If your turbo is going bad and it can’t be repaired, you’ll have to fix it.
Of course, you can also opt to remove it and not use turbo – but the performance improvements from turbo can actually save you money over time – meaning it can be a great investment.
However, replacing the turbo is an expensive job. While that depends on whether you go aftermarket (parts run $200+), OEM ($400+) or performance ($900+), it will always be a big investment.
In fact, the average cost of replacing a turbo is about $1,200. That includes about $400-$800 for the parts and $300-$800 in labor costs. Those averages can vary a great deal, but you’re typically paying for 4-8 hours to replace the turbo plus the cost of parts.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of turbocharger replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Supercharger Cost||Cost of Labor|
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How Much Does Turbo Replacement Cost?*
In most cases, the cost of replacing the turbocharger will heavily depend on factors like the make and model of the vehicle, whether you want OEM parts, and where you go to have the parts replaced.
For example, the following chart details cost estimates for different vehicles when replacing the original equipment manufacturer turbocharger.
|Vehicle||Supercharger Cost||Cost of Labor|
|Dodge Ram Hemi||$716-$1,791||$190-$595|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||$252-$1,109||$449-$1,395|
|Nissan Qashqai||$730- $1,699||$220-$845|
|Honda Accord||$270-$990||$234 -$800|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing in May 2023. Cost estimates may have changed since. Our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
What Is Turbo?
A turbocharger is a type of supercharger that fits over the exhaust in your car. When you turn it on, it forces induction, pushing more air into the engine. This increases power by increasing the combustion and heat produced by combustion in the engine.
Turbochargers are cost-effective, do not increase fuel usage, and are generally more efficient than superchargers. In fact, most will improve the fuel economy of the vehicle, with some experts suggesting improvements of 8-10% on a turbocharger-boosted vehicle versus without.
At the same time, turbochargers are optional. If your vehicle has one, you don’t have to replace it. You can always drive your vehicle without the turbo boost, although you may see slight increases in gas usage.
Turbo Replacement Cost Factors
Turbocharger replacement can range from a simple $250 for a DIY job to over $10,000. Here are the cost factors that impact that pricing.
Cost of Labor
Replacing the turbocharger in your vehicle can be a very time-consuming job. The simplest jobs are about 2 hours of work. For example, if you have a Dodge RAM and have already removed the old turbo.
On the other hand, most jobs work out to somewhere between 4 and 8 hours. It’s unlikely that you’d spend more than a full day of labor on the job.
However, it does mean that you’ll pay an average of $250+ for the job. For example, the average cost of a mechanic per hour is about $50-$90. Depending on the actual location, that can go up to over $210. So, your 8-hour job could be quite a bit expensive.
Type of Shop
In most cases, you can choose to replace the turbo at your mechanic, a performance shop, or the dealer. Here, rates will vary for each case.
- Dealer – Most expensive, but includes warranty, OEM parts, and everything is handled by an expert in your vehicle
- Mechanic – The mechanic will be unlikely to offer performance parts as a standard, which means you’ll have longer wait times ordering parts.
- Performance Shop – Rates are normally equitable to a mechanic, but you may pay more for performance parts, which means you’ll have more options.
Performance shops specialize in upgrades like superchargers, which means they’re a great place to go when you want to replace or repair your turbo. The dealer will charge more for parts and labor, but many people prefer the certainty and the warranty.
Type of Turbocharger
There are 6 major types of turbochargers and if you’re wondering why one vehicle has a higher cost for the charger than another, it’s likely because it’s a different type of turbo. For example, V engines normally have twin turbochargers (one for each bank of cylinders).
