By on August 7, 2015

2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8L Turbo Engine-001

If there is one recent trend in the automotive industry today, it’s turbocharging.

Of course, there are a lot of other trends, too. That whole SUV coupe thing is bizarrely catching on. And I think we can all agree that it’s only a matter of time before someone sees the Subaru Outback’s 20 years of unrivaled success and finally decides to re-enter the wagon game.

But in the last few years, it’s turbocharging that has really managed to beat out everything else for today’s most popular automotive trend.

These days, everything is turbocharged. And I mean everything. Years ago, it was just Volvos and Saabs and maybe the occasional Audi or so. It was an unusual thing, turbocharging, and we weren’t exactly sure what to make of it. “That car is TURBOCHARGED,” people would say. “Oooooh.”

It was so much of a unique thing back in the day that companies would advertise products that were turbocharged when it couldn’t possibly be so. There were turbocharged shavers. Turbocharged medicines. Turbocharged toys. All used roughly the same level of forced induction as a grapefruit.

It’s not so unique anymore.

In modern times, everything is turbocharged. Family cars. Subcompacts. Luxury sedans. Ford has not one but two different turbocharged F-150s: a 2.7-liter and a 3.5-liter. They’re widely agreed to be better than the naturally aspirated engines they’re sold alongside. BMW turbocharges. Mercedes turbocharges. General Motors turbocharges. Everything from the Chevy Sonic to the BMW M5 now uses turbochargers to force air into the engine and bring us MORE POWAH. This concept is no longer unique to weird European cars that your dentist friend drives.

The reason for all this turbocharging is obvious: we’re all trying to improve our fuel economy. This is in order to meet CAFE standards, which say that every vehicle must return 87 miles per gallon by next week. Automakers have deemed this a hard goal to meet, so they have turned to turbocharging to accomplish it. And thus, it was born. The turbocharged Ford Fusion. The turbocharged Lexus NX. The turbocharged Buick Encore.

Naturally, I don’t blame automakers for this. There were really only two ways to achieve the goal of better fuel economy: dropping horsepower, or going turbocharged. As much as people say they want to “go green,” they don’t actually want to lose their horsepower, their acceleration, their beloved passing power. So instead we put up with a 1.4-liter engine in a midsize sedan that can deliver a lot of power when we need it, or a little when we don’t.

But there’s one obvious problem with all this turbocharging: How long will these engines really last?

I say this as the former owner of a 1990s turbocharged Volvo, and then the owner of a non-turbocharged 1990s Audi. When it comes to turbocharging, here’s what I learned: Turbos add complication. They often bring more stress to the engine. They leak. They fail. They suffer from serious longevity problems. And this was a turbocharged Volvo, a forced-induction car from an automaker who had known about this technology for years. How do you think it’ll last in a brand-new pickup?

When it came time to replace my Volvo back in 2006, I didn’t want to find out. Knowing that the Audi A4 1.8T had a problem where the turbochargers would leak oil, I went with a 2.8-liter model. I’ve made it a point to generally staying away from turbocharged cars after that.

So what about this new crop of turbocharged cars? Will they last? I worry about that a lot. Many people out there buy cars to last five, ten, or fifteen years, and they’ll be severely disappointed that “turbocharger” now joins the list of expensive “one day” replacements, along with timing belt, transmission, fuel or water pumps, and — if you have a Subaru — head gaskets.

Admittedly, I might be totally wrong. These automakers may have turbocharging down; they may be totally capable of engineering a turbocharger that can last the life of the car, and then some. But if you were looking for a car that you hoped would last you a long time, would you end up with the high-pressure turbo? Or the tried-and-true naturally aspirated 4-cylinder?

I guess it depends how badly you want that additional fuel economy.

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196 Comments on “QOTD: Are All These Turbocharged Cars Going to Last?...”


  • avatar
    bdaniels_us

    A neighbor has a turbo diesel Jetta which I want to say is a 2000 or 2001 with over 200,000 miles. He has had the turbo replaced with a rebuilt unit once and now that unit is dead. It didn’t cost a heck of a lot to get it swapped out. Maybe a little over $600? Whether or not they last the life of a car I can see used, rebuilds, or even aftermarket units being relatively affordable. That said anyone that relies on an old beater will not need to replace the turbo. The car will still run. It will probably pass an emissions inspection. It will just have less passing power. You can live without it and probably a lot of people just getting by will end up doing just that.

    What is going to kill cars in my mind is the expense of proprietary computer systems that integrate more and more hvac and entertainment functions. I have a 2015 Silverado work truck with the entry level Chevy MyLink. Should that die ten or twelve years out I am likely S.O.L. unless I can find a functioning used unit.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      Well, it won’t *fail* an emissions inspection, but a car that can’t make it to the test station because the engine sucked up shards of compressor blades, or starved for oil because the turbo burned and leaked it all, after the owner read some harebrained internet advice that a failing turbo can be merely ignored, won’t *pass* emissions either.

      Turbos are fragile. Anything spinning over 100,000RPM on a thin film of oil will be. While they work great in many applications, they have to be not only built well (the manufacturer’s concern) but also maintained properly (the owner’s concern): oilchanges and gentle warmup/cooldown, specifically.

      +1 on the vastly over-integrated electronics. We had a newish Volvo come in the other day for a charge warning light despite a perfectly functional alternator. Turns out that the charging system goes through no fewer than three computers and a LANBUS, under the main bundle of which we discovered a mouse nest… That car’s going to have a “URGENT SERVICE REQUIRED” light on for the rest of its days, which I doubt will be half as long as a typical 240’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Turbo charging has been around for eons. Diesels are the ideal engine to turbo as the benefits they produce are better than what can be gained from a gasoline engine.

      Gasoline engine turbo units run very hot in comparison to a diesel turbo. As with most anything in engineering, heat is a killer or reliability and life.

      Short of using exotic materials that are found in many AVTUR powered turbine engines, gas turbo units do quite well as they are. The reliability of turbo units fitted to a gasoline engine is far cheaper now and far more reliable.

      As for the electronic tricks that run a car. They are not unreliable. Why do you think aviation is far safer today than 30 years ago? It isn’t just new materials and better air traffic control, it’s electronics.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        aviation stuff is built to aviation standards and costs aviation money. even for used cessnas and pipers there are no “cheap” parts, even used.

        the internet is full of horror stories about certain ford diesel engines, too. and the 3 valve gas engines with self welding spark plugs. hopefully theyve stepped thier game up

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Screw CVTs.
      Screw DI.
      Screw FI (especially).
      Screw 9, 10, 11, 12 and 98 speed transmissions.
      Screw stop/start.

      These technologies all add needless and tremendous complexity to the powertrain of vehicles in order to game you realistic EPA fuel economy loop tests.

      The same fuel economy (or very close to it) can be achieved with normally aspirated, larger displacement, 4, 6 and 8 cylinder vehicles with bulletproof manual and automatic transmissions in REAL WORLD DRIVING CONDITIONS.

      You can’t add complexity of these types, especially with the relentless cost cutting in other components (e.g. cooling system ; e.g. oil cooling; e.g. valve carbon fouling), without suffering decreased longevity and reliability.

      To add insult to injury, the increasingly smaller motors with GDI, and with FI, sound like absolute $hit and have poor NVH characteristics.

      I’m very close to grabbing a current gen Honda Accord V6 with a manual transmission before the uglier 2016 version rolls out.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Actually, DW, carmakers get zero credit for start/stop systems in the EPA cycle. Get your facts right – fuel efficiency is a consumer requirement, not a government mandate.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        “The same fuel economy (or very close to it) can be achieved with normally aspirated, larger displacement, 4, 6 and 8 cylinder vehicles with bulletproof manual and automatic transmissions in REAL WORLD DRIVING CONDITIONS.”

        DW I usually agree with most of your opinions, but today….well what have you been smoking? That statement is something I would expect from BTR but not from the infamous DW!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Didn’t Ford do a round the world test with their F150 and a t-charged V6? From what I remember it help up very well and even the turbo was in good shape after the test. It was mentioned here on ttac a few years back. Still, turbo replacement is not cheap and that will keep me from buying a car with a turbo.. I’ll stick with NA for now.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The earth is only 25k miles around at the equator so it is not really an incredible feat to traverse this distance one time. Lets fact it, even those vehicles scoring at the bottom of reliability lists on say something like consumer reports, are incredibly reliable vehicles as any new car today can probably do 100k miles with nothing more than oil changes. That’s 4 times around the world maintenance free. That is pretty remarkable. So with some perspective, replacing a turbo at some point in a car’s life cycle, probably post 100k miles, is not a reason to avoid buying turbos in my opinion.

      My personal experience was a 1983 Volvo 240 turbo wagon which I bought as my first car. The odometer stopped working at 150k miles. Drove for a few years with not turbo issues. A 2006 Mazdaspeed6 on the otherhand, had carbon buildup issues at 90k miles requiring some moderately priced repairs. But for all the smiles that car me, I wont complain one bit.

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        I think the “all cars can go 100,000 miles on nothing but oil changes” line is a fallacy. My car, which has a supposedly bulletproof 2.0T, has extended warranties for the turbocharger and for oil consumption related repairs. I won’t keep it that long, but it would definitely need a carbon cleaning on the intake valves prior to reach 100,00 miles. Frankly, I doubt that any Audi in history has made it 100,000 miles on nothing but oil changes.

        • 0 avatar
          dantes_inferno

          @JD23 > My car, which has a supposedly bulletproof 2.0T, has extended warranties for the turbocharger and for oil consumption related repairs.

          You can thank VW/Audi’s decision to switch from the reliable Borg Warner turbos in favor of the Japanese IHI turbos which are the source of the turbo-related failures.

          • 0 avatar
            vtecJustKickedInYo

            I performed an Engineering Exercise while in school where I modeled the IHI K03 and simulated the wastegate failure that is common on these engines. I designed a fix that eliminated the wastegate failure and it was very cost effective; however, IHI would never perform such a fix because still a large number of turbos fail outside of the warranty range. At the Audi/Porsche shop I worked at we have a pile of these turbos where the only issue is the failed wastegate.

    • 0 avatar
      majo8

      The test Ford did was for 150,000 miles, or around the earth six times.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      i bet those tests didnt involve putting off oil changes for a couple thousand miles over, not always changing the oil filter, and using random grades of oil that happened to be on hand at the time thats how the real world works for most vehicle drivers.

      and if its a lease? hahahaha

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Forced to put money on it, I would say turbo engines will not last in the general population as long as their non-turbo counterparts. Deferred maintenance and turbos do not go well together and the general public LOVES their deferred maintenance.

