Turbo Failure Signs

Turbo Failure Signs: 7 Common Symptoms To Look Out For

Installing a turbo in your vehicle offers a wealth of benefits. With a turbo, you’ll be able to push your vehicle to the limit. You’ll receive more speed and better performance. Nevertheless, you need to realize that turbos are going to put more stress on your engine. Therefore, it can cause more problems and result in damage. You need to keep a close eye and ear on the turbo so you can determine when something is about to go wrong.

So, what are the most common turbo failure signs? There are many of them. Poor acceleration, irregular exhaust, and check engine lights are three of the most common. It is pertinent to keep your eyes and ears open. Doing so will ensure that you’re able to spot the problem and remedy it before it does more damage.

Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to determine when something is about to go wrong. You just need to know what to look for. Within this guide, you will learn more about the symptoms that you should look for when trying to determine if something is wrong with your turbo.

What Causes Problems?

There are many things that can lead to turbo damage. One of the most common things is debris buildup. When you’re driving down the road, there is a good chance that you’re going to run into rocks and dirt. These things can enter your vehicle’s engine and the turbo. If this happens, it may result in problems. Cracks may develop that could do more damage too.

Carbon deposits are another thing that can damage your turbo beyond the point of repair. Finally, you should know that turbos are not going to last forever. They have a specific lifespan and will go bad after 75,000 miles or so. Just remember that some will last longer. Turbos with an EcoBoost will typically last much longer. Either way, you should be prepared to deal with turbo problems in the future.

They’re going to happen and you need to know how to identify them.

Signs Something Is Wrong

At the end of the day, something is going to go wrong. Even if you maintain the turbo and drive carefully, there is a good chance that you’re going to experience problems. They’re unavoidable. Therefore, you need to know the common turbo failure signs. Once you’ve identified them, you’ll be able to spot and remedy problems before they can cause more damage.

Below, you will learn more about the most common symptoms associated with turbo failure.

1. Bad Acceleration

A turbo is going to make your vehicle more powerful. With a turbo, your vehicle will accelerate quicker. It is responsible for making your vehicle go from 0 to 60 in a shorter period. Well, this is something you should pay close attention to. When you begin noticing a decrease in power or lack of power, there is a good chance that you’re dealing with turbo problems.

Your vehicle will not accelerate as quickly as it used to. Or, it may not provide you with the same amount of power it did when you first installed the turbo. The vehicle responds to your actions slower and it is unable to reach the desired speeds as quickly. This is a sign that you’re dealing with a problematic turbo.

2. Exhaust Problems

Another thing to note is that you’re going to have exhaust problems when something goes wrong with your turbo. You should pay close attention to your exhaust. Is your vehicle releasing too much exhaust? Or, has the exhaust taken on a gray color? This is a sign that something has gone wrong with the turbocharger. It might be time to make the upgrade to a new one. This will occur when the turbo housing develops a crack.

This allows the oil to seep into the exhaust system. In return, that will cause irregular gases to be produced and emitted from the exhaust. When you begin noticing problems like this, you’ll want to check the turbo and make sure that it does not have any cracks. If you find cracks, you’ll want to replace the unit right away. Otherwise, the problem is going to get worse.

3. Engine Light

When you suspect problems, you should take a look at your dashboard. Here, you will find many lights, warnings, and other things. The dash can be very beneficial for determining when something has gone wrong. While it may not always happen, there is a good chance that an engine sensor will detect the problem with the turbocharger. If it does, it will illuminate the check engine light. The only problem with this is that many things that cause this light to become illuminated.

It could have something to do with your turbocharger but it might not. With that being said, you should look at the turbocharger anyway. If you notice nothing out of the ordinary, you’re likely dealing with an issue elsewhere.

4. Oddly Loud Noises

As mentioned above, it is pertinent to use your eyes and ears. It is often easier to diagnose the problem by listening to the vehicle’s engine. By doing this, you’ll have a much easier time determining whether or not something has gone wrong. All you have to do is turn on the vehicle and give it a drive. Turn off the engine and shut off the radio.

Listen carefully for loud noises. If something has gone wrong with the turbocharger, you’ll notice the difference right away. The vehicle will make a loud shriek or siren sound. As the problem worsens, the noise is going to get louder. You shouldn’t have too much trouble noticing this sound. It will be audible enough to notice without too much trouble.

5. Boost Deficiencies

There are some vehicles that feature a boost gauge. This can make it very easy to determine if something has gone wrong. Take a look at the gauge. It will tell you how much boost the turbo is delivering. The gauge should confirm that your turbo is providing you with a sufficient boost. If you notice that the gauge is climbing slower than it once did, there is a good chance that you’re dealing with a faulty turbo.

To fix the problem, you may need to replace the turbo. If your vehicle does not have a boost gauge, you’ll need to rely on the other symptoms to identify the problem.

6. Additional Oil Consumption

There is a real possibility that something is going to happen to your turbo. When it does, there is a risk that your vehicle is going to start consuming more oil. While this could be the result of other problems, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with a leaking turbo. The turbo might be leaking and the oil could seep into the manifold. This will result in your vehicle consuming more oil.

This is a big problem and it is only going to get worse. You need to remedy this problem or you’re going to end up spending too much money on oil. On top of that, the problem will spread and it’ll cause problems with the rest of your vehicle too. When you notice that your vehicle is using more oil, you should check the turbocharger. There is a possibility that it is leaking.

