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Hella turbo actuators: loss of pressure, limp mode and other issues

We’ve all felt the frustration of a turbo that doesn’t pack a punch any more. Whether it’s a loss of acceleration, those concerning engine sounds that indicate that the pressure could actually be building up to dangerous levels, or the possible electronic faults associated with turbos. Here we take a look at Hella turbo actuators and how to understand issues that you might be experiencing.

What is a turbo actuator?

The turbo actuator (which is also known as a wastegate actuator) is a pressure relief valve that regulates the power output of the turbo on your car, channelling away excess exhaust gases so they cannot affect the turbine wheel. This in turn regulates the turbine’s speed, and prevents it from over-spinning, which also controls the speed of the compressor. All of this acts as protection to the turbocharger, stopping it from getting damaged by wear and tear by limiting the pressure of the turbo to a harmless level.

A wastegate actuator is actually quite simple: it is made up of a spring and a diaphragm. The spring holds it shut and when the pressure reaches a certain predetermined level, it opens, letting the gas evacuate, thus reducing the pressure build up. In modern vehicles, inevitably, this process involves more electronics and works in conjunction with the ECU, creating what is effectively an electric actuator – a Hella turbo actuator being an example.

Problems and solutions

So, what are the symptoms of problems with your actuator and what can you do to resolve them? Eventually, excess pressure and heat will begin to weaken the spring of your actuator and affect its performance. This often results in the wastegate opening early, therefore limiting the pressure output and effectiveness of the turbo; this will bring the car into limp mode.

The diaphragm is also prone to failure. This means that the valve won’t open properly, leading to the pressure rising excessively, which can cause serious, long term damage to the car engine.

These issues aren’t something which can’t be easily remedied without technical knowledge. The first solution in both cases is to have your actuator checked immediately. An alternative to this is to consider fitting a bleed valve, which introduces a precise air escape into the wastegate pressure line, forcing the turbo to create a stronger boost to activate the actuator. But even with a bleed valve you will still need to know that the actuator is functioning properly, and in the case of Hella turbo actuators this will involve a series of checks to ensure electronic components are functioning properly with the car’s ECU.

That’s where Autotronics can help you. We are specialists in checking and repairing electronic car parts. Our guaranteed repair services are always more affordable solutions, compared to exorbitant replacement costs from main dealership. So, if you think you’re having problems with your turbo actuator, then get in touch today.