What is lack of lubrication and oil starvation?
If there is a lack of lubrication within the turbocharger the consequences can be severe. This is one of the most
common reasons for failure, a lack of oil in any of the lubricated areas can cause premature failure.
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.
Causes of lack of lubrication and 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
- Incorrect grade of oil is used
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
Preventing turbo failure caused by lack of lubrication / oil starvation:
- Oil supply to the turbo is critical, always check oil pressures are correct
- Always remember to prime the replacement turbocharger with oil before fitting
- 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
- Allow time for the engine to warm up at the start of each journey and cool down at the end
TECH TIP – 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.
For further information on this or other topics, please contact Melett Technical Support –[email protected].