Perrya is a major car enthusiast and loves sharing his extensive vehicular knowledge with his readers.
Most turbos fail gradually and manifest as burning oil or coolant in the exhaust, or a LOT of oil in the intake, depending on where the seal fails.
Common Symptoms of a Turbo Failure
Turbos generally provide ample warning signs before failing suddenly, the most noticeable is a whine that grows louder when boost occurs. If the condition is not fixed, it becomes a howl. Bad seals and bad bearings generally fail.
When the turbo fails, you will no doubt experience a sudden loss of power. In smaller turbos, like a 91-94 Mercury Capri XR2, you will still be able to drive, albeit WAY slow and very poorly. Some have driven some 25 miles in this state. Such a drive will use over a quart of oil because of the broken seals. You will also have a lot of blue smoke, you will be embarrassed. With small turbos, like the Capri, the only time when the turbo is activated is when you need boost upon certain types of acceleration, at all other times, the engine acts as a non-turbo.
The good news is that engine damage seldom occurs due to a turbo failing. If the impeller chips off, they usually end up in the intercooler and catalyic converter.
What to Do When the Turbo Fails
Usually when a turbo fails the pieces go into the intercooler along with a good amount of engine lube oil. If you do not shut it down quickly, smaller pieces get into the engine, again with engine oil. The engine can actually run on this spilled oil and "run away."
If you have a failure, remove the intercooler and ALL intake system tubes; this includes the airbox, filter housing and associated tubes. Clean them well. These pieces are usually what causes a second, immediate failure.
For a Capri, a new turbo runs between $500-600. The turbo may not even cause damage, it may just stop for other reasons. No boost = no acceleration! The car will run but not very well. In this case, check inlet hose, outlet hose, the turbine could be damaged or its bearings have seized, the Wastegate is stuck open or something as simple as a clogged air cleaner.
Where's Your Turbo?
Diagrams: Turbocharger on 91-94 Mercury Capri XR2
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
perrya (author) on July 23, 2020:
Burt on July 21, 2020:
When I start up the car in the morning. There is a Lotta smoke that comes out of the exhaust. What is the possible problem
perrya (author) on July 15, 2020:
loss of power, lots of smoke if running
Rameshwor Moirangthem on July 15, 2020:
How do i know my turbo has failed.?
john on June 17, 2020:
I like to be mechanical man
perrya (author) on March 29, 2020:
What kind of noise? what else happens? are you sure its the turbo?
Paul Rudies on March 28, 2020:
If you have turbo engine and it starts to makes niose at 15mph what is the cause.
perrya (author) on February 24, 2020:
Lewis- that does not sound like a turbo going out, at least, when my car lost it, i only lost power and I crawled off the road. There was no oil or water, however, it still could be a turbo going out that caused other damage. There is only one way to find out and that is have it checked out, the oil might be other engine issues.
Lewis on February 24, 2020:
Hi Perrya! Just find myself on your page now and read about u. Pls i need help, i was driving my Benz e220 cdi wagon 2009. I was traveling suddenly i notice there is like cover of oil at my boot screen and d back, i cant see the back, so i started like what can be d causes of it,
Not long after i noticed a strange sound of d car and like smoke coming out from the bonent . I qickly parked, after a while on d floor under d car was full of leakage of oil and water.
Try to start d car not starting for me anymore.
Just want to know can d car be fixed??? And what can be the cost of it??
perrya (author) on November 13, 2019:
turbo needs to be replaced, no choice
Maximiliano De Maria on November 12, 2019:
I have a Ford 450 pick up truck, diesel 6.4 engine.
While in the high way around 70 mph, I heard an explosion somewhere in the engine...
Noticed minutes/seconds earlier that my turbo gauge did not move, drop/disengage...
Lost power, I continued driving it. It will go up to just over 65 mph, with out turbo; the turbo did not engage ever again... I had to play with the diesel pedal to achieve acceleration, no smoke! No strange noise, back in the city, it performed better..
Turbo repair on this truck cost a lot.
Do you have any good suggestions Sr. ?
perrya (author) on October 27, 2019:
Yes, you could have engine damage
Tricia on October 26, 2019:
I have a cla250, if smaller turbo pieces get into the engine could this cause engine damage?
perrya (author) on September 22, 2019:
I don't think the fiesta has a turbo, is this true?
Damien fulford on September 22, 2019:
I think my turbo has gone in my Ford Fiesta TDCI. It’s only done 75k. It has lost power whilst driving but is still moving albeit extremely slowly.
Can you help?
perrya (author) on September 21, 2019:
Most turbos will be ok to around 100K miles, after that, they can go anytime.
Dar on September 20, 2019:
I have a 2017 Ford Explorer Sport Ecoboost. Last week i made a stop, then returned to my vehicle and it wouldn't start. Which i found very odd because ive only had it for 1 year. Apparently it needed a battery. (As per the dealership) the next day it started to make a sound, then i noticed smoke from under the hood, then out the exhaust. The dealership told me it is my twin turbo charger. Can you please tell me why you think this happened? I dont drive the vehicle hard and regular services have been done.
perrya (author) on August 28, 2019:
It usually means it is time for a new turbo.
Cooney on August 27, 2019:
What if the turbo starts smoking
Fabion91 on August 03, 2018:
If a turbo needs replaced in a 03 Saab 9.5 is it still drivable
Fabian on August 02, 2018:
If your turbo needs replaced in a 03 Saab 9.5 is it drivable still
Sof on July 27, 2018:
Hello I would like to know how much worth a car (Vauxhall astra 1.7 yr55) with stopped Turbo?
perrya (author) on February 19, 2012:
If you have a ton of smoke, suspect the turbo has failed.
salvatore on February 19, 2012:
oil escap from exost and lots smog with blu nissan micra diesel wath can by?
turboman on February 17, 2012:
that turbo sucks your better off upgrading it to a mitsu evo turbo and gain 80hp