    The first owners will, for the most part, never see problems with their tiny turbos. It’ll be the used car buyers that start to see the faults. And as I said in a previous post, I think turbos will have a significant impact on the low cost used car market. My prediction is that in 10-12 years you won’t be able to find a high-mile trouble free used economy car if it came with a turbo.

    Perhaps turbos will become periodic wear items. But unless it winds up in service schedules, for this generation of engines, they will be driven to catastrophe by people using the cheapest oil change coupon they can find.

    I own a turbo Subaru (wagon, if you didn’t know) and as much as I love the power it still terrifies me that at any time it could grenade and require a new everything. I just don’t trust that GM or Ford is doing that much of a better job with modern turbos.

    My sister is looking for a replacement for her perfectly fine working Pilot. My mother is also going to need a car next year. So knowing them, I am steering them away from anything with a turbo, CVT (or DSG), and direct injection. I know how they feel about cars and I know what their maintenance routines are like and I would rather they stick with what has worked and wait another generation to see how all this stuff fares.

    Also, I’ll never buy another turbo car without it stated clearly and repeatedly on the seatbelts.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      How will this be more of an issue than the rumored DI problems sneaking around the internet?

      I suppose replacing a turbo is less an issue than an entire battery pack on a Prius.

      What about the stupid complex electronics on the modern car?

      What will the navigation units cost if they fail?

      The integrated Radar/crash prevention systems?

      Will the future owners be required by law to maintain their airbag systems…all around the interior?

      I am betting every one of these equal or surpass the turbo replacement cost and perhaps the turbo is the least worry.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        I did mention direct injection as one of my concerns. Couple that with a turbo and my knees start to shake.

        You make plenty of valid points about the electronics. A few years ago I would have said that if the stereo broke you could still drive the car. It seems we’re getting to the point where that won’t be the case in the future. Cars are quickly becoming like all-in-one printers, where if you run out of yellow ink, or if the scanner stops working, you can’t print anything.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          The electronics!
          Talk about insanity. I remember when they were customizing the roof of my ’10 MKS. I had its roof painted a beautiful piano black. But they were having trouble trying to find out why the car would not run afterwards.
          The tech contacted Ford tech and it turns out much of the electronic is under the headliner and any disruption and error in reconnecting prevents the car from running.

          Plus my navigation unit often, usually every time I use it, runs nutty. I can be in the middle of a trip and suddenly the car is nowhere near the road…and stopped altogether.
          Sometimes the sound just stops…and I do not know what to do while driving around and punching buttons trying to get it revived!!!

          I can just imaging auto piloted cars! Jeeezus!

        • 0 avatar
          Jason.MZW20

          Seems only Toyota has direct injection sorted via dual injection (their D-4S system only though). That way you don’t get intake valve carbon coking since there are still port injectors.

          Ford has it pretty bad, unfortunately. There’s no Ford approved way to fix intake carbon coking on turbo engines, so they just replace the entire cylinder head if under warranty. The reason being is that the chemicals burn up the tiny turbos, plus send bits of carbon through them too. I suppose Ford should send out turbo block off plates and just remove the turbos, then clean the valves because those cylinder head replacements can’t be cheap.

          I think they tried to filter contaminants out of the intake during internal EGR with some sort of carbon trap, but I don’t think it’s working out that great.

          But, I generally agree with most of what you said. Turbo engines generally aren’t good for the masses UNLESS the manufacturer includes normal maintenance for the length of the powertrain warranty or 50-60k miles.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            GM yanks out FI systems on its Chevy, Cadillac & Buick vehicles and replaces them, like plug & play components (many made in China or Mexico), while under warranty. They barely do any troubleshooting or rebuilds.

            Ford does the same thing with DSG “PowerShift” transmissions, and their FI components.

            VW & Nissan? Same thing.

            God help those out of warranty.

            Needless complexity in motors, cooling systems, transmissions, and idiotic components such as stop/start idle, to gain very small to no improvements in real world fuel economy, is already driving costs up and reliability/durability down, while also diminishing the characteristics (NVH and others) of the driving aspects of vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            VW has engines with dual injectors and the next-gen ecoboost engines will have them as well. Coking isn’t a huge problem with the 3.5EB, and replacing cylinder heads is super rare. There are so many other ways to deal with that issue.

        • 0 avatar
          schmitt trigger

          Tell me about it! My HP all-in-one stopped recognizing the black cartridge.
          Time for a new printer.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            thats why ive stuck with laser printers the past 10+ years. about $4 to fill up the dry toner cartridge for another 5000 pages. eventually the print roller wears out but its under $20 for a compatible unit. when it started giving me constant “toner low” warnings, i found out putting a 1″ piece of magnetic tape ended that.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            As a long time Army officer, I’ve managed to secure a very productive HP 4000-N laser printer from 1995 that follows me from job to job. It’s heavy, used to be white, now the color of a nicotine stained tooth, yet it just cranks out copy relentlessly regardless of heat or dust. It eats whatever toner I can refill it with, it’s dual-voltage and it’s so old that every computer has a driver that instantly recognizes it.

            “If it weren’t such a waste! Of Enlisted meat! I send it to goddammed Officer Candidate School!”

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      I share your skepticism of turbos for non-enthusiast owner/drivers; however, I’m surprised you’d steer your mother or sister away from a CVT.

      Enthusiasts like to carp about how CVTs feel – and how engine RPMs differ from vehicles with geared transmissions – but for non-enthusiasts, I tend to believe that most wouldn’t notice much of a difference, if any. When they see the fuel economy, they quickly get used to any perceived difference in driving feel.

      I’ve also yet to see long-term data that supports across-the-board reliability concerns among CVTs; maybe some when they were first widely used over 10 years ago, but not recently. On the other hand, there have been some well publicized reports (but to be fair, these reports are anecdotal) of premature failures of modern automatics with a proliferation of gears. Does anyone know if CVTs have fewer moving parts?

      Personally, I’d own another CVT for my commuter vehicle, but for my truck and sports car, I prefer gears. To me, it’s a matter of using the right tool for the job.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        The CVT thing is probably the least of my concerns, however I just don’t trust that all companies will go with the best quality bands for them. Granted they have been out long enough to show that a short term owner shouldn’t have problems, but with their proliferation into all the brands I’d like to wait this generation out to see how they hold up.

        Personally I don’t have a problem with how they drive, it’s just a concern about their long term reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalMikester

          OEM is hopefully using the best stuff they can find. its aftermarket rebuilds id worry about.

          ive owned about a dozen CVT shifted 2-wheelers over the past 30 years and have had no issues working on them all myself, including cracking the final drives open.

          obviously the car trannys are more complicated, but i cant see them being any worse than current non CVTs to fix.

          that said, i should check out youtube and watch a few teardown/rebuild videos.

        • 0 avatar
          wstarvingteacher

          I have a 2013 Nissan cube with a cvt. It’s approaching 70k miles without a single problem and we will continue to drive it as long as it allows. My problem with the CVT has nothing to do with it’s performance. It has to do with Nissan.

          We like to go out with our canoe. According to Nissan there is no way we can carry it without voiding our warranty. No roof rack, no trailer hitch, and a maximum weight of 800 lbs cargo. Put four wide bodies inside and you cannot carry a box of tissues. I have a 4Runner that is capable of doing that but it has a greater thirst.

          I doubt the long term reliability of the turbos even though as a diesel submariner I have seen superchargers run countless hours on very large diesel engines. The same engines push locomotives all over the country. I would have to say that the electronics and CVT bother me much worse. That and the thought that there is little that I can fix in my back yard. It is getting to the point that many independent mechanics don’t want the work. After putting four computers in a 2002 Saturn Vue I know how expensive that can be and I don’t really want to play any more.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Enthusiasts like to carp about how CVTs feel – and how engine RPMs differ from vehicles with geared transmissions – but for non-enthusiasts, I tend to believe that most wouldn’t notice much of a difference, if any. When they see the fuel economy, they quickly get used to any perceived difference in driving feel.”

        Amen.

        My parents have two CVTs – a Camry Hybrid from a year or two ago, and a new-this-year Outback 3.6R.

        They were *sure* the Outback had a 6 speed, though, because it fakes shifting, until I looked in the manual and confirmed my memory was correct and it was a CVT.

        Joe Average *does not care at all*.

        (I’ve driven their Camry, and frankly I don’t care either in it.)

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The Camry Hybrid’s “CVT” is not really a CVT. It’s a planetary gearset with one of the rings connected to a secondary electric motor that changes speeds arbitrarily to keep the primary electric motor and the engine running at the speed the computer thinks is ideal. It’s a much simpler system that should last basically forever. The big replacement item in those cars isn’t the transmission but the battery.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            This. It’s a power split device that will last forever.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            and theyve been making battery packs forever. i still see 1st gen prii on the road.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            I really wish people would stop perpetuating the myth that hybrids typically need the traction battery replaced. The rate of replacement on Prius and Escape Hybrids, even ones that are 10 years old or have been driven a zillion miles as taxis etc, is close to zero. And with wrecks outpacing demand and the option of replacing the bad cells, replacement batteries are cheap.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “I really wish people would stop perpetuating the myth that hybrids typically need the traction battery replaced.”

            Blame Honda for that- it’s not a myth for them.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Why did you buy a turbo car if the (remote) possibility of it grenading terrified you so much? There are a lot of “interesting” complexities introduced with turbochargers (namely a whole rat’s nest of vac lines) that make diagnosis of running problems more difficult, and they are hard on oil, but modern turbochargers don’t explode when they die.

      The most failure-prone major part on the turbo itself is the shaft bearing, which will just seize (or slow to unacceptable levels) when it dies. The turbine blades themselves are a solved problem and that failure mode is nearly unheard of.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        It’s not that remote in the 2005+ 2.5 turbo Subaru engines in Legacies. They suffer from starvation issues, even after they rerouted the lines for the 2007 (mine) model year. Subaru revised the engine oil replacement schedule from 5,000 miles to 3,500 miles due to clogging filters in the banjo bolts for the oil feed lines to the turbo.

        The result of an oil starved turbo results in catastrophic failure that sends particulates into the oil pan and thus throughout the rest of the engine.

        You see a new post about a blown motor as a result of the turbo failing about every week on the Legacy forum (which is anecdotal, sure, but you don’t see the failure rates on any of the other forums I’ve been on).

        I bought it because I was confident that I would be able to maintain the car to avoid the pitfalls some other folks fell into. however as time passes it seems even people with meticulous maintenance routines can fall victim to it. Granted my car has about half the miles most people see failure, there have been cases of cars in the 80k mile range failing.

