If you notice a sudden lack of power while driving, struggle to accelerate, or notice your mpg dropping, you may well have a faulty or damaged boost pipe. The boost pipe is a part of a vehicle that you may not have heard of – until it goes wrong. In this series we cover what you need to know about your boost pipe, how to identify potential problems, and how to prevent boost pipe failure.
What is a boost leak?
Essentially, a boost leak means that air is leaking from your turbocharger. This imbalance of air means that the turbo doesn’t work properly.
Identifying a boost leak
It may be difficult to hear a boost leak over the sound of the engine, but if you hear anything that sounds like air being released through a hole, it is likely to be your boost pipe. If the hole is very small, this could be a high pitched squeal, but if the hole is big or the boost pipe has detached completely, it will be a deeper sound (think blowing through a straw, or an air pump that is not attached to anything).
Other signs of a boost leak include:
- Engine light: a leak has to be fairly significant for you to notice initial signs, but your car may detect a problem before you do. If your engine light comes on, it is worth being vigilant for the following symptoms as the sooner you get the leak fixed, the quicker and cheaper it is likely to be.
- Increased fuel consumption: the restricted air supply to your engine will mean that it has to work much harder. A harder working engine is a thirstier engine, so you may well see your mpg go down, or notice that you are having to refill more often despite driving no more than usual.
- Sudden loss of power: your turbo compresses air that has been made by your engine, then shoots that air back into the engine to create more power. Without enough air, there is less pressure, which will mean that your turbo won’t be able to achieve enough power.
- Poor acceleration: you may drive for a while without noticing that your vehicle isn’t accelerating at its normal levels, particularly if you are driving more slowly or in busy conditions.
- Smoke coming from the engine: because your engine is working harder, it is more likely to overheat, which will produce smoke. A smoking engine is one of the last signs of a boost leak and although it is OK to drive for a little while once you notice the other signs, driving with a smoking engine is a very bad idea and is likely to cause significant damage.
If you notice any of the above problems, it is advisable that you drop into your local garage as soon as possible. They should be able to identify the problem and, if it is a boost leak, fix it with relatively few complications. Follow Trust A Garage on Facebook or X for more information, and to find out boost leak causes and prevention.