Turbo engine technology is now becoming more common in passenger cars. The advantage of a turbo engine is its higher power output, so a large car can be given a small engine. Apart from greater power, a turbo engine requires less fuel for the same amount of power as a large engine.
With the increasing number of Turbo-engined cars, it is important for turbo car users to know what are the symptoms that are signs that the turbocharger system is starting to have a problem, so that it can be checked early and made repairs before the turbo condition affects or damages other parts of the car engine system.
Understanding How Turbo Works
Turbocharger is an additional system that works to increase engine power. To better understand the signs of turbo starting to be problematic, we need to know how turbo engines work.
Turbochargers in automobiles apply a very similar principle to a piston engine, namely the use of exhaust gases to drive a turbine. The remaining energy in the exhaust gas is used to rotate the air compressor which pushes the air intake into the engine cylinder, so that a greater amount of oxygen is obtained.
This allows a greater combustion than the engine without a turbo in the same unit of time. That is why a car with a turbocharger can produce power like a bigger engine even on a small engine. To make it easier to understand, it can be seen in the following picture:
Physically, a car with a turbo engine has an additional component that we commonly know as the ‘ Turbo Snail ‘. It consists of 2 air vanes connected by metal shafts. One of the propellers is called the turbine in the exhaust gas stream, while the other is in the flow of the air intake that will enter the combustion engine, this part is called the compressor.
The exhaust gas in the form of hot air that comes out of the engine cylinder is flowed to the turbine which then rotates the compressor through a metal shaft that connects the two. The compressor draws more air from the intake air, then forces it into the engine cylinders for greater combustion.
So in theory and practically, that’s how simple the turbo system works, namely using energy that should be wasted into the air, which is taken back to compress the air intake into the engine.
What are the Problem Features of Turbo Engine?
A deteriorating turbo will affect the power of the car so it needs to be repaired on time. Here are the symptoms of a problematic turbo engine:
1. Slow Acceleration
One of the first noticeable symptoms is a lack of power and slow acceleration. If you feel that the car is not accelerating as fast as when the car is in good condition, the first consideration to check is the turbo.
This indication may also include difficulty maintaining high speeds or being unable to reach speeds that were previously easily attainable. This happens because usually a car with a turbo is equipped with an engine that is smaller than it should be if it is non-turbo. So that if the turbo system does not function properly, the engine will bear a greater load than it should.
2.Machines Whine (Noisy)
Turbo actually makes the engine quieter by reducing the sound of air entering the engine. A failed turbo system will result in a louder than normal sound from the engine. This sound could be similar to the sound when a doctor is drilling into a patient’s teeth or even like the sound of a police siren.
If there are such sounds from the engine, your car is likely experiencing symptoms of a faulty turbo. For this engine whining sound, it should be checked and corrected by a professional. Because if you ignore it, the sound will get louder, which means your car is getting worse.
3. Engine Oil Combustion
One of the symptoms of a damaged turbo is engine oil burning in excessive amounts. Professional mechanics usually check this by looking inside the turbo turbine with an endoscope, to see if there is oil in it. If this happens, it must be addressed immediately, otherwise it will result in the turbo completely failing to function.
4. Excessive Kenalpot Smoke
Turbo problems can also be indicated by the presence of blue or gray smoke from the car hood. The smoke is generated from burning oil that enters the turbo system through cracks in the turbo housing or a broken internal seal. Oil that is exposed to the heat of exhaust gases will produce gray or blue smoke.
In the early stages, smoke is not visible when the engine is idling. However, when you step on the gas pedal, the smoke from the exhaust starts to change color to a more dense color. If that happens, do not ignore these symptoms, immediately take your car to the repair shop for immediate check and repair.
5. The Engine Indicator Light Is On
In most modern cars today, problems with the turbo system can be detected by computer diagnostics earlier. The computer system will notify car users by turning on the warning lights on the meter-cluster. If the engine lights have a problem, don’t delay for repairs, even if the car looks fine.
In this case, you may need a professional who can help detect the actual car problem, for example, take your car to an authorized repair shop which has the full tools to diagnose turbo system problems.
What Causes Broken Turbo?
After knowing the signs of a turbo engine starting to have a problem or failing to function, it’s good if we also know a few things that cause damage to the car’s engine turbo system, here is the list:
1. Normal Wear or Age
Turbo is a component of auto parts that have a normal service life, like other parts. Typically turbochargers can last from 100,000 to 150,000 miles (about 160,900 – 242,400 km).
The number of kilometers will vary depending on driving style and habits. Turbo devices can also wear out faster because the quality of the turbo components is not as good as the car manufacturer claims.
2. Oli Mesin
The turbo system is a rotating component that also requires engine oil to lubricate the moving parts. Apart from being a lubricant, oil also protects against corrosion and also keeps moving components cool when used.
Poor oil quality or incorrect specifications can cause a buildup of contaminants in the engine. This can cause abrasive damage to the interior of the turbo. Regular checks and replacing the oil filter will help prevent turbo damage due to oil.
3. Foreign Objects / Stacks of Contaminants
The air filter function is very vital in a car with a turbo engine. Because if there are foreign objects that escape from the filter and enter the air compressor system, such as dust or dirt debris which within a certain time becomes a deposit, it will cause problems with the turbo system.
The presence of foreign objects in the compressor system will reduce the efficiency of the turbo, because the turbine rotation load is heavier than it should be. To prevent this problem from happening, the air filter on a turbo car should get extra attention, it must be cleaned and replaced regularly. Within a certain time interval, the turbo propeller system should also be checked for dirt.
4. Bad Seal
The seal is an important part that connects the compressor and the engine. If the seal cracks, oil may leak into the exhaust system. As explained earlier, oil entering the turbo exhaust system will significantly reduce turbo efficiency.
Can I Drive on a Broken Turbo?
This question may arise, if we are facing problems with the turbo, but don’t have the time or budget to fix the car. In the not too distant future, the car may still be able to drive without a turbo system, but you may have to face some issues such as low power and whining engine noises.
Our advice, as soon as possible take your car to a trusted repair shop if you have problems with the turbo. Because the engine is the most important component in a car, a car with a turbo is usually designed to be smaller so it really depends on the turbo system, considering the weight of a large car without a turbo should be driven by a large capacity engine. The longer the repair is delayed, the worse and more costly other problems may occur, as a domino effect.
What To Do If A Car Turbo Engine Damages?
If any indication of a problem with the car’s turbo system has been found, you should stop using it until it is confirmed by a professional technician that the car can still be used or must be repaired immediately.
Regarding the cost of repairing the turbo, it depends on how severe the problem is, whether it is enough to replace certain components or have to replace the entire turbo system. The make and model of the vehicle also determines how expensive a turbo part is. In addition to the cost of buying spare parts, the technician’s unloading service costs must also be considered.
Ask for a quote or a total cost estimate before entering your car for turbo repairs. Because this is a fairly expensive repair. Do not let the costs incurred exceed your available money.
Some things that need to be noted for car users with turbo are as follows:
- Some of the important symptoms of a problem with the turbo are sluggish power, engine noise, and excessive smoke on the exhaust.
- Maintenance that must be strictly maintained is engine oil change and air filter performance.
- If you don’t understand the turbo system, don’t try to tamper with it yourself only armed with tutorials from YouTube. Better to entrust your car to an expert at an authorized repair shop, or a mechanic who does have a good reputation.
This is a discussion of everything there is to know from engine maintenance with a turbo, related to problem signs, causes and repair tips. Hopefully this information is useful for friends who own cars with turbo technology.