        So maybe I’m gun-shy, and maybe these turbos will be better. I just don’t know that I’m willing to jump in with a non-performance turbo car just yet.

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          Ouch, I didn’t realize that Subarus in particular had a problem with Turbo explosion.

          The fundamental of attaching a long-lasting turbo to a production car are not difficult: Keep the oil fast-flowing and cool(-ish) at all times. It boggles the mind they screwed up this simple task.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Like Audi with the 2.7TT?

            You’d think it wouldn’t be hard, but experience shows that failures happen all over…

        • 0 avatar
          smallblock

          Yup. Happened to my wife’s Legacy GT at 61,000 miles (just out of warranty). The “witch hat” filter in the banjo bolt was sludged, starved the VF40 turbo, and seized the shaft so quickly and violently the turbine wheel broke off. New shortblock, turbos, and disassembled/inspected heads to the tune of ~7 grand. Subaru eventually did cover the cost of parts, so I was only out 5, plus I kept the old shortblock.
          I later inspected the shortblock, I probably could have gotten by with a new turbo, but I wanted to be safe with the wife’s DD.
          Still loved that car though, and my ’04 FXT went to 181,000 with VF39 and supporting mods before it lost compression in #4.
          The Touareg that replaced the LGT made it look like a base model camry in simplicity and reliability…

          • 0 avatar
            Mr. K

            “The “witch hat” filter in the banjo bolt was sludged, starved the VF40 turbo, and seized the shaft so quickly and violently the turbine wheel broke off. New shortblock, turbos, and disassembled/inspected heads to the tune of ~7 grand. Subaru eventually did cover the cost of parts, so I was only out 5, plus I kept the old shortblock.”

            I would hire a lemon law lawyer. Clearly the 8/80 emissions warranty applies here :).

            BTW, 5000 labor, 50 hours??!! Seems a little extreme I would ask to see the warranty operations book and demand to be charged warranty book time.

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          >You see a new post about a blown motor as a
          >result of the turbo failing about every week
          >on the Legacy forum (which is anecdotal,
          >sure, but you don’t see the failure rates on
          >any of the other forums I’ve been on).

          Except on the RX-8 forums and the VAG forums (1.8T from ’98-’05).

  • avatar
    Ion

    The naysayer’s like to have selective memories when it comes to turbos. They forget the regals,supras,datsuns, thunderbirds,etc. they forget the supercharging of the 90’s which actually put more stress on the engine than a turbo does with similar psi.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      The naysayer’s insist on a minimum of a twenty year track record when the question of reliability of a part or a subunit comes up. Anything under that limit, said part (subunit, engine, etc.) is automatically unreliable.

      Bottom line, there a large group of internet posters who insist on 200k with nothing more than oil changes, and if something does break, it should be fixable under an oak tree using a rock, and never have to pay anyone for anything but (cheap) parts. Anything more complex than throttle body fuel injection with a three-on-the-three is suspect as being unreliable.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Well summarized, Syke!

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        Thats why ill stick with my 1NZ-FE. timing chain, no turbo, no drive by wire, no electric power steering… built forever with no known issues.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Of all the people to reflexively and constantly claim that people concerned about and/or experiencing problems with turbochargers on smaller displacement motors, DI, CVTs, DSGs, etc., you’re the guy who drives a bike, and some older vehicles, maybe 7,000 miles a year, correct?

        You’re about the least qualified person to give the “all clear” blanket endorsement of such nee complexities, vouching for their long term reliability and durability relative to past generation components.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    You have your anecdotes, and I have mine.
    Mine is taking the 140k mile OE unit off my 1985 300zx, and selling it to a 240sx kid so he can boost his car to the moon. Last time I checked, it outlasted two engines.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the bill to rebuild these 12 speed transmissions made by Mattel will put everything in perspective. “Oh, it’s just the turbo. Whew.”

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      I had the ’86 300ZX 2×2 non-turbo in Champagne Gold. Absolutely loved that car. I couldn’t find anything remotely close in feel until buying a 2000 BMW 323 Ci.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I had a Dodge Lancer with the 2.2 turbo throughout the late 80’s and well into the mid 90’s. The car had several problems, but zero with the turbo. In fact, I got to 160,000 miles with no problems on the turbo portions of the car. The head gasket? Not so much. Other folks I knew who had turbo motors didn’t seem to have too many issues with them, though.

    I’m more worried about the longevity of the 19 speed transmissions, the iPod in the dash as opposed to the turbo engines. Granted, some will treat these cars like a refrigerator, meaning at the end of the lease it will finally get it’s first oil change (and car wash)! But I think the technology has been around long enough that regular maintenance should keep them in operating order.

    I would have no issues buying a turbo equipped car new, because I can control the maintenance. I’d be a lot more skeptical buying one used, however. Again, if you figure the average non-car guy has one and only changes the oil when they remember (at the end of the lease), then… yeah.

    It seems to me that the upcoming cars are going to be more technologically fragile than the previous ones. Having observed the car industry for 40 years now, except for a big part of the 70’s, they really did get better every year (as a whole). Now, I’m starting to have my doubts.

    • 0 avatar
      ant

      The turbo on my dads New Yorker from the 80’s failed around 80k miles, along with a bunch of other things.

      He got rid of it, and switched to GM after that.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        My mother’s ’87 Dodge Shadow SE turbo blew up like clockwork every 50k miles. It was a good unit, but the major issue was the lack of cool down that no one in America was willing to do (or most likely, remembered to do). The manual states very specifically that at the end of a drive of more than five minutes, a thirty second cool-down period must be done while parked before removing the key. It was far too easy to forget to do and it must’ve been some bean-counting that kept the engineers from adding a cooling unit or maybe one was considered unfeasible. I believe this was the same issue with the early Ford turbos as well.

  • avatar

    If they’d simply use APPROPRIATE ENGINES there’d be no problem.

    I just drove the Hyundai Tucson AWD with the 1.6-Liter turbo and I was disappointed by the low-end torque. I’m thinking to myself, why didn’t they just use the 2.0-L turbo from the Sonata or go with the V6 from my Azera???

    The 3.8-L from the Genesis AWD would be perfect for the Tucson as an option – or standard on the Santa Fe.

    In the Sonata, the 2.0t works PERFECTLY and feels like a V6.
    In the Azera the V6 works PERFECTLY.

    Crossovers that weigh around 4500 pounds with passenger and cargo need a V6 or twin turbo V6. When you go beyond 4500 pounds with passenger and cargo, you’re better off with a twin turbo V6 but a V8 option would make most people happy.

    A v6 with 8-speed works fairly well on a big car like the Charger/300 with the 8-speed even if you have AWD.

    Seems to me that the forced induction 4-cylinders and v6’s only force the engine to work harder when the vehicle is “loaded up” and decreases engine/ component life.

    A simple 4 cylinder, simple v6 or simple v8 is easy to maintain and when it’s tasked appropriately it doesn’t need to do as much work and therefore will last longer. When maintenance/repairs are required, it’s EASY to fix them.

    Say what you want about my 6.4-L, but all I need to fix them is a wrench, some spark plugs and possibly coil packs. I can get those parts CHEAP.

    But what happens when those turbos go?

    What happens when all those sensors and direct injectors and stuff go?

    What happens when these sophisticated CVT’s go? CVT’s with a billion gear ratios designed to take advantage of your SILLY 1.0-L engine in a 3500 pound car lol.

    I’ve read scientific tests that show that turbocharged engines use “more” fuel because “boost” causes them to increase the air/fuel ratio. This isn’t a problem in small, light cars, but it is in heavier cars with lower displacement engines that try to use boost to make up for the lack of fuel.

    THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR DISPLACEMENT.

    I’ve noticed that 4-cylinders in older cars used to be larger with larger turbo chargers. My uncle hand-rebuilds Ford Capris, Mustangs and other cars of the era like Thunderbirds, cougars, etc and those engines were BIGGER tha, or as big as my HEMI.

    He rebuilt two Merkur Xr4ti and it’s shocking how big their engine displacements were. They were getting big HP back then. Those cars never felt slow even on a 5-speed.

    • 0 avatar
      CB1000R

      Azera. Cool, man.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I really like the original Azera. As long as you don’t try to change direction in a tight radius, it’s an astonishingly pleasant drive. AND the interior is sized like a gymnasium.

    • 0 avatar
      suspekt

      I think Honda just doesnt get enough credit for the absolute workhorse their J series V6’s have been.

      The current, non-direct injected SINGLE-OVERHEAD CAM earth dreams V6 in the Accord is an absolute monster that is giving 35mpg real world highway MPG

      – 100mph trap speeds in the 1/4
      – 35mpg on the highway
      – SOHC design
      – No direct injection
      – No turbo

      Why would any automaker not want to do this unless taxes are based on displacement versus emissions.

      Here’s the craziest thing:
      Honda has at its disposal right now, a 9 speed transmission and a DI version of the V6. Couple that with the weight of the Accord and we are looking at a bruiser that might yield 35mpg (officially) and crack the 1/4 mile at 105mph….

      f&ck turbos

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, but Honda doesn’t give the US market anything but mommy mobiles, really, the odd v6 accord notwithstanding.

        Now go read the euro honda catalog and cry.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Couldn’t-a said it better!!!

        I hit 40mpgs last year on a cloudy summer day with 2 pax, “ECO”-mode (adjusts the throttle response and A/C) on, partial A/C. Had ACC set to my usual 80, but was waiting for someone to catch up to me (and never did) by following the traffic doing 70mph and letting the car do the pacing. After about 80 miles of this, 42.5mpg on the trip computer, which is usually one to two mpgs optimistic.

        And yes, same car at Vmax with only myself on board and A/C blasting? Observed 36mpg!

        And as stated, this is without DI or a 9-speeder, start-stop, etc.!

        I echo BTSR: NRFD!!!

        If Honda decides to drop the N/A V6 option for the 10th-Gen Accord, I pray I can find that out early enough to grab one of the last of the over-tired, ugly-stick Accord Touring Sedans while I still have a choice of color, or can factory-order one to get REAL Michelin tires on it, or I will drive my 2013 Accord into the ground, and will have to find another automaker after 20+ years of Hondas, and three Accords, all V6s. Even with Honda’s engineering finesse, the negatives of the turdo outweigh the positives!

      • 0 avatar
        tubacity

        Good engine until Honda VCM variable cylinder management came along and caused excessive oil burning, cylinder wall scoring, piston and engine damage, spark plug fouling, engine failure in a few V6 engines. Not very common but hard to say who will get the failures. Too easy to blame the owner for everything.

