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Turbocharger Faults and How to Spot Them

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Turbocharger Faults and How to Spot Them

First of all there are several main causes of Turbocharger failure:

Oil lubrication:

In order for your turbocharger to work effectively it needs a regular flow of good clean oil to keep your turbocharger in the best condition possible. Always be sure to change your oil and oil filter frequently to keep your turbocharger in good health. By doing so you help to prevent the build up of carbon deposits and other sorts of contaminants that can cause damage. Fully synthetic oil actually produces the least amount of carbon.

Foreign objects:

Sometimes you can get foreign objects like broken components from the engine, small stones, dust particles etc which can enter the turbocharger from either the compressor inlet or the turbine inlet.

These can cause damage to the compressor wheels and also the turbine blades which will start to reduce the efficiency of the turbocharger and eventually cause it to fail. To prevent this from happening always be sure to service your air filter regularly and that you check your turbocharger for any deposits or particles that may be in there.

Other causes:

In addition to the causes mentioned above, over-speeding can also cause turbocharger failure, wear and tear, excessive exhaust gas temps, issues with the actuator etc.

So what are the warning signs of Turbocharger failure?

Engine warning lights:

Most vehicles these days have computer diagnostics which will pick up the turbo fault and will activate the engine management light. The engine management light can come on for any number of reasons so will you need to investigate further to find out what is going on.

Power loss:

If you notice that your vehicle isnt reaching the speeds it normally does or isnt accelerating the way it should then this could be a sign of your turbocharger wearing out.

Exhaust smoking:

If there is a crack in the turbo housing or the internal seals have broken, then you will start to get oil leaking into the exhaust system. As this oil starts to burn, it will produce grey / blue smoke which will be more obvious as the engine revs increase.

Loud whining noise: 

It can be quite common for a turbocharger that is failing to begin making a loud whining noise. If you start to hear this sort of noise coming from your engine bay then its a good shout to get it checked out.

Checking your turbo:


So you’ve noticed that some of the above symptoms are happening to you, so what do I do? Well, if your technically minded and dont mind getting your hands dirty then you can check for a range of faults by yourself by inspecting the turbocharger.

Before you get started, be sure to check the air filter, exhaust system, breather system and fuel system to make sure they are all working properly without any problems as these can cause similar symptoms to that of turbocharger failure.

So essentially what you’re looking for are signs of oil inside the turbo, excessive movement or contact between the compressor wheel and the housing. The compressor wheel should be clean, without any chips, or dents. You need to check to see that the wheel is able to rotate freely without too much movement and without making contact to the housing.

From the turbine side, it should be clean without carbon build up or oil along the surface and the blades should not have any cracks or damage. Again there should not be excessive movement or contact with the housing.

Here are a number of examples of turbochargers which failed on our customers vehicles. We always make a practice to send our clients either videos or photos of components which have failed so that they can have a better understanding themselves of what exactly is going on.

This first video shows a turbocharger which was faulty due to excessive movement in the wheel. As you can see it was far too loose:

In this second example, although the turbocharger wasnt showing too much sign movement, you can see that it wasnt moving freely and this was due to the wheel making contact with the housing.

In this final example it is the turbocharger actuator arm that is extremely stiff and making a loud noise when attempted to move by hand.

With every one of the above examples, we sent the video to our clients so that they can visibly understand the problem.

If you feel you are experiencing turbocharger failure or just need some general advice, please feel free to get in touch with one our members of staff on 0208 133 6004

Common Engine Failure on 2.0 TDi Audi, VW, Skoda, Seat

audi vw skoda seat bre blb brb engine oil pump

A client recently called us about his Audi A4 2.0 TDI and reported that it had suffered engine failure. Before he even mentioned how it failed my response was “let me guess…..oil pump failure”. To which he responded “what?! how did you know?”.

