Intercoolers and turbo failure

Since the year 2000, the number of turbocharged vehicles in South Africa is steadily increasing. And the growing trend continues. There are many reasons for this: Turbo engines are a convincing choice thanks to low fuel consumption, improved engine efficiency, optimised exhaust emissions and a reduction of the thermal load on the engine. In addition, power increases over the entire engine-speed range can be achieved by this means.

While all of this is really good news for the motorist there are some implications when there is a mechanical failure in the compressor side of the turbocharger. In the event of mechanical damage to the turbocharger, the intercooler should be replaced as well. It cools down the 150-degree-celsius hot air compressed by the turbocharger before it reaches the combustion chamber of the engine. The cooling takes place via the ambient air (air flow) or the engine coolant.

If mechanical damage to the turbocharger now occurs, it is not uncommon for the intercooler to be affected as well, due to the ingress of metal particles coming out of the compressor side of the turbocharger. If these later become dislodged from the intercooler and are sucked in by the engine, engine damage with serious consequences may result. Flushing or cleaning of the intercooler, is in our opinion advisable only if, for example, oil has collected there as a result of a compressor leak. In the event of mechanical damage to the turbocharger and subsequent cleaning, there is however the risk that not all particles can be removed from the intercooler. Also, for example, intercoolers with turbulence inserts cannot be flushed or cleaned due to design reasons. In order to avoid further damage, the charger intercooler should therefore be replaced.