TURBO Engine Reliability - Long-Term

stevepakestevepake Member Posts: 21
I'm looking at two cars from VW with the 1.8L
Turbo engine (1.8T).

I've read on web pages that you should always idle
a turbo engine for at least 15 seconds before
shutting off to allow the turbo to cool and not
char your oil, and always use synthetics if
possible. As an engineer, I can understand why and
this makes sense.

However, multiple pages, and people, also state
that if you drive a turbo hard you should extend
the cool-down idle for 2-3 minutes!! There's no
point in driving fast if you have to idle for that
long when you get to your destination. That
presents a big driveability issue and brings up the
"do I just plunk down more money for the V6
non-turbo" debate...

Is the use of synthetic motor oils enough to allow
just a 15sec cool-down, or even 30sec after hard
driving, or do you still need to allow 2-3 minutes.

I'd love to hear from the experts, or someone that
has a high-mileage hard driven turbo. Thanks!


  • poisondartfrogpoisondartfrog Member Posts: 102
    Bought a used '84 Buick Skyhawk 1.8 Turbo (150 hp!) back in '89, with 21K miles. Bought extended warranty based on the turbo. Well, previous owner didn't take care of it, and new short block and turbo were replaced shortly thereafter. An added bonus was the new turbo included a water-cooled center bearing, which really helps get the heat out of the turbo.

    I still own the car today, and it has 104K miles on it. Same turbo and engine. No problems with either, except for a crack in the exhaust manifold and some weepy gaskets. I use Mobil 1 oil and change it and the oil filter every 5K miles. I use a K&N air filter, and service it every 15K miles (turbo impeller doesn't take kindly to dirt ingestion). I also only use premium gas, because detonation trips the knock sensor, which retards my 7 lbs. of boost.

    Driven hard? It regularly sees 5-6K in 1st gear... it's fun to make the tires chirp as the slush-box shifts into 2nd.

    In regards to cooldown, if I've just been cruisin' in town and not on the boost much, I'll shut it right down. If I've been on the boost during my drive, I'll use the time it takes to make it through the neighborhood as my cool-down interval, staying out of the boost. Has worked for me so far...

    I check the impeller periodically for side-to-side slop or any wobble.

    BTW, I'm an engineer too.
  • SPYDER98SPYDER98 Member Posts: 239
    IMO, I will probably never buy a used turbo car in my life. I own a spyder turbo. But I purchased the car brand new and have religously cooled down the turbo about 95% of the time. I currently have 64k miles on her and have'nt had one drive-tran problem yet. Although its funny how poison mentioned he has a cracked exhaust manifold. I had to have mine replaced under warranty at 50k miles due to a crack.
    I think with todays technology, most turbocharged motors are pretty reliable. They have come a long way. I drive my car pretty hard everyday. I plan on keeping it for at least a few more years. By that time, I will have accumulated about 120k miles. Only time will tell in the end.
    But if you buying new, I personally would not hesitate buying a turbo charged vehicle.
    Unless I really new the owner, and he took good care of his car, I would probably take the chance on a used one.
  • billybreathesbillybreathes Member Posts: 14
    My advice to anyone considering buying a turbo car- don't do it! I bought a used 1989 Mitsubishi Starion, with 43k, four years ago. Car ran great, well maintained, very fast. I bought it from my uncle, so I know the odomter was right, and the car only used Mobil 1 10w-30 since new. I religiously cooled it down for 1 minute, even tho I was told this wasn't necessary with Mobil 1, since it doesn't char.

    The turbo was kicked by 80k. Engine block had a hairline crack, car leaked a quart of oil a week, and wouldn't go over 65 mph. Mechanic told me it would cost $1000 for a rebuilt one.
    I don't think it was an isolated incident, since my girlfriends Eagle Talon also had a bad turbo by 65k!

    also, the reason turbos are put in cars is to get more power without sacrificing fuel economy. Well, fuel economy with a four cylinder turbo is just as bad as a large six. Plus, auto manufacturers don't want their cars to last forever, so they install turbos.

    Lease a new car with a turbo, yes. Buy a used one, no way.
  • 99taurus99taurus Member Posts: 20
    I will tend to agree with Spyder98. The cars today have been improved greatly in regards to Turbo's. My good friend has a 2000 VW Jetta TDI. Very good engine. Very good low end power and 46 miles to the gallon average. He now has 10k miles on it and no sign of trouble with oil. Of course VW starts their engines with Mineral oil for a better break in and at the first service at 5000 miles they replace the mineral oil with Synthetic oil. I only posted due to the person earlier looking at two diff VW's. I am asuming Bettle, and Jetta. Both have a great TDI engine that has been running great in European cars. I would go for it! I love my friends Jetta, and so does he.
  • SPYDER98SPYDER98 Member Posts: 239
    To say manufactures install turbos to shorten engine life is a poor excuse.
    Many of the great sports cars of the past all used turbo charging as an alternative to cubic inches.
    The smaller the displacement, the lighter, and better the car performs overall.
    Sure there are stories of people having turbo problems prematurely. But there are also people out there who have over 200k miles on there stock turbo's.

    Do you think if mazda installed a V8 in the late model RX7. The car would of handled anywhere near as good as it did with the twin turbo 1.3liter?
    I don't think so.
    Turbo charging just requires more maintenance and more of a watchful eye thats all.
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