Stuck Turbo Wastegates: Symptoms, Causes, Fixes & FAQs

By September 10, 2022Turbocharger, Wastegate

The symptoms of a wastegate that is stuck closed include lack of boost, engine light, and poor fuel economy. Wastegate stuck on close is a common problem faced by the turbo system. It could be caused by numerous factors, including dirt or wearing valves.

Personally, I have had my turbo wastegate stuck closed. I noticed that my turbocharged engine was constantly getting an excessive boost and triggered the check engine light. I later noticed that my vehicle’s fuel consumption increased drastically.

1. Lack of Boost from the Turbo

One of the significant symptoms you will notice when a wastegate is stuck closed is a lack of boost from the turbo. The reason for this is that the turbo is not getting enough exhaust gas to power the turbo. 

As we know, the turbo is powered using exhaust gases. Any obstruction that does not allow the turbo to receive the gases will be because it does not function well. If the turbo is not powered correctly, it cannot create the boost you need for your engine.

2. Check Engine Light

The wastegate is a part of the engine system and controls the level of gases that goes into the turbo. The wastegate is constantly tracked by the Engine Control Unit (ECU), which means if anything goes wrong with it, the engine light will be triggered. 

The ECU is meant to control and monitor the working condition of the engine. It does this through a series of sensors that gives feedback on the condition of various engine parts to the ECU, including the wastegate. 

Once the wastegate is constantly monitored using a pressure sensor. Once this sensor detects something is wrong with the wastegate, data about this is transferred to the ECU. The ECU then lets the engine user know that something is wrong to throw a check engine light.

3. Bad Fuel Economy

Another symptom of wastegate stuck on closed is a poor fuel economy. Your engine will consume more without actually being burned. The fuel will be expelled through the exhaust system. 

The turbo system is a great way to improve the fuel consumption of your vehicle. Once you notice that your vehicle consumes more fuel than usual, it could result from a wastegate stuck closed.  

Also Read: Blow Off Valve Vs Wastegate: Function, Horsepower & Sound

How Do I Know if My Wastegate Is Stuck?

If your turbocharged engine wastegate is stuck, you will get a harder boost, or it will be prolonged to the point of failure. It is because there is a problem with the level of exhaust gas the turbo is receiving. 

The wastegate of your turbocharged engine can either be stuck open or close, and you can tell which it is by the level of boost your vehicle gets. The wastegate is a valve that opens and closes to regulate the exhaust gas going to the turbine wheel. Its valves can get stuck due to some factors. 

When the wastegate gate is stuck on close, excessive exhaust pressure will enter the turbo system, causing too much pressure and boost. Once the turbo’s exhaust intake is not regulated, it would overwalk itself, and in a short while, the system would fail. 

If your wastegate is stuck open, your turbo will not be receiving the exhaust gases it will need for a boost. The exhaust gases will continuously bypass the turbine. In this case, your engine will be experiencing a much slower boost, and, in most cases, you may not get the boost you are looking for. 

What Happens if My Wastegate Is Stuck Closed?

If your wastegate is stuck on close, your engine will have an overboost condition and will likely fail soon from overworking. 

When your wastegate valve is stuck on close, the level of exhaust gases entering the turbine can not be regulated. So, more exhaust gases are entering the turbine without being diverted from the turbine. 

Once this happens, your engine will always give you that boost even when you do not need it. The turbo begins to get overly pressured by the exhaust gases and keeps working. One day the turbo will fail, and your vehicle will not experience any boost again. 

You must watch out for the stuck wastegate and avoid driving with this problem.

Also Read: Will Blow Off Valves & Wastegates Work On Diesels?

