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Should I consider a Turbo for my next car?
Old 12-14-2018, 10:54 AM   #1
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Should I consider a Turbo for my next car?

There seem to be a lot of car experts on the forum, so I'm looking for opinions. I'm not currently in the market for a new car, but I'm always trying to keep a short list of what I'd get if I suddenly needed to replace my current driver.

It seems that more and more cars are turbocharged, to boost power and/or gas mileage. An example of one I'd consider is the new Subaru Ascent. Apparently to keep a 4cyl in a larger car, they've turbocharged it. But I'm looking for general opinions, not just a certain model.

My impressions of turbos in the past is that over time they were less reliable, and I've avoided them. I had two friends who drove them back in the 80s. One was annoyed at having to let the car idle for 30 seconds to cool down before shutting off the engine. Another did not do that idle after driving the car hard and up a long hill before pulling his car into a parking lot one time, and his engine actually caught fire and totaled the car.

I googled and read 4 recent articles, and they were split between "those problems are a thing of the past" and "it's uncertain, no long term track record to say those issues no longer exist".

Interested in hearing what the folks here think, and why. As I said, there's no upcoming purchase pending, so if you come back in 3 months and ask what I bought, the answer will probably be that I still have my 2014 non-turbo Forester.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:02 AM   #2
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We had had a 6 cars with turbochargers over the last 10 years and never had one problem with a turbocharger. One car was driven to 311,000 miles and was flawless.

Today's turbochargers are much more reliable and many are variable vane units that are controlled by the car's computer based on load.

Excellent synthetic oil has been a godsend for turbo bearings which can get very hot. Non-synthetic oils are known to "coke up" when subject to the high heat of the turbo shaft and bearings.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:34 AM   #3
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its the norm now, no issues no extra care, just drive it and do recommended maintenance
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:39 AM   #4
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I have had 7 turbo cars model year 2001 or later. Never had one problem regarding the turbo. I even had a 1986 Nissan 300ZX turbo - never had a single problem. Never took any special care regarding cool down. In my experience the turbo systems have been 100% reliable.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:42 AM   #5
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I have a twin turbo for my 2011 car. There is no turbo drag and it is mated with a dual shifter, so very smooth all around.
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Old 12-14-2018, 12:25 PM   #6
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I've had at least two that I can remember turbocharged cars... a Plymouth product back in the 1990s IIRC and a Subaru Legacy GT. I never had a stitch of problem with either of them. I recall that some Legacy GT model years had turbo issues because the dealer asked me some questions when I traded mine, but I never had any problems.

I really liked the jump of the turbos, but turbo lag is a real thing... you just get used to it.
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Old 12-14-2018, 12:37 PM   #7
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Turbo diesels have been moving the worlds freight for decades with the mechanicals easily being able to reach a million miles with regular scheduled maintenance.
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Old 12-14-2018, 12:48 PM   #8
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I think turbos are fine. I would be a bit concerned, however, if the turbo was on a four cylinder that was being used to power a full size vehicle. I think at some point you’re stressing the engine out and using the turbo to compensate. That doesn’t seem like a good system if long term ownership is a goal/concern.
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I really liked the jump of the turbos, but turbo lag is a real thing... you just get used to it.
+1

I was between cars briefly a few years ago and borrowed a friends Subaru Impreza WRX turbo for a couple weeks.

It was a tinny little four banger, nothing special.

But get out on the highway and shove your foot down and ho boy. It would hesitate for about a two count and then literally LEAP forward and take off like a greyhound with its *ss on fire. It was fun but you really had to keep an eye on that "feature" if you're heavy footed like I am.

(DW did NOT care for that car )
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Should I consider a Turbo for my next car?
Old 12-14-2018, 01:28 PM   #10
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Should I consider a Turbo for my next car?

Canít help but wonder if the turbo limits durability - not of the turbo but of the other engine parts... no turbo for this guy.
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:35 PM   #11
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My 1st turbo car was an '84 LeBaron. I bought it used with a bad turbo. Car would shut down ignition on a fast acceleration run. Turned out to only need a $1 manifold vacuum/pressure connector. Fast forward to Dec 2017 when I bought my 2nd turbo car. Turbo-sizing for less turbo-lag and reliability continues to get better and better.

