Causes of Damaged Compressor Wheels

Causes of Damaged Compressor Wheels

Although there is more than one possible cause for damaged compressor wheel, in this article we’ll be covering 3 main causes that we see most among our turbo repairs – shaft play, foreign objects, and failed blow off.

Shaft play is one cause for compressor wheel damage, excessive side to side shaft play causes compressor wheel to hit the wall of compressor housing inlet and turbo gradually teared down if it wasn’t noticed in time. Make sure there is enough oil for turbo lubrication, poor or improper lubrication leads to shaft play and a broken shaft shank. Change of oil on time is essential, it guarantees you prolonged auto engine parts.

Another most commonly encountered scenario is the entrance of foreign objects. Once foreign object(s) enters the compressor inlet, due to the high rotating speed of a turbocharger, dusts will crack or mill down the blades, lowering the turbocharger’s efficiency, finally making the turbo useless when the blades are totally chipped. Often times people weren’t aware of debris between cleaner and turbocharger, check intercooler, charged air piping, or inside the head to make sure there is no debris.

Last but not least, a failed or malfunctioning blow off causes surge; compressor wheel running under surging will cause damaged compressor wheel. Compressor surge occurs when you lift off the gas pedal or when you hit the brake, the throttle plate closes. Sudden boost hits the closed throttle plate and with nowhere to go it goes back to the turbo inlet. This stress interferes the air flow causing compressor surge. Compressor surge slows or even stalls the spinning wheel, putting force on the wheel shaft and bearings, causing compressor wheel to hit the compressor housing. Damaged compressor wheel kills drivability and messes with turbo response.

Abovementioned causes are not the only ones that induce damaged compressor wheel, circumstances such as excessive heat or loosen bolts/flanges/clamps also result the same, make sure you check all possible causes when you have a damaged compressor wheel before replacing a new compressor wheel.