What Happens When the Turbo Goes on a Diesel?

What Happens When the Turbo Goes on a Diesel

A turbo is important for the engine to produce more power needed for it to function optimally. They are usually designed in ways that enable them last longer. However, what happens when the turbo goes on a diesel? 

When a turbo goes bad on a diesel, the impeller shaft will get tangled with more than one bearing, enabling the exducer wheel and the intercooler to hit the side of the housing which will cause the metals to come in contact with the mounting plate and also lead to pipe breakage.

What is a Turbo?

A turbo which is also known as a ‘Turbocharger’ is a turbine-driven device inside an engine that helps it perform efficiently and optimally. A turbo is said to be an additional system that enables an engine to produce more power through forced induction.

Turbo can be likened to two sides of a coin, with one side having hot exhaust that spins the turbine and the other side sucking in air to compress inside the engine. The compression that takes place gives the extra power needed by the engine to function.

An engine that is turbocharged will have more air going inside than one without it. A turbocharged engine despite its small size can conveniently produce the same amount of power compared to a traditional engine.

Although turbos are designed to last as long as a vehicle, they can go bad due to some reasons, the major factor that has been attributed to turbo failure is oil contamination and starvation.

Can a Turbo Go Bad?

A turbo can go bad but not a common thing that happens, this is because the turbo is designed to last as long as a vehicle lasts and can be very reliable. Turbos go bad only on rare occasions.

A lot of factors contribute to the turbo going bad over time, the quality of turbo installed by the manufacturer, wear and tear associated with the way the car is being driven, etc. are all contributing factors.

There are a couple of signs you can watch out for to be able to detect if there’s an issue with the turbo. Some of them are;

  • The check engine light may be on, although this may not be related to a turbo failure, however, it is a pointer that something is wrong somewhere in the engine.
  • When the car starts struggling to reach a speed it usually gets to.
  • You will likely see fumes coming from the engine area if the car has been idling for some time.
  • Reduced fuel efficiency than usual could also be a result of the turbo failure.

What Happens when the Turbo Goes on a Diesel?

Turbo is also used in trucks with a diesel engine but a number of things can happen if it goes bad on it.

If a turbo fails on diesel, the impeller shaft will get tangled with more than one bearing. When this happens the exducer wheel and the intercooler may hit a side of the housing leading to the metals coming in contact with the mounting plate and also leading to pipe breakage.

When a turbo fails on diesel, it is likely that the oil seal on the rotor shaft is bad. A bad rotor shaft will allow oil that’s not needed to be drawn to the engine. The engine uses up the fuel supply in quick succession till it is exhausted and then the engine stops.

Usually, before this happens you will see signs, your ability to take immediate actions will determine whether the engine will stop or not.

What Can Cause a Turbvo to Go on a Diesel?

Turbos are usually reliable and tend to last long but there are times when for some reason the turbo fails. We will take a look at some factors that can cause a turbo to go out.

The Quality of the Turbo

A turbo going out may be a result of a defect or the quality of the turbo installed by the manufacturer. Although this is uncommon, the possibility cannot be ruled out.

The majority of turbo failures are usually caused by oil-related issues. It could be that the oil isn’t enough or the oil has been contaminated. Low oil can be due to a leakage somewhere or dirt blocking the flow of oil.

The turbo system makes use of engine oil in order to function, the oil can be contaminated by fine particles from the combustion process.

Other causes are; idling for a long period which creates a vacuum in the turbine, hard-driving habits, and non-ceremonial engine shut down that results in carbon build-up inside the turbo.

What to Do When Turbo Go on a Diesel?

Once you have ascertained that the turbo has failed there are one of two things you should consider doing. One is to replace the damaged turbo with a new one or repair the old turbo.

Whichever option you choose to go for will depend on what you are aiming to achieve. The option to have the turbo repaired and reconditioned may seem better if you are trying to save cost but this option may not prove to be cost-effective in the long run.

Going with the option to completely replace the turbo may seem costly at the time but in the long run, you get a longer warranty and it will also last long all things being equal.

Often time, a replacement is advisable rather than repairing because of the many benefits that come with it.

Can Turbo Failure Cause Engine Damage?

An engine can be damaged if the turbo fails, however, this only happens if the turbo fails while the car is being driven.

If the turbo gets blown while driving, the safe thing to do will be to stop the car, this is so further damage will not be done to the engine.

The engine will possibly get damaged if the car isn’t stopped immediately and also if the damaged turbo isn’t repaired or replaced in time.

It is better to stop driving and seek help immediately if you notice that you have a failed turbo in hand rather than driving around with it.


Part of a vehicle’s maintenance procedure should include checking the turbocharger for signs of failure. In order to prevent further damage from being done to the engine, once you realize you have a blown turbo the next course of action should be to stop the car.