It seems as if the boost craze is something that has hit the import enthusiast world by storm. Seems as if gone are the days of sick N/A builds with good looks, and in are the days of sleeper cars with awesome turbo buildups.
The downfall of this new craze is that people all over the internet are seeing this 'turbo influx' and taking advantage of those who are new to turbos and or old timers looking for good deals. Seeing this happen on a daily basis on ebay and through false thread information has caused me to attempt to create this sticky on turbo purchasing 101. This thread's intent isn't to help you decide WHAT TYPE of turbo to buy for your setup (IE: T3/to4E in a 48 or 57 trim), but instead is supposed to help members identify legit turbos from good sellers/rebuilders vs ebay and 'my friends a garrett rebuilder' disasters.
As always, turbo's are somethign everyone wants, but NO ONE cares to learn about and or research. That fact along with the many sellers/brands and different types, leads to confusion what is good and what isn't legit.
When purchasing a turbocharger, one should always have a wide variety of resources available to even help start a search. Sites such as www.honda-tech.com
, and www.sr20forum.com
are great online forums, while magazines such as Sport Compact Car and Modified help you see stuff on paper.
Once you have your sources, you should determine if you want to buy a brand new turbo, a new rebuilt turbo, or a used turbo.
Sites like www.atpturbo.com
, and www.turbosdirect.com
are renouned for their excellent new turbos as well as rebuilt products and service.
Businesses like Jim Wolf Technology (Which happens to be a GARRETT design house), and DW Diesel (Which is an official GARRETT supplier) are places to get brand new Garrett turbos, and or specially desisnged Garrett factory built turbos.
Again, the above sites are KNOWN to be good, as selling turbos is what puts food on the owners plates. There are however always other great sites out there to buy turbos from. The only way to test these other sellers is through research on the forums I've listed above and word of mouth. A quick search of 'The Speed Factor' will net you fantastic seller results. Do the same with 'XS Power' and you'll be greated with horror stories fit for Halloween! Always remember that its' your hard earned money you are spending...so no use in donating 400 bucks to some no namer becuase he's 50 cheaper than a legit site. One would hate to eventually pay 850 (cost of the junk turbo and a legit new one) when he/she could have just spent 50 more to start for a new unit. Just because Johnny/Suzy/Timmy/Sally can get you a hook up from an unknown seller is BY NO MEANS a good reason to buy that turbo. Plainly put: Turbochargers are expensive for a reason. It should be common sense when a t3/t4 costs 450 from ATP Turbo vs 200 from ebay, on which will be the better turbo.
REBUILT NEW TURBOS:
This is probably the most common and popular choice when it comes to buying turbochargers. Usually up to half the cost of a legit Garrett factory unit, these turbos always use genuine parts when being rebuilt. Places like Phoenix Turbo, ATP Turbo, and Turbos Direct are the hands down KINGS of internet rebuild turbocharger sales. These companies understand that even 1 horror story on 1 forum could spell disaster for all future sales from that site (especially those on the scale of honda-tech). I have had great success from these sites buying parts and or turbo hardware, as well as the turbochargers themselves!! It's known to most boosted internet members that ATP especially is known for being your 'one stop' place for all things turbo. That, and they are listed as an official Garrett Supplier, which means that they also sell NEW hybrids as well. Can't beat that at all!!!
FORUM ADVERTISER SALES
Another advantage of forums is being able to find advertisers who are running deals on turbos. These are a good situation of getting a turbo for less...however you always hafta browse/search first to look for the most popular sellers. At the same time you should also be able to tell who are legit sellers and who are not. As stated above, just because XS Power is running a deal doesn't mean you shoudl jump on it.
Phoenix Turbo is a verified Honda Tech Seller, and always offers AWESOME deals on their rebuilt turbos. The countless boosted members of HT will vouch for their sales as well (A quick search will yield tons of positive results!!!)
A main struggle with used sales is being sure to get a turbo with the correct flange for your setup. If you have a t2 based flange, than obviously a t3 or t4 turbo WILL not fit. Also keep brands together as well. A KKK or Mitsu turbo will NEVER fit your Garrett t3 based manifold. An srt-4 turbo will never work on your Integra, as the turbine housing is cast into the exhaust manifold. For those going custom, always remember that being original with turbo choice also isn't always best. Garrett is the standard, and irregardless of ones brand loyalty, should be where your turbo comes from. (Or a turbo that uses Garrett style flanges.) should Just because you can get a specially created KKK turbo mean you need it??? Remember that you'll need to have a custom manifold designed to accept the odd KKK flange, and then if you ever do decide to sell it, you'll need a buyer who has the correct flange. Selling a t3/t4 is 100x easier than a custom KKK, even if the KKK is the more efficient snail.
