The Anatomy of Healthy Cars: A Service and Repair Blog

4 Signs You Need to Have Your Turbocharger Repaired or Replaced

by Brittany Marshall

Turbochargers are often found in luxury or performance-focused vehicles. They essentially work by adding more air to your engine during operation to deliver greater performance, and they tend to last for a very long time without showing signs of wear — you'll usually need to replace your vehicle before you need to replace or repair the turbocharger.

That said, no part of your car is infallible. Even the turbocharger can suffer some kind of damage or fault, and you'll need to take your vehicle in to be serviced when that happens.

Here are just four common warning signs.

1. Performance Issues

Turbochargers are responsible for increasing horsepower, so it's natural that any turbocharger problems should lead to performance issues. By far the most common is poor acceleration. When you hit the gas, your car simply won't respond with as much energy as it used to. You might also find it hard to attain or maintain high speeds. Even if you can get up to your natural highway cruising speed, you might find you need to keep the gas pedal pressed right down to stay there.  

2. Smokey Exhaust

Your turbocharger might start to fail due to cracks in the housing or worn seals. When this happens, oil will start leaking into your engine or exhaust system. That oil will burn away and leave your vehicle in the form of grey or blue smoke. Of course, there are several reasons why this might be happening, but the turbocharger is more likely to be your root cause if you notice blue or grey smoke coming from the exhaust when you rev the engine.

3. Check Engine Light Turns On

Unless your car is on the older side, it should be able to detect a failing turbocharger. When it does, your check engine light should come on. When that light comes on, you won't be able to tell if the turbocharger is to blame, but you still need to visit a service centre without delay to ensure the problem can be put right.

4. Low Boost Gauge

Many vehicles fitted with turbochargers, especially high-end models, have a boost gauge somewhere along the cockpit dashboard. When you rev the engine, the boost gauge will show how much power your turbocharger is adding. When the turbocharger starts to fail, your boost gauge won't be going up as much as it once did. When you start to notice that, take your vehicle in for servicing.

You can easily find a mechanic in your area who specialises in providing repairs for cars of different brands, like BMW car repairs.