- Single Turbo – Cost-effective and most simple option but not always suitable for dual-bank (V) engines
- Twin Turbo – Cost-effective but requires a larger vehicle and is typically best-suited for dual-bank (V) engines
- Twin-Scroll – Very high performance but expensive and only suitable for dual bank engines (V)
- Variable Geometry – High performance with a single turbocharger, very expensive
- Variable Twin Scroll – Cheaper than Variable Geometry but still hard to find, and therefore expensive compared to traditional turbochargers
- Electric – Very expensive and difficult to install, but very good performance results
In short, if you’re buying for a Ford F150 or a Dodge pickup, you’ll almost certainly need the twin turbo. That means more cost for parts and more cost to install – because you’ll have to install nearly double the amount of turbo components.
Make and Model of Vehicle
If you’re buying OEM parts, the vehicle make and model will directly impact parts. However, that’s also the case when you’re buying parts to fit into your engine or to fit your cylinder banks.
For example, if you have a V6 or V8 engine, you’ll likely want or need a twin turbo. That will impact costs a great deal.
In addition, some vehicles make it a lot easier to install a turbo than others. Here, Dodge is famously simple, with some jobs taking as little as 2 hours. That’s because the exhaust is accessible and there’s plenty of room to mount the turbo.
Other vehicles will have the opposite problem. For this reason, your vehicle will directly impact the cost of labor.
Brand of Parts
In most cases, you’ll pay the least for aftermarket generic parts or “made-to-fit” parts. These are designed to be cheaper alternatives to OEM parts and are usually warranted as being “as good as” the original, although not always.
Original equipment manufacturer parts cost anywhere from 30-300% more than aftermarket parts. However, they are the original parts fitted onto the vehicle, which means you’ll get the performance and results you expect.
In addition, you can opt for performance parts, which can cost a significantly large amount of money. For example, if you want a twin scroll or VGT, you’ll have to go for performance parts – which typically use rare metals – so parts can cost in the thousands.
In fact, performance turbochargers can go up to about $12,000 – although $1,200-$8,000 is more common.
5 Signs Your Turbo Is Going Out
If you think you’ve got a blown turbo, you can easily check for and diagnose the signs. However, turbo issues can often be fixed by replacing the oil, changing the gaskets, or changing the core. All of these will be cheaper than replacing the full turbo.
So, you should always talk to a professional about whether replacing the turbo is really necessary or if you can get away with replacing just the faulty parts.
1. Power Loss
If your vehicle has noticeably less power, especially when accelerating or going uphill, it is very likely to be a turbo issue.
However, this symptom is also a sign that something is going wrong with the exhaust, meaning that anything from your vacuum seals to your fuel ignition to the exhaust pipe could be causing the issue.
Therefore, you’ll have to check and diagnose more than just the turbo to correctly identify this issue.
2. Increased Fuel Usage
If fuel usage goes up, it’s a pretty good sign that the turbo is having issues.
However, again, this could be an issue with any part of the exhaust.
3. High Oil Burn
Many turbo systems rely on oil, which means that the turbo going out can result in leaks and high oil burn. If you’re constantly losing oil, it could be a sign of turbocharger failure.
However, this is also a symptom of exhaust and combustion issues, and gasket leaks, high heat in the combustion chamber, and even spark plug issues can cause the same problem.
4. Poor Acceleration
If your car doesn’t accelerate easily, it could mean a turbo issue or it could mean an exhaust issue. That’s also true with the secondary issues of smoke coming from the exhaust (usually leaking oil).
However, if the engine is also whining, that narrows the issue down, as it’s typically either the turbo or a belt. Vehicles having turbocharger issues will also struggle to maintain speed – although that is also a general exhaust issue.
5. Noticeable Damage to Turbo
If you inspect the turbocharger and see general wear and tear, leaking or oil, damaged gaskets, damaged pipes, or other noticeable damage, it means something has gone wrong.
However, chances are pretty high that you can replace the specific damaged part – which will save you a lot over replacing the full turbocharger.
How Do You Replace The Turbocharger? (20 Steps)
Replacing the turbo on your car normally means a full day of work. That’s especially true if you also have to take the old turbo out. However, with a bit of know-how, you can do the job yourself and save a good deal of money.
