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Why correct turbocharger lubrication is important...


Turbochargers can operate at speeds of over 200 000 RPM, driven by exhaust gasses of over 950 °C. The lubricating oil provides a pressurised film of oil between all rotating components and the bearing surfaces. Any fault with the lubrication will cause premature turbocharger failure long before the engine bearings show any signs of failure.

Oil lubricates and cools the turbocharger bearing system. Oil starvation diminishes the thin layer of oil between the shaft and bearings resulting in metal to metal contact. The loss of oil cooling and the friction of the metal to metal contact results in accelerated bearing wear and early turbocharger failure.

Causes of oil starvation.

  • Low engine oil levels.
  • Blocked or damaged oil filter.
  • Damaged or partially blocked oil feed pipe.
  • Worn or damaged oil pump.
  • Silicon gasket material blocking bearing oil channels.
  • Incorrect oil feed gasket causing restricted oil flow.
  • Excessive engine power demand on start up before normal oil pressures are established.
  • Hot Shutdowns where the oil supply drops while the turbo is still spinning.
  • Hot Shutdowns that cause oil coking build-ups that block the oil channels of the turbocharger.
  • Failure to prime a new turbo with oil during fitting.

Preventing turbo failure caused by oil starvation

Regularly check engine oil levels.

Practice turbo friendly driving habits when starting and shutting down engines

When changing oil check the oil feed pipes for damage or blockages. Replace them if needed.

When fitting a turbocharger do not use any form of silicon sealer as the silicon can become dislodged and block lubrication channels.

When fitting a turbocharger ensure it is primed with oil.