7. Whistling Noise

Finally, you should listen for a whistling noise. This is a sure sign that something has gone wrong. Again, you should turn off your radio and listen carefully. Do you hear something that sounds like a tea kettle? If so, there is a good chance that you’re dealing with a faulty turbo. This happens when the bearings have started to wear down. When you begin hearing the whistling noise, you need to remedy the problem immediately.

Thankfully, this is a problem that can be avoided with proper and regular maintenance. To check this, you need to take off the intake tube. Then, you should push the compressor fan. Does it move too much from side to side? If so, there is a good chance the bearings have gone bad. Get them replaced to avoid more problems in the future.

Tips For Extending Turbocharger Lifespan

Again, you never know how long your turbo is going to last. It might last ten years but it might not. Well, there is a good chance that you’ll be able to extend the lifespan of the turbocharger by taking care of it. Proper maintenance will go a long way. Below, you’ll find tips for keeping your turbocharger in excellent condition.

Change The Oil

First and foremost, you should change the oil regularly. This is vital for a number of reasons. If you want to extend the lifespan of your engine, you’ll want to change the oil as recommended. Simultaneously, this is going to make a difference for your turbocharger too. When turbochargers were first released, they were cooled by oil which was provided by the engine. Today, you’re going to find turbochargers that are cooled by coolant too. However, they’re still going to be rough on the oil.

This is a problem that you need to be careful about. Make sure that you change the oil often to avoid problems. If you use the turbo frequently, you should change the oil every 5,000 miles. Otherwise, you should be fine with oil changes every 7,000 miles. Somewhere in this range should be sufficient.

Don’t Rush Things

When you first jump into your vehicle, you’re going to feel the urge to hit the pedal. This is going to cause problems. Instead, you need to let the engine warm-up. It is also important to let the oil flow to the turbocharger. Therefore, you should let the vehicle run for a minute or two. Once you’ve done that, the turbocharger will have oil and the engine will be warmer. This will put less stress on the turbo and it’ll ensure that it lasts longer.

Use The Right Oil

Another thing to note is that you need to be using the right oil. If you’re investing in lower quality oil, there is a good chance that it will not be able to protect the turbocharger. This is a big problem. You shouldn’t skimp in this area. Be sure to spend more to obtain a higher quality oil that will be able to protect the turbocharger to the fullest. Make sure that oil is the right viscosity and the right API.

Cool Down

After a tough exercise, you’re going to be eager to sit down immediately. However, you should not. You need to perform cool-down exercises. Well, you should treat your vehicle the same way. After a long drive, you’re going to need gas. When you pull up to the gas station, you should not shut off the engine immediately. The turbocharger is very hot at this point. If you turn off the engine immediately, it could damage the turbo. Therefore, you need to let the unit cool off first. To avoid problems, you should let the vehicle idle for 30 seconds or so.

Then, you can shut off the engine without causing any damage to the turbo.

Don’t Overdo It

At the end of the day, you need to be very cautious about overdoing it. To protect your turbo system, you need to be careful. With many vehicles, you only have a turbo because you have to make up for the lack of power from the engine. You may feel the urgency to take things too far. This is a problem and it is going to backfire in the future. When you’re out cruising, you should be easier on the turbo. Being gentler will ensure that your turbo lasts longer. On top of that, it will help you save money on gas too.

Driving A Vehicle With A Blown Turbo

There is a risk that your turbo is going to blow up or go bad. When this happens, you may feel the urgency to drive the vehicle anyway. This is a bad idea. While it is technically possible to continue driving the vehicle, you shouldn’t. After all, this is going to cause more problems. There is one way to remedy the problem though. You can open the hood and disconnect the turbo for the time being. This will allow you to bypass the turbo and continue driving the vehicle as normal.

Once you’ve got the time to do so, you can go ahead and replace the turbo. If you’re going to do this, you should be easy on the pedal. Be cautious and drive the vehicle safely for the time being.


At the end of the day, turbos are designed to last many, many years. Nevertheless, it is true that many things can go awry. Therefore, you have to take precautions and look for problems before they spiral out of control. Above, you have discovered some of the most common turbo failure signs. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with them, you should have an easier time determining when something is going wrong. Take this into consideration and keep your eyes and ears open.

Do that and you’ll be able to remedy problems before they transform into even bigger problems.

Related Questions

What Impact Will A Turbo Have On My Insurance?

The truth of the matter is that turbos come with many drawbacks. Unless you have a need for speed or you’re going to be racing, you should steer away from this type of vehicle modification. After all, it is going to put more pressure on your shoulders in terms of finding insurance. While there are many private passenger cars that are turbocharged, there is still a good chance that you’re going to be labeled a specialty risk.

This can create big problems for you. It means that you’re likely going to have a tougher time getting insurance and you’ll pay more too. It is nice to have a vehicle that can go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds.

However, the insurance companies are going to see this as an additional risk. After all, your vehicle packs more power and they see this as a bad thing. They believe that vehicles with a turbo are more dangerous and that is why you’re going to have a harder time insuring the vehicle.

How Long Is A Turbo Going To Last?

Ultimately, you should know that your turbo is not going to last a lifetime. The exact lifespan of the turbo depends on several factors including the vehicle you’re driving and the turbo you’ve selected. If you’re using a turbo on an EcoBoost vehicle, there is a good chance that you’ll get 10 years of use from the turbo. At the very least, you should be able to use the turbo for 150,000 miles without any issues.

Either way, you should realize that you’re going to need to replace the turbo at some point. When it begins to fail, you should act immediately and remedy the problem. Otherwise, the problem may begin to spread to other areas of the vehicle and this is something you’ll want to avoid.