How to balance a turbo: Preventing Unbalance


How to balance a Turbocharger Assembly

The importance of Balancing a Turbo

Internal combustion engines use turbochargers as a way to output more power. Some turbocharger impellers can reach speeds up to 300,000 rpm.

Unbalance at high speed generates vibration that will not only reduce the engine performance, but may eventually cause permanent damage to the whole system. Needless to say, turbo balancing machines are important in maintenance activities for turbocharger systems to work in optimal conditions.

Unbalance causes in turbocharger systems

Every rotor needs a proper weight distribution across the rotating axis to prevent unbalance. Turbocharger assemblies are meant to increase power in internal combustion engines injecting huge loads of air into the combustion chamber. A turbine spinning from the exhaust gases spins a compressor attached to the other end of the shaft, in order to increase air intake.

Turbocharger shaft mounted for balancing.

Turbo balancing machines are commonly used in turbocharger manufacturing process for balancing them, however, some residual unbalance is left in almost every installed turbo. On the other hand, overspeeding the turbo may prematurely wear the components, causing unbalance in the shaft.

Another common cause is damage made by an object hitting the turbo at high speed. Small pieces of plastic or ceramic may detach from a hose or any other engine component, becoming dangerous projectiles for the compressor and turbine impeller.

Imbalance effects in turbocharger systems

Vibration is the main issue when dealing with unbalanced turbochargers. Vibration absorbs great portion of the energy produced by the turbo, this energy is wasted because it does not contribute to the overall performance of the engine. Instead, vibration becomes the main source of premature failure in an engine.

Induced vibrations may harm many components during work operation, such as bearings, bolts, and belt. For example, bolts may become loose causing even more vibration.

The aftermath of unbalanced turbos is an overall decrease in engine performance, that may not be evident or significant, but at the end could be the main reason for potential major failure.

What do I need for balancing a turbo?

Light and sensitive equipment is important when performing a turbo balancing. Improper equipment (heavy or too rigid) could generate wrong measurements that will affect the outcome of the balancing. A good setup is ideal depending on different configurations when balancing time has come.

Turbos come in different shapes and sizes, so a versatile turbo balancing machine is preferred rather than a shaft-specific one. A good choice is the EI-30 from Erbessd Instruments®. This general-purpose balancing machine offers a Soft Bearing Suspension system to reach a high quality grade. This machine comes with a DC motor with variable speed control and adjustable pulley’s position, among other great features.

EI-30 balancing machine from Erbessd Instruments.

You can visit our Youtube site to view a complete turbo balancing and how our software, the DigivibeMX,  aids you to perform calculations in order to remove or add mass to the impeller.

We are eager to hear your reviews and opinions of our products. To know more about different dynamical balancing machines and how to perform a proper balance, please contact our experts!



Xavier Erbessd

Xavier Erbessd, is an Electronics Engineer from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. He is passionate about extreme sports, he is currently part of the Sales-Training & Tech Support Team at Erbessd Instruments®

ERBESSD INSTRUMENTS is a leading manufacturer of Vibration Analysis Equipment and Dynamic Balancing Machines with facilities in Mexico and the United States and representatives around the world. ERBESSD INSTRUMENTS – MASTERS OF MACHINE HEALTH