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Turbo – What?

Turbo engines are infamous for increasing horsepower, making merging and take-offs a much faster and efficient operation. Most often turbos are found as add-on parts, but automakers have been increasingly adding them to vehicles in hopes of increasing fuel economy without sacrificing horsepower. Turbo enhanced engines use recovered exhausted gasses, that would otherwise be directed to the tailpipe, to increase power. Read on to find out what makes a turbocharger ideal for today’s driving and if you should add turbo power to your engine.

Regular Engines

On regular engines aka normally aspirated engines, the fuel is drawn into the intake by air coming through the air cleaner and throttle body, housing the butterfly valve which regulates air based on vehicle speed. The air is pulled in by the movement of pistons traveling up and down creating suction. The faster the engine’s RPMs are, the more fuel is required to produce more power.

Turbo Engines

car turbo engineTurbocharged engines are very similar to normally aspirated engines; however, the air is boosted by a turbocharger driven by exhaust gasses. The compression ratio is often less because of the significant volume of air being drawn in. The exhaust gasses from the exhaust manifold are directed through the turbocharger which spins a device that is designed to change the flow or pressure of the fluid, known as an impeller, that pushes the air rapidly into the intake manifold. Because of the extra boost of airspeed and the increase in fuel volume, the vehicle produces a great deal of power. This operation, however, causes the turbocharger to get very hot, especially from the exhaust gasses. To circumvent the turbo from getting too hot, coolers are present to help cool the air. It is imperative that the turbo itself stay cool by water and/or oil to ensure bearings stay cool, to allow the impeller to spin effectively.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Turbo Engines

The turbo engine is generally a lot smaller in size and generates so much power that it can outperform a larger, non-turbo engine. One of the most advantageous parts of a turbocharged engine is the increase in fuel economy because of their size. More conservative drivers will appreciate that the engine will not demand the use of the turbo until extra power is needed. Conversely, more aggressive or lead foot drivers may not be as pleased. The more the gas pedal is pushed, the faster the turbo spins, requiring more gas, which will decrease fuel economy. Thus, more aggressive drivers will feel the effects of the demand for extra fuel. Further, just like any other component in the vehicle, failure is a possibility and repairs, or replacement of a turbo engine can get costly.

Today’s Turbos

Most vehicles today come with a turbo charge option. You might be surprised to know that even light-duty trucks, both gas, and diesel, come with turbo charge options in addition to smaller economy cars. Smaller cars especially are ideal for turbos because they produce more power at a lower RPM. Drivers find this more pleasurable because they have the sensation of driving a larger, more comfortable vehicle with a more powerful engine while avoiding having to downshift to supply power for climbing hills or passing other vehicles. If your vehicle didn’t come with a turbo option and is something you desire, consider purchasing a kit to transform your normally aspirated engine into a turbo. Kits are available that include exhaust manifolds, intake manifold adapters, larger fuel injectors and throttle bodies, and more.

Modern turbocharged engines require about the same maintenance as any other engine. In addition to consistent oil changes, engine flushes, engine de-carbons, fuel injection service, and throttle body services will keep your engine in top shape. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific mileage recommendations for each service or visit any Sun Devil Auto service center.

The ASE Certified Technicians at Sun Devil Auto possess the knowledge, expertise, and equipment to keep your engine in top shape. If you’re looking for assistance in maintaining your engine or would like to transition your current engine into a turbocharger, we’re here to help! Have questions about anything automotive related? Our friendly Service Consultants are ready to assist you and welcome your questions. Find a Sun Devil Auto near you and give us a call today!