VW Turbocharger failing -- Dangerous to drive?

Mechanic says that the rattle on the right side of my beloved '99 Passat wagon (only 65k miles) is caused by the turbocharger beginning to go. He says I should only drive it locally until I decide whether to replace to kiss the car goodbye. Replacement is going to run me $12-1300. Would you replace it, leave it alone and keep driving, or sell the car? I drive mostly in NYC and don’t care so much about reduced power, but I want to feel safe & that I’m not destroying the entire car by not dealing with the turbo issue.

Sorry, I meant: “to replace OR kiss the car goodbye”

When the bushings and seals in a turbocharger begin to go bad they usually suck oil into the combustion chambers and cause a lot of exhaust smoke. If it is actually RATTLING, that sounds particularly ominous in that the blades may be contacting the turbo’s case. Once that happens, the blades may disintegrate and get sucked into the engine. Then you’re not just looking for a good turbo, but another engine. In either case, I think I’d get a second opinion before dropping that sort of money into it.

Rebuilding a turbo charger is not that difficult, or expensive. Consider having yours rebuilt. Look in the yellow pages for a diesel truck repair center. They repair turbos every day. Most are made by just a couple of companies, even for your VW.

The turbine and impeller in a turbo run at high RPM, and the turbine especially is subject to huge amounts of heat, so if something goes, its going to send shards of junk thru the intake and all over the place. Bad news bears.

I don’t think a bad turbo is enough to justify getting rid of the car, fix it and drive it another 65k.

If the bearings are rattling on the turbo it will eventually self destruct sending metal pieces into your intake of your engine. Also the oil will also get contaminated with metal pieces of your turbo failing and either leak out or ruin the internals of your motor.

Lastly your exhaust will take the brunt of damage when oil leaks into combustion ruining your expensive cat converter and exhaust posssibly. You definitely won’t pass emmmisions.

You may want to shop around and see if you can find a better price. Maybe not in NYC however, maybe worth a trip out of town.

Just to make sure I told the O.P. right…

My experience with turbos is with aircraft engines…same principle…in these engines the turbine section will glow red and turn at 60,000 rpm.

How do car turbos compare? I was just curious.

Get a second opinion…If the turbo is failing, perhaps it can be removed for far less than the repair cost…If you gathered up the non-turbo parts from a salvage yard (air intake and filter, exhaust pipe and perhaps exhaust manifold,) the change-over would be fairly simple…But rebuilding them is no big deal…A couple of bearings and seals and some R&R labor…The turbo itself is a simple device. It’s the plumbing and controls that make the system complex…