How Turbochargers Work

February 4, 2022

Uncle Al's Tech Tips of the Week

The information in this tech tip is to educate UTC staff and ensure customer satisfaction and safety.

Diesel engines achieve a higher power output than gasoline engines by compressing the air before it interacts with the fuel. The higher density of the compressed air allows for more air in the cylinder, resulting in a higher mechanical power output and a more efficient combustion process. A turbocharger working in a diesel engine has the important job of compressing the air. But how does a turbocharger work, exactly? Get the details in the guide below from International Used Truck Centers, plus our tips for keeping a turbocharger working longer—and saving money on diesel maintenance.

How Does a Turbocharger Work?

There are two main parts of a turbocharger: the turbine and the compressor. To make sense of how a typical turbocharger is working in a diesel engine, we’ll take a closer look at what’s going on inside them both:

Inside the Turbine

  • The turbine housing guides the exhaust gas into the turbine wheel, where the energy from the exhaust gas turns the turbine wheel.
  • Then, the gas leaves the housing via an exhaust outlet.

Inside the Compressor

  • The compressor also has a wheel and housing. But here, the housing and the wheel are connected by a forged steel shaft. First, the turbine spins the compressor wheel.
  • Due to the high velocity of this action, air is drawn in and compressed into a high-velocity, low-pressure stream.
  • Using a process known as diffusion, the compressor housing then converts this stream into a high-pressure, low-velocity air stream.
  • Compressed air is delivered to the engine, allowing it to burn more fuel and generate more power.

How Long Do Turbochargers Last?

How long do turbochargers work compared to gas engines, and what can you do to keep a turbocharger working in a diesel engine? Today’s diesel engines last longer than their gasoline counterparts, even while requiring less maintenance. But just like gas engines, diesel engines need proper maintenance in order to last their longest and perform at their best. Here’s what you’ll need to do to keep your turbocharger working for as long as possible:

  • Clean your engine regularly. Dirt and debris that collects around your engine’cs components can reduce efficiency and shorten its lifespan. If you live in an area with harsh winters, road salt can exacerbate corrosion and rust.
  • Check your air filter and have it replaced about every 12,000 miles. A clogged filter makes your engine work harder to produce the same amount of power.
  • Change your radiator fluid every 40,000 to 60,000 miles. When your radiator system isn’t being properly cooled, the radiator can overheat and damage the engine.

Learn more About Diesel Engine Maintenance With International Used Truck Centers

Questions about maintaining your semi truck for long drives and tough climates? Contact our team, and be sure to check out our guides to maintaining your semi truck turbocharger, semi truck battery care, how long turbochargers last, and much more.

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International Used Truck Centers 41.776180, -88.200918.