Your Sunday driver: Meet Professor Turbo

Lord Seno (The Freeman) - September 1, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Turbocharged engines are fast becoming the answer to more powerful and fuel efficient vehicles.  Its advancements in design and construction has trickled down to the everyday cars like Sports Utility Vehicles, Family Vans and Light Trucks.  The modern turbo engines of today  represent state-of-the-art innovations that promote both power and  fuel efficiency with reliability.  But as with any other form of mechanical device, maintenance  is key in prolonging the life of your turbocharger.

With the help of Engr. Edwin Cayco of Rurex Turbo Specialist, we will provide answers to basic turbocharger questions and helpful tips for prolonging turbo life. Cayco’s passion for  turbos stretches back to the days when  his Father opened a turbo repair and marine machine shop in the 1970’s in Malabon, Manila.  Today, Cayco is the CEO of Rurex Fabrication and Trading Corporation and EDMEL Machine Shop, a one stop machine shop located in Tabok, Mandaue City that fixes all kinds of engines. Their specialty? Turbo engines of all sizes from Marine, Heavy Equipment to everyday commuters. He also owns the quickest car in the Philippines, a 9-second quarter mile turbocharged monster of a Honda.

As complex as a turbo engine works, we are going to try to make it as simple and basic as possibly. To get us started, Cayco emphasizes why the turbo in a modern engine is extremely vital to its performance.  “ Before, especially in the early days of turbo engines, the device was used to add 20-30% of power to the engine. Even if you lose the turbo, the engine will still have considerable power.  Now, turbos make 50-70% of the engines power. If the turbo is not working properly, you will have considerably losses in power and efficiency.”

Cayco adds that there are three major culprits to premature turbo damage. These are heat, lack of or contamination of lubrication and  particle obstruction . “The most hardworking part of the turbo engine is the Turbo simply because it operates at about 100,000 to 300,000 revolutions per minute.  Turbos are  cooled with water and lubricated with oil.  It is essential that water and oil levels should be at its proper level and free of contaminants.  A dirty turbo can be inefficient, increasing fuel consumption by up to 10% aside  from spewing pollutants into the atmosphere.  Particles like pebbles or loose macro components that get suck-in the engines also cause damage to the turbo.”

So how do we maintain our turbocharged engines? Cayco stresses that regular oil change with the correct type of oil is the first step to Basic Turbo Engine Care. The turbo is the hottest part of the engine as it harnesses power from the exhaust gases coming out of the engine. Fully Synthetic Motor Oils with “turbo ratings” should be used as these are the types of oil that don’t change lubrication characteristics even under exceptional operating conditions.  Periodic oil changes should be set at every 5,000 kilometers.

The next basic step is to regularly flush out radiator coolant and check for leakages in the cooling system. Most turbochargers draw coolant from the engines cooling system. Overheating or any contamination brought about by unwanted deposits like rust can cause premature damage to the turbo.

The third step is to regularly change air intake filters to effectively screen out unwanted particles that may be sucked-in your engine.

Cayco emphasized the need for Turbo Periodic Maintenance Servicing  and that it should be done every 25,000 to 30,000 kilometers.  “The process  is quick and simple if handled by a qualified service center. First, the turbo unit has to be taken out of the car and brought to the service center where it is cleaned and re-balanced using a state-of-the-art Center Housing Rotating Assembly(CHRA) Balancing Machine. CHRA is the main core of the turbo and balancing it minimizes vibration and friction.  This process combined with the basic steps in turbo maintenance will help prolong turbo life up to three times the usual mileage and this whole process can be completed in a day.”

Cayco’s expertise in turbos has led him to invest in high-tech machines solely dedicated to fixing turbos and turbo engines, not to mention stocking new replacement units and repair kits. “So many modern turbo cars are running here in the Philippines and there was no  qualified service center for these cars. I think I am the first in Cebu and the Philippines.  In Southeast Asia, it’s just us and Thailand. Other countries, they don’t have the technology yet so they just throw away busted turbos and replace it with new, very expensive ones.”   (FREEMAN)

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