Good engine operating procedures are essential to prolong turbocharger life.
Most frequent operating problems
Particular attention to oil system and air system faults will eliminate the two main causes of turbocharger failure. To prevent this Operators/Owners must ensure that :-
1. Air and oil filters are checked regularly to the manufacturer's specifications
2. Engine maintenance intervals are adhered to
3. Engine and equipment are operated in such a way that is not harmful to the life of the turbocharger.
Good operating practices
Operators and owners can help themselves to get maximum service life from their turbochargers if a few good practices are followed:-
When starting the engine use minimum throttle and run in idle mode for approximately one minute. Full working oil pressure builds up within seconds but it is useful to allow the turbocharger moving parts to warm up under good lubricating conditions. Revving the engine within the first few seconds of start up causes the turbocharger to rotate at high speeds with marginal lubrication which can lead to early failure of the turbocharger.
After servicing the engine or turbocharger ensure that the turbocharger is pre-lubed by adding clean engine oil into the turbocharger oil inlet until full. After pre-lubing crank the engine without firing (engine/fuel pump stop out) to allow oil to circulate through the full system under pressure. On starting the engine, run at idle for a few minutes to ensure the oil and bearing systems are operating satisfactorily.
Low Air Temperatures & Inactive Operation
If the engine has been inactive for some time or the air temperature is very low, crank the engine first and then run at idle. This allows the oil to circulate throughout the full system before high loads and speeds are applied to engine and turbocharger.
Before shutting your engine down, let the turbocharger cool down. When an engine runs at maximum power/high torque, the turbocharger is operating at very high temperatures and speeds. Hot shut down can cause reduced service life which is avoidable by a minute or two of idling. Most mobile equipment applications include an adequate cooling period during parking or mooring procedures.
Allow your engine to idle for 1-5 minutes to allow the high temperatures and speed to reduce and so prolong the life of your turbocharger.
Avoid running your engine for long periods in idle mode (greater than 20-30 minutes). Under idling conditions low pressures are generated in the turbocharger which can cause oil mist to leak past seals into the two end housings. Although no real harm is done to the turbocharger, as load is applied temperatures increase and the oil will start to burn off and cause blue smoke emission problems.