14 harmful things you are doing to your turbo

Turbocharged engines are very popular these days, and tons of cars are equipped with them from the factory. However, many people are unaware of the proper maintenance and driving habits required to ensure your turbo has a nice long life. We've put together a list of common things that will shorten the life expectancy of your expensive turbo. The first five are things you should never do in a turbocharged vehicle.

1. Getting into boost while your oil temps are cold.


One of the worst things you can do to your turbo is get into boost hard before oil temperatures are warmed up. If you don’t have an oil temperature gauge, a good time is usually a few minutes after your turbo car has reached normal operating temperatures. This usually takes 5-10 minutes but depends on oil type and environmental conditions.

2. Waiting too long before oil changes

Your car’s turbo requires clean and healthy oil for maximum lubrication. If your oil has broken down, it’s not receiving the proper lubrication.

3. Using cheap non-synthetic oil

You don't want to cheap out on your oil. A synthetic oil is thinner, resists extreme temperatures better, and generally lasts longer.

4. Shutting your car off immediately after driving hard


How long does the turbo cool down? Drive your car gently for the last minute or two of the drive. Not sure how long you should wait to turn off a turbo car? Let the car idle afterward for at least 60 seconds.

By letting it run, the oil will continue to circulate, and your turbo will cool down. One of the main reasons your car’s turbo will die is because of oil “coking”. The oil that lubricates your turbo can heat up and form solid oil deposits. This is especially important under racing conditions.

5. Not checking for boost leaks


Boost leaks can cause your turbo to overspin, which leads to failure.

6. Having PCV system failures


On many engines the PCV system is linked directly via a diaphragm to the intake manifold. When these fail, the PCV system becomes a large boost leak, over-spinning the turbocharger.

7. Running too much boost

Excessive boost pressure can cause heavy, damaging surge or overspin the turbocharger at the top end of the RPM band.

8. Having a non-functioning diverter valve


When your diverter valve fails you get a pressure spike between shifts that puts excessive load on your turbo.

9. Getting your car tuned by an amateur

Building a performance car is an expensive hobby. You can cut corners on certain parts of the build but this is not the place!  Certain factory turbos will tolerate being pushed very hard, but others will not. You need an expert to navigate these waters without shredding your parts.

10. Having a low-priced replica turbo


Typically, these are cheap for a reason. Corners are cut in material quality, assembly tolerances, and balancing which make these frequently short lived.

11. Revving the car immediately at startup

It’s important to allow proper lubrication for the turbocharger and other engine parts (such as pistons) to be established before revving the car up. How long should you let a turbo car warm up? Generally, 15 seconds is fine at warmer temperatures. If the temperature is colder, 30 seconds would be enough to make sure your car’s turbo warms up.

12. Having a poorly functioning cooling system

The coolant system must be correctly functioning. If equipped, this includes the after-run pump which helps maintain reasonable temperatures within the turbo internals (CHRA) after shutdown.

13. Having improper oil feed and drain lines

This is often overlooked when piecing together turbo kits on your own. As with many things OEM manufacturers do it right. Line size restrictions and routing are the two main failure causes when it comes to turbo oil and coolant lines.

14. Not priming your new turbo after installation

Replacing your old blown up turbo? Don’t forget to prime the new one! This ensures that your new turbo doesn’t run dry on its first startup.

Does a turbo make a car faster?

Adding a turbocharger to a car generally makes it faster by allowing the engine to produce more power. What does a turbo do? A car’s turbo works by compressing air that enters the engine, which increases the amount of air available for combustion. More air is combined with more fuel, which results in a more powerful explosion in each cylinder.

Does a turbo add horsepower?

Yes, a turbo can add horsepower to a car's engine. It ramps up its power output by forcing more air into the combustion chamber. Since more air is combined with more fuel, the explosion in the cylinder is much more powerful than that of a naturally aspirated engine.

Which is better, a turbo or a supercharger?

This depends on your needs as a driver. What does a turbo do for your car? It’s more fuel efficient as it uses the engine's exhaust gasses to run and typically provide a higher boost in power at higher engine speeds. Superchargers give instant power increase because they’re mechanically driven by the crankshaft in the engine.

What are the pros and cons of turbo?

A turbo enhances an engine's efficiency and power, allowing greater performance without the need for a larger engine. This is great for fuel efficiency. However, they can experience turbo lag, where there's a delay between acceleration and power boost. A turbo can also add to your vehicle's maintenance and repair costs.


While this is a short and brief list, if you have a specific question or want us to get into more detail, ask us in the comments below.