Turbocharged cars have high power, but with it comes great responsibility. While having a turbo engine might be fun, it also means there are a few extra things you need to keep an eye on to make sure your car doesn't end up traumatized or wrecked.
Turbochargers can give your car that extra get up and go you're craving, but in doing so, they also increase the amount of pressure under the hood. If not correctly managed, this additional pressurization can destroy your turbo, your gearbox, or even your whole engine.
Aftermarket fits tend to be more at risk, but factory turbo engines can suffer just as much if you're not correctly releasing built-up energy. The best way to prevent these sorts of issues is to buy a blow-off valve. As the name suggests, blow off valves allow your vehicle to safely release any excess pressure that has built up, significantly increasing the lifespan of your engine.
Maintaining oil levels and cleanliness is vital for the health of any car, but it's even more crucial if you've got a turbo engine. If your turbo isn't properly lubricated, the friction caused by regular operation will skyrocket, and this can leave you with an overheated or seized unit.
That means bye-bye turbo, and if you can't pull over quickly enough, possibly bye-bye car.
This can be avoided by ensuring that you service your vehicle regularly and keep an eye on your levels in between routine maintenance. There's nothing wrong with topping your oil up yourself if you're looking a little low. Doing so could save you thousands, and your car its life.
Another common issue you can run into with a turbocharged vehicle is engine knock. Although not directly correlated with the use of a turbo system, knocking under the hood can be exacerbated when your boost kicks in as you're asking a damaged engine to put out power it merely isn't able to sustain in its current condition.
One of the main culprits with this type of issue is poor quality fuel, so you should be able to prevent it by ensuring you always use or exceed the recommended octane when fueling up your vehicle.
If you're noticing a lack of performance that doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it, one of the most common issues is physical damage or blockage. Although your turbo and engine will most likely be designed as a closed system, turbos by nature allow far more room for debris to creep in than a standard engine does. In turn, this means invasive nasties can have a more significant impact on the performance and condition of your vehicle.
Because this type of issue doesn't always present consistently, it can be hard to diagnose. However, if you keep your turbo unit and engine bay clean and free of debris, you can generally avoid problems related to damage or blockages.
It's surprising how common these four issues are, and shocking how much turbo trauma they can cause. Luckily, as outlined above, they're relatively easy to avoid as long as you look after your car properly. Observe all manufacturer instructions, ensure you've got the right equipment for the job, and keep things clean. Do all of these things religiously, and your turbo should continue to bring you joy for years to come.