As we all know, turbochargers are an expensive part of the entire drivetrain of a vehicle and are highly precision engineered. Over the years, counterfeit parts are getting closer and closer to our genuine parts visually, making it more difficult to judge whether you have actually bought a genuine part or counterfeit. Although it might be enticing to select the cheaper part if you have to replace something after it has broken, in many occasions this initial cheaper choice will turn out to be the more expensive choice after all. So going for an original turbocharger will save you maintenance or replacement cost down the road.
The reason for the higher cost of a genuine part is simple:
A team of skilled engineers works on the design and validation of the turbochargers together with the OEM, which finally uses them in the engine and vehicle production. All this time and effort costs money but does also guarantee a certain amount of durability, performance and safety.
Bursting a turbocharger intentionally
When buying a new car you would expect as a customer that your vehicle will perform similarly on the first day of ownership and the 1500th day of ownership. To make sure of this, extensive engine and vehicle tests are being performed to ensure that the engine performance, durability and fuel consumption are not compromised in any usage condition. One thing, which is often overlooked, is the safety aspect. As turbocharger manufacturer we are only allowed to supply parts to an OEM if those parts have been safety tested. For a turbocharger, this means to pass so called “burst containment” tests. As the name suggests, the test is designed to show that in case of a catastrophic failure where one or both of the turbochargers wheel bursts at least all particles stay within their housings to ensure customer safety.
Not only is the design and testing of a turbocharger vital to ensure performance and durability, the production and assembly process is also an important aspect to consider. Within the MHI Group, we assemble the turbochargers on highly automated production lines to create the most stable process with minimal part-to-part variation. And despite the high level of automation, which should already minimize the production errors, almost each station is doing a self-assessment in the form of a camera check. Then as final station of our production lines we have a station called “End of Line”. This station puts the turbocharger through a simple but effective functionality check to ensure all parts have been assembled correctly.
Before the OEM is able to sell the tested and assembled vehicle, they need to register each engine type for approval at the international authorities. They have to do this based on engine test results and the link between engine and turbocharger. Each specific combination needs to get approval before it is allowed to sell that product. Therefore, theoretically each counterfeit part is violating this law, which could mean your car is pronounced illegal and is not allowed to drive on public roads anymore. Generally, the only way for this to come up is if your car is not passing the emission testing during MOT checks and the mechanic starts digging around to fix it.
So how to recognize a counterfeit turbocharger?
As MHI group we always includes the partnumber and tooling information on our casted components (compressor cover and turbine housing). Some customers also have some branding requirements which results in a casted logo of the OEM on one of the parts for example.
Unfortunately the counterfeit manufacturer are also looking at these details and are getting more and more skilled to copy these features making the differences almost impossible to see for the untrained eye. Also small differences in material colour (usually caused by using different materials) are difficult to spot if you don’t have the original and counterfeit side by side. All in all, recognizing the counterfeit parts is getting more and more difficult due to the increasing “skill” of the counterfeit companies. However despite the looking the same, they will never be since they cannot use our tooling concepts and they will not have conducted the same level of validation.
Therefore the advice would be:
Buy your replacement turbocharger at the official dealerships to ensure yourself of the fact that you buy an original part.