Please dont misunderstand the above and believe that I am some sort of engine expert extraordinaire who can sense every engine that fails around the world (I wish 🙂 ). Unfortunately the case here is that oil pump failures are probably the number one cause of engine failures on the Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat 2.0 TDi models.

So lets understand a bit more about the issue. Although its the oil pump that fails, the problem actually appears to be with the balancer shaft which causes the issue.  What happens is that the drive from the slave balancer shaft that connects to the oil pump is a 6 AF hex bar and this has  inadequate engagement depth with the grooves in the slave shaft. As a result its the torsional oscillations from the balance shafts which destroy the oil pump coupling.

Technical jargon aside, if you have an Audi, VW, Skoda, Seat which is a 2.0 TDi up to around 2007 then its susceptible to this problem as after that they were built without the balance shaft.

The oil pump typically fail between 60,000 – 100,000 miles and once it happens its pretty much curtains on the engine unfortunately. So if you’re reading this and you happen to be one of the unlucky people who owns one of these vehicles, and havnt yet suffered from this failure then heres what you can do:

– First point of call is to always contact a main Audi, VW, Skoda or Seat dealer (depending on what vehicle you own). From the feedback we’ve seen it appears main dealers will not likely take any responsibility but there is no harm in trying to see if they can address this issue for your free of charge because its clearly a common defect.

– Pay a specialist engine rebuilding workshop around £1500 to get the balancing system changed to the new upgraded one.

– Sell your vehicle and purchase something a little more reliable

If you would like a quote for an engine rebuild or just need some general advice please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 0208 133 6004

Practise your driving theory test

driving test


The DVSA has launched a new site that allows your practice their official theory test online. Most importantly its completely for free and can take a different test depending on whether you’re learning to drive a:

  • Car
  • Motorcycle
  • Lorry (large goods vehicle)
  • Bus or coach (passenger carrying vehicle)

Each test is 50 questions and you can take part in it by following the link below:

Free MOT And Car Tax Check


DVLA has launched a new site where you can easily check any car’s MOT and tax expiry date. All you have to do is enter a car’s registration number to check its details.

Its a pretty hand too particularly because of the end of the tax disc system and if you’ve lost your MOT certificate.

Simply follow the link below and submit your vehicle details to view the information online:

Citroen Dispatched 2012 2.0 Diesel Engine Replacement and Fitting

A commercial client of ours came to us with a vehicle of theirs that had suffered from engine failure. Typically with the nature of the usage of commercial vehicles you will find that they cover a great deal of mileage in a very short period of time. We often find that as a result of the heavy usage of these vehicles, the issues are not likely to be restricted to the engine alone, and that we would uncover a number of problems that would need to be rectified.

We have always stressed changing oil and oil filter at least every 5,000 miles to keep your vehicle running in good health. However, with commercial vehicles we would actually recommend changing the oil at least every 3,000 miles to cope of with the huge number of miles that they cover.

citroen dispatch with engine failure

With most commercial vehicles the front end needs to be removed in order to effectively replace the engine.

citroen dispatch front bumper removed

Once the engine was removed, we then build up the replacement engine with the clients bolt on ancillaries before installation

citroen dispatch engine due for installation

citroen dispatch engine installed

Once the engine is fully installed we can begin the testing procedures and identify if there are any additional faults in the vehicle.

engine installation work being completed

The turbocharger and battery were found to be faulty and needed replacing. 3 of the 4 injectors reported faults from the diagnostics check and also required replacing. If there are additional repairs that require attention on your vehicle always get into the habit of asking your repairer for reports where possible so that you can get a better understanding of what went wrong in your vehicle.

citroen dispatch with problematic injectors

Finally once the installation is fully completed, we always make sure we take the vehicle out for a minimum of 3 long test drives before releasing the vehicle back to our customer.

citroen dispatch full installation complete

Testing is complete, customer is happy 🙂

DVLA – Online Driving License Information Tool


DVLA have released a really helpful online tool that allows you to check your driving license details online and will show you the following:

– Driving details e.g. vehicles you can drive
– Current and expired penalty points

– Disqualifications

Awesome tool for keeping track of your driving offenses to make sure you are within your points limit and to find out if any previous ones you had have now expired.