Fixing A Wastegate That Is Stuck

When you realise that your wastegate is stuck, there are two major ways to fix this problem. You can replace the wastegate entirely, or you could 

Below is a complete step on how you can fix your stuck wastegate: 

  1. The first thing to do when you realise that your turbo wastegate is stuck is to confirm it. You can use a scan tool, which could bring out code 45, which stands for over-boost, or you can check the wastegate itself. Also, you can tell by the symptoms your engine gives.
  2. You can also test the actuator to check if the wastegate is working. To do this, you will need an air compressor. Below is how to check if your wastegate is working using an air compressor:
    • First, you will have to find the wastegate actuator, which can be seen at the top of the wastegate. 
    • After you have found the actuator, locate the small air pressure tube, which can be seen. It is connected to the T in some small hoses.
    • Test the actuator by applying air into the air hose using the air compressor. Make you do not to apply too much air pressure to not damage the actuator. You can set the air pressure to between 10 to 20 PSI.
    • If the actuator’s rod moves freely, then the wastegate works perfectly. If not, then it is stuck.
  3. After testing and confirming that the wastegate is stuck, the main work has started. You can now go on to remove the side panels and seat mount. Depending on your vehicle type, this might not be necessary. 
  4. Next, remove the C clip from beneath the end side of the actuator where the pin is located. 
  5. At this point, the wastegate should move better using your hand. If it does not, then move on with the steps. 
  6. Remove the top exhaust parts’ bolts and remove the large exhaust section and the exhaust section that can be seen at the side of the wastegate. 
  7. You can now proceed to remove the wastegate by removing the original bolts. 
  8. Use a rag to block the side of the wastegate where air passes through, and use a PB blaster or Liquid Wrench to lubricate the top parts and the valve. You can also use a brush to remove contaminants while lubricating.
  9. Let it sit for some time while repeating the process. Your valve might have freed up at this point.
  10. If it is still stiff, try moving it back and forth while lubricating it; this should free it up. You can then reinstall the wastegate after it has free movement. 

Can You Move Wastegate by Hand?

You can move the wastegate by hand, but they are not easy to do. You will need an air compressor to be able to move the wastegate manually. 

The wastegate is built in such a way that it is easier to move it using air than physically doing it. If you want to test your wastegate, it would be great to use an air compressor or a vacuum system. You can do this through the wastegate actuator, which is located above the wastegate. 

Can You Run a Turbo Without Wastegate?

You cannot run a turbo system without an external wastegate. If you do, you will destroy the turbo system. If not regulated, the hot exhaust going into the turbine can be overbearing and cause the turbo to fail. 

There is a misconception that you can find a turbo that will only reach its maximum boost and turbine speed when the engine reaches a maximum RPM.

Finding a turbo system like this might be unrealistic. Wastegate helps to regulate the turbo system to regulate exhaust gases, and all turbo needs this particular mechanism. 

Can You Replace Just the Wastegate on a Turbo?

You can replace just the wastegate of your turbo engine. You do not need to replace any other part of the turbo system when the wastegate gets damaged.

The wastage can easily be removed and replaced with the right tools and steps. It does not require much experience in mechanical work. You can also buy a wastegate only, which could cost as little as $150 and even more depending on the brand and other factors. It will also cost more if you give it to a professional for repair.

FAQs

Q: When Should a Turbo Wastegate Open?

A turbo gate stays closed to allow exhaust gases to enter the turbine. It opens to regulate the gases and divert them from the turbine to avoid an over-boost and turbo failure. 

The turbo wastegate opens up to avoid excess exhaust gases from entering the turbines, It also helps release pressure from the turbo system. 

 

Which muffler is your car right now?

Q: Is a Wastegate Open or Closed at Idle?

The wastegate is usually closed when the engine is idle. It only opens up slowly when the pressure built up in the turbo system has exceeded its limit. The wastegate slowly opens, diverting gases away from the turbo system letting pressure drop. 

 

Q: How Do I Know If My Wastegate Is Open or Closed?

You can tell if your wastegate is stuck on open, if your engine is slow in boosting, or does not boost at all. Also, you can know if your wastegate is stuck on close if your engine has a hard boost or over-boost. It could be hazardous to your turbo system, as it could cause it to fail if not fixed immediately.

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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