        That 9 speed ZF derived or designed transmission is similar to Jeep Cherokee and shifts funky. Too soon to tell if there is a breakdown issue or just that shifting dog clutches is clunky and slow. Not buying another Honda anytime soon. Too many big and small problems including the transmission. Some annoying issues from day one.

        • 0 avatar
          EAF

          Look up “VCMuzzler.” It is a 1 minute install and costs $40 bucks. It will deactivate VCM and eliminate all of the issues you mentioned plus others like expensive engine mount replacements and oil sludge from hot running forward valvetrain.

          I realize it may seem like a “hack” job but really without VCM the J-Series, IMHO, is a “workhorse” (as we’ve heard) and can compete performance-wise as well.

          16+ years with turbos and the only failures I’ve seen, outside of rubber couplers and loose pipe clamps, belong to VW, Audi and BMW. The Bimmers were running increased boost pressures.

          Like others have stated… I’m more concerned with trends such as: direct injection, variable cam phasing, OHC chains & components, CVT, DCT, LSPI!

          • 0 avatar
            tubacity

            Notes about VC Muzzler and Variable Cylinder Management in Q and A form.

            VC Muzzler Honda V6 owner:
            VC Muzzler will prevent Honda VCM from deactivating cylinders.

            Another Owner:
            I don’t know. VC Muzzler has only been out since Feb-Mar 2015 and I don’t know if some problems will occur.
            It works by making the PCM think the engine has not reached operating temperature yet, so it doesn’t activate VCM. But does this make the engine or transmission including lock up torque converter misbehave? Does the engine run rich as if it is cold? Will too rich cause gas in the cylinders to wear the cylinders?
            Does gas mileage worsen?

            Current Honda VCM V6 owner:
            I will install one. I don’t want my engine to break because of VCM.
            Why did Honda use VCM at all? Better EPA gas mileage but worse durability for the owner and not much change of real gas mileage.

            Prospective Honda V6 owner:
            Why should I buy a Honda and then install something to defeat Variable Cylinder Management? Why not just buy something without VCM?

            EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency:
            Defeat devices.
            It is a violation of the Clean Air Act to manufacture, sell, or install a part for a motor vehicle that bypasses, defeats, or renders inoperative any emission control device.

            EPA:
            Tampering.
            The Clean Air Act prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer. A vehicle’s emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines. EPA works with manufacturers to ensure that they design their components with tamper-proofing, addresses trade groups to educate mechanics about the importance of maintaining the emission control systems, and prosecutes cases where significant or imminent harm is occurring.

            Honda dealer stealer: Warranty void!

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoom91

        I agree. Say what you want about Honda’s shortcomings (there aren’t many, but they are sometimes off-putting to me), their engines are top notch, and so is build quality typically. The J-series is so good despite the lack of “modern advancements.” It beats the newer stuff in the real world. I can back up the 35mpg highway–uncle’s Accord does 35-36+. I haven’t heard of any other V6s putting down numbers like that.

    • 0 avatar
      Jason.MZW20

      I’d rather it be a medium sized single turbo V6, but with variable vanes and intelligent pressure control rather than two smaller turbos that spin faster, wear faster, and generally, break down/shear/heat up oil faster. Most of these engines are directly injected, so they retain high compression. Technically, off-boost, they should still have the power of a regular normally aspirated engine, but I guess the cam profiles would be a little different for turbo use.

      It’d also be cheaper to only have to replace one turbo, rather than two … eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Crossovers that weigh around 4500 pounds with passenger and cargo need a V6 or twin turbo V6. When you go beyond 4500 pounds with passenger and cargo, you’re better off with a twin turbo V6 but a V8 option would make most people happy.”

      Well, depends.

      I mean, my Volvo’s 4400 empty, and even loaded with two people and enough camping gear to fill the back and tentpoles on the roof rack it is by no means sluggish, with a mere straight 6 and one turbo.

      Unloaded it’s a rocketship.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Bigtrucksreview,
      If you want the bottom end torque, why not just have a small turbo diesel? But, I have driven some turbo diesel cars with pi$$ poor bottom end torque. The worse was a diesel Corsa I just had in France, what a piece of $hit car, like driving a retro 80s vehicle in vehicle performance and dynamics.

      A well engineered diesel will offer better FE and fantastic highway cruising as well.

      Turbo gasoline engines will always have a bottom end torque issue with a turbo. Volvo has an electric supercharging system it is developing to remove this problem.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        “Turbo gasoline engines will always have a bottom end torque issue with a turbo.”

        Wait…what? Lots of today’s turbo engines make tons of toque at low rpm. Makes them feel like a much bigger engine. Hell, Audi’s 2.0T has been making 258 lb.ft. at something like 1500 RPM all the way through 4500 rpm for many years now. That’s a good amount of twist at such low rpm in a 2.0L engine.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Yeah, the Ford 3.5TT has 90% of peak torque at 1700 RPM and holds it all the way to 5000 RPM. I wouldn’t call that a bottom end torque issue.

          Since Al thinks I’m a Ford slappy, I’ll point to the 2.0T GM LTG engine. In the ATS, you get 90% of peak torque in about the same range. There is no bottom end torque issue.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            But how much torque do you have at 1000rpm?

            My diesel as 90% of it’s torque at 1500rpm.

            But it’s torque is higher at 1000rpm than any gas turbo engine, unless the engine is running multiple turbos.

            Then again the diesel will have more torque down low with multiple turbos.

            Just look at BMWs inline 6 3 litre turbo diesel and tell me how many turbo gas engine can perform as well.

            Then you have the amount of fuel used to produce equivalent levels of torque at 1500rpms in a gas engine as compared to a diesel.

            Gas will never outperform a compression ignition engine for torque at the low and bottom ends of the rpm band.

            Impossible.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The 3.5EB has (marginally) less torque at 1000 RPM than the 3.2L diesel. By 1500 RPM, it has the same. By 2000 RPM, it has more. And then it holds it for an extra 2000 RPM longer.

            The outcome would basically be the same with the 3.5EB vs the Lion diesel. Once the next gen 3.5EB comes out, it won’t even be close.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “bball,
            But how much torque do you have at 1000rpm?”

            Seriously? Accelerate from 1000 rpm much?

            With the typical 12-15:1 overall gearing in 1st, which the unlocked torque converter turns into upwards of 20:1, you’re A) completely traction limited and B) at 1500 rpm before you can blink.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            I just thought………

            I do hope you have a reasonable amount of torque from your 3.5 EB.

            You have a turbo per 1750cc. I have one for 3.2 litres.

            If I had a twin turbo setup I would pull your F-150 in half with the torque I could develop at low rpms.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Probably not. You could find a scorpion diesel and not rip apart an F150 frame. Like I said, my comparison extends to similar V6 diesels as well. The Economist V6 has similar power numbers as the Lion diesel, but stays in the torque range longer.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “The Economist V6 has similar power numbers as the Lion diesel”

            Wait there is a motor called the Economist or are you just a fan of financial literature?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Haha. No. I do read the Economist, but I blame autocorrect.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          White Shadow,
          1500rpm isn’t bottom end torque, off idle is.

          Nowadays 1500rpm is where we are heading to run an engine at highway speeds to improve FE.

          So, you will want plenty of torque down much lower.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Ford 3.2L diesel holds 90% of torque from 1750 RPM to 3500 RPM.

            The VW 2.0 TDI is about the same. They don’t have any more low end torque than GTDI engines.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            You must ensure your comments are accurate with me. As you are incorrect. Don’t become another Pch101/DenverMike as I do respect your input, this is irrespective of your fanaticism toward FoMoCo products.

            Believe it or not the 3.2 fitted to the BT50 has a slightly different tune to the Ranger’s 3.2.

            The BT50 reaches peak torque at 1750, not the Ranger. The BT50 also has 90% of it’s torque available at 1500rpm.

            Check out this graph from Ford (in the link).

            http://fordpng.com/power_economy.html

            The BT50 also has a quicker steering ratio.

            http://fordpng.com/power_economy.html

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Keep in mind that pretty much every truck sold in the US has an automatic transmission. With an automatic, the engine will never be under about 2000 rpm when asked to produce significant power.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Fair. Different applications have different tuning, but I am not completely incorrect. 1500 vs 1750 doesn’t make much of a difference though. The 3.2L is a hell of an engine, but so is the 3.5EB.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            The big difference is how much fuel does the EB use to generate that torque in comparison to the Duratorque?

            This is the guts of this article…..FE and how best to maintain and meet more stringent FE targets.

            The 3.2 is superior down low to the EB.

            Even at highway speeds the 3.2 uses far less fuel to do the same work and produce a significant amount of hp up to 2500rpm.

            The 3.2 performs like a V8 up to 2800/3000rpm.

            I love the lazy torque and power and it’s great for overtaking, leave it in 6th, whilst all the gas engines go down a couple of gears and you don’t.

            The EB in this situation will consume lots more fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Have to disagree….an engine that idles at 800 rpm and hits maximum torque at just 1500 rpm indeed has lots of low end torque. Besides, diesels are dogs even if they do tend to make good low end torque. No HP is always a problem with diesels for me. I want good grunt down low and lots of top end power as well. A diesel simply doesn’t do that, but a small turbo gas engine does.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            White Shadow,
            The characteristics of a turbo engine in not similar to a NA engine. Once you are off boost you have very little in the form of torque.

            Off boost in many instances is from 1500rpm down to 1200rpm in many instances.

            My diesel enables me to run down to 1250rpm in 6th, right down to 1000rpm in 4th.

            Believe it or not in heavy to heavyish traffic my engine is running at a lower rpm, thus using less fuel.

            I can drive around in top at 30mph with little or no struggle and enough torque to satisfactorily accelerate when the traffic increases speed.

            How many gas turbo vehicles will drive in top at those speeds in an urban environment?

            Very few.

            Also, off road torque off of idle is crucial.

            The same when loaded and/or towing.

            As I also stated even highway driving the difference of torque to the wheels is significant.

            In the future you will see engines producing more torque at lower rpms to improve FE.

            This is a given. This is where diesel out performs gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      The replacement for displacement is an electric motor. Last year I test drove a 2014 Chevy Spark EV, which has a one-speed transmission…top gear only…because 400 lb ft of torque. Imagine you went deaf, then installed your Chrysler V8 in a golf cart and took it for a drive: that’s pretty much the experience. Pretty amusing.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        HotPotato,
        I agree.

