6

My car is a VW Golf 5 1.9 TDI (77 kw), year 2005.

Problem: Turbo hose broke

Yesterday while driving on the highway with a speed of around 130-140 km/h I noticed a sound from the engine which was clearly indicating that something was detached or broke and I immediately pulled over to see what is happening.

Note that I’m a noob in mechanics and I called for an advice from some friends which are more experienced and the first thing they wanted me to test is will the car drive. I started it and it was driving but the thing that I immediately realized was that it does not have the same power as before and there was this loud noise coming somewhere from the engine.

I turned it off and I called my friends to get a mechanic and to come see the car right on spot, I did not want to drive it. After the mechanic took a look he established that the hose that is connected to the turbo was broke and the noise was coming from the turbine in the turbo. He decided that it is okay to drive the car from there to home (which is around 55 km) and on the way home as expected the car would not have the normal power. I asked him how fast should I drive and he said that there is no problem with how fast we are going and because it was on the highway I was going with a speed of around 100 km/h (120 if it was downhill) it would not go faster.

Oil draining out

During the journey towards home the car was outputting visible gray/black smoke a lot which up until that point was definitely not the case.

After a few hours I decided to check the oil (obviously it had time to settle) and it was below the minimum.

The oil indicator did not go on that it is below the minimum and even today it is still not indicating that it is below the minimum. Before driving it towards home the mechanic checked the level and it was okay (the car was not working for 1 hour before he did that, it probably had time to settle).

Note that I didn’t had any issues with my car consuming oil. The last oil change that I did was 1500 - 1700 km before this happened and I was constantly monitoring it and it stayed at the original level all the time.

Oil level after oil change Oil level after oil change

Current oil level Current oil level

Questions

  1. Should I add oil so that it has enough and drive it to the workshop of the mechanic? It is around 15 km from my location.
  2. I guess it is not safe to drive anymore with the current level of the oil, right?
  3. Is it better to just add oil or completely replace it under the current circumstances?
  • See if you can get clarification from the mechanic about the "hose that is connected to the turbo". Is it a vacuum hose? An air duct? An oil line? The answer to your question depends strongly on the kind of "hose". Note that tdiclub.com offers a wealth of information about TDIs and forum members will help you with TDI issues. It's non-profit and ad-free, supported by member donations. – MTA Jun 10 at 16:37
15

In bold, I'm answering the questions at face value, specific answers for your scenario are below each bold answer.

1: I would be a bit concerned about driving this car until diagnosed by a mechanic.

From the sounds of it, the high pressure oil feed for the turbo came off. Which meant you were running the turbo with no oil running through it, depending on the type of turbo it might have survived, but since you heard bad noises there's a good chance it's damaged.

Continuing to drive could cause worse damage to the turbo or if the turbo breaks, and metal gets into your engine then engine damage also follows.

If it was not the high pressure oil feed (generally on top of turbo), and instead was the lower pressure oil drain (generally on bottom of turbo), your probably fine apart from having lost some oil, however based on the description of the sounds you heard it was probably the high pressure line.

2: The oil is still visible on the dipstick so that is great, you're probably safe to drive a short distance (as long as there are no leaks that would bring it lower).

The real issue with low oil is, as it lowers you lose oil pressure which is what actually keeps the metal bits in the engine from touching.

Oil alone isn't enough, it must be pressurised oil. Imagine squeezing a garden hose with the water on vs water off, when hose is pressurised you can't press it together easily, this is what stops metal from touching inside the engine.

Since you still have oil on your dipstick, that means the oil pump would still have enough oil to pickup so likely it still had good pressure.

If this was the only issue, I would not be too worried about driving it 15 km to a service station like that. Ideally top it up before you go, but it shouldn't cause any substantial damage (honestly shouldn't cause any).

However in this case the leak was caused by a turbo oil line coming off, so I would not drive even though it was reattached. Damage to the turbo could get worse or cause damage to the engine if the turbo fails.

3: So long as your within the service interval of your oil, there is no need to replace it.

Simply topping it up is fine (make sure that it is the same or better oil to what is currently in it). Generally it is ok to mix different types of oils, however you should try to add the same or better oil.

Note: If the hose was correctly attached back by the mechanic, the oil burning off on the drive back would have likely just been oil that had sprayed onto various engine bits that get hot and was burning off.

Sources: I have built turbocharged engines entirely from scratch and have a very good understanding of how the systems work.

  • Nice first post, and welcome to the site! No pressure, but it seems like you have a very good understanding of this stuff, and we'd love it if you could stick around! – Cullub Jun 10 at 3:13
  • Thanks @Cullub! and thanks for the edit @mike65535, I should have proof read! – H. Daun Jun 10 at 22:01
  • Saw this in the HNQ and my first thought was also the turbo oil line. The turbo on my Legacy is mounted low and in front of the engine, so the hard oil line is susceptible to corrosion in winter salt areas. I've had it preemptively replaced to avoid this very issue. Great first answer. Don't worry about the proof reading bit. I'll also make some grammar with my mistakes when writing long answers, as do many other people. – Ellesedil Jun 10 at 23:18
  • I would emphasize the point "if the oil supply to the turbo has failed DO NOT RUN THE ENGINE AT ALL unless you want the expense of replacing the turbo too" - for other future visitors to this question.. Oil supply lines on a turbo are small metallic looking pipes, turbo air hoses are massive rubber pipes. It's relatively safe to drive a car with a damaged air hose, though I would caution not to drive one if the damage is on the inlet side. – Caius Jard Jun 11 at 9:01
  • It's relatively disastrous to the car (and the environment) to drive a car with a damaged turbo oil supply. It's relatively disastrous to the environment to drive with a damaged turbo oil return, because you're just pouring oil on the ground - don't do either. If you're in a real bind, with a damaged turbo oil supply/return and desperately need to move the car, remove an inlet or outlet air hose on the turbo and jam the impeller so it can't turn, then drive at extremely low revs to keep the exhaust gases relatively cool while you limp the car to somewhere close – Caius Jard Jun 11 at 9:08
5

Don’t drive it, until you have topped up the oil. Then you can get repair it or take it to a mechanic to fit a new pipe.

