Oil – The lifeblood of a turbocharger

Product Manager, Tom Wright, outlines the core purpose of oil in relation to the turbocharger. 

Wright argues there are many ways in which oil related issues can damage the components, outlines why oil is the lifeblood of a turbocharger, and details the preventable steps a technician can take.

Oil contamination

Dirty oil is one of the top killers of a turbocharger and can happen in a multitude of ways. When repairing the vehicle, if the oil system is not emptied, purged and changed correctly, it can leave debris from the previous failure, which can contaminate the new oil and cause premature failure. If a damaged, or poor-quality oil filter is used, this is another way debris can pass through the filters and into the oil system. In addition, liquid contaminants can lead to premature oil degradation, and increased corrosion and wear, while oil degrading can also be caused by excessive temperatures or extended service intervals.


If a turbo has failed, it’s important to ensure that all the oil systems are purged and free from any foreign objects. A simple way of preventing dirty oil from affecting the turbocharger is by taking extra care when changing the oil during servicing to prevent accidental contamination. It is also key to check for engine wear that could leave swarf deposits.

Something that must be done is to replace or clean the oil inlet pipes and in-line micro filters, as this helps to prevent carbon deposits entering the oil flow to the bearings. It is important to get a vehicle serviced every year or every 10,000 miles, as well as changing the oil in accordance with the vehicle manual, as it gives a turbo the best chance of having a longer life cycle.

Insufficient lubrication – oil starvation

It is often caused by blockages in the oil feed pipe and micro filters within, damaged or bent oil feed pipes, a lack of priming of the new turbo, as well as a damaged or worn oil pump, or sludge and coke build up in the bearing housing from hot shutdowns.


Using the correct grade of engine oil specified by the OEM engine manufacturer is essential to give the turbocharger a long-lasting life cycle. Equally, oil supply is critical to the turbo, so it is important that a technician ensures the oil flow is correct. Priming the turbocharger and oil systems can stop the turbo from instant failure. Oil inlet pipes should also be cleaned or replaced to remove carbon deposits or sludge that could restrict oil flow to the bearing systems. It is important that drivers are aware that they need to allow time for the engine to warm up at the start of each journey and cool down at the end.

Oil leaks

Oil leaks are somewhat of a myth when it comes to the turbo being at fault. The biggest cause of oil leaks comes from the environment that the turbo is situated in. There are very few cases where an oil leak happens because of a component or manufacturing issue. Oil leaks can occur when an engine is running on idle. This is because the pressure within the housings is lower, which in turn can lead to a vacuum being created, causing the oil to leak into the turbine housing. Once the engine starts to run at normal speeds the pressures will be restored, and the leak will stop.

Other things to consider are ‘engine blow by’ and ‘crank case blow by,’ both of which cause the same effect, as they increase the pressure in the crank case. This affects the oil flowing to the turbo at the correct rate, which acts as a restriction to the oil return pipe, causing the turbo to leak oil at either the turbine or compressor end.

Oil leaks can occur on VSR (high speed) balancing machines, as the ambient pressures required to create the seal are not present as no housings are used. This can then force out oil from both the compressor and turbine ends, giving the impression of a leak. This is unlikely to occur when the replacement turbo is fitted to the engine.


When it comes to oil leaks, it is imperative that the technician ensures air, exhaust, and oil drain systems are clear from blockages or restrictions, before moving on to check there are no leaks present in the exhaust system. The use of silicone on oil gaskets is not advised as both can easily become detached and block oil passages. Similarly, technicians should ensure the diesel particulate filter and catalytic converter are free of blockages. The correct gaskets and o-rings should always be used, and only the correct standard of turbine housings and compressor housings should be fitted. Lastly, technicians should always check for correct oil levels and pressure.

For more information, check out our series of educational technical videos. – https://www.melett.com/technical/

Melett continues to charge forward as it celebrates 10-year anniversary

Melett North America Inc. is celebrating a key milestone, marking its 10-year anniversary by reflecting on the success of the last decade.

The business has experienced significant growth since it was first established in Memphis, Tennessee in 2012, with double-digit sales growth on a yearly basis.

Initially beginning its venture from a 7500 sq ft building, the team has since doubled its capacity in both the number of employees and the size of its facility, moving to a significantly larger premises in 2018 – as a direct result of year-on-year progression and the need to meet ongoing demand.

Our in-house product development programme has enabled the company to continually increase its range and availability of products to ensure customers have access to stock in the quickest time possible.

Entering the market with 1,800 parts numbers, we now have a product portfolio of more than 6,000 parts, available for next day delivery to our growing customer base of aftermarket specialists throughout North America and Canada.

In our 10th year, Melett continues to lead the way in the turbocharger aftermarket, thanks to the offering of high-quality components – which are designed and engineered in the UK to match the OEM specification – backed up by its world-class customer service.

Kenny Taylor, Melett North America General Manager, said: “It’s been a highly successful 10 years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed building strong relationships throughout the industry, whilst showcasing and delivering Melett’s high-quality, specialist offering to the North American and Canadian markets.

“Melett North America has firmly established itself as the trusted aftermarket brand for precision engineered turbochargers and parts over the past decade. It is renowned for producing OEM quality products that help turbo specialists produce the highest quality repairs.”

Our company offers an extensive range of assembled and VSR balanced CHRA (core assemblies), which eliminates the need for repairers to invest in expensive high-speed balancing equipment.

Each core assembly is quality checked and inspected against the original equipment specifications to ensure OEM performance is maintained during operation.

In addition to core assemblies, we also offer a variety of fast-moving repair kits and, for instances where a repair is not possible, a range of new turbo units.

We also offer a vast amount of useful information available to customers via its website www.melett.com, which provides extensive product information, technical guides & videos, turbo tips and industry news.

Over the last ten years, Melett North America has continued to highlight the opportunities of turbocharger repair, a route often more cost effective and one that promotes environmentally friendly remanufacturing.

Taylor added: “We’ve seen the market continue to develop in recent years, and this trend isn’t going to fade away any time soon. There is an enormous sales potential in turbo repairs, as the number of turbocharged passenger cars continues to grow rapidly, and we will continue to spread the message of repair over replacement.

“Melett has a reputation for being the leader in the supply of the highest quality turbochargers and parts, backed up by our high level of technical and customer support. Our customers know they can rely on us as a quality supplier.”