        Volvo is using an electric supercharger to produce very usable torque form idle on their gas engines.

        Electric motors are great if no batteries are required.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          I shall turn your words on you:

          “You must ensure your comments are accurate with me. As you are incorrect.”

          The Volvo engine does not use an electric supercharger – it has an engine driven one. Eaton supplies it and the clutch that disengages it when the turbo takes over.

          http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150512006142/en/Eaton-Supplies-Supercharger-Award-Winning-Volvo-T6-Drive-E

          Why you feel free to leap about all over the place dispensing silliness is beyond me. Comments on every little point showing just how jumbled your thought processes are, and the driving need to issue bombastic odes to nothingness to feed an insatiable ego are too much for me.

          Hasn’t changed in years, hasn’t gotten any better in years, has shown no real understanding, no doubt for decades. There is no man on this planet who is as smart as he thinks he is, but some feel the need to repeatedly show others how far the reality is from the self-perception, which extends to never being able to admit the disease itself. Your lecturing to the masses continues apace. Thank you so very much.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            wmba,
            Start at the top of this thread I’m involved in, check the time of the comment and your comment, it doesn’t meld, now does it?

            Big Al from OzAugust 7th, 2015 at 3:27 pm

            Volvo has an electric supercharging system it is developing to remove this problem.

            As is evident, I did address what you stated further up.

            Start at the top, sort of like interrupting a conversation halfway through with little idea on what was discussed previously.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      “Say what you want about my 6.4-L, but all I need to fix them is a wrench, some spark plugs and possibly coil packs. I can get those parts CHEAP”

      Perhaps you haven’t looked under the hood yet, or checked out the extensive electronics on your car. These days there is no such thing as a simple, cheap to fix vehicle. Check out the replacement cost of your 8 speed ZF transmission sometime. Its sure to get your attention.

  • avatar
    ant

    I’m not convinced that they save fuel in the real world.

    I’m also leery of direct injection (although I’d be comfortable with how Toyota does it), and CVT transmissions.

    Better fuel economy is achieved through drive-trains found in hybrids. Further economy can be found by making them all plug-in, and warming them up with the electric grid before we leave the house.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Turbos can def generate fuel economy savings, but everything has to be sized appropriately. Basically, an engine with turbocharging will either make the same power with less fuel, or make more power with the same gas mileage, as the same engine without it. This is the case with the E90 3 series… the NA and turbo engines get the same gas mileage despite a legitimate 70-80 wheel horsepower difference. The N54/N55 engines make the same power as the old 4.4L V8 but use like half the gas. Etc.

      Problem comes when they try and downsize the engine too much for a car. A Ford Fusion is like 3600lbs…. saddling a little 1.6T with all that weight is ridiculous. It’s no wonder Ford has FE issues.

      • 0 avatar

        “but everything has to be sized appropriately”

        SIZE is EVERYTHING

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Turbos hardly “generate” fuel economy savings. They can just operate in a more scitzo fashion than a non blown engine. A 2.0 turbo out of boost, will be less efficient than a similar engine sans turbo. While the same 2.0 at 2 atmospheres or thereabouts, will generate less efficiency than a 4l NA engine. The main “efficiency” benefit of turbos, is that they can operate in snail slow “small” mode on EPA tests, and in more powerful versions, when driven normally. Yet still have plenty of power when driven by someone not from the EPA.

        Cylinder deactivation is another means of attempting to make an engine similarly scitzo. And yet another is the traditional Honda way; a small engine that is efficient below Vtech, and fast above. In my humble opinion, the Honda way is by far the most rewarding, but it seems most people prefer to put up with a second of turbo lag, rather than having to take a second to shift gears.

      • 0 avatar
        Jason.MZW20

        Turbo engines, on the whole, are tuned to run much richer than N/A engines under heavy loads. Direct injection hasn’t changed this too much. Since they generate so much heat and pressure in the combustion chambers, the only economical way to cool the chambers is to inject more fuel to avoid detonation.

        So, in reality, it’s marginally in favor of turbo engines under normal driving circumstances. If you have a lead foot, expect WORSE MPG with a turbo engine. Manufacturers will never consciously run a turbo engine lean under full boost, so it’s 11-12:1 AFRs (even 10:1 in some cases compared to about 12.5-13.5:1 in N/A engines) regardless of fuel injection technology. They’re making up the efficiency in cruising and light acceleration, or basically anything under 4000rpm and 50% throttle angle. Take the N54/N55 to a track day, and you’ll probably see 7-10 mpg. Not sure how the older V8 would fare, but I’m sure you could eek out 12mpg at least.

        I do agree with sizing, and in addition, torque output under the curves needs consideration with ballooning vehicle weights.

        tl;dr:
        How you drive is still more important than any engine/fuel injection technology. And manufacturers need to consider the entire engine/car package instead of chasing EPA MPG figures.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> I’m also leery of direct injection (although I’d be comfortable with how Toyota does it)

      Particulate filters are on the horizon for GDI engines. So, another device will soon be joining the party under the hood.

      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2015/03/20150331-tenneco.html

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    It’s 1957, I’m twee years old and Daddy’s saying:

    “Wait till all these automatics crap out after a couple years, we’ll all go back to good old stick shifts.”

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Most of these powerplants are not engineered with anywhere near the durability of a Toyota 2JZ or Nissan RB26, so they’ll inevitably have problems sooner than their owners will be comfortable with.

    Personally, I’d rather drive an NA car for the throttle response, lower part count and easier maintenance.

  • avatar
    bkrell

    Turbo and oil have come a long way in 10 yrs. I say this as the former owner of a sludge prone 2001 SAAB 9-5. Look at how many econoboxes have already been tooling around w turbos a la the Chevy Cruze. And you know Honda wouldn’t wade into these waters without a degree of confidence…

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    1) Turbos today are more reliable than turbos of yesteryear because of electronic engine management and computer controlled wastegates. This is important primarily because…

    2) That allows automakers to use these turbos to game the EPA gas mileage tests, pass CAFE requirements, and legally advertise 2-5mpg better than the vehicles get in real life.

    Turbos will last until EPA makes significant changes in its fuel economy test procedures, or until we collectively realize that we’re paying too much for cars in order to get an extra 10 mpg that makes no serious difference in pollution or overall consumption of fossil fuels.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      Good post. Not to mention the added complexity/weight. Just thinking of my GTI, you’ve got the turbo itself, all the oil plumbing to the turbo, the intercooler, all the extra air plumbing associated with that, the electric coolant pump that circulates coolant through the turbo’s water jacket after engine shutdown if the turbo is too hot, etc. etc.

  • avatar
    Joss

    In the early 70’s it were will these efi last?

  • avatar
    JREwing

    I voted with my wallet – a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder Accord. I garnished it with its old friend, a 5-speed manual transmission.

    Contrarianism never felt so good.

    • 0 avatar
      CB1000R

      I love that Honda sill offers this. And will through the refresh, apparently. Too bad it’s been bludgeoned with the ugly stick.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        TBH one of the few things that I admire about a Hyundai is that I can get a fully loaded car with a 6 speed manual As God Intended. I can’t think of another mark that offers the option of a manual unless it’s the stripper model. Freedom of choice apparently only comes in Korean form.

  • avatar
    turf3

    The long term durability/reliability concern is not with the turbocharger itself. These do have a finite life, but rebuilt units are relatively inexpensive and most of the time the replacement is not too onerous or complex. The real concern is the stress that getting 200 HP out of a 1.8 liter engine places on all the other components; especially bearings (main and rod), piston rings, head gaskets, and driveline components that may have been sized for the loads of the normally aspirated version of the vehicle.

    That said, I predict that we will find that some engines are relatively bulletproof in turbo configuration, and others are failure-prone. Just like normally aspirated engines. Inadequate design margins can be obtained in either configuration.

    It’s also not true that turbocharging is somehow a “new” or “untried” technology (I used to drive a 1963 Corvair Spyder). Qualified engine designers already know what needs to be done to beef up engines for the increased loads. As always, it’s a matter of the suits letting the engineers do what needs to be done.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      The major difference between your 1963 Corvair Monza Spyder and vehicles of today is that the turbo was attached to an engine of identical displacement to the one in the normally aspirated (NA) versions. Having owned and driven a number of Corvairs, it isn’t particularly difficult to drive a Spyder without having the turbo kick in, and the car drives well enough without the turbo. That’s because this particular engine’s torque curve is relatively flat within a certain RPM range, and fairly consistent regardless of the engine’s compression ratio, induction, etc. As the old saying goes, “Americans buy horsepower, and drive torque.”

      I believe what concerns many is that we’re seeing turbos used with much smaller-displacement engines than their naturally aspirated counterparts, and the potential for wear and tear from pulling the weight of a relatively heavy vehicle. I’m not ready to weigh in on this until we’ve witnessed a number of years of real world use; after all, I’m old enough to remember when 150 hp was considered adequate for a large sedan or full-size pickup, and other countries routinely install engines that Americans would consider to be dangerously underpowered.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Deferred maintenance and modding/chiptuning are what scare me the most. Read any STI/Speed3/GTI forum and see how often dudes boost the engines within an inch of its life, then “part out” when they’re ready to dump it and sell it to the next guy or trade it in as “stock.

    I personally would buy a turbo car new, but am very hesitant about a used one (unless CPO).

    However, since cars only need to last reliably 36 months or 36000 miles, the manufacturers don’t have to worry about much. The sale is made already, and repairs out of warranty are just tasty gravy.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Running a mechanical device at its limit significantly reduces long term reliability. Big ticket repairs are often required around 120,000 kilometers, coincidentally after many factory warranties have matured.

    I look for a non-turbo engine sized to 90 percent of my usage, generally a four cylinder for city driving or a six cylinder for mostly highway driving. I won’t look at a used turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      “Running a mechanical device at its limit significantly reduces long term reliability.”

      The veracity of this statement is dependent on how one defines “limit”. Assuming we’re talking metal – there are three limits of interest: the ultimate strength (limit), the yield strength (limit), and the endurance limit. The ultimate strength is greater than, or equal to the yield strength which itself is often greater than, but sometimes equal to, the endurance limit strength.

      Ultimate strength is correlated to the minimum force or stress that physically deforms a member such that it can no longer serve its design purpose.

      Yield strength is correlated to the minimum force or stress that permanently deforms a member, although this permanent deformation may not prevent the member from continuing to serve its design purpose.

      Endurance limit is the maximum stress to which a member can be subjected to for a given service life. Thus, endurance limit has an implied temporal component in contrast to the yield and ultimate limits. The endurance limit is further dependent on how the load cycles, the magnitude of the difference between minimum and maximum load, and whether or not the load cycles involve stress reversal.