Once those repairs are complete check what is causing the high oil consupmtion - it may just be due to the broken air pipe...

Not sure how much damage you have done - it may already be terminal - if not, then you have reduced the life of the engine...

  • Thanks for the reply. So I guess the decision of the mechanic to drive it to the home was not good, right? – Jordan Jordanovski Jun 9 at 17:15
  • How can the oil drain out like that in this situation? – Jordan Jordanovski Jun 9 at 17:24
  • I don’t quite get it are you saying that besides the broken pipe that is carrying air to the turbo that there was probably something else that was broke which resulted in the oil getting consumed? It was quite assuring that the sound coming from the turbine in the turbo was because of it. – Jordan Jordanovski Jun 9 at 18:05
  • So it was the turbo output air pipe that was broken, but you should add oil before driving it again. – Solar Mike Jun 9 at 18:13
  • Yes, I will definitely add oil before driving it. I guess it is more clear to you what happened now, do you still think it was a serious issue? I guess even though the level of oil was dropping with every kilometer but at the end there was still something to lubricate the engine. I still don’t know why it would consume oil these seem like two different things. I still haven’t talked to the mechanic and he does not know about the oil level, I will talk to him tomorrow I wanted to ask here about peoples opinions on the problem. – Jordan Jordanovski Jun 9 at 18:38
2

I don't know enough about turbos to speculate on why this might make the engine burn oil (which yours did). The decision to drive it back home was likely fine. At worst, you've taken a bit off the engine's life, from running it with low oil. It would've been better if you could have kept the engine oil above the minimum (adding oil during the drive), and you definitely need to keep it above that starting now, but I wouldn't expect the fix to be too hard overall.

Take the car to a mechanic (after filling your oil, and maybe checking the oil along the drive to make sure it stays high enough), and have them fix the problem with your turbo. Afterword, keep an eye on your oil level. Hopefully you won't be burning oil anymore, and the oil level will stay good. If not, you'll have to separately diagnose the oil leak problem.

2

After the mechanic took apart the car and examined the turbocharger to search for the problem the turbocharger was like @Sean Houlihane mentions in his answer pretty much scrap.

I did not went much into details with him but basically the main problem is that the turbine was not turning or barely turning and was pretty much destroyed.

The oil was definitely burned out because of the broken stuff in the turbocharger and the place where it was burning was the turbocharger itself.

When it comes to a solution I basically had three options:

  1. Search for a matching turbocharger from a car that was taken apart. - The issue in this case is that there is no guarantee will it work and how long will it work.
  2. Repair the same turbocharger for something around 250 euros - The company that is doing the repair gives a 6 month guarantee (which I guess is not much at all)
  3. Buy a new turbocharger - The issue here is that first of all it was the most expensive option starting at around 500 euros and going further and that would mostly be a third party that would develop the part, the part being OEM would maybe cost me above 1000 euros. Note that I'm from Macedonia and prices may vary from other locations.

I decided to repair the existing turbocharger that I have I'm not sure was that the smartest option or not, I asked a separate question about it to see for an opinion from the community.

2

Buying a used turbocharger would have been a risk. So too was having the turbo repaired. The repair to the turbo will have required the turbo core to be changed out and the new core will be a made-in-China copy of the original. It may last six months, it may last six years. I had a turbo fail on my 2005 Suzuki 2.0TD due to there being a little mesh filter in the high pressure feed line to the turbo. This mesh filter was supposed to be removed at the first oil change (there was a Suzuki advisory to this effect but my garage missed it). This resulted in the core of the turbo disintegrating at 60k as the mesh filter blocked and the turbo was starved of oil. You have had the same issue but the oil starvation arose from the pipe coming off. I hope that whoever replaced the turbo drained all your engine oil and replaced it along with the filters. There will likely have been pieces of old turbo core and debris dumped into your sump from the failed core. With the turbo core damaged, your engine oil pressure will have been reduced and it certainly should not have been driven afterwards, but your 1.7tdi engine is tough and if your oil pressure is now good, it may not have suffered terminal bearing damage. I would fit an oil pressure gauge to check this, as it will give you comfort that your engine is now OK and that your turbo core is good. If your oil pressure drops in the future, the turbo core would be the first thing to have checked. My self-fitted chinese turbo core has lasted very well from 60k to 153k miles and the rest of the Suzuki has degraded while the turbo has remained good. I just scrapped the car due to rust and transmission problems but the engine and turbo were still running fine; it passed an MOT six months ago with good emissions.

1

If the car is burning oil after a turbo problem (particularly badly at idle), there is a good chance that the bearings in the turbo have failed. These are generally oil lubricated, and rely on a close fit to achieve a seal.

Adding oil as it burns should allow you to continue to drive short distances, but will not prevent further damage to the turbo (although it is likely to be scrap already).

In the short term, topping up the oil is fine - there is no need to do a change till the problem is solved (and actually I don't expect much contamination, so maybe just stick to thee normal schedule).

If you're driving with low oil, be particularly careful when cornering. The G-force can prevent oil circulation temporarily.

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