Basic Turbo Maintenance FAQ - Team Integra Forums - Team Integra
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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So now that you have read THIS thread, and the FI articles found HERE, its time to talk about basic Turbo Maintenance.

Driving a Turbo car is a very different experience from driving a stock Teggy, and maintaining it is quite different as well. The following are some very basic tips to prolong the life of both your turbo and your motor.


If you are having problems with your car and have not yet had it properly tuned, stop reading this article and take a look at THIS one.

This is the most crucial part of a Turbo Set Up. It flat out doesnt matter if you bought the best and most expensive, cutting edge parts available. A tune is the glue that holds your build together, and without it, you have nothing other than an unreliable car that is not living up to its potential.

There is plenty of information here on tuning, and how to select the right EMS for you, a list of features of many of the popular options can be found HERE.

2) Turbos and Oil

A turbo, like anything else, needs lubrication, and it does this via the same oil you use in your motor. A turbo spins at 10s of thousands of RPM, and therefor will generate considerably more heat than you will in your motor. This heat will undoubtedly lead to thermal breakdown over time, which is both bad for your turbo and your motor. This means a few things:

1. You absolutely have to run a high quality synthetic oil (which is more resistant to thermal breakdown than conventional oil)
2. You need to change your oil frequently. This means roughly every 2500 miles.
3. You need to check your oil level regularly, as in every time you stop for gas. Running low is flat out dangerous.
4. An Oil Pressure gauge is not a bad idea.
5. Make sure after an oil change that there is sufficient oil in the turbo before starting the car up. Here is a convenient how to I found:

Originally Posted by This extra requirement/step that must be conducted after an oil/filter change and prior to starting the engine is to “prime the oil system”. Otherwise, if the engine is started with an unprimed oil system and empty filter, the turbo will not be receiving any oil for the first few seconds of operation. The oil system is primed by simply disconnecting the coil to distributor cap wire lead and cranking the engine for 10-15 seconds. In order to prevent flooding of the engine, hold the gas pedal all the way to the floor so the computer does not fire the injectors. Conduct the dead cranking of the engine twice. This dead cranking fills the oil filter and primes the engine oil passages. After this simple step is complete, the coil lead is reconnected and the engine can be started.

6. You may want to look into an oil restrictor, per the Garrett website:

Quote: Garrett ball bearing turbochargers require less oil than journal bearing turbos. Therefore an oil inlet restrictor is recommended if you have oil pressure over about 60 psig. The oil outlet should be plumbed to the oil pan above the oil level (for wet sump systems). Since the oil drain is gravity fed, it is important that the oil outlet points downward, and that the drain tube does not become horizontal or go “uphill” at any point.
3) Air Filter

No one cares how bad ass you look without a filter, the bottom line is that turbos are suck in air, and by running the turbo with no filter, you risk the turbo inducting foreign objects suck as dirt, little rocks, etc. Use a filter, its cheaper than a new turbo.

4) Warming Up/Cooling Down

A turbo needs time to warm up and cool down. So, in layman's, you cant start the car, beat the hell out of it, and shut it off. When you start the car, baby it. Let it warm up completely (~170 Degrees) before you hit boost.

After a hard drive, shutting the car off and suddenly stopping the flow of exhaust to the turbo without letting it cool down is a very bad thing. This is where a turbo timer comes into play. A Turbo Timer allows the car to run for a set amount of time after you remove the key. This gives the turbo ample time to cool down before it stops spinning. If you either do not want or do not have a Turbo Timer, then simply baby the car the last few miles, and let her idle before shutting the car off.

If you absolutely beat the car, you will want to give the turbo a few minutes to cool down, but for normal daily driving, 30 seconds will generally suffice. Trust me, the last thing you want is oil caking and causing problems.

A lot of aftermarket alarm systems come with built in turbo timers and you can also wire your turbo timer into your existing alarm system via THIS article.

5) Crank Case Ventilation

When you use a turbo and are making more power than stock, the stock oil separator box may not be sufficient. A Catch Can (a fancy word for an oil/air separator) is the most efficient way to re-route oil vapors in order to alleviate the pressure from the crank case. This prevents oil leaks and possible damage to engine seals, not to mention a build up of oil vapors can condense and increase your risk of detonation.

6) Be Proactive

Use your common sense. Check things regularly and stay current on maintenance. This includes Checking your spark plugs (to learn to read your spark plugs, please check out Nate's Drag Tech Corner), checking the Wastegate Signal Hose for cracks/signs of hardening, cleaning the Throttle Body every ~30,000 miles, making sure your Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) is doing its job, replace/clean the air filter every ~10,000 miles, replace the timing belt every ~40,000 miles, etc.

The longer you put this stuff off, the more these potential problems can snowball on you and become expensive pains in the ass.

Good Luck!!!

Special Thanks To:

-Nate (95integraLS003)
-Leif (98_gsr)

*UPDATE 9/5* 500hp Turbo Build, for the love of god no 56k please King Motorsports Tuned: 433whp/300wtq @ 17.5psi - 93 503.13whp/372wtq @ 30psi - 110 Octane
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-18-2009, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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