Not All Turbos Are Created Equally – The Risk of Poor Quality Components

At AET, we’ve been working with turbochargers for 40 years – and in that time, we’ve developed a pretty comprehensive understanding about what makes a good turbocharger!

Unfortunately, there are a lot of poor quality turbochargers and components available, and it can be tempting for customers to opt for the cheapest product out there – but this is almost always false economy.

In this post, we take a look at the issue of poor quality components, and why it’s always better (and cheaper!) in the long run to opt for high quality parts.

The dangers of online “bargains”

From time to time, customers come into AET ready-armed with a list of super-cheap turbochargers and components they’ve found online on sites like eBay, and expect us to match the prices – and are astounded when we say we won’t.

The truth is that the vast majority of turbochargers found on sites like eBay are cheap Chinese imitations, substandard copies and poor quality turbos that simply aren’t fit for purpose. Just because a turbocharger or part says it is compatible with your vehicle, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use it!

It’s important to remember that if a turbocharger or component is priced cheaply, there’s a reason – it’s been manufactured to a price point, and not necessarily to the ideal specifications or quality standards your vehicle requires.

At AET, we regularly see customers who’ve tried to save money and had a substandard turbocharger fitted to their vehicle, only for it to need replacing again a few weeks later.

There’s absolutely no comparison between cheap, low quality turbos available online and the high quality, tried and tested turbochargers we use at AET, and we’d quickly go out of business if we tried to price match!

It comes down to price vs value, and investing in a quality turbocharger from a reputable manufacturer will almost always pay dividends in the long run.

The key differences

With turbochargers, you really do get what you pay for, and the old adage “If it looks to good to be true, it probably is” definitely applies!

Whilst a cheaply manufactured, poor quality turbocharger might look very similar to a high quality one at first glance, the difference is usually in the details – and these details have a huge impact on performance durability and safety!


One of the main ways manufacturers utilise to keep costs down is to replacing high quality materials with cheaper alternatives.

This might include the machined phosphor bronze thrust bearings getting replaced by ones stamped out from a sheet of steel, or super-strong, lightweight alloys getting changed out for cheaper, heavier and weaker metals.

Often, these changes aren’t immediately visible and can only be seen when a turbo is taken apart.

Construction & build quality

Leading turbocharging companies design their own turbochargers, before manufacturing them in state of the art facilities to strict quality standards.

Generally, cheaper, low quality turbochargers are manufactured by companies who copy these designs, whilst making a few small changes to reduce the costs – without worrying about how these changes will affect the quality of the final product.

Even tiny changes, like the use of inferior nuts, bolts and screws or a lower quality seal can make a huge difference.

Testing and repeatability

For a turbocharger to work effectively, all its components need to work in harmony, and it’s important to remember that it’s not just the initial quality of these parts that matters – they also need to be thoroughly tested.

High quality turbochargers and components are always put through a rigorous testing process to ensure that they are fit for purpose and capable of withstanding the stresses and strains of heavy use.  All OE units have to pass burst containment test to retain any debris if a turbo explodes – copies don’t.

Typically, cheap components aren’t tested in the same way, which significantly affects the reliability of the finished turbocharger.

How we can help

At AET, we only use high quality turbochargers and components in our repair and replacement work – it’s part of the commitment to quality that we’ve built our reputation on.

In some cases, we can even remanufacture turbos to be better than the original from the OEM – ironing out known faults to ensure increased reliability and performance.

Whatever your turbocharging requirements, our friendly expert teams will provide you with honest advice, top quality workmanship and excellent customer service.

Get in touch to discuss your requirements today by calling 01924 588 266 or head over to our turbocharger parts page and request a call-back.