Lack of lubrication?

Below we have highlighted the causes and the signs of oil starvation, to help you identify and prevent oil starvation from reoccurring when carrying out a repair. If the original cause of failure is not identified it is likely the same type of failure will occur on the remanufactured turbo.

A lack of lubrication can result in catastrophic damage to the bearing systems which can occur within seconds of the turbocharger commencing operation. Quite simply:

  • If oil levels are too low, the turbocharger will fail;
  • If the wrong grade of oil is used, the turbocharger will fail;
  • If oil becomes contaminated, the turbocharger will fail.

Signs of lack of lubrication / oil starvation:

  • Material transfer (caused by high temperature due to friction from bearings) to other thrust parts and the journal bearing diameter of the shaft and wheel;
  • Discolouration to the thrust parts and the journal bearing diameter of the shaft and wheel;
  • Excessive wear to the thrust pads of the thrust bearing;
  • Excessive wear to the journal bearings.
 

Causes of lack of lubrication / oil starvation:

  • Poor oil filter maintenance;
  • Insufficient oil in the sump;
  • Incorrect oil inlet gasket used leading to restriction in oil supply;
  • Build-up (coking) / carbon deposits in the oil feed pipe;
  • Applying silicone to the oil inlet gasket causing blockages;
  • Sludge or coke build up in bearing housing from hot shutdowns;
  • A damaged, blocked or low quality oil filter;
  • Failure to prime the turbo with oil before initial run;
  • Engine left idle for long periods, especially during cold weather;
  • Oil feed pipes containing bends or kinks;
  • Engine wear.
 

Preventing turbo failure caused by lack of lubrication / oil starvation:

  • Oil supply to the turbo is critical, always check oil pressures are correct;
  • Avoid using silicone on oil gaskets as they can easily become detached and block oil passages;
  • Clean or replace oil inlet pipes to remove carbon deposits or sludge that could restrict oil flow to the bearing systems;
  • Use fresh oil and new oil filters (which have been recommended by the engine manufacturer) when fitting a replacement turbocharger.