happen within 2000 miles or even sooner.  The reason the oil is changing color is due to a few key reasons.  First, most of today’s oils are very high in detergent, this is designed to keep engines cleaner longer.  Unfortunate for the turbocharger, these detergents deposit a large amount of engine “dirt” into the oiling system.  If left unchanged for 3500 or more miles the oil becomes saturated with this accumulated dirt and starts to become very abrasive to the fine clearances inside of the turbocharger.  Strict scheduling and maintaining regular oil and filter changes is critical to the life of the turbo.

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