Keep in mind that if you have to tune the charger, you should ensure you have the expertise or a professional on hand to do the work.
Things You’ll Need:
- Turbo kit that works for your make and model of vehicle, matching the compressor to your vehicle’s needs. E.g., remove the old turbo and check the name and identification number on the core, and re-order that.
- Wrench set for your vehicle (check if imperial or metric)
- Replacement oil
- Drainage pan
- Ratchet set
- Service manual for your vehicle
- Screwdriver set
- Needle nose pliers
- Shop towels/paper towels
- Drain the oil into a drain pan.
- Replace the oil filter.
- Inspect the air hoses and the air filters, ensuring there are no signs of debris or damage – which could immediately damage your turbo.
- Check the hoses to control valves and to pneumatic actuators or the wiring loom for electronic actuators (V-engines).
- Clean the air filter and the housing and replace the filter if necessary.
- Inspect the engine breather system.
- Set up your new turbo by getting it ready to install. Do not change the settings or calibration or adjust the open position. Double-check the parts and ensure you have the correct parts and gaskets. Lay them out so you can easily access and install them.
- Remove the original turbo following the instructions in your service manual.
- Remove the old gasket material from the exhaust manifold and pipe.
- Inspect the mounting flange and manifold casting for debris, buildup, malformations, or cracks. If present, remove them and replace them with the new ones from your kit. Otherwise, you can use the old ones.
- Mount the turbocharger into the old spot (under the manifold or engine block) with the new gasket or O-ring, aligning the bolt holes and flanges line up.
- Fit the turbine inlet gasket to the exhaust flange and ensure that it fits tightly, with a gasket to ensure a good seal and tighten it to the torque recommended in your service manual.
- Align the manifold connection.
- Connect the oil drain and feed line, using gaskets as necessary. Keep in mind that you must use the supplied gaskets, and liquid gasket is typically not suitable for turbo applications as it will contaminate the oil. Double-check that these pipes are not too close to any source of heat.
- Fit any oil distribution pipes.
- Align the compressor cover, being careful not to misalign any O-rings, and put it on.
- Connect all external fittings. (These vary quite a bit depending on make and model.)
- Fill the turbocharger oil feed with clean engine oil and crank the turbo by hand.
- Refill the engine oil.
- Start and idle the engine for 2 minutes, or until the oil warning light has gone out. Check that all connections are tight and free from leakage. Use soapy water to see air leaks.
If you still have questions about replacing your turbocharger, these answers should help.
Is it worth it replacing a turbo?
Many turbo vehicles are designed to reach normal performance with the usage of a turbo. This means that you will see gas usage go up by as much as 10% if you don’t have the turbo.
Therefore, even if you remove the turbo – it will still eventually cost you more than replacing the turbo. For example, calculate how much extra you’d spend on gas in a year if gas usage went up by 10% and decide based on that.
Can you drive with a broken turbo?
It is not okay to drive with a broken turbo, unless you have a turbo bypass switch. This means that you’ll want to either have the turbo replaced, repaired, or removed.
Driving with a broken turbo will result in excessive fuel consumption and poor acceleration power, and will risk damage to the engine.
Is it cheaper to rebuild or replace a turbo?
It’s almost always cheaper to replace one part than to rebuild the whole turbo. However, if you have to remove everything and rebuild it, you may find that replacing is a lot cheaper.
On the other hand, that’s dependent on the cost of the turbo (e.g. a high-end performance part is always cheaper to rebuild) and the local cost of labor.
If your turbo is blown, repairing or replacing it should be the next step. It’s theoretically possible to simply have the turbo removed. However, you’ll typically find that you’ll use a lot more fuel, which will offset any cost savings of not using the turbo. In addition, replacing the turbo typically costs $800-$1,200 with parts and labor included. However, actual costs can range from $270 for a DIY job with aftermarket parts to over $10,000 for a performance turbo.
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