The Dos and Don'ts of Buying Used Turbochargers and Parts

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Used Turbochargers and Parts

Car and motorbike enthusiasts who want to add a bit more power to their engines often consider installing turbochargers on their vehicles. These useful engine accessories add a much needed boost to a car or motorbike's performance. New turbos, however, as well as new versions of the accessory parts that go with turbochargers, may be cost-prohibitive to many consumers. Fortunately, used turbochargers and parts provide consumers with a more affordable alternative along with a side benefit of being a more environmentally responsible choice, as well.

If a consumer wants to purchase used turbocharger parts , it is important that he or she keep certain do's and don'ts in mind that can guide the purchasing process. Adhering to specific tips helps guarantee that consumers find serviceable used versions of the turbochargers and accessories they need. Consumers may also gain an advantage by leveraging some of the better Internet vendors for used parts, such as eBay. If buyers prefer to shop locally, they can contact repair shops to find information on purchasing used parts.

Tips for Finding Quality Used Turbochargers and Parts

A seamless purchasing process involves an informed consumer who has the right parts in mind, asks questions, and understands the ins and outs of the installation he or she hopes to execute. Several tips are available to help consumers approach their searches for used turbochargers in an effective a manner.

Do Understand How a Turbocharger Works

A turbocharger essentially improves engine efficiency by addressing the intake gas handled by an engine's piston. A turbocharger works to take in air that can raise the density of the intake gas so that a greater mass of intake gas is shot into the cylinders each time the piston executes an intake stroke. Turbochargers also have the effect of increasing fuel efficiency. Waste energy sent out by an engine's exhaust is recycled into the system via the engine intake.

Do Understand Turbocharger Terminology

When shopping for a turbocharger, consumers may encounter several terms that are new to their lexicons. Understanding the basics of these terms can facilitate the purchasing process.



Additional Notes

Area/Radius Ratio

Ratio addressing a turbine housing's curved scroll

Affects turbine performance

Related to installation, engine size, and tuning

Blow-Off or Bypass Valve

Pressure release valve

Necessary when throttle is backed off suddenly

Often referred to as BOV

Blow-Through System

System with throttle blades placed on outlet side of compressor

Most common in modern EFI setups


Amount of pressure above atmospheric pressure

Metric unit is bars (B)

U.S. = pounds/square inch (psi)

1 psi = 0.0689 B

Choke Flow

Maximum flow for wheel trim/housing combo in compressor at certain efficiency

Efficiency typically 60 per cent


Cold-air-into-engine component of turbocharger

Addresses intake air

Compressor Surge

Air reversion that occurs at front of turbocharger

Can be addressed by BOV


Air-to-air or air-to-liquid heat exchanger

Draws heat from compressor air


Delay occurring after throttle change and before usable boost


Ported Shroud

Anti-surge relief channel

Used in high-tech compressors

Pressure Ratio

Ratio of absolute pressure at turbo outlet over atmospheric pressure

Term preferred by engineers over boost pressure


Exhaust of a turbocharger


Wheel Trim

Area ratio that defines inducer and exducer on turbine and compressor wheels

Higher trim translates into more air flow

Lower trim translates into quicker spool-up

This is an abbreviated list of the terms associated with turbochargers, and it provides a general overview of the type of language a consumer might encounter when shopping for used turbocharger parts. Consumers should also do their own due diligence and research any terms they encounter that they do not understand.

Do Know the Accessory Parts that Work with Turbochargers

There are a variety of accessory parts that can work with a turbocharger. Whether or not a consumer needs these parts depends on the particular set-up that consumer is going for and what type of motorbike or vehicle a consumer is planning on porting with a turbocharger.

Water Injectors

A water injector, or water intercooler, is an alternative to a traditional intercooling system. Just as its name indicates, a water injector injects water into the intake air, and this significantly reduces its temperature. This type of accessory is more common in automotive settings than in other types of vehicle turbochargers.


