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Defender 200Tdi Turbo Rebuild

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In advance of doing the head on my 90 when I do the chassis swap in a month or so’s time, and with the old thing on 320k, I want to strip down the turbo off the spare engine and rebuild it. I intend to use a CHRA cartridge assembly to achieve this and then I can put a fresh turbo back onto the engine as it goes back together, along with a set of refurbished injectors.

The spare turbo itself actually seems in pretty good nick, impellers spin smoothly with minimal play, but at least this way I’ll know it’s good for a while.

I got the manifold off and the turbo separated from it (after splitting off one nut which defeated me), and set about stripping the turbo itself down. The wastegate actuator is just attached with two small M6 screws and comes off easily, the biggest problem I expected to find was with the four M8 screws which clamp the hot side of the turbo onto the centre CHRA assembly.

The location of these means you can only use a spanner so one must be careful not to round them off. However judicious application of heat to the heads followed by a spray of penetrating oil did the trick and they all cracked off okay. 



I couldn’t get the CHRA and the cast ‘snail’ separated, they’ve been together for many years and don’t want to come apart. With the alloy ‘cold’ housing still attached I didn’t want to get too keen with the hammer.

However I am now defeated by the circlip which holds the alloy cold side housing on, my circlip pliers are too small and won’t even look at it. So work halted until I can get some bigger ones!



Anyone got any tips on how to get the hot side apart other than hammers?

Anything I should look out for once I get it stripped?

Any recommendations for CHRA units?

Thanks! 🙂

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You could use some pointed nose pliers to remove the circlip , think that's what I used , and although still testing and I've not put my findings up yet as I've had a few problems and been tweeking the FIP I'd recommend the chra I used I definitely think it give's the engine a bit more pep about it .


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Thanks. I’ll see what the tool place has with regard to pliers for the circlip. I tried to make a tool but wasn’t able to compress it enough.

I’ll just be putting a standard core in, never had any issue with lack of performance and don’t think it would do the engine any favours given the mileage. But the spec on those ones look good, will see if they do standard ones.

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They do a standard one with uprated bearing and oil seal 


went for the one with the lighter compressor wheel as it was only a bit dearer .

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It increases the boost at lower revs which will add stress, though probably not much to be fair. It also says you need to tweak the FIP to get the most out of it, which I have no interest in doing.

Think this is the standard one:


Or, cheaper direct:


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I found it helpful to get the circlip moving before you try to remove it with pliers. A bit of penetrating oil and heat as suggested above and then try to get it moving backwards and forwards in its grove by a few taps with a hammer and drift. It makes sure it isn't stuck before you put a load of effort with your pliers.

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Had to give the turbine housing on my turbo a few persuasions with my plastic mallet for it to seperate from the main centre body. 

these taken last May when the cartridge got replaced. [was the original unit IIRC, in quite good condition for a 24 year old turbo with huge mileage] 






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  • 2 weeks later...

Managed to get some time this weekend to finish this off, had to get some bigger circlip pliers to put it back together but other than that there were no issues.

CHRA back together with the cold side:



Then the exhaust side in place (you have to put the bolts/clamps in place before assembling like this):



And finally all together with wastegate actuator back on:



I tested the wastegate and it opens with about 15psi so hopefully all okay there. The spindle spins smoothly without hitting anything, there is a barely perceptible amount of radial play but nothing in the axial direction which is what one would expect for a new unit. Old one had a bit of both.

Turbo now stashed away ready for the re-chassis in a few weeks, just needs a new hose from the spigot to the actuator when the time comes 🙂

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7 hours ago, JeffR said:

Just done the same job but on a 250K mile Passat, difference is astonishing, now got a 190hp Passat that is un drivable in the wet or snow, but goes like stink in the dry... oh and 50mpg is nice.

VNTs are a different thing though.  The VNT mechanism seizes up and needs to be fixed.  The normal wastegated turbos used on a 300TDI should last forever unless the engine is poorly maintained.

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Indeed, I'm not expecting any improvement in performance from the turbo being rebuilt. The current turbo is still working fine, this is just preventative maintenance.

I do expect to see some change from the reconditioned injectors though, as I suspect they're not working at their optimum after the miles they've done.

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While I agree in theory they are non-wearing due to running in oil-suspended bearings in practice no oil is 100% impurity free.

Mine is changed every 6,000 miles along with the filter but it will still have contaminants in it at the end of that interval. Over a very long time that will cause a degree of wear in the bearings. Obviously if maintenance is ignored and the oil gets dirtier than ‘normal’ then wear will be accelerated.

As above there’s no indication that the turbo on the car is about to fail, I just fancied renewing it while I have everything off. 

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  • 2 years later...

Hi , Sorry to reopen this post but I've been trying to find a replacement turbo as mine has a small crack, (but nothing like the ones in the previous images ), I wonder if I'm being too cautious and if all 200 tdi turbos are like this and work ok like it ? I'll add an image of mine as a separate post if I can ,  Thanks Angus 


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Mine had something similar, and a few small cracks around the waste gate seat.  If there was much gas leaking through there, you’d see soot deposits.  I suspect they’re almost all cracked after years of service, but most are serviceable.

To prolong the life of the unit, try to avoid full boost for the first and last couple of minutes use so the iron has time to heat and cool more evenly.  I wouldn’t worry too much, though, unless you plan massive boost increases.

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