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How Long Does a Turbo Last on a Diesel?

Posted by Scott Goldfarb on

The automobile industry is constantly evolving, and turbochargers aren’t limited to sports/race cars these days. Today, they are part of various vehicles, including motorcycles, small cars, and heavy-duty vehicles. But how long does a turbo last on a diesel?

A turbocharger is an important component, but like every other component in the vehicle, it has a lifespan and will stop working at some point. In this article, we will talk about the average lifespan of a turbocharger. We will also discuss how you can make your turbo last longer.

How Long Does a Turbo Last on a Diesel?

Manufacturers design turbochargers to last; in ideal conditions, they should last about the same time as the vehicle. 

Generally, a turbocharger on a diesel lasts about 150,000 miles to 200,000 miles; however, it can sometimes last even longer. You should know that these are average ranges, and the actual lifespan of your turbocharger will depend on several factors.

Conditions aren’t ideal every time, and a turbocharger can get premature wear and stop working. These are the main factors that determine its lifespan:

  • Build quality
  • Intended lifespan (can be more or less depending upon the manufacturer)
  • Maintenance
  • Driving habits

If you choose a well-known manufacturer/dealer, you are unlikely to face any issues in terms of build quality. But when we talk about maintenance and driving habits, you must be careful. If you don’t take care of the maintenance part and drive irresponsibly, even the best turbocharger out there may not last long enough.

Since replacing the turbocharger isn’t something you would want to do every second year, you must take some preventive measures to get the most out of it. In the following section, we will share some tips you can follow to make the turbocharger last longer and run its course.

How to Make Your Turbo Last Longer

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: kaninw

How to Make Your Turbo Last Longer

Regular maintenance

You don’t have to visit a mechanic every other week, but it’s important to take care of the maintenance part. Regular maintenance can help a turbo last longer and run its course. Regular filter and oil changes can help maintain turbo health.

Since the moving turbo parts spin at extremely high speeds, they have to work under intense heat. As a result, they need quality engine oil to reduce wear and improve performance. Generally, you should change the oil at least every 5,000 miles for optimal performance and ensure the oil isn’t contaminated.

Don’t overlook some common signs

The good thing about turbocharges is that you will likely know when the time has come, which will help you take quick action. 

You should look out for the common signs of turbo damage, such as engine overheating, noisy engine, reduced power and acceleration, whiny turbo sound, check engine light, and high oil consumption. Unusual exhaust smokes, such as blue or bluish-gray smoke, can also be a red flag. 

While these signs don’t always indicate a turbo failure or damage, it’s better to contact a professional mechanic.

If you notice any of these signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean your turbo has left you for good, as it can also indicate a turbo damage a mechanic can fix. Ignoring them is the biggest mistake you can make, as it can lead to further damage and even engine failure. 

A quick fix or replacement, on the other hand, will keep your engine and vehicle running smoothly.

Warm up the engine before hard accelerations

Your car’s engine doesn’t keep running 24/7, right? When the car is cold, the engine oil thickens and doesn’t move as freely as it should. It puts the moving parts at risk. Since thick oil can lubricate the moving parts properly, issues such as premature wear can arise.

If you get behind the wheel after a day or longer than that, you should wait for the oil to warm up before getting too aggressive with the right foot. You should avoid hard accelerations for at least 10 minutes.

Don’t let it overheat

As mentioned above, turbochargers work under intense heat, which can lead to overheating in certain conditions. You shouldn’t let it overheat, as overheating can produce cracks in the components, which is the last thing you would want.

You can avoid such issues by making sure your vehicle is well-ventilated. Also, if you suspect any issues, you shouldn’t drive at high speed for extended periods, especially in hot conditions. You should stop occasionally and let it cool off before hitting the accelerator again.

Don’t let it overheat
Source:shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: worawit_j

Let the engine cool off after driving

Do you turn off the engine right after parking the car? Well, it’s not a habit your turbo will appreciate. Turbochargers produce heat when you drive, and if you turn off the engine before it cools off, the oil in the turbo system will boil due to residual heat. This process can lead to a carbon-particle build-up, which can cause issues in the long run.

If you wait for a couple of minutes after parking the car, fresh oil will circulate around the turbo, and it will cool down. You should do it every time you drive for more than 20-30 minutes.

Avoid overspeeding

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Mikbiz

Many people feel an adrenaline rush when the turbo kicks in, and the person behind the wheel has an amazing experience. But it’s important to know that the turbo has its limits, and you shouldn’t push it beyond its safe operating zone. 

You should be more careful when driving a truck, bus, motorcycle, or a small car. If you aren’t driving a race car, you shouldn’t be too aggressive with the accelerator. Before hitting the road, make sure to understand your vehicle’s limits.

Prolonged engine idling is the enemy

You should also avoid prolonged engine idling to maintain turbo health. However, problems will arise only if you leave the car idle for several minutes. You won’t have to worry when stopping at a red light.

Idling will also waste fuel, even if your car is fuel-efficient. Larger vehicles will waste even more fuel when left idle.

Well, these are the things you can do to make the turbo last longer. Your car and turbo will thank you if you make these habit changes.

Now that you know how long a turbo lasts on a diesel and how to make it last longer, it will be easy to get the most out of it. However, no matter how well you drive and take care of the turbocharger’s health, it will eventually fail due to age-related wear. 

But what to do when it happens? Let’s find out!

Can You Drive With a Damaged Turbo?

While it is technically possible, it is strongly advised against due to the potential unwanted consequences of driving a vehicle with a damaged turbo. It’s important to fix the issue before hitting the road again. If you find out your turbo has blown while driving, the best option is to stop immediately and get the vehicle towed to a mechanic. If you continue driving in such a case, it can lead to engine failure. Even if the engine isn’t damaged, it can cause several minor issues.

Whether the turbo lives its course or gets damaged after driving 100 miles, you must replace it with a new unit. But your experience with the failed turbo can help you choose the right turbocharger.

If you had a good time with it and it served you for a long time, you can replace it with the same model, as it would be a good fit for your vehicle and driving preferences. But if it’s a premature failure, you should investigate the issue and ask a specialist for help. Based on the observations, you can get a suitable replacement. 

It will also be easy for you to keep the new turbo in good shape, as you will know what went wrong with the failed unit.

Can You Drive With a Damaged Turbo

Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Parilov


So, how long does a turbo last on a diesel? Under ideal conditions, your turbo can keep you covered for up to 150,000-200,000 miles or even longer. Even though they can last, you must take care of the maintenance part and drive responsibly to keep them running.

If you follow the tips mentioned in this article, the turbo will likely serve you for a long time. However, if you notice any of the mentioned symptoms, you should contact a professional and check the issue as soon as possible. 

The turbo health can directly influence the engine health, so it’s better to stay careful than to pay high repair costs.


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