      A properly designed component operating within design parameters – even up to the maximum stresses accounted for in fatigue design by the endurance limit – is no more or less reliable than any other designed part.

      I think you’re implying that turbocharged engines feature some higher stressed components than NA engines – which is true. If one simply bolts a turbo to an NA engine and expects the NA engine to perform equivalently under forced induction – they are likely mistaken. However, the presumption that manufacturers would do the same is highly specious. I’m not a drivetrain engineer, but I assume that drivetrain components are designed to endurance limits that consider warranty periods and average service lives to start with, upon which various factors of safety or reliability are applied.

      A properly designed turbocharged engine is as reliable as any other designed feature of modern life.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        Woah, let’s not get all facty here.
        Now some speculation and vague memories to add balance.

        A long time ago, I had a Miata and back then before Miata.net, I had a book about Miata design, engineering, modification, etc. One of the quotes that stuck with me from a Mazda engineer was speaking to the notion that you had to wind the 1.6 out to the redline if you wanted to go anywhere. He said something like “using the engine at high rpm is no different than opening a door all the way before you walk through”. While I don’t think that this is quite the same, I like to remember that when I want to peg the tach so I don’t feel quite as bad about doing it.
        Does adding a turbo shorten the lifespan of a engine? My gut is no, mostly because the turbo will die first and while it may grenade the occasional Subaru 2.5 my previous turbo failures just made the car slower. I’m going to make a prediction that as these cars get older and the cost of a replacement turbo (which in theory should go down as they become more common) will simply force owners into bypassing where possible.
        Today’s 3.8 with a plastic manifold held together with epoxy is tomorrow’s Cruze with some cheap plumbing to go around the turbo and a perpetual check engine light.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          I was told the same thing about the 3 series BMW. Simply that, every now and again, at least once a tankful, you should run the engine into it’s stratospheric rpm to burn out the carbon buildup or massage the valves or keep the Keebler elves happy, not really sure why in my vague recollection. I do know that for 170k miles, she still purrs.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    Turbocharger technology has come a long way since that old Volvo you had. Dual ball bearings replaced cartridges. Water cooling (and better, synthetic oil) prevents coking. Direct injection lowers exhaust gas temperatures. Modern metallurgy has produced compressor casings and impellers that don’t fatigue as easily. Current-generation engine management systems no longer operate in open-loop during full-throttle events.

    In short, technology has advanced to the point where turbochargers are not inherently less reliable. Consider turbodiesel over-the-road trucks with 1M-mile rebuild intervals.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Good comment. Frankly, you hardly hear of mainstream engines, turbocharged or otherwise, cratering as they did even a decade ago. The engineering is just better.

      The black dots in CR anymore (I know, I know, I’m just saying) are mainly in fuel systems, electronics, and occasionally brakes and suspensions or transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I agree that turbos have seen incremental improvements over the years and are generally reliable, but I take pause whenever super high-mileage turbodiesels are mentioned in a turbo reliability discussion. I think the operating conditions under which this mileage is achieved is very different from normal day-to-day driving.

      These million-mile rigs see many highway miles under relatively low load. All components stay at operating temperature for a high % of total engine hours and spend a very low % of engine hours “cold” and/or under heavy load.

      I don’t think it’s fair to look at someone’s 300k VW TDI and expect the same durability if you’re going to use your TDI to commute around town in it.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        “These million-mile rigs see many highway miles under relatively low load.”

        Over the road trucks have their engines sized specifically to avoid seeing much in the way of low loads. They carry 20 times the weight of a typical 2.0 turbo 4 passenger car, yet have only 4 times the power.

        What they do have going for them over a passenger car, is much steadier and more predicable loads. Always being ran in a narrow rpm band, and at a relatively constant, high load state. While passenger cars are all over the place. From 30p highway cruises, to 1 hp idling around, to the 150hp stoplight grand prix’.

        Marine diesels, which run even more hours than over the road ones without failure, are even further over on the “constant stress” side of things. Basically spending their entire existence at one constant load. Hence can be even more optimized for that one specific condition.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Anecdote: our 2004 Passat 1.8T was running just fine at 166k when we sold it. Oh, we had plenty of issues with it, but none related to the turbo. 5k oil and filter changes with synthetic probably helped.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I was looking on Auto Trader, and all things considered, there’s a pretty healthy number of Jettas with 1.8Ts with over 200k. I mean, if we all *know* VWs are unreliable, and we all *know* the 1.8T is failure prone, and they can still rack up decent mileage, just think what a “better” manufacturer can do!

  • avatar
    another_VW_fanboy

    Any engine with regular, proper maintenance should last a reasonable amount of time. Turbos are more complicated so the overall cost should be more over a span of years. People should understand this going in. Honestly, most owners aren’t like us and don’t maintain their vehicle like the complicated machine that it is. Assuming that most American drivers defer maintenance turbos might get a bad rap in longevity when they really don’t deserve it. I agree with others here that i wonder if it will be all the complicated computers that might fail first and most often long before the engine. Plus, I’m not sure if automakers want there cars to last more then ten years before you have to get something newer.

  • avatar
    Irvingklaws

    I had doubts about turbos when I purchased a new Golf TDI in 2010. Having never owned a turbocharged vehicle before I had EVERY scheduled maintenance accomplished on-time and at the dealer. The turbo failed at 80k. Dealer quoted 3k to replace. The car was out-of-warranty but I managed to get VWOA to pay for half the cost. Even so, whatever I saved by getting great mileage was devoured by that single maintenance event. Not to mention the added cost of diesel over regular gas…

    No way I’ll buy a turbocharged vehicle again. Mazda 3 is looking like a better long term proposition for my next car. Even with the larger 2.5L engine.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Your experience mirrors mine exactly, except my turbo went at 66k on my ’09.

      If turbocharging is going to be accepted the manufacturers will need to address the price of replacement parts and the difficulty of repairs. VW requires the entire assembly to be replaced; no individual component is available separately. The cost of the replacement turbo is down to “only” $1100 [as opposed to the dealer’s $1800] on an independent parts website. Then they apparently dangle the turbo from a wire at the factory and build a car around it, making the labor to replace it over $1000.

      • 0 avatar
        tubacity

        I hear you. “If turbocharging is going to be accepted the manufacturers will need to address the price of replacement parts and the difficulty of repairs.” I doubt that manufacturers will address high price of turbo repair replacement because service dept is a profit center. If is lasts the length of the warranty, the manufacturer does not care how much the owner has to pay. The dealer service dept gets the repair money or sales dept gets a new or use dar sale. Or another manufacturer and dealer or used car seller get the car sale.

  • avatar
    Sam Hell Jr

    “And I think we can all agree that it’s only a matter of time before someone sees the Subaru Outback’s 20 years of unrivaled success and finally decides to re-enter the wagon game.”

    No, we can’t agree. I don’t think there’s a market for non-Outback midsize wagons any more than there is a market for non-Wrangler body-on-frame offroaders. There are no rivals because the rivals failed.

    My sister, for example, just bought an Outback, and after we did some cross-shopping, I am here to tell you that Outback buyers, like Wrangler buyers, accept no substitutes.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Someone above mentioned voting with their wallet, well me too.

    Proud owner of a 2014 naturally aspirated, port injected 3.5L V6, where none of the cylinders turn off unless you shut the car off, conventional 6 speed automatic, grounded to the ground 4 door sedan.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Your answers in a helter-skelter order:

    1) The turbocharged era was the 1980s. Everybody and their dog did turbocharging back. You could even buy a turbocharged Peugeot and that was pretty much the only truly horrid unit of that era. Everything else was durable but needed maintenance to the letter.

    2) Your Volvo needed to have the flame trap serviced and if it didn’t, you would get leaky seals along with a long litany of other problems.

    3) The only people who will suffer from this are buy-here pay-here lots that will finance these units to customers that consider check engine lights festive Christmas decorations. Ask me how I know this.

    4) Everybody’s wrong. It won’t be the electronics or turbochargers that will be the first big failures in the coming years. It will be the sealed CVT transmissions that come standard with lifetime fluids. That will be the financial brick wall that will turn most of these cars into a rolling relic. By that time you may see some highly unusual powertrain replacements, and not just horses and mules.

    Phillies still suck Doug! But so do the Braves! All the best!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Listen to this man, especially point 4. The transmission is what kills more cars than anything else today, and that is going to continue to be true. The CVT will eventually be engineered (I suspect already has by Honda and Toyota, both of which are recent players in the CVT game) to last 200,000 miles in typical service without maintenance. That is enough.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        In response to #1) and to the observation made; “These days, everything is turbocharged. And I mean everything. Years ago, it was just Volvos and Saabs and maybe the occasional Audi or so. It was an unusual thing, turbocharging, and we weren’t exactly sure what to make of it”

        The ’80s were the days of EVERYTHING was turbo charged. Turbo-charged Mustangs, Thunderbirds, Supras and 280/300ZXs, turbo K-Cars and Celebrities and Tauruses, subcompacts like the Subies and totally forgetable Renault Feugo!, trucks like the Turbo Dodge Ram and GMC Syclone, luxury cars and wait for it, Mini-vans in the guise of the Dodge/Plymouth Caravan turbo. My personal favorite was the Eagle Talon TSi AWD turbo “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZlsPEKYu0E”.

        All for the time were a gawd send and a death knell to the Malaise era (1979 Indy Pace Car Mustang III was the turbo 2.3L). Turbos made a huge impact to the 80s and quite frankly reopened the horsepower wars that everyone assumed dead.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The mid-90’s – mid-oughts Audi/VW 1.8T had a couple major problems (a too-small oil sump in longitudinal applicaitons and several years of bad coilpacks) but bad oil leaks were not one of them.

    If you avoid the sludge monster with prompt oil changes with good oil and exorcised the coil pack demons, the engine was actually quite long-lasting, with a block of pretty much indefinite life. Most running problems (which are indeed more frequent in turbocharged engines) can be diagnosed with a code scan (Bosch and VW put a lot of effort into a good diagnostics system) and a Google search.

    The K03 turbo itself is also fairly sturdy, with a minimum life of 150k or so, even if chipped and driven hard. Under family-hauler conditions, it’s also very long-lived.

    The newer direct-injection engines have their own issues, but they are a whole different ball of wax, as they aren’t really even related to the non-direct-injection turbos at all; they started from a clean-sheet design.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      The too-small sump was fixed by changing to a filter that increased oil capacity by about .85 liter – in the longitudinal install, there was tons of room for the giant filter. That was part one of the service bulletin…part two was the change to 0W-40 synthetic. Part three was oil changes at 5k miles.

