Superchargers: too expensive to fix?


#1

I am interested in buying a Saturn Ion 2 Redline that comes with a supercharger on the motor for an extra 50hp. My mechanic says no way should I buy it because all chargers, super and tubo, break because they are not maintained right and when they do it is expensive to fix them. Is he right?

Should I let it keep me from buying the car. I really like it.


#2

They can be pricey to fix however if oil changed properly they last about 150k-200k miles and sometimes more(parents Volvo orignial turbo with 240k miles). However the problem with some mechanics and turbo/supercharger is complete lack of experience so they default to what they know.

Whats your ownership period likey to be? If <150k miles I would not be concerned.


#3

Should last as long as the previous poster noted, check oil level every oil change or so and you can change the SC oil relatively easily as well. Turbo and Sc are both pretty reliable, I have one of each and no problems so far. Turbo requires no maint really, prefer synthetic oil if the turbo is engine oil lubricated to prevent coking.


#4

I would think the biggest fear would be that the previous owner would have been thrashing the car into the ground rather than worrying about a supercharger failure.

Many supercharger failures are caused by a shaft seal oil leak. People ignore this, eventually the SC gets low on oil, and the shaft bearings go.

The SC would not discourage me, but the previous owners driving habits might. Look at the tires on the drive axles and see if they’re getting a bit thin in the tread. :-0


#5

Thanks for your help. You made my argument for me!


#6

The expensive thing about installing boost is the actual install because you generally have to fabricate a bunch of crap (unless you get a kit, and then that’s pricey too). The turbo/supercharger itself isn’t all that much money, so even if it does break you can swap it out without having to install new plumbing.

Beyond that, superchargers are just plain FUN. Instant kick in the pants when you hit the throttle. Boost rocks.


#7

One thing you should consider before buying is that every SC equipped motor I know of requires premium fuel. If you’re too cheap to pay for premium, look elsewhere.


#8

Listen to your mechanic, he works on cars for a living.


#9

An interesting link for turbocharger doubters:

Original engine and turbo at 1,000,000 miles on a Saab SPG 900.

My parents are in a similar state in their late 80’s 740 turbo with original turbo/engine at 300k miles+