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Motormouth: Still a good idea to cool off a turbocharged engine

Chicago Tribune

Q: I now own a vehicle equipped with a turbocharger. I did a thorough reading of the owner's manual and could find nothing telling me to allow the turbo to slow and cool down before shutting off the engine. In fact, the car shuts down automatically after a stop. I recall that back in the day when turbos were first becoming popular the considered opinion was that without allowing them to cool the oil would burn or char, not a good result. (Of course, oils today are much better than what was available back then.) Is this a concern today?

R.R., Lisle, Ill.

A: You have a good memory. The effect of the U.S. embargo of oil from Iran caused gasoline prices to peak in 1982. The economic impact caused carmakers to look for a replacement to displacement. The American motoring public continued to prefer good performance. Car companies sought to make smaller displacement V-6 engines perform like big V-8s. Turbos were an elegant answer. When you flog the engine, the turbo gets quite hot. If the engine was then killed without cooling off, the oil inside the turbo cooked, choking off oil flow and resulting in failure. Water cooling plus greater oil flow have nearly eliminated the problem today, but I still would allow a few minutes of cooling off if I had just been driving it like I stole it. Just to be on the safe side.

Q: I have a 2014 Chevy Silverado. One day my wife was in the truck with me, and when she turned on her heated passenger seat the light came on at the control, but there was no heat. I then tried mine and found the same exact result. I checked all the fuses and even verified that the plug connections under both seats were secure. I have heard horror stories about shops charging upward of $500 to diagnose and then not come up with a cause. At this point I'd rather sit on cold leather seats than throw that kind of coin around.

B.K., Myrtle Beach, S.C.

A: These seats are notorious for heating element failure. If the seat back still warms up, chances are very good that the bottom element has failed. They are a relatively easy replacement for the typical auto tech.

Q: I always find something of interest in the weekly Motormouth Q&A. Will the recipe recently published (distilled water, distilled white vinegar, etc.) act as a faux Rain-X product? Or is the recipe best used on glass inside the vehicle? I did mix a batch of your recipe and it performed super as a cleaner on inner and outer glass surfaces.

R.M., Antioch, Ill.

A: My mixture may have cleaned so well that it removed the Rain-X. But now the glass is clean enough to apply a new coat of it.

Q: Why not just use Windex?

F.S., Oak Park, Ill.

A: For one, the homemade stuff is cheap. For another, Windex tends to evaporate quickly, which can lead to streaks and cloudy smears on auto glass. Finally, most Windex products contain ammonia, which can damage tinted windows. 

ABOUT THE WRITER

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send questions along with name and town to Motormouth, Rides, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Fourth Floor, Chicago, IL 60611 or motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.

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