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Extending the Life of Your Car’s Turbocharger


Turbocharged engines offer impressive performance, but they also require diligent maintenance to ensure the longevity of the forced induction system. This article  outlines key steps to keep a turbocharged engine running smoothly.

Frequent Oil Changes with Synthetic Oil

One of the most critical aspects of maintaining a turbocharged engine is regular oil changes using high-quality synthetic oil. Experts recommend changing the oil at least every 5,000 miles, or more often if possible, treating it like a high-mileage or severe performance interval. Missed oil changes can quickly lead to the ruin of the turbocharger, as the system depends on clean, well-lubricated oil to function properly.

The quality of the oil also matters greatly. Investing in a high-quality synthetic oil is worth the cost, as the oil’s higher burning temperature provides better viscosity and stability, which improves the performance and longevity of the turbocharger. Additionally, it’s important to keep a close eye on the oil level, as turbocharged engines can deplete oil faster than naturally aspirated engines.

Proper Engine Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Emphasis is put on the importance of properly warming up and cooling down the engine when operating a turbocharged vehicle. It’s crucial not to immediately floor the accelerator after starting the engine, as the oil will still be thick and won’t provide adequate lubrication to the turbocharger when it kicks in at high speeds. Instead, the recommendation is to ease into using the engine at high levels, allowing it to warm up for a few minutes before driving aggressively.

Similarly, after hard driving, it’s important to let the engine cool down for a minute or two before turning it off. This allows the turbocharger to wind down and the oil to circulate before being trapped in areas where it could potentially clog as it cools.

Maintaining Connected Systems

Keeping the engine and its connected systems, such as the intercooler, water pump, and air filters, in top condition is also crucial for the longevity of the turbocharger. Experts suggest performing regular maintenance tasks like coolant flushes, intercooler repairs, and carbon cleanings (especially for GDI Turbo engines) to ensure the entire system is functioning optimally.

Avoiding Strain on the Turbocharger

Finally, we advise against treating a turbocharged car like a racecar. Instead, we recommend driving the vehicle in a manner that minimizes strain on the turbocharger, such as relying on cruise control whenever possible to avoid constantly changing speeds. Additionally, if the vehicle has a manual transmission, shifting into a lower gear when climbing inclines can help keep the engine within its most effective power band, reducing the need for excessive turbocharger boost.

By following these maintenance tips, turbocharged engine owners can help extend the life of their vehicle’s forced induction system and enjoy the performance benefits for years to come.
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