Precision Turbo thrust bearing failures


Pte thrust bearing failure

Pte thrust bearing failure

We are seeing more and more thrust bearing failures on PTE turbos. Even though PTE uses the same rebuild kits as TO4E garrett, Comp Turbos, and some turbonetics, they are failing because pte is using a steel thrust bearing.  The steel is stronger but it doesn’t not dissipate the heat as well as the brass.  All turbo manufactures that make turbochargers trucking companies, automotive manufactures, machinery, etc use brass thrust bearings.  Some aftermarket kits use steel thrust bearings, but we highly recommend not using them.  The result of the failure is that turbine shaft welds itself to the thrust collar because so much heat is generated do to the metal thrust bearing.  Changing out the metal thrust bearing with a brass one will prevent these failures. The failure usually happens within 2,000 miles of use. The metal thrust bearings are very sensitive if they are not oiled properly, with the correct oil weigh and oil pressure. I recommend changing out the metal thrust bearing with a brass bearing, mainly because the brass bearing removes heat better and will prevent the turbine shaft from fusing itself to the thrust collar.

Our recommended 360 degree brass thrust bearing for garrett, PTE, Comp, and turbonetics to4e turbos.

Our recommended 360 degree brass thrust bearing for garrett, PTE, Comp, and turbonetics to4e turbos.


What happens is the heavy rotating assembly pulls on the rotating assembly and loads the thrust system. The higher the boost level, the higher the thrust load. The friction from the steel-on-steel thrust system causes heat to build rapidly when the improper oil is used, and the result is the thrust washer (which is the thinnest part of the entire thrust system) overheats and explodes causing the failure.  The use of a steel thrust plate is not necessary though I have seen that Force Performance had used some steel thrust bearings in the past as well.  From what I could tell from the turbos i received for rebuild, fp used started out with brass thrust bearings, then changed to steel bearings, and then changed back to brass thrust bearings.  The steel bearings are causing more failures when they were meant to help with durability. As the old saying goes “If its not broke don’t fix it.” You don’t need to use a steel thrust plate on a turbo with a thrust system that is well-designed in order to gain necessary durablilty, proven by BW, Holset, Mitsubishi, and Garrett.  However it is necessary to use a 360 degree thrust bearing for performance applications.   It is also very important to use and upgraded thrust bearing kit for the mitsubishi turbo chargers that are using an upgraded rotating assembly. The upgraded thrust bearing kits come with a thicker thrust collar, thrust spacer, and 2 oil ports on the thrust bearing for maximum strength. We have had no failures from manufacture defects from the parts that we use in our turbos.  We highly recommend people that want to build their own turbos to buy the correct kits from us, so you know you will have the reliability and strength of a Turbo Lab built turbo. You can order the proper rebuild kit here:

Garret TO4E 360 degree rebuild kit P/N 408105-5285 on Square Market

Steel thrustbearing from an fp green

Steel thrustbearing from an fp green

MHI upgraded thrust bearing  with thicker thrust spacer

MHI upgraded thrust bearing with thicker thrust spacer

       Another cause of thrust bearing failures is contaminates clogging up the thrust bearing oil feed hole(s), but that is never a manufacture defect. Most of the time contaminates clogging up the oil feed holes is user error from the oil not being changed on a regular basis or the own put on a dirty junk yard part that has engine oil that passes through it and carries the dirt through the whole engine including the turbo.
More info on Garrett turbos can be found at here
We Also offer a Standard rotation rebuild kit for MHI turbos here:

MHI 16g, 20g, FP turbo rebuild kit on Square Market

We offer a Reverse rotation rebuild kit here:
Evo9 turbo rebuild kit reverse rotation on Square Market




9 thoughts on “Precision Turbo thrust bearing failures

  1. Andy

    What would it cost for labor, and the brass part to tear apart my brand new precision 5857, and replace the stainless thrust with the brass, and get everything back together? thanks!

  2. JR

    I thought I’d explain a few things. Not trying to be a jerk, but some of this info is important to note:
    Bearing failure is not caused by metal on metal friction. It is caused by the collapse of the fluid film due to overloading caused by imbalances of aerodynamic forces (oversized higher PR compressor wheels with bearings not designed for it). If there is ever metal on metal contact, the bearing will fail quickly (catastrophically if under load). They are full film fluid bearings where all material is completely separated by oil. Bearings are designed for only enough load capacity that is needed because fluid bearings have high parasitic losses resulting in worse overall mechanical performance. So small passenger car turbos are designed with weak bearings on purpose.

    Not all bearings in commercial turbochargers are brass. Many are bronze and some sintered iron. The “metal” bearings you describe are most likely sintered iron (brass/bronze is also metal). They are used because they are much easier and cheaper to produce, but if designed/manufactured/applied properly they will work without issue. Copper based materials (brass and bronze) are better for boundary lubrication. The failures seen by that particular bearing is most likely due to: a poor knockoff of the Honeywell/Garrett design, if they were Honeywell parts they were probably for a generator application or something where they worked fine, poor production quality, and poor boundary lubrication properties due to the iron/steel material couple. Also the washer/collar may be of poor quality. The conduction coefficient is not the factor to choose brass/bronze; it is the material couple. Dissimilar metals work well together and wear less. Heat is generated by fluid shearing and independent of material. The bearing itself generates no heat at all.

    And just a general note:
    It costs millions of dollars and years of work to develop decent turbo parts. Only large companies with a lot of funding will have durable turbos (Honeywell/Garrett, BorgWarner/Switzer/3K, Holset/Cummins). They make them for industry and they last decades, millions of miles, and harsh conditions such as mining. Others don’t have the physical understanding of how they work or the ability to properly manufacture them. It takes a lot more than a couple of CNC mills/lathes in a machine shop to make good parts. Also if possible loosening the compressor nut of an OEM turbo should be avoided because a well-made turbo is precision balanced at operating speeds on assembly lines. If it’s disassembled, that precision balance is lost and the rotor is much less stable. If you want high pressure ratios, buy a production turbo made for production diesel engines. They can run at 5:1 pressure ratios at very high efficiency and are very durable (bearings and wheel high/low cycle fatigue) – far more reliable than a smaller volume aftermarket manufacturer. Using a passenger car turbo (which uses low load bearings for efficiency) and throwing on a high PR CW with an imbalanced assembly is a bad idea. It will not last long and valves and pistons don’t like the taste of burst aluminum wheels.

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    1. Austin Post author

      Our turbo rebuilds start at 180$, and usually worst case senario cartridge replacements are 350 to 450$. We also offer machining services for upgrades.

  4. Martin Cordell

    Thanks for the Information on the Brass 360 over the steel! !!!! Was just reading about bearing and found your page !!! Was The Lord our GOD! !!! I know it !!!!??? Order kit $65 off Amazon Turbo lab Was gonna rebuild mine Tuesday! !! Thanks again Cordell Family


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