Classified Forums, such as the ones found on www.sr20forum.com
, are great places to find USED turbochargers. The advtantage of buying a used turbocharger from these forums, is that you can search the sellers previous posts and or history (such as previous sale history) to get more information on a turbo. You can easily see if the turbo had 'smoking problems' and or similar problems from search results.
Another advantage of the forum sales, is that you can easily PM, EMail, or directly respond to the sellers thread. There is no excuse for those who don't ask q's first. Ask about shaft play. Ask if there is any oil found in charge pipes. Ask what PSI the turbo was normally run at, and for how many miles. Simple questions as that will help yield good results (1/8" shaft play, no oil in pipes, -3 line with restrictor, bought new from Jason at www.mjmturbo.com
used for 5,000 miles at 12 pounds on my Altima) or (1/4" shaft play, no restictor, stock t25, ran at 17 psi for 14,000 miles, bought online from seller who upgraded to an aftermarket turbo). Remember however that AGE isn't always a determining factor of a good or bad turbo. Most OEM turbos are designed to to last the life of the car, so a stock t28 from an GTiR engine with 40,000 miles tends to be a safe bet.
Reputation is also another factor one should look at when buying stuff. If a new member with 3 posts is selling his 'Used for 10,000 miles gt28rs', I would be very skeptical, whereas if a user with 1000 posts, a thread or two on his turbo car/project and 15 positive reviews from other sales is a good sign that the product is legit. Also remember that when you are buying a used turbocharger, that they ARE USED. They won't have the same nice finish as a NEW turbo and or have new seals etc. The advtange of turbochargers is that they are very low maintainence, and problem free. Turbos usually fail from 3 things: No oil, overboost, and sucking in debris. If you see that the used turbo is from a crate SR20DET, you can be assured that it SHOULD have had good oil supply, and a debris free life (as it would only run with a MAF on). If the turbo was also over boosted, it would have more than likely wobbled to death, causing scars on the inner compressor housigns ETC. Seeing a stock t28 for sale that was neverused in car is USUALLY a good buy. Seeing a T28 tht was on a custom Saturn turbo however is not a good buy all the time, unless again you were able to track his setup and problems. You don't know if a t3/t4 on a honda was using a -3 line with no restictor that fed from his oil pressure sending unit.
Places like XS Power and 'My friends a Garrett Worker' are not, and tend to often provide upmost dissapointment in final products (such as housings being glued together, CHRA's not being balanced among other things like wrong trims/wheels/AR's. Try to avoid these places (along with SSAC turbos) like the plauge. If you find any info on the turbo brand you are looking at, then STAY away. If you're considering one of these turbos after reading this, and or seeing pics than you may as well paypal me the cash. I'll take it and spend it on somethign better anyway.
The pandora's box of turbochargers can found on Ebay. With such a wide amount for sale from so many people, who knows what is good or isn't? In my experience, those that are using ebay to find a turbo are generally trying to go the cheap way (commonly known as 'the wrong way') with their setup. The disadvantge of ebay turbos is you have limited intitial resources to tell of the turbo seller is on par or a double bogey. Feedback results are also a 'ok' way to tell, however these are easily manipulated as well by the seller. What I suggest with ebay turbos, is that you type the sellers name into Yahoo/google to see if they have an actual website. Secondly, I take the name and search www.honda-tech.com
or other forums for reviews and or results. To often ebay 'deals' end up being ebay 'mistakes', however there are ALSO (while fewwer) legit sellers on ebay, like Shadow Dragon Racing. The only way to know is by searching.
Basically, you should only be shopping at the first 4 options above. You should also consider garrett style flanges for your setup as often as possible (or as permissale). Obviously if you're replaing your stock K03 on your 1.8T, you should get another KKK turbo. However if you are upgradin your turbo on your 1.8T, you should consider the many garrett kits available for them.
As stated before, you always want to do as much research as possible. The search button/feature of many forums is a valuable tool in finding the news you need. If needed, you can always create a thread to ask a question if you are still stumped (although you should reference this sticky first). Try to avoid places like EBAY or XS POWER and stick to good places like Jim Wolf Technology and Turbos Direct. Buying a turbo/going turbo is a huge endeavor that should never be attacked half assed. All to often online do I see for sale threads form abandoned turbo projects due to the buyer getting duped into purchasing a lemon part. Also, most turbo guys will be more than willing to accept a PM from you, albiet you SHOULD/WILL/ALWAYS search first. I know when I was first doing my turbo stuff, I must have spent nearly 2 months researching/searching countless threads to get a base knowledge of turbo tech (and even still I am learnin!!!).
Also ensure that if you can get pictures of your turbo to GET PICS. Would you buy a used car without seeing a pic of it first?? NO. So why would you buy a turbo with no pic. In this same breath, make sure that the pic is of the actual turbo. How many times do we all see pictures direct from the garrett website used to promote XS Power's new t70 super blowmonster??? Thats like putting a picture of a Factory race Porsche 993 on a Boxter advertisment.