If you go for a drive and like the way the car rides, I wouldn't think twice about it.
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:36 PM   #12
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My last car was a turbo and lasted over 100K miles with no problems. I miss the power especially when merging with traffic on the highway.


When my current lease expires I'll get another turbo.
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:39 PM   #13
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A few cars (like my Volvo) are both turbocharged and supercharged (sometimes called twinchargers). Haven't heard of any general problems with them, and they give a small engine a lot of get-up-and-go.
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Old 12-14-2018, 01:52 PM   #14
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My wife's Acura definitely had a turbo lag. I hated it.
I now have a turbo 4 cylinder on my Rubicon and I don't notice it at all. Real quick acceleration.
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:11 PM   #15
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I guess I've just gotten used to it, but never felt/feel on last 2 cars, C300 & Q50.
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:33 PM   #16
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I have had Subaru WRX's for daily drivers now for ~15 years, 3 of them so far. One was a STI model (supercharged). The current one is a 2012 with 60K on it. No issues with any of them. My experience is that Subaru has the engineering down and I'd think other manufacturers would as well.

I don't put a huge amount of miles on my cars as I'm out of town 1/2 the time for work. I trade cars at 10 years/ 75K, so I'm not an indicator of super long term durability. Just guessing, but if I was buying a car thinking I'd try and keep it for > 150K miles, I'd have a preference for naturally aspirated. One reason I like WRX's is the jump they have after the lag. I can't believe that is a positive for super long life though.
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
A few cars (like my Volvo) are both turbocharged and supercharged (sometimes called twinchargers). Haven't heard of any general problems with them, and they give a small engine a lot of get-up-and-go.
No. While both turbochargers and superchargers result in forced induction, how they get their power to run the compressor (to create the forced air) differs. Turbochargers use a exhaust gas turbine to drive the compressor while superchargers use a system (using a belt) right from the crankshaft.

Turbochargers (in theory) are more efficient as the exhaust gas is 'waste'.

A twin-turbo (such as I have on my F150 Ecoboost), there are two (duh) turbo-chargers. The idea (usually) is that the turbo's can be smaller, and thus have less inertia and as a result less turbo lag. One thing I'm not sure of (without going outside in the cold northeast and laying under my truck) is if both are the same size.

I bought a Chrysler LeBaron GTS sometime in the 80's with a turbo-charger and it had a definite turbo lag (and I had issues with the turbo-charger and just about everything else on that piece of s**t.) Fast forward after many years of swearing off anything with a turbo-charger, I have a 2015 F150 with the 3.5L Eco-Boost which I bought on purpose (over the V8 traditionally aspirated engine) due to its fuel economy and more important low-end grunt for towing. The thing is a beast and turbo-lag is not an issue. My niece's husband has one with about 160K miles on it and it has towed many heavy things, and in general has been a great vehicle.

From an investment perspective, GTX (Honeywell spin-out earlier this year) and Borg Warner (BWA) are two major turbo manufacturers. (Disclaimer: I own GTX.)

ETA: I misread your statement, and apologize. As you note, twinchargers is a technique where both a turbocharger and supercharger are used.
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:45 PM   #18
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Turbo lag is a bit of a concern but as was suggested, I can just test drive specific models I'd be looking at and see if it's really an issue.

Mainly what I'm asking about is the outlook for long-term reliability especially when they put them in 4 cyl somewhat larger vehicles that would normally have a V6.

Still reading...thanks for the responses so far.
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:55 PM   #19
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No. While both turbochargers and superchargers result in forced induction, how they get their power to run the compressor (to create the forced air) differs.
I'm perfectly aware of the difference. No idea what you meant by "No."
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:59 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by rayinpenn View Post
Canít help but wonder if the turbo limits durability - not of the turbo but of the other engine parts... no turbo for this guy.
I'd imagine that on average, the car manufacturers have thought of this. They design to some expected life. Or do you think they routinely over-design non-turbo engines, and then moved the goal posts for turbo engines? That doesn't make sense to me.

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