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How Long Do Turbos Last?

Posted by Scott Goldfarb on

Turbos are forced induction devices that are all but synonymous with diesel engines today. Yet, recent years have seen their application expand in gasoline engines also. But how long do turbos last? 

You are in the right place if this question is on your mind. Our years-long experience has made Goldfarb & Associates Inc. experts in diesel turbochargers. So, let's dive in and guide you through everything you need about turbos!

How Long Do Turbos Last

Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Palitsyn Evgenii

How Long Do Turbos Last?

On average, turbos last up to 150,000 miles. But with good care, they may last up to 200,000 miles or have a life expectancy of 30 years. To get one thing clear, it will take you about two decades until you need to replace your turbocharger, even if you regularly drive your vehicle. 

Even if it will be long before you start worrying about the turbo of the vehicle, you still need to notice the warning signs of possible issues associated with the turbo.

The good news is that with professionals like us, you can always find new parts and fix the issues that arise. At Goldfarb & Associates Inc., you will find new, used, and rebuilt turbochargers to last you a long time.

The most important thing to remember when choosing a turbocharger for your vehicle is to find one that works with its specific engine makeup. We specialize in turbochargers that fit all engine applications, so do not hesitate to ask us if you need any help.

How long does a turbo last on a diesel?

You can use turbos on most internal combustion engines. It doesn't matter if it runs on natural gas, gasoline, propane, diesel, etc. Still, the most common turbo application is in diesel engines, as they are used in:

  • Pickups
  • Semi-trucks
  • Generators
  • Heavy equipment

And as every gearhead knows, turbochargers use the free energy from your engine's exhaust. This makes a lot of them consider turbos the greatest invention ever.

Another reason for the high use of turbos in diesel engines is that they operate at lower speeds than gasoline engines. This may help extend the life expectancy of the turbocharger. Generally, turbos on diesel engines last around 150,000 miles.

But that only applies to the general expectancy. The life of your turbo depends on how you use the vehicle, maintain the engine, and if it is operating correctly. The average turbo may continue functioning even over 150,000 miles with proper care.

Warning signs of turbo failure 

Car engine noises

The most apparent sign of turbo failure will be the engine noise. Turbochargers make engines quieter as they muffle the air intake sound. You should especially pay attention if the engine makes a whining noise.

The louder the whining noise gets, the more serious the issues with your turbo get. Don’t wait until the noise worsens. Instead, immediately get to a professional mechanic.

Loss of power

Another sign of turbo failure is power loss. If you notice less power in your vehicle's acceleration power or a slower reaction to your input, it may be a sign of turbo failure. If your vehicle cannot maintain high speeds, it may also be a warning sign. 

Exhaust smoke

Turbo failure may also be due to an internal or external crack in your engine. This kind of crack in the engine often causes oil to leak, going directly into the exhaust system. The oil will start burning off in the exhaust system, producing a blue/gray smoke.

If the smoke is caused by turbo failure, it is more likely to appear when you increasingly rev the engine after idling. 

Engine light 

You should never ignore your engine light. After all, it is there to warn you of any potential issue with your vehicle's engine. So, since the turbocharger is considered a part of the engine, a potential malfunction should trigger the engine light.

However, the engine light is not always the most accurate way to pinpoint turbo failure. If your engine light blinks, it may be due to another issue with your car engine. Either way, you should ask a professional to check out your vehicle.

Engine oil

Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Guitar Studio

Causes of turbo failure 

Engine oil

Your car's engine oil is basically its life force. It functions to cool the car engine while in use, prevent corrosion, and lubricate important moving parts.

The turbocharger requires a steady stream of pure, high-quality oil. A buildup of pollutants in the combustion chamber (oil pollution) is caused by insufficient oil level, the wrong grade, or poor oil quality.

The inside of the turbo may sustain abrasive damage as a result. It's crucial to replace the oil filter and engine oil at the manufacturer's suggested intervals.

Broken seals 

Oil may easily seep into the exhaust system if the seals of the compressor and the engine start to wear out or crack. Because of this, the turbo has to use more effort to raise air pressure. Ultimately, it will decrease the turbo's effectiveness and boost output.

Wear and tear

Turbos are intended to last the vehicle's lifespan (or roughly 150,000 miles). Still, they may eventually wear out depending on how often you drive the vehicle and the turbo's original construction quality. Ensure that you take proper care of your turbo engine and avoid over-exerting it to prevent wear and tear.

Do Turbo Engines Last as Long as Naturally Aspirated?

Turbo engines turned the automotive industry on its head when first introduced around fifty years ago. Turbos provide better performance, efficiency, and sustainability than naturally aspirated (NA) engines. 

Turbos are especially impressive in diesel engines, improving the vehicles' overall performances. Still, some disregard turbo engines, swearing by naturally aspirated ones due to their perceived longevity. 

But, the truth is turbo engines may last as long as NA engines. This, of course, depends on proper maintenance. Turbo engines are highly reliable, especially with regular care. 

If you want to know more about diesel turbos, you can always call us, and we'll tell you just how reliable turbos can be. 

Prolonging the Turbo Life Expectancy 

The diesel turbo was designed to have a long life expectancy. Still, no matter how well you use it the turbo may end up breaking down. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to extend its life.

Following that, here are some methods that may help you extend the lifespan of your car's turbo.

Let the engine cool down

While driving, most parts in your car generate a lot of heat. The heat in the turbo system could boil the oil if you stop the engine immediately after a long ride. This increases the risk of corrosion and wear.

It's essential to wait a few minutes after every ride for the engine to cool down. Only then should you turn off your car. By doing this, you can prevent corrosion and early turbo wear every time while maintaining the turbo's cooling.

Maintaining the turbo

There are a lot of things that could go wrong if your car doesn't have enough engine oil. A grease, which is simply engine oil, keeps almost all of your car's moving parts functioning.

Your car's engine will operate more effectively and last longer if you maintain it lubricated with the right grade and quality of engine oil.

Maintaining the turbo

Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: kaninw


So, how long do turbos last? As we mentioned, turbos' life expectancy generally is around 150,000 miles. But, with regular maintenance and proper care, diesel turbochargers may last up to 200,000 miles. Our new, rebuilt, or used turbos are all of exceptional quality and made to last you a long time.


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