Turbocharger Failure Modes

By Greg Arsenault

The most common failure modes of turbochargers for both gas and diesel engines are: 1) Contaminated oil, 2) Lack of oil, 3) Foreign debris in air stream, 4) Excessive heat/friction, 5) Hot shutdowns, 6) Physical contact of rotating components within the housing.

Although the above list is well known within the industry, it is worth taking a second look periodically to ensure the best performance and longest lasting turbos.

In a perfect world the, turbo should last as long as the engine. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Replacing a turbo is expensive. If we do not find out the specific reason the turbo failed, the replacement turbo is apt to wear out much sooner than it should.