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What happens when my diesel engine turbocharger fails while driving, and what can I do about it?

Posted by Alex Smith on

If your vehicle is not providing the power it typically does, you’re noticing suspicious exhaust, and you hear a whining from the engine, you might be experiencing a turbocharger failure. What other symptoms could warn you that your turbocharger is struggling? Is a failed turbocharger something you can learn to fix on the side of the road while watching a video on the internet? Or is this a problem that should be left to the professionals? Some of our readers have some advice about what to look for and what to do if your turbocharger fails. Keep reading to find out what they suggest.

Jarrod Partridge

Jarrod Partridge

Founder of

Remove the Turbocharger's Hose

When a turbocharger in a diesel engine fails while driving, it can lead to a number of issues that can affect the performance and safety of the vehicle. The turbocharger is responsible for forcing more air into the engine, which allows it to burn more fuel and produce more power. When the turbocharger fails, the engine will lose this extra boost of power, resulting in reduced performance and a decrease in speed. The vehicle may also struggle to accelerate or climb hills.

Additionally, the failed turbocharger may lead to increased emissions, which can be harmful to the environment and potentially cause damage to the engine. In some cases, the engine may stall or shut off completely if the turbocharger fails while driving. It is important to have the vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional as soon as possible if a turbocharger failure is suspected. Not only for the safety of the driver but also to prevent further damage to the engine.

It is generally not recommended to attempt a temporary fix when a turbocharger fails while driving. Turbochargers are complex mechanical components that require specialized tools and knowledge to repair or replace. Attempting to fix a failed turbocharger on your own can be dangerous and may cause further damage to the engine or other parts of the vehicle. It could also pose a safety hazard to yourself and other people on the road.

However, if you are in an emergency situation, such as being stranded in a remote area, there are a few things you can do to try and get the vehicle moving again. One thing you can do is to remove the turbocharger's hose and filter and see if the engine starts. This can be a sign that the turbocharger's air intake is blocked. If the engine starts, you can drive the vehicle to a safe location for repair.

In any case, it's crucial to get the car checked out and fixed by a technician as soon as feasible.. A failed turbocharger can cause significant damage to the engine if not addressed properly, and can also put you and other people on the road at risk.

Kyle MacDonald

Kyle MacDonald

Director of Operations,

Decreased Fuel Efficiency

If a turbocharger fails while driving, it can cause decreased fuel efficiency. Turbochargers increase the amount of air that is delivered to the combustion chamber. This allows the engine to produce more power while using less fuel. If it fails, the engine won't receive the extra boost of air it needs to produce power efficiently, which can be a major problem for vehicles that rely on the turbocharger to produce power.

Try a Lower Gear

If your diesel engine turbocharger fails while driving, it can result in a decrease in power and acceleration as well as increased fuel consumption. To temporarily fix this issue, you can try shifting to a lower gear for more power, or pull over to check the air intake ducts for any obstructions.

You may also need to check that all of the connections between the turbocharger and the intercooler are secure. If these fixes do not work, it is best to have a qualified diesel mechanic inspect your turbocharger system and provide appropriate repairs.

Additionally, if you experience an increase in coolant temperature or a warning, or see oil in the engine bay due to leaking seals or blocked filters, it is important to address this right away before further damage occurs. Switch your engine off immediately!

A properly functioning diesel engine turbocharger is key to the safe and reliable operation of your engine, so it is important to address any issues quickly. It is also highly recommended that you regularly check the condition of your turbo system and have it fixed promptly if any problems arise. Doing so will go a long way in extending the life of your diesel engine turbocharger.

In conclusion, if you experience an issue with your diesel engine turbocharger while driving, try shifting to a lower gear or checking air intake ducts for obstructions as a temporary fix. However, it is best to have an experienced diesel mechanic inspect and repair the system as soon as possible. Regular maintenance can help extend the life of your diesel engine turbocharger and ensure its safe and reliable operation.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.


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