      My 2000 Passat 1.8T was traded in at 162,000 miles, turbo still healthy, no oil consumption.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    On one hand, I need my next car to be a good enthusiasts/driver’s car with a hatchback and enough room to fit a rear-facing baby seat plus a weekend’s worth of all the crap that comes with babies these days. New, not used. I’d prefer to avoid DI and turbos. Mentally I am also not considering sedans due to their perceived lack of utility.

    On the other hand, the only new cars that fit these requirement only come with DI turbos – GTI, Focus ST.

  • avatar
    CB1000R

    I had a Volvo S40 for which you could count the turbo lag in seconds. That was MY2000. Put me off turbos right there. Granted, gf’s A5 has barely any perceptible lag at all, and probably all of them are much much better in the past 15 years.

    But I’m drinking Doug’s drink this morning. My next car will be normally aspirated (again) even if it’s slow. The way I drive (like a granny, in the right lane), fuel economy is not a huge concern. Plus, two kids to teach how to drive in the next few years. Manual, NA are musts. Turbo, hell no.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    As the owner of a 10 year, 122,000 mile Audi A3 2.0T I can say this: no problem at all with the turbo.

    Modern turbos aren’t an issue. What I do have an issue with on my car are the emissions control components, primarily hoses, that have a nasty tendency to develop small leaks over time.

    But the turbo and its immediately related components? No issue at all.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Well, the higher underhood temperatures of turbocharged cars has to be harder on plastic and rubber components.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Exactly.

        Heat is thy enemy, and this is especially true for those living in hot climes.

        There’s no way manufacturers are spending the necessary funds to develop commensurate robust adjunct cooling systems in their commuter cars/trucks/CUVs to allow the motors to last anywhere remotely close to well past warranty expiration.

        Then, the CVTs & DSG transmissions are a whole other ball of ugly.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Most fragile name plate in the industry Alfa Romeo traditionally does a lot of turbo for fitting cars into tax bracket with small displacement.
    Haven’t seen much trouble to turbo charger itself.
    But those are driven by car enthusiasts who change oils more than necessary, not sure for more appliance cars driven by people never cares about maintenance..

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    I don’t think it’s the turbo that is going to be the stumbling block for people who want to keep these cars going. I have no doubts that turbochargers, being mechanical devices, will be available from dealers and the aftermarket for a long time for common models. Sure they are somewhat expensive but replacement is a doable job for the home mechanic and shouldn’t be a bankbreaker to hire out.

    I do see the integrated electronics as being a bigger obstacle to longevity. As more and more of the interior functionality comes under control of the ICE unit, when those units have issues, owners are going to find that they are either a) incredibly expensive and/or b) NLA.

    I’m also suspicious of the long-term reliability of CVTs and DCTs and we know already that these things are basically “sealed for life” and extremely expensive to replace. After 10 years of depreciation the replacement cost could easily exceed the value of the vehicle.

    I’m also not too impressed with GDI. A technology that results in the owner having to pull the head(s) every 40,000 miles to de-carbon the backs of the intake valves seems like a huge step backwards to me. And those that try to solve that issue by equipping the car with both GDI and a regular multiport FI system to keep the backs of the valves clean, well again that adds a lot of complexity and is also just an inelegant solution to the problem.

    I’m disillusioned by the way cars are evolving. I don’t think a car should be a disposable electronic device like a smartphone. Cars just seem to be getting worse in every metric that matters to me as a car buyer.

    I’ve also voted with my wallet, once my modern car lease is up I’ll be dailying something from the mid-1960s from here on out. There’s just not anything coming out now that I want to put my money on. For god’s sake, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that a car should have a touchscreen in it.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      So because you don’t like some technologies that are coming into common use in the 2010s, you’re also going to forgo the benefits of things from earlier decades that were very clear improvements, like EFI, engine management computers, and modern brake and suspension components? I can’t imagine dailying a ’60s car, having to mess with carburetors and points on an everyday basis, and having to live with ’60s brakes in commute traffic.

      Incidentally, the Toyota port + DI engines have done very, very well in real-world use. That’s a technology that seems to work, at least as implemented by Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I don’t want to go back to carbs and points, but there was still a ‘sweet spot’ from the mid ’80s to early ’90s when things were still very basic, and seemed to get needlessly complicated after that, just for the sake of being complicated. Those ’80s/’90s cars are still around today and seem impossible to kill.

        Efficiency has improved since then, but marginally. This compared to the complication, which has increased exponentially. And has anyone had to pay for an 8-speed trans ‘rebuild’ *out of pocket*? How much? And how much will a 10-speed rebuild come to??

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I think if you are looking for a “sweet spot” it would be a little later, just after OBDII. OBDII really does make diagnosis much easier.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            True, except pre OBDII cars are very simple. With little experience and process of eliminations, you’ve got problems figured out. Solid dependability with mostly igniter/ignition modules going out. Or the occasional air control valve, O2 sensor or fuel pump.

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          I agree with you, DenverMike. I’d peg it around the time of basic EFI systems and the end of distributors and advent of coil-on-plug electronic ignition systems (VW obviously excluded). Mid 90s to mid 2000s perhaps.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Yes! In fact, I’ve already bought the car and have been driving it quite a bit. So nice to be driving a car again and not a computer.

        The four-wheel drum brakes work quite well. Only annoyance is the brakes are not self-adjusting so that’s another maintenance item to attend to periodically. However I happen to like working on the car so it’s not a big deal. I recognize that others don’t have the knowledge or desire to maintain an old car. In any event, disc brake kits are available however so far I’m finding such a thing to be unnecessary.

        Points are easy, 5 min to set them and timing. I concede I’d rather have FI than carbs and I could have done if I bought something 3 years newer but the car overall was so good that I decided I could live with carbs.

        Good for Toyota, but they don’t make anything I want to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      bk_moto,
      I tend to disagree with you.

      It isn’t the modern electronics that pose themselves as a reliability issue, but the manufacture and the constant changes in emissions and FE benchmarks that are forcing changes to quickly for the manufacturers to evolve more reliable electronics.

      Aviation is more conservative in how it manages the changes regarding the use of electronics. Avionic packages are very reliable.

      Also, it is cheaper to manage vehicle systems with electro-mechanical devices than the older system of just mechanical.

      I do recall in the “olden” days of changing out points, plugs, coils, re-building a carby, etc.

      How often do we do this amount of maintenance now?

      I do think some of the comments not necessarily from you, but others is that of a Luddite. These types are scared of technology and not very progressive but regressive in our society.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    QOTD: Are All These Turbocharged Cars Going to Last?

    A: Yes, the vast majority of them will last the life of the warranty. Why should it last one mile more?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s goes back to the OEM’s dream that all cars drive themselves to the crusher at 100K miles. That’s what’ll basically happen, more and more with every new *advancement*.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    I haven’t liked turbos since I started wrenching on cars in the 1970’s. Look, one might not like upc’s either.

    let me point out that turbos are now installed on engines which benefit from many generations of electronic engine controls. The bottom end of a semi well maintained turbo will last for >200K miles.

    GDI/Direct injection? Most systems now work fine, and if you don’t have the Toyota system with port and direct injection you don’t need to pull the head, **just** the intakes and walnut blast the intake valves just like we did in 1985 on BMW’s (BMW dealers are still doing it now on the 5th generation!) The old pour water down the carb trick might work if you find a port with sufficient vacuum *and* no electronics downstream *and* don’t mind the risk of hydro locking the motor…

    Trans issues? ZF has been a bitch forever, CVT’s according to Nissan techs aren’t too awful to work on, and the technology is relatively mature. DCT OOH, ask me in 2020 or so…

    My advice? Don’t deviate from stock.

    Yeah I know that you can get around 300 HP out of a 320 with very simple (by 2015 standards mods) but at what cost relative to drivability including cold starting, and MPG to say nothing of longevity. Perhaps the 320 is the exception that proves the rule.

    How many GTI/ST/whatever Subaru and Mitsu call their silly little cars with the loud exhaust and turbos (GTO LIVEs!!)kill their cars with the same tricks?

    Almost no one will do those mods. So, in general, turbos from manufacturers with long experience will be ok. Just because they don’t sell them here doesn’t mean that a manufacturer doesn’t have plenty of turbo experience.

    Change the oil don’t let the oil get low, use good synthetic oil and don’t hoon too much and you will be ok. Many people will have no idea they even have a turbo.

  • avatar

    I don’t worry about that part, but I use syn oil and replace it on sked.

    In 1984 I had a VW Scirocco with a Callaway turbo. It had a sticker on the window…

    NO BOOST UNTIL WARM.
    Idle 30 seconds before shutoff.

    That car had a massive braided steel oil line to the turbo bearing. No water jacket. No issues.

    I’ve treated every turbo I’ve had with those rules since.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Change “Boost” to “redline” and you might have had a sticker to save thousands of Renesis rotaries. :P

      “Save your engine with this one old trick.”

  • avatar
    carguy

    Will turbo engines last? That depends on who is making them.

    There are plenty of long haul trucks on the road happily doing millions of miles using turbo diesel technology. It’s also very easy to find complete disasters like the Mazda 2.3T which are plagued by reliability problems.

    The same is the case for any other automotive technology be it DI, DOHC or whatever – there are always good designs and bad designs.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Hmm, I was cross shopping Speed6es when I was shopping for my LGT. I haven’t looked into them in a while, I’ll have to see what you’re referring to. Perhaps I dodged a bullet.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    former Mercedes W123 turbodiesel owner here.

    I took one from 213,000 to 402,000.

    At the end, the engine performed identically as the first day I drove it.

    It’s all in the engineering. There were ZERO issues with the turbo or wastegate. The entire time I owned the car, it was used for Bay Area commuting, about a 70/30 mix of stop & go and country road driving.

    No problems with underhood temps eating up insulation, oil consumption was unchanged < 1 qt between changes at 5000 mile intervals)

    Yes, it can be done right. It was done right 30 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, but the OM617 was both super overbuilt and frankly horribly inefficient.

      (120-odd HP out of 3 liters?)

      It’s not hard to get built-like-tank durability when you … build like tank, and the owners aren’t concerned with speed or noise.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Turbocharging isn’t directly-related to fuel efficiency. Yes, the turbo recaptures exhaust gas energy that would otherwise have been wasted, which makes it more efficient that supercharging (generally), but turbo engines are quite inefficient at partial throttle…..which is basically 99.9% of all driving.

