Is it worth buying a turbocharger for your car? If you want to get better gas mileage or increase performance, then yes, it might be worth it. But if you don’t care about either, then no, it probably isn’t.
Turbocharging is a way to improve fuel efficiency and power output. The idea behind turbocharging is simple: add extra air into the combustion chamber, increasing pressure inside the cylinder. That increases the oxygen amount available to burn fuel, producing more energy.
There are two types of turbochargers: exhaust and intake. Intake turbos are at the intake manifold, where they draw fresh air from outside the vehicle through the intake pipe.
Exhaust turbos are near the exhaust manifold, where they force hot gases out of the cylinders. Both types require additional parts such as turbine wheels, compressor wheels, shafts, bearings, etc.
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What Does a Turbocharger Do in a Car?
A turbocharger is a forced induction system that increases power output by forcing additional air into the combustion chamber. This extra oxygen allows the engine to burn fuel faster, thus increasing horsepower. Commonly, you find turbocharging in racing cars where drivers need maximum performance. In road vehicles, turbocharging is usually reserved for larger engines as those found in sports cars.
Turbocharging is achieved by compressing the intake air stream, either mechanically or electrically. Mechanical compressors are driven directly off the crankshaft via belts, chains, or gears. Electric turbochargers use electric motors to spin a compressor impeller inside a housing. Both types of turbochargers require a large volume of air to function properly.
The turbocharger rotates very fast, typically around 10,000 rpm. This speed causes the blades of the compressor impeller to rotate at supersonic speeds. As the blades pass over the intake valves, they push the air to the cylinders.
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Pros and Cons of Turbocharged Engines
- Increase in Power
Turbocharging is one way to make a small car feel like a big car. It adds power without increasing size or adding weight. You might even notice a decrease in weight.
A turbo unit will increase the air flowing into the engine, which helps the engine burn fuel more efficiently. That allows the engine to run leaner, which decreases emissions. Lean engines produce fewer pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.
When an engine runs lean, the exhaust gas temperature drops, which lowers the combustion temperature. As a result, the engine burns cleaner.
- Higher Efficiency
Turbo charging also makes it possible for a vehicle to get higher mileage. A turbocharged engine can operate at lower RPMs, which means the engine doesn’t need to rev as high to maintain its peak efficiency.
- Increased Torque and Horsepower
Turbochargers add pressure to the air entering the engine, increasing the amount of force pushing down on the pistons. As a result, the engine develops more torque.
It also provides more horsepower. When the engine spins faster, it generates more energy. That extra energy is converted into mechanical energy by the crankshaft.
Turbochargers cost about $1,500-$2,000 depending on the model. They also take up space within the engine compartment. If you don’t have room for a turbocharger, you can’t fit a bigger engine that works best with it.
- Lack of Noise Control
Turbochargers generate a lot of noise. The sound can be loud enough to irritate if not muffled.
- Lack of Throttle Response
Because the turbocharger takes time to build a boost, the throttle response is slow.
Turbocharging is a great technology that can improve the performance of any engine. However, it comes with some drawbacks. For example, it requires a large engine bay. Also, the lack of control over the turbocharger can lead to excessive noise.