Turbo Leak Oil: How To Check It

A turbocharger should not leak oil when it is properly installed. Turbo leak oil not only affects engine performance but may also lead to serious faults. It is vital to find the oil leak in time and to repair it. Here are the symptoms, causes and preventions to turbo leaking.

What Are Commom Symptoms Of Turbo Leak Oil

Engine Lack of Power:

Reduced Boost Pressure: Oil leakage in the turbocharger can lead to a loss of boost pressure, resulting in less air being forced into the combustion chamber. This causes the engine to produce less power and feel sluggish during acceleration.

Poor Engine Performance: The contamination of intake air with oil can disrupt the air-fuel mixture, leading to inefficient combustion and a noticeable drop in engine performance.

Exhaust Smoke:

Blue Smoke: When oil leaks into the exhaust system or combustion chamber, it burns along with the fuel, producing blue smoke from the exhaust.

Increased Emissions: The burning of oil in the exhaust system can increase emissions, potentially causing the vehicle to fail emissions tests and contributing to environmental pollution.

Increased Oil Consumption:

Frequent Oil Top-ups: A turbocharger oil leak will cause the engine to consume oil at a higher rate than normal. This will be noticeable as the need for more frequent oil top-ups.

Low Oil Levels: Persistent low oil levels despite regular maintenance can indicate that oil is leaking from the turbocharger, as it is being consumed or lost through the leak. This can lead to more severe engine damage if not addressed promptly.

What Are The Cause Of Turbo Oil Leaking

Turbo Oil Leak Compressor Side:

Damaged Seals: The compressor side of the turbocharger has seals that prevent oil from leaking into the intake system. If these seals become worn or damaged, oil can leak into the compressor housing.

Excessive Crankcase Pressure: High crankcase pressure, often due to a clogged Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system, can push oil past the compressor side seals and into the intake system.

Improper Installation: Incorrect installation of the turbocharger or its components can lead to misalignment or damage to the seals, resulting in oil leaks.

Turbo Oil Leak Turbine Side:

Worn Bearings: The turbine side of the turbocharger contains bearings that support the turbine shaft. If these bearings wear out, oil can leak into the turbine housing.

Excessive Exhaust Temperatures: High exhaust temperatures can degrade the turbine side seals and cause oil leaks.

Both Compressor And Turbine Side:

Small Feed Line or Return Line:

Inadequate Oil Flow: A small feed line or return line can restrict the flow of oil to and from the turbocharger, leading to insufficient lubrication and increased pressure, which can cause oil leaks on both the compressor and turbine sides.

Poorly Routed Return Line:

Oil Accumulation: If the return line is improperly routed or obstructed, oil may accumulate in areas where it shouldn’t, such as the compressor or turbine housing, increasing the risk of leaks.

Incorrect Oil Pressure:

Excessive Pressure: High oil pressure can overwhelm seals and gaskets, causing them to fail and resulting in oil leaks on both sides of the turbocharger.

Insufficient Pressure: Conversely, low oil pressure can lead to inadequate lubrication of turbocharger components, increasing friction and wear, which may also result in oil leaks.

Component Wear and Tear:

Over time, normal wear and tear on turbocharger components, such as seals and bearings, can cause oil leaks to occur on both sides of the turbocharger.

Can You Drive With A Leaking Turbo?

Driving with a leaking turbocharger is not recommended due to the risks that it poses to engine performance, safety, and the environment. A leaking turbo can cause a loss of engine power, increased emissions, and potential engine damage, compromising both vehicle performance and safety. It’s best to address the issue promptly by repairing or replacing the turbocharger to ensure safe and reliable operation of the vehicle.

Can A Leaking Turbo Damage Engine?

A leaking turbocharger can potentially damage the engine by causing oil contamination , reducing lubrication to engine parts, contributing to engine overheating, and impairing overall engine performance.

How To Prevent Turbo Leaks

Maintain Clear Air and Oil Drain Systems:

Ensure air and oil drain systems are free from blockages or restrictions to allow proper airflow and oil drainage, preventing pressure buildup and potential leaks.

Inspect and Maintain Exhaust System:

Regularly check the exhaust system for leaks to prevent loss of exhaust gas pressure, which can contribute to turbocharger oil leaks.

Use Proper Sealing Components:

Avoid using silicone on oil gaskets and use correct gaskets, o-rings, and housings designed for turbocharger applications to ensure proper sealing and prevent leaks.

Keep Exhaust Components Clean:

Maintain Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) and Catalytic Converters free of blockages to prevent backpressure buildup, which can lead to turbocharger oil leaks.

Monitor Oil Levels and Pressure:

Check oil levels and pressure regularly to ensure proper lubrication of turbocharger components and prevent leaks due to inadequate lubrication or excessive pressure.


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