All you need is your driving license number, national insurance number and registered postcode and it will let you view all of your details online.

Simply submit these details on the DVLA link below and you are good to go:


Here at MKL Motors we offer our clients:

– Engine Replacements
– Gearbox Replacements
– Diagnostics
– Repairs
– Servicing
– Nationwide Vehicle Recovery

Please feel free to get in touch with us on 0208 133 6004 for a quote

BMW 525D 3.0 Diesel Engine replacement and fitting

Mr Barry Tootill came to us with a BMW 525D 3.0 diesel which had suffered from timing chain failure and needed an engine replacement.

Whenever we complete an engine replacement we typically recommend replacing the thermostat, glow plugs, water pump and timing kit on diesel vehicles. If any of these components are not working correctly, they can potentially cause damage to the engine. These components can be difficult to replace while the engine is inside the vehicle so its certainly a good opportunity to get those replaced while the engine is out particularly because they are not expensive.

As engine replacement specialists, most of our clients typically require vehicle recovery as did Mr Tootill. Because we use our recovery guys on a regular basis, we can get vehicle recovery done at very competitive prices. 

BMW 525d delivered

Once the vehicle is on the ramp we get to work right away

BMW 525D engine due to be removed

Its always good practice to remove the bumper from the vehicle before engine removal to avoid any unnecessary damage from happening

BMW 525D engine due to be removed

In this instance we had a rebuilt engine was already prepped and ready to be fitted

Rebuilt BMW 525D engine

We then build up the engine with the customers bolt on components

Rebuilt BMW 525D built up

The plate that separates the engine and gearbox was broken unfortunately and needed to be replaced

engine gearbox plate damaged

Interestingly, Mr Tootill had a custom job completed on his DPF filter, he clearly knows his way around cars!

Modified DPF Filter

Once all the installation work is complete we always thorough test the vehicle to make sure there are no underlying problems or issues before releasing the vehicle back to the customer

BMW 525D engine replacement complete

Mr Tootill is now enjoying a well deserved break with his wife in their summer house in Spain 🙂

BMW 520d Engine Replacement and Fitting

A client recently came to us with a BMW 5 series which had suffered from engine failure. His vehicle is a 2008 BMW 5 Series 2.0 diesel and has the notorious N47D20 engine which suffers from common timing chain and tensioner failure between the years of 2007 – 2011.

This issue was so serious it was highlighted by watchdog:


The timing chain links all the moving parts of the engine that work together in order to drive the car forward. They must all work in perfect harmony and unfortunately when a timing chain fails in generally results in significant engine failure.

All BMW 1 series, 3 series and 5 series 2.0 diesels from 2007 – 2011 can potentially suffer from this common problem. If you own a BMW within this range then look out for the following symptoms:

  • Engine misfires
  • Metal shavings found in oil or oil filter
  • Rattling sounds from the engine

Identifying the issue early can save you a hefty engine repair bill.

bmw 5 series faulty engine

In this clients case unfortunately the timing chain had already failed and resulted in significant engine damage and only solution was to replace the entire engine.

faulty n47d20 engine

Once the engine is removed we assessed the clients ancillary components such as turbocharger, injectors, water pump, glow plugs etc to ensure that they were not faulty as they could potentially result in another engine failure.

rebuild n47d20 engine

We prepared a refurbished engine for the client which includes many brand new internals as well as a brand timing chain kit.

faulty n47d20 engine and replacement unit

The engine was then dressed with the clients components and prepped for installation.

engine installed 520d engine bay

Once the engine was installed, the vehicle went through significant testing to ensure the vehicle was running optimally before releasing it back to our client.

If you own a BMW 2.0 diesel between 2007 – 2011 and have any questions about the timing chain issues or simply need some general advice please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 0208 133 6004