Rebuild or Replace? The great turbo-service debate!

Is it best to repair or just replace my problematic turbocharger?  This is a question that we get asked almost on a daily basis.  Sometimes the answer is easy, other times not.  Here are the things we consider before we answer that question for you:

  • Cost of the rebuild vs. the cost of replacement turbo
  • Availability of quality service parts or replacement turbo unit
  • Customers urgency
  • Shipping logistics

  For some vehicles the cost of the rebuild will come very close to the cost of a new replacement turbocharger, let's use the 2003-2007 Ford 6.0 Powerstroke for an example.  The average ticket cost for us to rebuild these units over the years has run $843.00, due to the complexity of the unit (labor) and the amount of component parts that were not repairable and required replacing.  Early in the production of this vehicle, the new turbocharger was ~$1600.00, so rebuilding was a cost effective approach for the customer.  Fast forward a few years and the cost of a new replacement turbocharger is $789.00 (2018 price), so the obvious winner will be the new turbocharger.  Keeping with the Ford brand, let's look at the 2008-2010 6.4 Powerstroke.  Current new replacements are ~$1950.00, and the average ticket cost for a rebuild has been $1368, so this vehicle is a prime candidate for rebuilding.  

 The availability of quality parts also plays a key role in our decision to rebuild or replace a turbocharger.  Take the Mazdaspeed 3/6 and CX7 as an example.  The turbocharger is a joint venture between BorgWarner/K3 Turbosystems and Hitachi Heavy Industries and is not available for purchase as a whole turbocharger from either of these companies. However, we can get all of the service parts to rebuild the unit easily which makes for a perfect rebuilding option.  For the other side of the story, we will look at the 2013 Ford 6.7 Powerstroke engine.  This truck take a Garrett roller bearing, variable geometry turbocharger that has had service parts released to us as of 2018, so the only option there is to replace the unit entirely.  

  How big of a hurry is our customer in? This is always a balancing act of price vs. demand and the scenario plays itself out in all of our lives daily.  We will always provide a time quote  and worst case pricing options up front for our customers so they can weigh out the options.  Just last week we had a customer call with a failing turbocharger on his Hino powered service truck, and while the rebuild option was considerably less expensive the time frame it would have taken to ship the unit to us, perform the service and then return shipping was going to cost more in lost revenue to justify.  

  Just like the example above, shipping logistics have to be considered on some orders.  With most of our customers falling into the 2 day shipping time zone, transit times are reasonable and easy to schedule so rebuilding is a very attractive option.  For those customers that are further out than the 2 day shipping, or in another country where customs and shipping costs alone must be considered, a replacement turbo option may be better suited.

  Thanks for taking the time to read this article, I hope it helped to explain our protocol for rebuilding or replacing your turbocharger thoroughly.  If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for our blog, please drop me an email! 

Very Best,

Reed Patridge