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 balanced and QC’ed at factory to work as per normal operation straight out of the box.
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 air filters or pipes. Or the unit was not correctly pre-primed at install in which case bearing may fail.
Else, oil seals may leak due to incorrect pressure in 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 pressures for the turbo to work correctly, especially in producing the correct boost. A faulty Air Flow Sensor can also produce . It is a recommendation that AFM be replaced with most new turbo installations.

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 lower turbo boost to allow manufacturing tolerances to adjust to 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 on core distortion at high speed / temperatures.

Where an external rodded vacuum 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 diaphram housing as possible. If angle is too great the actuator may fail.

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.

A better way to control boost 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.