    Turbocharging is about packaging. Turbocharged four-cylinder engines take up less space in the engine bay. They also have fewer parts, and they generally weigh less than their V6 or V8 naturally-aspirated counterparts. Extra space in the engine bay allows more room for hybrid systems.

    Turbocharged engines can last for a long time, whether or not the manufacturers build them to last forever is debatable. My gut tells me the first few generations will be a laughing stock, perhaps even Honda will fail to invest adequately in reliability, but over time, reliability will prevail.

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    My only experience with turbo cars was my 03 Audi A4 1.8t Quattro which I bought new. That thing used oil like crazy; requiring 2 quarts between changes which is supposedly common with this engine. Nevertheless, it got sold promptly after feeling this is not acceptable on a modern car.
    I’d consider a newer turbo car; however, DI has me skeptical. There are many manufacturers where carbon build-up is an issue; VAG and GM come to mind.
    The exception, in my mind, would be buying the 2.5L NA 4cyl. in the Ford Fusion over the 1.5L Turbo. There seems to be no appreciable difference in performance/fuel economy to justify the added cost.

  • avatar
    buck__wheat

    My turbo vehicles: Audi 5000 turbo quattro, sold at 200,000 miles with no turbo or engine trouble. Ford E350 sold at 220,000 miles with no turbo or engine issues.
    I currently own a VW Jetta TDI at 167,000 miles and another Ford E350 at 155,000 miles. Neither has experienced any sort of engine or turbo issues.
    Some models tend to have a lot of turbo issues (Surbarus and NMS Passat TDIs), but from what can see and from my limited experience, they don’t fail in the normal lifespan of a vehicle.

  • avatar
    TAP

    I’m with 55 wrench-
    My’02 GTI never gave me any turbo issues. It’s been over as a serious issue, if maintenance is followed.
    As to CVT’s, how many millions of trouble-free miles has the Prius gone?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Technically it’s a very different set-up than most other CVTs. The Prius uses planetary gears and you have to go really go out of your way to screw those up.

  • avatar

    Way too much of obsolete, no longer operational personal experience in the comments. Not one person mentioned the actual experience of Ford 1.0L 3-cylinder turbo and FIAT 1.4L tubro 4 in Dart. Surely someone, somewhere, should be seeing the stats. Where is Michael Karesh when we need him? Mr. Lang has made his mark, but he did not mention how his data-gathering project is working, the one that tracked the mileage of junked cars or such.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      The Long-Term Quality Index focuses on vehicles from years 5 to 20. With rare exception, most powertrains tend to be trouble-free in their first five years. Then it starts to get interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        But the Long-Term Quality Index tells you whether or not it’s a good idea to buy a 2003 Passat 1.8T, or a 2006 GTI with the 2.0 FSI engine.

        What Doug is talking about here is today’s crop of turbo engines, and the long-term ramifications of buying a car with one. So WTF good is it for him or anybody else to come on here and talk about his 1990s Volvo or Saab, 2001 VW or what have you? They’re not MAKING those engines anymore.

        No thinking person would cite the Caddy V4-6-8 as a reason to not buy a new car with cylinder deactivation, or the 1980s Olds diesels as a reason to not buy a new Cruze diesel. How about the Mazda Skyativ engines…whoa – not gonna get ME into one of those newfangled Atkinson-cycle jobs! I had tons of trouble with one in my 1999 Millenia! Hey, wait…THAT was a Mazda, too! (crosses Mazda off of shopping list).

        +1 Pete Zaitcev – “Way too much of obsolete, no longer operational personal experience in the comments.” Yeah – and in the article itself, too.

  • avatar
    john66ny

    Still running ’91 MR2 Turbo with 250,000 km, on its original turbo. Also ’05 Legacy GT wagon, 185,000 km on its original turbo.

    Change your oil, folks, and don’t shut it down immediately after running hard. You’ll be fine.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Fiat’s current crop of Multiair engines should be an interesting reliability case study:

    -A hydraulic intake “cam” replacing the mechanical cam
    -Turbocharger in some models
    -Traditional port fuel injection

  • avatar

    “There were really only two ways to achieve the goal of better fuel economy: dropping horsepower, or going turbocharged.”

    Or, how about, oh, I dunno, DROPPING WEIGHT?

    Simplify and add lightness.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Or how about using a different from of fuel, like diesel that is better suited to turbo charging?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Nobody wants lightness anymore.

      We want 10 airbags, multilink suspension, 600-watt sound systems, infotainment screens, soft 10-way adjustable seats, power accessories, quiet interiors, and a 5-star rating in the offset crash test.

      It’s impossible to do all this in the cars of yesteryear.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I think that a turbo engine certainly has the potential to last a while. You can look at diesels. You can look at racing. Aside from the BMW S70/2’s moments in the mid to late 90s, Le Mans has been dominated by turbos, thanks largely due to Porsche and Audi. You don’t hear too many people with Metzger Porsche Turbos complaining about durability in those cars (they are the ones held up as the reliable alternative to the M96). Ford’s Ecoboost V6 has been showing good form in TUSC. What will likely be more problematic is people not taking extra care of their turbos. Not checking their oil levels to keep them topped off. Not doing oil changes on time. Going for a cheap oil Not allowing the turbo to cool down before turning the car off (I was fascinated to learn that my Fiat 500 Abarth has an electrically driven pump that circulates coolant through the turbo after the car is turned off to help it cool down if it needs it). These are the sorts of things that will hurt the durability of even a well engineered turbo motor.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I think people will avoid used cars with turbos like they avoided those GM 350 Diesel engines and those Caddy 4-6-8 Engines.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I own a 2010 Taurus SHO with nearly 70K miles on it. It’s been all over the world, literally. I’ve driven it all over the US and in South Korea. It’s been to the drag strip, it’s been on Korean highways at sustained speeds in the triple digits for long periods of time…

    and the turbos have never failed. The car feels barely broken in after 5+ years of owning it. This talk of turbos failing is nonsense. This isn’t the 1980s. I also have a 2012 F-150 Platinum 4×4 EB and towed over 9,000 lbs across country and back. No turbo issues.

    The get off my lawn crowd really needs to let go of the reliability issues of the past. Turbos aren’t failing at 20,000 miles, NAV screens are failing after a year of ownership, and on and on.

    Cars are far more reliable than they were in years past. We all need to accept that and find something else to nitpick about.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    How can one predict which engine will be reliable?
    Are there any red flags and any good signs?
    These engine seems to be reliable:

    http://www.torquenews.com/1083/2015-nx-200t-lexus-2-liter-turbo-engine-companys-most-important-decade

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    I am apparently the only person on the planet who intends to replace their car at most every five years? I guess it’s because car ownership for me is recent, and is treated as a monthly expense like everything else the remaining value of the car someone else is welcome to.

  • avatar
    b534202

    A 25 year old turbocharged car is probably a bad buy if you’re really worried about turbocharging …

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Assuming the piston rings are still good, a 25 year old turbocharger (assuming the parts are available), can be rebuilt in 4 hours from start to finish or swapped out in 1.5-2 and be good for another 100,000 before even thinking about it again. Otherwise you’ll need a ring job to go along with that turbo.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    It remains to be seen how these turbos will being held up and if they are doing it right or not. However, turbos in general can be extremely reliable, it all depends on using the right turbo for the job, that is sizing it correctly and making sure you have your engine exhaust and charge air relief valves set correctly to prevent surging. Preventing turbo surge is the key to keeping them in good working order. Using a water to air aftercooler can also help regulate the charge air temperature to keep condensation at a minimum as well. The turbo casing doesn’t even need to be watercooled if the oil is cooled and the turbo can simply bolt on right after the exhaust manifold, use the same oil as the rest of the engine, and with high quality bearings, good labyrinth type seals, good piston rings such as chromium nitride rings with slightly higher tension then typical NA engines use (to prevent fouling from blow-by), and the turbo can easily last 25,000 hours before needing inspection and possibly bearing replacement, which can easily even be done by a home mechanic if he knows how to perform the clearance checks.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’ve owned well over a dozen turbo-charged cars over the past 20 years, I have not had a single turbo related issue with any of them despite most of them having been bought with very high mileages on them. I’m picking up another one in two weeks, turbo-charged, direct-injected, no CVT though. I’m not particularly concerned.

    As for DI – DI does not “cause” carbon build up. Ultimately the issue is that makers need to design a PCV system that down not dump all that crankcase junk into the intake manifold. IDI sprays fuel in there as well which masks the issue – the fuel cleans the gunk off. DI = no fuel wash = gunk buildup. Personally I will take the increased power and economy in return for having to perform an extra maintenance task every 5 years or so. TANSTAAFL always applies.

    I find it astounding that a 3400lb car with 320hp can easily get 30+mpg highway these days.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Like I previously mentioned, use the proper ring material, like chromium nitride and proper ring tension for a turbocharged engine and you won’t have an issue with the turbo fouling even with direct injection. However, in the mistaken quest to use turbo’s to increase gas mileage instead of using them to generate more power (which is what they are really good at…) it wouldn’t surprise me to see car companies using cheaper low tension rings and fouling their turbos in the name of “gas milage”.

      Hybrids are for gas milage, turbos are for POWAH!

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        “Hybrids are for gas milage, turbos are for POWAH!”

        F1 cars are hybrids. Also turbocharged.

        It seems odd that the industry has gone to iffy turbocharger setups, when hybrid powertrains arguably use less fuel and are far more reliable. Probably overall vehicle maintenance is less also, since the ICE and the brakes are used less.

  • avatar
    dark1x

    I thought about this when shopping for my last car a few years back. Decided between a Euro model 5 series 528 vs 535. The primary difference seemed to be a lack of turbo on the 528 – just a straight six, three liter engine paired with a manual gearbox no X-drive. So far, it’s been very reliable and not too expensive to maintain (knock on wood). I know several people driving turbo charged cars that have had related problems that kept me away. Seems like the kind of thing you’d want in a leased car, really.

  • avatar
    jrsforums

    I had a 1997 VOLVO 850 T5R….turbocharged, of course. A few months ago I replaced it….S60L also turbo charged.

    The 850 had 230k miles and never had a problem with the turbo, or engine for that matter. I attribute that to the fact that the only oil added to it, for it’s life, was synthetic. Turbo’s main problem is heat and regular oil will not stand up to it. The 850 Volvo turbo also had thick cyl. walls with slightly less cc’s than the non high pressure turbo version.

    With all (most?) cars requiring synthetic oil, I expect most turbos will have limited problems….but I feel better sticking with the Volvo. Time will tell.

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