Turbocharger Installation Tips

Basic Turbocharger Installation Tips

Turbocharger Installation – Avoid Problems

Many problems encountered with turbochargers occur at or soon after installation.

Our turbos are electronically (VSR Machine) balanced and QC’ed at the factory.
The latest VSR Machine Technology from the UK is used in the test phase.
The balance test involves the VSR machine spinning the turbine wheel with compressed air. Speeds of up to 210,000 RPM are tested to ensure balance over the working range.
Whilst rotating, the VSR machine calculates tiny imbalances created by the spinning components and formulates a correction for any imbalance that may be detected.

The result is a turbocharger straight out of the box, that is ready to install and work as per normal operational requirements.
It is unusual for a turbo charger to fail upon immediate installation due to the above QC testing.

Upon failure at initial start up, the turbocharger is often blamed.
However, initial failure is more likely due to foreign matter entering compressor at start up due to particles left loose from removing the old turbocharger and from air filters or pipes.
Or the unit was not correctly pre-primed at install in which case the bearing may fail.
Else, oil seals may leak due to incorrect pressure in the oil lines or sump.

Complete outright failure at worst may see the shaft break due to one or more of the above issues.

Others less minor issues related to turbocharger installation, include gasket leaks creating incorrect pressure for the turbo to work correctly, especially in producing the correct boost.
A gasket leak will often produce a high pitch whining noise that may increase in pitch with increased engine revs.
A faulty Air Flow Sensor can also produce unusual issues as can a clogged EGR valve.
It is a recommendation that with some new turbo installations, the AFM be replaced and the EGR valve be cleaned.

At initial start up after turbocharger installation, you should allow 5 minutes of engine idle for oil to circulate and to burn off smoke that may appear due to assembly lubrication being heated and dissipated.

A short ‘run-in’ period is also advised where the vehicle is run at lower revs and hence boost, to allow manufacturing tolerances to adjust to the running environment.

Above are the most common faults that may occur soon after installation, and are an installation issue, not connected to a manufacturing fault.

Compressor / Turbine Housing Rotation / Alignment

In some cases during turbocharger installation there can be small differences in the set up of each vehicle and to suit the individual application, it may be a requirement to rotate either the inlet (compressor) or outlet (turbine) housings or both in the case where the cartridge (CHRA) angle is adjusted.

This is a common procedure at time of installation across all turbo charger suppliers and is effected by slight loosening of a few bolts, a v-band or large split-ring (this depends on the turbo unit type being adjusted). After loosening the housing (compressor or turbine) or cartridge can be rotated (SLOWLY to stop seal damage) to the desired position.
Re-tensioning of the bolts needs to be done in a diagonally opposing fashion and NOT circular sequence to create an even tension in the housing. Failure to create an even tension may result in core distortion at high speed / temperatures.

Where an external rod vacuum (pneumatic) actuator is present (on many non-variable vane turbos), moving the housings as above, may result in a change in angle of actuator rod. Usually there is provision on housing mounts to allow for moving actuator to a position where the rod maintains a position as close to perpendicular to the actuator diaphragm housing.
If angle is too great the actuator may fail to actuate its full range of movement.

Boost Control

Our aftermarket turbos are designed as direct factory replacement for the original OEM. Where an internal wastegate or variable vane system applies, boost pressure (wastegate opening) is set to the lower end of the range of factory pressures (generally around 10psi).
This ensures a balance between efficiency, effective boost and useful life of turbo.

However, factors such as exhaust flow and general condition and ‘tuning’ of the engine can also effect actual boost pressures achieved.
On most turbos there is limited adjustment available on the actuator arm to adjust boost via lengthening or shortening the arm.
For turbos with electronic stepper motors, there is usually a screw on the cartridge that can be adjusted to change the actuation length of the stepper swing arm.
For more information on Electronic Stepper Motor adjustment and calibration, click HERE.

A better way to control boost in a pneumatically-actuated turbo, is via an electronic controller or a manual boost controller (such as a Dawes Valve).
They generally deliver a smoother boost curve than factory standard and prevent over-boost spikes that contribute to accelerated turbo wear or turbo failure.

General Turbocharger Installation Tips

1) Change engine oil & oil filter to vehicle manufacturer’s specifications or better.

2) Check air filter and case to ensure it is clean and free from debris.
Replacing air filter is recommended.

3) Clean the engine crankcase ventilation system to make sure there are no blockages that could cause excessive pressure in the crank case.
High pressure in the engine block may cause oil leaks from the turbocharger cartridge (CHRA). High pressure oil will push around turbo seals, and find its way into the engine and/or intercooler, or into the exhaust system causing excessive smoke and loss of engine oil.

4) Carefully check the oil feed / drain lines and banjo bolts. They should be clean with no damage to ensure unrestricted oil flow to and from the turbo.
To avoid oil contamination and blockage, the turbocharger oil pipes and banjo bolts must be ultrasonically cleaned or replaced when installing the new turbocharger.
It is highly recommended that all oil line components be ultrasonically cleaned at minimum or completely replaced with any new turbocharger installation.

5) Turbo oil gallery should be pre-primed with engine or pre-priming oil.
Engine should be cranked for around 10 seconds without ignition to help oil pressure build in oil feed lines and CHRA / oil gallery.
IMPORTANT: This lubrication in the few seconds at the start of the engine, is vital to the health of the turbocharger.

6) Start the engine and idle for around 5 to 10 minutes to allow for warmup and inspection.
Check for any oil or gas /air leaks.
Stop the engine and check sump oil level.
It should be between minimum and maximum on the dipstick.