Used Turbochargers and Parts Buying Guide

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Used Turbochargers and Parts Buying Guide

Choosing to buy a used turbocharger and corresponding parts can save auto enthusiasts and those interested in modifying their cars a great deal of money, which is a huge draw for many to do so as opposed to buying new. With auto parts and labour at a high premium, those with knowledge and experience in the automotive field are likely to choose good used parts to increase the performance of their vehicles.

Turbochargers and related parts can be purchased at specialty stores and online retailers, like eBay. By learning what a turbocharger is, what its benefits are, what to look for in a used turbocharger and parts, shoppers can more effectively purchase used turbochargers and parts. They should also consider shaft play, stripped parts, damaged fins, and discolouration, along with the importance of professional and customer reviews and input, to ensure they make an informed decision during the buying process.

Turbocharger Overview

Simply put, turbochargers, or turbos as they are commonly referred to, give vehicles a big boost. They increase the horsepower of the vehicle without adding a great deal of weight. Usually, people with high performance or racing cars are more likely to opt for turbochargers, since gaining speed in a shorter period of time is valued with these types of vehicles.

How Turbochargers Work

By compressing air, turbos are able to force more air into the cylinder which allows for more fuel to be allowed in the cylinder. This creates a greater explosion with each cylinder resulting in more power. This power is resulting from exhaust fuel from the turbine spinning the air pump. A turbocharger allows for the turbine to spin 30 times faster than a vehicle without a turbo. Ball bearings, ceramic tubes, and wastegates all help the turbo run more effectively.

What to Look for in a Used Turbocharger and Parts

Buying a used turbocharger can be tricky because it is an internal part and may be difficult to gauge its effectiveness without a test run of sorts. However, it is important to know what to look for so that buyers are able to eliminate less savoury options. Many items have return policies in place in case the product is ineffective. A few tips can narrow down the list and hopefully help buyers find options for effective turbochargers and parts.

Shaft Play

The most important aspect to be sure of when buying a turbocharger is that there is no amount of wobble in the shaft and that the parts spin freely. This is called shaft play. There should not be any hesitation, scraping, hitches, or going off-course in regards to its spin. Its spin should be smooth and easy.

Often, a turbo with wobbly and faltering parts is not worth any additional amount of time or energy. Buyers should not waste their money on products with these qualities. Moving parts are most often subject to flaws, so it is incredibly important to find a turbo with little to no shaft play.

If buyers are not present to check on the condition themselves, and it is not listed in the description, they should ask sellers about the condition of the moving parts. Most sellers are extremely helpful and do not misrepresent their products, as they would be penalised for doing so. Asking questions and maintaining clear communication is essential when purchasing a product on a forum like eBay.

Stripped Parts

If any of the bolts or studs are stripped, then that is a big indication of a poor product. A striped bolt means that customers cannot alter the components; they are unable to tighten, loosen, or replace parts because the bolts are keeping the object locked into place. Finding a way around this issue is often not worth the effort.

Damaged Fins

Damaged fins that are cracked, chipped, or contorted in any way does not allow for the turbocharger to effectively do its job. If flaws are already present in a part, it is much more likely to withstand further damage. Examine parts carefully to ensure that they are in good, sturdy condition.


Severe discolouration can indicate that a turbocharger was not taken care of properly. It could have been installed in a vehicle previously where oil burned on or through it, damaging the turbocharger. A good way of searching for this handicap is by noting the colour of the turbine wheel. If it is white, then it has been improperly cared for.


What to Keep in Mind

Shaft Play

No wobble; parts should spin freely

Stripped Parts

No stripped bolts or studs

Damaged Fins

Cracked, chipped, or contorted fins are not acceptable


Turbine wheel should not be white with no other prominent discolouration

Getting Professional and Customer Input

When deciding what type of used turbocharger and parts to search for, it is often helpful to do research. There is no harm in asking a mechanic or auto parts salesperson for their expert advice on what type of turbocharger would be best for a particular vehicle. Before purchasing a turbo or corresponding parts, enthusiasts should be sure to know what type and model they are looking for. It would be a shame to purchase a part, only to find that it is not the right one for their particular vehicle. Shoppers should not feel obligated to purchase goods from these individuals but instead focus on educating themselves and price comparisons. Smart shoppers do not simply buy from the first place that they see an item or the first seller who pays attention to them. Instead, they process information from multiple sources and use that to find the best deal for themselves.

Customer Feedback

Other customers can be very helpful in finding the right item. Many of these people are more than willing to share their knowledge to aid new enthusiasts. Therefore, it is important to read customer feedback because they are less likely to have an investment in a particular product or a seller as they do not benefit from the product being sold.

Websites like eBay have a customer feedback section for every seller. Shoppers can then anticipate what their own experiences with these sellers might be like after reading customer reviews for sellers in terms of communication, accuracy of product descriptions, and timeliness of shipping and processing.

Ask Sellers Questions

When price comparing, shoppers should ask sellers any questions they may have about the products. That is what sellers are there for. They are there to help customers find their ideal match. There is absolutely no shame in asking questions. Sellers are often great with communication because not doing so could result in a missed opportunity to sell their product. If they are not good communicators, it is indicative of their business and may be a hint that other flaws could follow.

Good sellers are knowledgeable about their products and able to answer any questions. They are not likely to misrepresent their products either. Asking questions is sometimes the best way to unearth the truth behind a part. Flaws that are played down or mentioned in passing should be addressed to see if they are larger concerns.

How to Buy Used Turbochargers and Parts on eBay

Since eBay represents sellers from everywhere, buyers are not limited to the choices in their immediate vicinities, and the steep price tags that can come along with a lack of competition. eBay sellers are acutely aware of the going rate for the products they are selling and alter their prices accordingly. Whereas if there is only one auto part shop in town, they can charge as much as they would like for the product because they know there is no immediate competition.

Searching for a product on eBay is very easy. Simply visit eBay's main page and type keywords in the search bar. By doing this, corresponding results with generate and be displayed. Searching for the keyword turbocharger yields numerous results. Using synonyms to find different or a larger amount of results can be quite helpful. Additionally, adding more criteria to a search can limit results, which can be helpful in many cases. You should feel free to explore eBay's many categories and browse the sections. Perhaps, you can find something better than what you had originally searched for.

Take into consideration shipping prices and times, as they can differ greatly depending on the seller. If you are in need of a part in a shorter period of time, ask the seller if expedited shipping is available. Often times for an extra fee, you can get the part you desire more quickly.


Buying a used turbocharger and related parts can be a source of pride for auto enthusiasts because they are taking a more involved approach to vehicle ownership and maintenance. It can also be less of a strain on the wallet, which is a universal benefit for consumers. Knowing what a turbocharger is and what its benefits are sets the groundwork for being able to effectively purchase a used turbocharger and parts.

Knowing what to look for when buying these items is essential. The turbocharger should not be discoloured, have damaged fins, or stripped parts. Above all, it should have good shaft play. The moving parts should not be stiff or wobbly, but move with ease. Moreover, consulting experts, salespeople, and other customers is a great way to help narrow down what shoppers are really looking for in a product. With a little bit of research, finding the right turbocharger can be within the reach of many.

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