Turbocharger Kit Maintenance and Longevity: 6 Tips for Prolonged Performance

Turbocharger Kit Maintenance and Longevity: 6 Tips for Prolonged Performance

Turbocharger kits have become a popular choice among car and truck enthusiasts looking to enhance the performance and enjoyment of their vehicles. These forced induction systems offer a major boost in horsepower and torque—transforming ordinary rides into high-performance machines!

Maintaining and caring for a turbocharged engine is crucial to ensure its longevity and sustained performance.  Let’s dive into our favorite tips for boosted bliss!

1. Appropriate Lubrication and Cooling

One of the fundamental factors in turbocharger maintenance is ensuring proper lubrication and cooling. Turbochargers operate at high speeds and temperatures—and they rely on a continuous supply of clean, high-quality oil.

Regular oil changes and using the manufacturer-recommended oil grade is crucial to prevent oil coking and carbon buildup. Inadequate lubrication can lead to premature wear of the turbocharger's components, which leads to lowered performance and probable failure.

Similarly, maintaining proper cooling is essential to combat overheating.  If your turbo has coolant ports, installing water lines to cycle anti-freeze/coolant through the turbo will extend turbo life and improve performance.  The addition of intercoolers and upgrading your radiator will help dissipate excess heat.

2. Warm-Up and Cool-Down Periods

Giving your turbocharged engine a proper warm-up and cool-down period is a simple maintenance practice. When starting your vehicle, allow it to idle for a brief period before driving (especially in cold weather). This habit allows the oil to circulate and lubricate the turbocharger's moving parts, preventing unnecessary wear.

However, the cool-down period is equally important after driving. Turbochargers spin at extremely high speeds, and suddenly shutting down the engine can lead to heat buildup in the turbocharger, causing oil “coking” and restriction oil flow through the oil passages.

Allowing the engine to run at idle for a few minutes before turning it off helps dissipate this heat, thus improving the longevity of the turbocharger.

3. Regular Inspections and Cleaning

Regular visual inspections can reveal early signs of issues that might lead to more significant problems. Check for oil leaks around the turbocharger and its connections; leaks can lead to loss of lubrication and reduced performance, as well as a mess under your hood!

Additionally, inspect the air intake and exhaust systems for debris or blockages that could impede airflow. Cleaning the intake system is another important maintenance task.  Foreign object debris from the intake can cause premature failure.

Also, this is a great time to comb over your intercooler piping and exhaust. Make sure your charge piping clamps and couplers are tight and your exhaust isn’t missing hangers or hardware.

4. Quality Fuel and Regular Maintenance

Using high-quality fuel is necessary for the proper functioning of a turbocharged engine. Lower-grade fuels can lead to detonation or knocking, which can harm the engine and the turbocharger. As a result, you should invest in fuel with the recommended octane rating to guarantee optimal performance and longevity. Premium pump fuel or E85, if your vehicle can accommodate it, are easily sourced options.

Likewise, regular maintenance of your vehicle as a whole is equally vital. Components like the exhaust system, spark plugs, and filters play a role in the overall efficiency of your turbocharged engine.

In addition, following the manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule will help you discover issues early and maintain reliability.

5. Mindful Driving Habits

Driving habits have a powerful influence on the wear and tear of a turbocharged engine.

Brand name turbos offer the durability and performance you’re demanding, even in competitive driving. Brands like Garrett, Borg Warner, Precision, and HPT offer the latest in bearing and lubrication technology to extend turbo life and maximize durability. These brands balance their turbos to a higher tolerance and offer the best value for your dollar. That being said, proper lubrication, cooling, warm up and cool downs are important!

6. Addressing Modifications and Upgrades

Many car enthusiasts choose to change or upgrade their turbocharged engines for enhanced performance. While these modifications can yield remarkable gains, they also demand proper tuning.

Therefore, consult with experts or professional tuners to dial your ride in and ensure the modifications are consistent with your turbocharger kit and the engine's overall setup.

The Biggest Mistakes People Make with Turbochargers

  1. Skipping Oil Changes: Neglecting regular oil changes can lead to inadequate lubrication and carbon buildup in the turbocharger.
  2. Neglecting Warm-Up/Cool-Down: Not allowing the engine to warm up or cool down can cause premature wear and overheating of the turbocharger.
  3. Ignoring Visual Inspections: Neglecting to inspect for leaks, debris, or issues can lead to major problems over time.
  4. Using Low-Quality Fuel: Lower octane fuel can lead to knocking, damaging the engine and turbocharger.
  5. Skipping Regular Maintenance: Overlooking overall vehicle maintenance impacts turbocharged engine efficiency and longevity.

The Easiest Turbocharger Kits to Maintain

  • OEM-Style Bolt-On Kits: Direct replacements with minimal modifications for more leisurely maintenance. TurboKits.com uses brands like Garrett, BorgWarner, and Precision Turbo for these bolt on kits.
  • Tuner-Friendly Kits: These are designed for easy installation, tuning, and maintenance. AMS and CTS Turbo are user-friendly options.
  • Entry-Level Kits: Simplified designs with fewer complex components. Go-Auto and On3 offer inexpensive options for the best value.
  • Complete Kits with Instructions: Brands like TurboKits.com and Hellion provide detailed instructions for simpler upkeep.
  • Street-Ready Kits: Built for durability and ease of maintenance, with features like water-cooled bearings. You should look to Garrett for street-friendly options.

Most Common Reason for Turbo Failure (Pictures)

  • Excessive Heat
    Excessive Heat Failure in a Turbocharger
  • FOD, Foreign Ibject Damage
    Foreign Object Damage Turbo Compressor
  • Oil Contamination
    Turbo Oil Contamination Damage
  • Overspeeding
    Turbo Overspeeding

Remember—regardless of the kit you choose—sticking to regular maintenance practices remains crucial for the health and longevity of any turbocharged engine.

Even the world’s best turbocharger kits will deteriorate rapidly through lack of maintenance.


Turbocharger kits are a thrilling way to boost your car's performance, but they require maintenance to ensure their longevity and optimize power delivery and improved performance.

By following these simple maintenance practices and staying attuned to your turbocharged engine's needs, you can enjoy the benefits of increased horsepower and torque for many years and miles to come.

At Turbo Kits, we specialize in creating and bringing turbocharger systems to market for the automotive, commercial, and industrial industries. Since 2001, our unwavering commitment to exceptional quality and customer satisfaction has driven our success!

If you're seeking advice about the ideal turbocharger kit for your specific application, don't hesitate to reach out to us!

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