Understand Turbochargers – A Comma TechTalk

Turbochargers – What do they do?

In simple terms, a turbocharger is a turbine-driven forced induction device that uses engine exhaust gas (free energy that would otherwise go to waste) to breathe more air into the combustion chamber, providing a more efficient engine operation.

Although in the past turbochargers were used mostly in high performance applications, nowadays they are becoming significantly more common across the whole passenger vehicle market simply because of the benefits they bring when it comes to meeting the challenging EURO environmental regulations.

How common are they in modern vehicles?

According to BTN Turbo, today 49% of cars on the road are turbocharged and this is rapidly increasing due the growth of turbocharged petrol applications.

What challenges do turbochargers present in terms of lubrication?

Turbochargers present some unique challenges when it comes to lubrication because of the extreme conditions under which they operate. In a modern application an engine oil needs to do the same tough job of lubricating a turbocharger but it needs to do it for longer, with less of it circulating around the engine and with limits on the amount of additives that can be used in the formulations.

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BTN state that the great majority of turbocharger failures are a result of a lubrication fault of some kind.

In fact, turbochargers are very reliable: less than 1% of turbochargers fail due to a manufacturing fault with the turbo itself.

Nevertheless, the design of any turbo relies on the central spindle to be supported on a very thin lm of oil and when that protective layer breaks down it takes only seconds for damage to occur, the result being a rapid increase in temperature and wear at the spindle or journal bearings which can quite quickly cause failure. Research by BTN Turbo suggests, 95% of turbocharger failures are caused by a lubrication related issue, particularly oil contamination and oil starvation.

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Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 16.58.50A good preventive maintenance measure to keep turbochargers in good working order is making sure the system
is kept, as much as possible, free from carbon deposits and sludge. It is also vital to clean the lubrication system thoroughly before tting a new turbo. If the wrong oil or a poor quality oil has been used, a complete flush will help by removing harmful contaminants and will also inhibit the build-up of harmful deposits in the future.

How can I make sure I get it right?

The safest way to select the right engine oil is to use Comma’s application tool at www.CommaOil.com. Here you will find product recommendations with our 100% compatibility guarantee for engine oil and antifreeze & coolant for European vehicles going back over 30 years. It also covers brake fluid, transmission and power steering fluid recommendations.

Or download the ‘Comma Oil Finder’ app from Google Play and the App Store


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