The working, benefits, and maintenance of a Turbo Engine

Turbo engines are powering many types of modern vehicles, including Entry-level cars, SUV's and trucks.

How does a Turbocharger work?

  • A turbo- or sometimes called turbocharger, draws in air, compresses it, and then feeds the pressurized air into your engine’s intake manifold.
  • This pressurized air forcefully enters the combustion chamber when the piston makes a downward stroke. This extra available oxygen results in more powerful combustion, thus extra power!
  • After the combustion cycle has completed, the hot waste gas exits the combustion chamber through the exhaust outlet.
  • As the waste gas exits, it passes through the turbocharger and spins a compressor wheel. As the compressor wheel spins, it draws in cool atmospheric air from the opposite side of the turbo, starting the process over again.
  • Air heats up when compressed and this results in less engine power. The compressed air must be cooled before it enters the intake manifold. To remedy this challenge, the compressed air will pass through a heat exchanger, called an intercooler, on its way to the intake manifold. An air-to-air’ intercooler will cool the compressed air using the flow of the outside air as a vehicle is moving.  A ‘water-to-water’ intercooler,  can also be used to cool the compressed air.


  • Turbocharged engines can achieve fuel economy if driven carefully as it is capable of producing extra torque and power. Also more torque in the lower RPM range. 
  • A turbocharger enables a small engine to produce more power, manufacturers can, therefore, downsize the engine displacement.
  • Modern engines come with a knock sensor and management software that prevent pre-ignition by detecting it early and supplying additional fuel into the combustion chamber, preventing pre-ignition that is typical of spiking engine pressure result from a turbo feed.

Risk and Consideration

  • A turbo will force more oxygen into the engine, especially when exhilarating, therefore the engine will also burn more fuel if driven aggressively.
  • The additional components, (e.g turbo-, intercooler, and piping) in a turbocharged engine could result in extra maintenance and associated cost.
  • Fuel economy will require the use of premium fuel - at some extra cost when refueling.

How to know when the Turbo fails or breakdown

  • A minor turbo failure should activate a dashboard warning light. Some vehicle s might be equipped with a booster gave that monitors turbo pressure.
  • The powerless will be noticeable, especially when accelerating
  • If the turbocharger is leaking oil, a blueish smoke may be detectives in the exhaust system.
  • A turbo that completely fails will result in excessive engine noise.

What is a turbocharger's maintenance and service cycle?

  • As a turbo consists of wearable parts, each manufacturer specifies specific service intervals.
  • If regular and punctual maintenance is done, especially timely oil changes a lifestyle of +150 000km's is normal.
  • If the ambient temperature is near freezing range, let the vehicle idle long enough for the oil to fully circulate and get into the turbo. That should be less than 15 seconds at warmer temperatures and no more than 30 seconds at lower temperatures.

Can a Turbo be repaired?

  • In most cases, a turbocharger can be repaired, unless the outer housings are damaged. The worn parts will be replaced by the turbo specialist.
  • Repair time varies according to the sophistication of the engine - normally between 2 and 8 hours labour.

Find professional service providers nationwide, online 24/7 in the  Auto Repair Directory 

Posted on May 21, 2020 by Auto Repair Directory

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