BTN Turbo has built an impressive reputation for its technical and warranty service. The turbocharger supplier talks to PMM about exactly what it has to offer.
BTN’s first piece of advice is that you don’t immediately remove the turbo from the engine. This gives the company’s technical specialists the chance to call your workshop, speak to the technician and try to resolve the issue over the phone. They’ll run through all the symptoms and do their best to aid the technician via remote diagnosis.
Take this example: a workshop rang to say they had fitted two turbos to a Renault Laguna and both had failed. The expert talked to the technician. He explained that previous encounters with this particular engine showed that, when filling with oil, it’s easy for excess oil to enter the engine breather system and collect in the air intake if it’s not filled slowly and before fitting the turbo.
If it’s clear the turbo has to be removed for inspection, BTN Turbo asks for the unit to be sent by courier for next day inspection. Once the failed unit arrives, the part number is checked to ensure it’s a BTN supplied turbo and not a counterfeit unit. Sometimes the fault is obvious, such as damaged turbine blades and vanes. With the blades rotating at up to 4,000rps, even a tiny part sucked into the turbo can cause terminal damage.
The majority of failures are oil-related, and diagnosis usually requires the company’s specialist test equipment. Photos are taken to show how the parts are damaged, and a report explains the cause – typically oil contamination, starvation or leaks.
When a turbo fails, quite often the workshop wants to speak directly to the BTN specialist, to discuss the report and what’s caused the failure. In difficult situations, the specialist will go to the workshop to personally examine the engine and show why the turbo failed.
An example of this is when two of BTN’s team visited a workshop to inspect a Peugeot 308 that was on its second turbo. Stripping the turbo on the premises, the experts found the actuator sensor was contaminated with rusty water. Tracing the source, they discovered rainwater dripping off the scuttle panel into the vacuum valve and draining into the actuator sensor, causing it to seize.
The workshop later responded, “BTN’s approach was so helpful and they reacted very quickly. The fact that their technician took the trouble to visit really impressed me.”
Oil is the key
It’s natural that in situations like this the workshop suspects the turbo is at fault, but that’s hardly ever the case. In fact, less than 1% of OE turbo failures are due to manufacturing defects with the turbo itself.
More than 95% of turbos are killed by oil related problems; oil contamination, starvation and leaks will rapidly shorten the turbo’s life. Oil contamination in particular can cause excessive carbon build-up, resulting in restricted oil flow, scored bearings and, before long, terminal damage.
Other causes of turbo problems include impact damage from small parts ingested into the turbo and actuator or EGR valve malfunctions. All of the potential reasons for failure are explained in BTN Turbo’s turbo killer fact sheets, available for workshops to read and download at www.btnturbo.com/turbotech.
Understanding turbo failures
In all these cases, although the turbo has failed, the actual reason for it failing is with the engine’s lubrication, air, fuel or management systems and not the turbo itself. While the technician and workshop may ask for a new turbo, in these instances the unit can’t be replaced under warranty because it wasn’t at fault – the cause was elsewhere in the engine.
This is where the BTN technical report can be especially helpful. Its purpose is not only to explain to you exactly what happened to the turbo, but also to help you prevent the same problem happening to the replacement.