It’s a driver’s nightmare: going to overtake a slow vehicle or accelerate on a main road, only to realise that your foot is on the ground and your car feels as powerful as a toy. If your vehicle loses power, it could be down to a number of things, one of the most common of which is a boost leak.
Last week, we talked through signs of a possible boost leak. This week, we take a look at what causes a boost leak, and what you can do if you have one.
The turbo compresses air to create more pressure, which is injected back into the engine to create power. If that air leaks out, there is less power. Although a boost leak can happen at any point within the turbo system, there are four common areas:
- Pipes – connecting pipes carry hot air from the compressor back to the engine. The pipes are usually made of aluminium and are designed to endure a high amount of environmental stressors, but can eventually develop cracks, through which air can escape.
- Joints – connecting joints are an area of weakness in any piece of engineering. Connecting couplers or clamps are often used to create a sealed join but if they are fitted wrong or become damaged as a result of prolonged strain, they can leak air.
- Intercooler – once air has been compressed, it needs to be cooled and have oxygen added to it before it can be carried back to the engine. The intercooler performs this role and, if it is faulty, the conditions won’t be right for the engine to be its most effective.
If you suspect that you have a boost leak, it is best to get it checked out as soon as you can. If you ignore the problem, more and more strain will be put on your engine, which could lead to more serious problems.
Fixing a boost leak
The cost of fixing a boost leak will depend on the cause and how difficult it is to access and fix. The parts are not usually incredibly expensive, but if the damaged area is hard to reach, it can cost a lot in labour. One thing is certain: the longer you leave your leak without taking it to the garage, the harder your engine will have to work, and this could lead to even more expensive damage. If left for too long, you could cause irreparable damage to your turbocharger, which could see your bill going from hundreds of pounds to thousands.
If you notice that your car isn’t quite as powerful as normal, drop into your local garage and ask them to have a look for you. If you are unsure where to go, check out Trust A Garage’s directory of rated and vetted mechanics near you. For more advice, follow us on Facebook or X.