Spot the difference – comparing quality turbochargers with cheap imitations

Last month, we took a brief look into the risks of purchasing poor quality turbochargers and components – and learned why it’s always better and more cost-effective in the long run to opt for high quality parts.

This month, we take a closer look at some of the key differences between quality turbochargers manufactured by reputable, specialist companies, and cheap, sup-par turbos available from some online retailers.

Online offenders

Do a quick search now on Google or eBay, and you’ll see that there are a huge number of aftermarket turbochargers available. To the untrained eye, they may all seem very similar, making it tempting to go for the cheapest option.

In reality, turbochargers and components vary massively in terms of quality, durability and performance, and as with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

Simply put, if a deal seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is, and if components seem cheap – it’s because they have been manufactured in Asia to the lowest possible price point, and not to the specification your car needs!

Facilities & processes

Leading turbocharging companies manufacture their components in advanced, specialist facilities, on custom built machinery that’s specifically designed to consistently produce precision components to extremely tight tolerances.

Every component specifically designed and manufactured to work together, then finished and assembled by a highly trained specialist.

In comparison, manufacturers of cheaper turbochargers try and imitate the components made by the OEMs, creating components on out-dated and unsuitable machinery.

Generally, the manufacturers don’t have the experience or knowledge required to accurately replicate the genuine components, and the machinery simply isn’t capable of manufacturing to the tight tolerances required to create quality, precision components.

These manufacturers are trying to build approximate, passable copies of quality turbos, which means that they will cut corners at every step of the process, from casting and finishing, right through to assembly and final testing.


High quality turbochargers are manufactured from advanced, super-strong and lightweight alloys, which have often been developed specifically for the OEMs. These materials are fairly expensive, and contribute towards their overall cost.

One of the key ways that manufacturers of cheaper imitation turbochargers can reduce the cost of their units is by swapping out these materials for cheaper alternatives.

These materials tend to be heavier, lower performance alloys that won’t just compromise the performance of the turbochargers, they will also affect the overall quality, durability and lifespan.

Testing and quality control

OEMs and reputable turbo manufacturers all have rigorous testing and quality control processes in place to ensure that all the units that leave their facilities are fit for purpose, and built to the same high standard.

These processes contribute to the cost of each unit, but help to ensure that they always produce dependable, high performance turbochargers that are capable of withstanding the stresses and strains of heavy use.

Manufacturers of cheaper components simply don’t have the same testing facilities, experience or quality control processes in place.

We’ve even seen evidence that some Chinese factories producing cheap aftermarket turbochargers aim for a 90% non-failure rate. In practice, this means they are happy if 1 in 10 of the turbos they create fail before they’ve even left the factory!

How we can help

Our message is simple – don’t trust cheap imitation turbochargers, they aren’t fit for purpose, and will only cause you (expensive) problems in the future.

At AET, we never compromise, and are resolutely committed to only using top quality, value for money components and turbochargers from reputable manufacturers in all our replacement and repair work.

If you’re looking for advice on any aspect of turbocharging, our friendly team of experts are always here to help. Get in touch to discuss your requirements today on 01924 588 266.