Your engine creates power by combusting air and fuel together in a chamber within the engine. A turbocharger functions by increasing the amount of air in your engine by way of using the exhaust to spin an air pump. This air pump then injects the extra air into the engine’s cylinders and delivers greater horsepower, up to 35 percent more, which leads to faster acceleration and greater overall performance. If your turbocharger begins to fail or you notice you’re not receiving the same boost to your engine’s performance, read on for signs and reasons of turbocharger failure.
Common Causes of a Failed Turbocharger
There are several reasons a turbocharger can fail, including the most common:
Cracked or Failed Seals
Turbochargers function by pushing air back into the cylinders to generate extra power. If any part of that system is cracked or broken, then some of that air is then lost, and the turbo will have to work harder in order to deliver the boost. Cracked or failed seals will only continue to cause damage to the turbocharger, and thus should be checked out immediately.
Wear and Tear
A turbocharger’s lifespan averages 100,000 to 150,000 miles, depending upon the driver’s road (or off-road) habits. After an extended period of time, the turbocharger will begin to break down and eventually need to be replaced entirely due to natural wear and tear.
Lack of Lubrication
A turbocharger spins at 200,000 revolutions per minute (RPMs), which means it requires a constant inflow of clean oil to lubricate and cool the individual components. If an engine runs out of oil, due to a leak that may or may not be related to the turbocharger itself, the turbo and related components will run hot, which will reduce the lifespan of the turbo.
In a situation similar to the above cause, if the oil in your engine isn’t changed routinely, this can also result in a sludge that will eventually dry and harden into carbon deposits. When carbon builds up inside the turbocharger, eventually the contaminants will interfere with the inner workings of the turbocharger, which will cause need for a replacement.
Signs of Turbocharger Failure
There are several signs of turbocharger failure that can inform a driver of an impending turbocharger failure. Some of these signs include:
If you have a boost gauge on your vehicle, you have the easiest method of finding out how well your turbo is performing. If your boost gauge registers a drop, it is a sign your turbocharger may need a tuneup or a replacement.
If your vehicle is experiencing slow acceleration and a lack of power, this could be due to the turbo not fulfilling its function.
Burning through Oil
If your vehicle suddenly starts burning through oil, it could be a failure of the turbocharger due to a buildup of oil inside the turbine.
If you notice that your vehicle is belching out grey or blue smoke from your exhaust, this is a sign that your turbo housing has cracked and is leaking oil into your exhaust system. This symptom is most noticeable when the turbo is in use. If your vehicle expels different-colored smoke when revving your engine, this is a sign that your turbo is experiencing issues.
Check Engine Light (CEL)
If your check engine light illuminates, and no other causes are immediately apparent, this could be a sign of turbo failure. If your CEL displays after an initial clearing of the warning, it’s likely there is a deeper issue that needs to be examined by a mechanic as soon as possible.
Failing turbochargers can make a loud whining noise, somewhat like a siren, when the boost is running. This sound will get louder the bigger the issue becomes. This is an obvious sign to have the turbocharger immediately inspected by a certified mechanic.
Master Mechanics Auto Repair Can Help
If you suspect that your Mazda is experiencing issues with the turbocharger, bring it in to Master Mechanics Auto Repair. Master Mechanics Auto Repair of Battle Creek, Portage, and Kalamazoo, MI is here for all your engine and turbo-related needs. Our expert technicians will have your car serviced quickly with the care and attention it deserves but without the cost and hassle of bringing your car to a dealership. Call us today or come by to speak to one of our expert technicians.