A wastegate is an accessory part that addresses the regulation of flow entering the turbine. This works to also regulate air intake into the manifold, which results in regulated boosting. Wastegates are most advantageous with small turbochargers, as they help them reduce their turbo lag.

Blow-Off Valves

Blow-off valves, also known as dump valves or BOVs, are essential accessory items for many types of turbochargers. A BOV allows a turbocharger to avoid compression stall, an occurrence that can damage a turbocharger. A dump valve is placed between the turbocharger and an inlet to vent off any excess air pressure in the system.

Do Look for Signs of Damage to a Turbocharger

It is, of course, essential to look for any hints of damage when purchasing a used turbocharger. Certain cosmetic defects, such as dings or rust that exists only on the surface can probably be sanded away and are not necessarily detrimental to a unit. If rust seems to be puckering the surface of a turbocharger, however, this would indicate serious damage. Other signs to look for include large dents that may have been incurred from flying foreign objects, damage to the bearings, and other indications that a turbocharger has not been well-maintained or lubricated. Again, working to communicate effectively with a seller can bring a lot of clarity to any signs of damage, so consumers should ask for a thorough usage history and confirm any visual damage with a vendor.

Don't Confuse Turbocharging and Supercharging

Those who are new to the world of turbocharging often confuse turbocharging with supercharging. The two are actually separate categories of performance enhancement that use different techniques to amp up an engine. Whereas turbochargers are powered by exhaust gases, superchargers are not. They use a mechanical approach to charging an engine and utilise belts, chains, gears, and other engine components to power themselves. This places a mechanical load on an engine, while a turbocharger does not. When working with a supercharger, a consumer must make sure that the engine's components can withstand the power output of the engine along with the horsepower needed to drive the supercharger.

Don't Avoid Communicating with a Seller of a Used Part or Turbocharger

Effective communication is one of the central ways in which a consumer can guarantee that the purchase of a quality turbocharger or accessory part is successful. This involves not only asking about the quality and integrity of a part, but also using communication with a seller to determine whether that person is likely to sell a quality turbocharger. When shopping online, consumers should ask for visual confirmation of a part's integrity through numerous photographs. Requesting a thorough use history of a part is appropriate, as well. All communication should focus on ensuring that a turbocharger is in good working order and is the right fit for a vehicle or motorbike.

Buying Used Turbochargers and Parts on eBay

Some consumers might hesitate to buy used parts out of concern that their selections might be limited in the secondhand marketplace. Fortunately, sites such as eBay aggregate sellers to create a large catalogue of used parts for consumers to examine. This site makes it easy for consumers to begin looking for turbochargers, thanks to its search interface. Entering a term into the search bar on eBay and then clicking the search button pulls up all the listings on the site that are related to that term. When you visit the site, run a search for the type of turbocharger you want, and then review the listing results in detail.

Getting to Know the Sellers on eBay

Consumers who understand the importance of communicating with sellers when shopping for used turbochargers can take advantage of the very effective communication portal with vendors on eBay. The site encourages and facilitates all such communication via a seller's page. When you see a listing you like, also click on the seller's name. On the seller's page you can send the seller a message or review any feedback other consumers have submitted, and this allows you to form a comprehensive idea about a seller's ability to deliver the part you need.


Buying and installing a turbocharger in a car or motorbike does not need to be a complicated or a costly process. Any consumer interested in upgrading a vehicle in this way can leverage the used marketplace to find serviceable parts that are less expensive than new parts. It is valuable, however, to approach the used parts purchasing process armed with the best information and tips. Consumers should determine whether they have a thorough understanding of turbochargers themselves, as well as any accessory items they might need to complete an installation. It is also important for consumers to ask essential questions of vendors during the process in regards to the quality and serviceability of a turbocharger.

With all of this in mind, individuals who are looking for turbochargers can then leverage the diverse catalogue available on the online retail site eBay, or they can use the information to search locally by working with mechanics and auto repair shops. By following a few simple tips, consumers can efficiently and quickly find used turbochargers that can bring new life to their rides.

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