Foreign Object Damage – Factsheet

Turbochargers are manufactured with precision tolerances, and rotate at speeds of up to 360,000rpm. Foreign object damage from even the smallest objects which come into contact with the compressor or turbine wheels can cause catastrophic failure of the turbocharger.

What is a foreign object and what causes it?

A foreign object is simply any object that enters the turbocharger through the air inlet or exhaust inlet. The causes of foreign object damage are identified below: –

  • Small particles entering through damaged hoses
  • Damaged/ faulty, low quality or missing air filter allowing objects to be sucked into the air intake
  • Bolts, nuts, washers, rags or other items left in the intake pipe during servicing
  • Broken engine components, e.g. valves or fragments of damaged piston, injector tips
  • Debris from a previous turbocharger failure

Preventing turbo failure caused by a foreign object damage?

  • Make sure air hoses are clear from blockages and other loose objects
  • Check that air hoses are intact and in good working condition
  • Ensure the air filter is the correct one for the vehicle
  • Ensure no debris or engine fragments remain from the previous turbo failure
  • Using new gaskets helps to prevent the possibility of gasket break up and also ensure a perfect seal

Please Note: Never continue to operate a turbocharger with damaged blades as the rotor balance will be affected and this could impact its service life.

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