Turbocharger reconditioning. What you should know

There are many cars with gasoline engines that have a turbo. And most diesel cars have that. Today the turbocharger has become an important part of the car, being more and more common on most cars leaving the factories. Even the new trend of shrinking the engine cylinders makes them need a turbocharger.

And as we talk about a part of the car that is constantly moving and working at high temperatures, it gets worse from time to time. What are we doing then? Repairing or reconditioning a turbocharger that is no longer functioning properly is much more cost-effective than buying a new turbocharger. Usually, compared to the engine, the life of the turbocharger is longer. But only if we take care of it.

How does a turbocharger work?

Most Diesel engines are powered by a turbocharger. The turbocharger consists of a turbine and a compressor. The turbine is connected to the exhaust manifold and is moved by the exhaust gases. The turbine engages the blades of the compressor that absorbs the air in the intake circuit through an axis, compresses it and enters it into the intake manifold.

On the exhaust side, the turbine helps to remove gas from the engine faster. The turbine is controlled by the ECU, via a vacuum or electronic actuator. Most turbochargers on diesel engines have an internal system in addition to the gasoline turbines called VNT (variable nozzle turbines) system that helps the turbine to achieve pressure at low speeds. Most VNT turbines are under pressure starting at 1200-1500 rpm.

Difference between a turbocharger and a mechanical compressor

The turbo is driven by exhaust gases while the mechanical compressor is directly driven by the crankshaft of the engine through a belt or chain. Both have the same role, namely to introduce more air into the cylinders by compressing it (at the same volume, higher pressure, greater quantity) thus increasing the engine power.

The compressor, because it is powered by the engine, leads to increased fuel consumption but has an instantaneous reaction. The turbocharger does not affect consumption but has a certain reaction time (turbo-lag).

Why does the turbocharger fail over time?

If you have turbocharger problems, you should think that the engine might have some problems as well. You must consider the engine oil you use, how often you change the air filter if the service that manages your car is good enough.

You also have to consider the driving style. To maintain the turbo, do not hold the engine in charge, let each gear to start completely, do not go on the premise that it saves fuel if you drive with the engine at low rpm.

Good maintenance of the turbocharger aims especially at the air filtration and the quality of the oil poured into the engine. These areas are important due to the turbocharger operating speed. The use of proper operating processes and frequent maintenance gives the car turbo system a longer life.

The preventive maintenance of the turbocharger consists first of all in ensuring the integrity of the engine and the air supply system. The engine must be “used” with care so that it does not have a malfunctioning turbocharger. More specifically, apart from the oil change in time, we must make sure that we do not stop the engine immediately after driving a long road, allowing the turbocharger to cool down for several minutes, and taking care not to step on the acceleration pedal. immediately after I started the car, at which point there is no oil in the turbocharger lubrication circuit.

The turbo can also be damaged in new cars, because of manufacturing defects or due to poor use or the use of an undisclosed oil, with high viscosity, which does not reach the turbocharger lubrication circuit.

In older cars, the turbocharger breaks down when the driver does not comply with the rules of use mentioned above.

What do we do when the turbo breaks?

We have two options: buy a new one or recondition the broken one.

After a visit to the service, I was noticed that everyone was surprised when they were told that the car’s turbo was having problems. Some people who afford or have a new car bought under warranty will always choose to replace the broken turbine with a new one.

There are also new turbochargers, imported by certain companies, in case you do not want turbocharger reconditioning. Often, however, auto parts are made in China or India and you cannot differentiate between an original turbocharger and one made in these countries.

Many people choose the option of a reconditioned turbocharger if they have the choice between buying a new or a reconditioned one. And in the case of turbocharger reconditioning, care must be taken, the parts from one manufacturer, for example, do not fit perfectly on the turbocharger of another manufacturer and as a result, the turbocharger will not operate at the standard parameters in such cases.

What does turbocharger reconditioning mean?

Reconditioning is a professional service performed in specialized service and consists of replacing all the faulty components of the turbocharger with new ones through specific stages for dynamic balancing.

Therefore, the reconditioning of the turbocharger is not equivalent to a simple repair, so it does not imply repairs on worn parts

Thus turbocharger reconditioning means changing all worn and faulty parts inside the old turbocharger with new parts, the only exception being the turbo housing which will be the same. This process also implies a warranty

What are the differences between a new turbocharger and a reconditioned one?

Or, more precisely, ignoring the costs, which proves to be the best option?

Not considering the financial part, a new turbocharger is obviously the best option. And this because a new piece always gives you the guarantee of the maximum quality.

However, if we exclude the price criterion and talk exclusively about the warranty period offered by the car service, we have a surprise: for both the new and the reconditioned turbo, the warranty period is, for most, 12 months, with no miles limit. Therefore, considering this aspect, it is imperative to see what the turbine reconditioning is all about and how this service is likely to benefit from such a high warranty.

One thing has to be well emphasized from the beginning: between reconditioning and cleaning there is no sign of equality! If you count yourself among those who think that reconditioning a turbine means removing it and clearing “impurities”, well, you’re in a big mistake.

How is the turbo reconditioned?

  • – disassembly, cleaning and identifying of turbocharger problems
  • – replacement of defective parts, balancing the central assembly and performing preliminary checks
  • – final testing, reassembling and checking the functioning of the vehicle

Execution of the reconditioning process lasts on average 3 to 8 hours, including dismantling and installing the turbo on the car, and as far as the parts are sourced, any authorized service will always work with recognized brands in the turbocharger industry: Garrett, Holset, IHI , Mitsubishi, etc.

How much it costs to refurbish a turbo?

Regarding the costs of both situations, find out that refurbishing a turbo will almost always cost you 4 to 5-6 times less compared to purchasing a new turbo. So, if a new turbocharger costs $500, reconditioning your old turbo will cost you 250$ at most.

In conclusion, considering the advantages of the 12-month warranty, the short execution time and the great costs, the reconditioning process is undoubtedly the first option.

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