Journal Bearing Turbo vs. Ball Bearing Turbo

Journal Bearing Turbo vs. Ball Bearing Turbo

Deciding to go with a journal bearing turbo or a ball bearing turbo is the first choice you need to make when choosing a turbo. These are the two main types of bearings built in turbos. Journal bearing designs came out earlier than ball bearing types and have been serving for quite some years before the introduction of ball bearing designs because they’re durable and cost effective. Ball bearing type turbos were invented later for quicker spool and better response.

Consider the bearing as the core of a turbocharger; journal bearing systems contain a set of journal and thrust bearings. Due to their simplicity, they are easier to maintain and rebuild than ball bearing turbos and thus less expensive to manufacture and maintain. Journal bearing designs use oil as a thin film to lubricate the rotating shaft and to cool down the turbo temperature. Their relatively simple designs are more capable of managing shock and overload compared to ball bearings, hence more durable. However, higher friction bearing design results in slower spool time and therefore ball bearings were introduced later.

Ball bearings are composed of small, hardened steel balls to reduce friction, this design requires less oil consumption and optimizes turbo efficiency. Ball bearing designs spool up 15% faster than journal bearing designs. They’re more suitable for racing with better drivability and acceleration, providing smoother operation and greater performance at various power band. Later invention of dual ball bearing and ceramic ball bearing greatly enhances the bearing reliability and longevity, making ball bearing a more popular choice. However, due to their complexity in manufacturing, they are more expensive to produce and maintain.

If you’re looking for faster spool with swifter response along with better drivability, ball bearing would be a better choice especially during racing. However, journal bearings are more suitable for heavy loads or daily drives as they are easier to maintain and more cost-effective.


Find out more