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Turbo Failure Symptoms

Posted by Scott Goldfarb on

Turbo failures are more common than you think. As they are one of the vehicle’s vital parts, it is important to know the turbo failure symptoms. Recognizing the signs of a failing turbo might help you prevent a bigger problem, damage and costly repairs.

This guide is just for you if you want to avoid the performance issues resulting from turbocharger failure. We always like to say that early prevention is key for prolonging the lifespan of your turbocharger.

Let us teach you how to tell if turbo is bad so you can be prepared when you face such challenges.

Turbo Failure Symptoms
Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Couperfield

What Are Turbo Failure Symptoms?

There are several turbo fault symptoms you should be on the lookout for. They range from sudden loss of power or unusual smoke to an activated check engine light.

Loss of power

Power loss is one of the most common signs you can notice when your turbocharger is failing. As one of the roles of the turbochargers is to increase the performance, when one is faulty, you will notice slower acceleration

The vehicle might also start reacting slowly to your input. Not only slower but also less powerful acceleration. When a turbo is faulty, you will notice it can’t maintain high speeds.

Along with poor acceleration, a possible sign of turbo failure can be an inappropriate throttle response. In other words, if you are pressing down the accelerator, but the engine fails to react timely and increase the driving speed, it might be a turbocharger problem.

Keep in mind that the engine’s power loss can be a symptom of other problems. So, such as incorrect engine valve timing, burnt valves, dirty air cleaners etc.


Excessive exhaust smoke might also indicate problems with your turbocharger. In particular, grey and bluish smoke can come from your exhaust system if you have turbocharger problems.

The smoke results from oil leaks into the system's exhaust. As the oil burns, smoke will appear.

Strange noises

Another symptom of turbocharger failure might be louder acceleration than usual or strange noises coming from the engine. If you start hearing whining, screeching or grinding sounds, it can signal that your turbocharger is not functioning properly.

Warning lights

A check engine light might also be activated if the turbocharger is faulty. The computer reads that the turbocharger can’t handle the expected intake air volume.

However, checking the fault code and ensuring it indicates problems with the turbocharger is important. A check engine light on any vehicle can be activated for various reasons. Typically, a check engine light indicates a turbocharging failure if it is accompanied by other symptoms mentioned above.

Why Do Turbo Problems Appear?

To fully understand the turbo failure symptoms, you must understand their common causes. The main causes of most turbocharger failures are oil starvation or oil contamination.

As the blood of the car, if an engine oil isn’t changed on time or of bad quality, it wont lubricate the moving parts of the engine. In addition, oil contamination can cause abrasive damage to the inside of the turbo.

Other possible reasons why a turbocharger might show signs of failure are:

  • Damaged seals
  • Debris, dust, leaves or other foreign objects
  • Wear and tear caused by time
  • Oil leaks
  • Blocked catalytic converter
  • Carbon buildup
  • Overspeeding and other poor driving practices
  • Overheating
  • Ruptured pipes and intercoolers
  • Loose shaft nut
Why Do Turbo Problems Appear?
Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: EF Photography


Every vehicle owner with a turbo has to know when it’s time to repair or replace it. By knowing the turbo failure symptoms, you are one step closer to reacting promptly so that you can continue using the benefits of excellent performance.

Another thing to remember, we offer high-quality diesel parts if you need any diesel engine parts inventory. So, feel free to contact us!


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