Remember, it's your money and your choice. If EBAY is your way, and youbelieve that 200 dollar t3/t4 is to good to pass up, then buy it. However remember when it flys apart 100 miles down the road that I told you not to get it. Consider your overall cost vs intial cost. If a legit t3/t4 costs 400 from an above listed legit seller, than why would someone by selling their 'brand new' one for 200??? Does anyone else smell fish???? Turbochargers are expensive by nature. If anyone could build them, than they wouldn't be so pricey. I just paid over 1000 for my gt2871r .64 ball bearing, but it's NEW and Factory Garrett.
Now for pics
Below i'll be including some pictures so you can see the difference between a NEW, REBUILT NEW, USED and an EBAY/ XS power turbocharger. I'll also provide things to look for.
Entire Gallery for more pics here: http://www.e-rak.com/cody/gallery/album128
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Here is an example of a NEW TURBO. This is my Garrett GT2871r. If you look closely below the oil feed, you will see the FACTORY turbo tag, with CHRA info and part number. By typin this info into Garrett's website, you can see what you have. You can also see that there are no marks on the compressor housing from previous use, and no exhaust carbon in the turbine. The turbo spins freely and isnt leaking. This is a true unit. You can also see that on the turbine housing and compressor outlet that the A/R's are stamped/cast into the material, and has all the factory numbers on the outside. (Purchased through The Speed Factor)
Entire Gallery here: http://www.e-rak.com/cody/gallery/album51
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This is the turbo that was/is from my Altima. Custom built to spec by Jason at MJM Turbo, this has a .60 a/r to4b AiResearch compressor with a .63 a/r t3 turbine from Turbonetics. The wheels are Garrett, and all parts have the correct part numbers and or tags on them. This rebuild is TOP NOTCH using new housings, and CHRA. Some rebuilders can sometimes use used housings if they are damange free, and this is perfectly acceptable.
More pics in the gallery here: http://www.e-rak.com/cody/gallery/album30
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This is a used Mitsubishi 14b. As you obviously tell, this sucker has been used for quite some time. Oil is everyhwere, as well as dirt and grime. While most used turbo sellers will clean up their snail, don't let the grime fool you. This sucker only hadbeen used for 18,000 miles and has NO shaft play. It also has all OEM DSM tags on it, and isn't damanged. A quick cleaning of this item will yield great results, and perhaps a faster sell (this turbo was used on a scrapped turbo Bronco II project of a friends). These can be found EVERYWHERE, and will undobtedly be had at next to nothing. Better than getting a new OEM turbo from Mitsu!!!!
Entire Gallery Here:
/\ /\ /\ Lastly, the venerable XS Power Junk-urbo. A friend of mine, who I regard as being a turbo expert and a person of high standards when it comes to parts, was duped into buying this 'good deal'. He lucked out, and managed to get his money back (aside from shipping), and got the member IP Banned from countless forums. As you can see by the pics, it's got 'Brand X' casting marks on the turbine housing (which to my knolwedge means they didn't meat garrett specs and are throwaway housings....), a 'no mark' compressor housing (as in NO casting ID or part numbers ETC, 2 USED and BENT studs in the turbine housing, a painted turbine housing, mangled threads in the housing, and lastly had shaft play
. Not much else couldbe wrong with this thing in my opinion. This item was also listed on honda-tech by a new member who supposedly had a hook up that rebuilds garrett CHRA's on used housings. We will never know if the center section was indeed Garrett, but the outside is enough to make us sick!!! CHRA tag...yea right!!!
Additional Links and Info:
For any and all Garrett Information go here- www.turbobygarrett.com
. You can find the CURRENT catalogue as well as any info on hybrids being made by Garrett.
Good Turbo Sellers and Rebuilders: As always, there are more out there I'm sure, but these guys are the BEST at what they do (selling turbos and other turbo related items). Nothign but the best can be expected from these places, and they all are known industry wide for the best!!!
(yes 2 different MJMs both good)
The following are fantastic places to learn up on all things turbo, and or find used turbos as well as specials on turbos from many different sellers!
They following are to be avoided like the plauge. I am 100 percent sure that this list could be 10 pages long, but you'll soon find out who is shady when you search the many forums I've listed.
-Honda Tech Scammer List for Business and Private Sellers
- Giant Honda Tech List of shamers
and many many more
Again, it's your time, energy, and hard earned cashola being used in this project - NOT MINE. As you can tell, mine worked fantastically with no ILL problems from any of the turbocharger components. I don't mean to sound elitest or the best, but copying MY TURBO setup (or someone like Ultimatuc / Thunder / Black Hornet / AltyDriver / Petersons / Ketternec / UltimaSE) Will ubdoubtedly yield you fantastic 'boost-induced' good times.