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Replacing a diesel engine's turbo costs a lot of money.

How should a diesel car's owner drive, park and take care to insure that he/she gets the maximum km/miles out of his/her car's turbo?

  • What make model year car do you have? – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 27 '16 at 10:19
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    Do frequent oil changes and don't hot rod it right before you turn it off. That's about it. – cory Oct 27 '16 at 14:09
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I would say a Turbo is no more likely to fail than other components on your car such as engine or gearbox. A Turbo on a diesel engine is likely to last even longer than on a petrol engine due to lower temps, rpm and loads.

Turbo design and engineering has come a long way since the 1980's. Assuming it's not a modified or a competition car, the Turbo on any car built in the last 30 years should last as long as any other component.

Caveat: There will always be examples of a particular make/model that has a poor reliability of a particular part such as a engine, gearbox or turbo. That doesn't mean they're all bad. It means that one is bad. Read reviews about the car you want to buy and make up your own mind if you think that particular car has reliability issues.

In the past the weak point of turbo was heat and lubrication. They get so hot that they can cook the oil when turned off. Improvements in cooling through materials and design and even oils mean this is much less of an issue.

Just as for any other component on your car, regular maintenance should ensure it has a long life span. Probably the most useful thing you could do is ensure that it is serviced at the recommended intervals and oil and filters as changed as specified. The contra to this is: If you neglect maintenance you are likely to shorten the lifespan of your engine.

As for driving techniques: The same kind of advice applies. If you treat your car nicely it will last. Let the engine warm up before working it hard. Try to avoid over-revving, over-loading or over-heating the engine. Drive smoothly.

As a precaution, if you have been driving the vehicle hard or on a long trip driving it gently for the last few miles or letting it idle for a minute or two to cool down may be of benefit. You can see rally cars still do this today.

If you consider the points above, and you drive normally and service your vehicle regularly this should never be an issue.

I think turbos may have a unfair reputation for reliability due to their association with high performance cars such as rally cars. These cars are driven to the absolute limit, big horsepower, high boost, high rpms and temps. Under those sorts of conditions everything suffers, and mechanical failure rates are higher. An everyday car is unlikely to be subjected to that kind of treatment, and is therefore likely to last much longer.

  • Could stalling an engine also damage the turbo? – Jasper Citi Oct 27 '16 at 10:19
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    @Koning The only way I could see stalling hurt is if the turbo was still spinning after the engine stalled. I believe that is somewhat unlikely. – rpmerf Oct 27 '16 at 10:29
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    @Koning if you can stall a TD so violently and frequently that you damage a turbo you probably shouldnt be driving. Or maybe you should buy an electric car. Or a bicycle. Or a bus ticket. – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 27 '16 at 10:40
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    Turbochargers rotate at up to 200kRPM. Most important thing to them is lubricant. Other than that for modern engines thermomanagement helps ensuring longer lifetime of components. However keep in mind that buying a small downsized engine means high loads on the turbo and high compression. If you go with a TDI of approx 2L then you will be fine, personally I would not buy a 3 cyl. 1L engine but that is just my preference. I can assure you that cars are tested even in very bad conditions. (E.g. going up Pikes Peak with fully loaded trailer with a 1.6L diesel) And no one cooled them down. – AnyOneElse Oct 27 '16 at 14:12
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Axleaddict.com shares 5 tips on how to extend turbo life. Here they are:

  1. Regularly Scheduled, Synthetic Oil Changes

On turbos, it is recommended to change the oil every 8,000 km (5,000 miles) to preserve the system. Fully synthetic oils are also the best, because they protect better at high temps.

  1. Warm It Up

It's great to have the right oil, but if the oil isn't covering everything, it won't help as much as it ought to. Before taking off, let your motor warm up a bit.

  1. Cruise Right, Cruise Light

Don't run your car at max all the time; maintaining the boost/vacuum gauge between 10-15 inches of mercury should hold your engine in top gear. You're not anywhere close to using the turbo, so you reduce wear.

  1. Cool It Down

After you've been driving hard or using it on the highway for a couple hours, spend a minute or two to allow the engine oil to cool down. This will prevent the oil from cooking on in places where it is extremely hot and stops moving.

  1. Work the Gears, Not the Turbo

If you can select which gear you're in, using a lower gear for hills and passing can preserve your turbo from a lot of work. Your engine is more efficient at lower RPM's where the turbo isn't running. Your car has more than just the turbo: don't just use the turbo.

Here is a previous post that may provide additional information related to forced induction.

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    I agree with point 5 but disagree with your comment about engines being more efficient at low rpm. That's not a hard and fast rule. Are you referring to fuel efficiency? Lower gears and higher rpm reduce loads on engine and gearbox under heavy loads. (ie towing an hills) Low rpm or labouring an engine under load is not efficient.. – Sir Swears-a-lot Oct 27 '16 at 21:13
  • Hmm, I didn't make that very clear, did I. I simply meant lower compared to turbo RPM's. Check out my answer here for more info on that. – anonymous2 Oct 28 '16 at 1:46
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    You usually do not need to change your oil every 8000 km if you use synthetic oil (and most diesel cars require synthetic). My late 90s TDI owner's manual states (if I remember correctly) every 12000 km, and modern oil usually lasts longer, but dealerships and quick-lube places continue to spout the nonsense of "every 5000 km" (or whatever number they invent) to take your money. Don't let it go past 15 000 km though. – user12176 Oct 28 '16 at 3:56
  • Great answer. I wish I could select both answers as correct. – Jasper Citi Oct 28 '16 at 5:57
  • @Koning, that's fine. You're not selecting the correct answer, anyhow. You're just selecting the one that helped you most. In your case, that's probably the other one since Peter posted before me. I just added this on to give you some additional info. :) – anonymous2 Oct 28 '16 at 11:46

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