Why Turbos Aren’t Just for Street Racers Anymore

Why Turbos Aren’t Just for Street Racers Anymore

turbo street racer

Turbochargers, or simply turbos, are traditionally associated with race cars and other high-performance vehicles. Over the years, however, the trend has changed as car technology evolved. The turbocharger technology has become more accessible and is used not just in street racers anymore.

Below, we’ll cover what turbocharging is, its benefits on vehicles with smaller engine displacement, and how to choose the right system for your vehicle.


What is Turbocharging?

Turbocharging is a technology that is used to boost the power of an internal combustion engine. The power output of a turbo engine increases as air is forced into its combustion chamber. A turbocharger is equipped with a turbine powered by the car’s exhaust gas. The turbine is attached to a compressor that pulls in the exhaust gasses and sends them back into the intake manifold.

With the additional influx of compressed air, the turbo engine can burn more fuel efficiently, which increases horsepower and combustion. This process improves the fuel efficiency of your vehicle without sacrificing engine performance.

Using this technology, car manufacturers can produce cars with smaller and lighter engines, which improves the vehicle’s performance due to the reduced weight. Since a turbo car can have more power with a more lightweight machine, it becomes more fuel efficient compared to vehicles with larger engines.


Benefits of Turbocharging Vehicles with Smaller Engine Displacement

As mentioned, turbocharging an internal combustion engine comes with certain performance benefits. Using this technology can improve your car’s gas mileage and boost its horsepower. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy with a turbo car:

  • Improved Fuel Efficiency: Smaller engines with reduced displacement can gain a boost in mileage from turbochargers. You gain more miles per gallon of gas, allowing you to save more money. This feature is beneficial for people who drive long distances.
  • Reduced Operating Costs: A turbo car with a small displacement can produce more power and help you mitigate regular operating costs. Small engines will require less maintenance and repair compared to large engines with similar power output.
  • Improved Engine Performance: Since turbos can increase an engine’s horsepower, your car achieves better acceleration when needed. It makes driving more effortless, and it can improve your car’s handling. In addition, with that added bump in power, driving your car becomes more enjoyable.
  • Reduced Carbon Emissions: Since turbos can improve your car’s fuel efficiency, you can expect reduced carbon emissions from your vehicle, which is excellent for the environment.
  • Potential Tax Incentives: There are places where people with fuel-efficient vehicles gain specific tax incentives. Turbos can improve your car’s horsepower and mileage, which may make you eligible for these benefits.

With the improvement in mileage and fuel efficiency, turbochargers can bring essential benefits to car owners and the environment. The improved handling and performance also make the overall driving experience more enjoyable. In addition, you can enhance your turbo car’s performance further by using top-of-the-line maintenance supplies and regular checkups.


Turbocharging vs. Supercharging

Both turbocharging and supercharging follow the same principle. That is the forced induction of compressed air into your car’s engine. However, each technology uses a different method to boost your engine’s performance.

Turbocharging uses an indirect approach to boosting your engine’s performance. It uses a stream of gas from your car’s exhaust to rotate a turbine and then power a compressor. Supercharging, on the other hand, takes on a more mechanical approach. Instead of exhaust gasses, it uses power from your engine’s crankshaft to directly power the compressor.

Since turbocharging follows a more indirect approach to boosting an engine’s performance, it can increase power from 28% to 40%. Further, it will require some time before the system can build up enough energy to give you that boost in horsepower.

Turbocharger Pros

  • Recycles exhaust gas, which reduces your car’s carbon emissions
  • It provides a more efficient powertrain operation
  • Increased impact on fuel economy
  • Allows manufacturers to reduce engine size, making cars lighter
  • This system is much better at energy loss recovery
  • Best suited for four-cylinder engines
  • It is an ideal system for vehicles with smaller engine displacement

Turbocharger Cons

  • A turbo engine can produce a lag since it takes time for compressed air to build power.
  • Installation of this system can be complex.
  • Turbos are more taxing on your internal combustion engine oil, which can degrade faster due to the excessive heat that can be produced.
  • The boost provided by a turbo varies across a wide rev band.

In comparison, a supercharger is powered using a chain or belt connected to an engine’s crankshaft. This allows superchargers to provide an instant boost of power from 30% to 50%. In addition, a supercharger can give you a more manageable boost when you drive without the lag that usually accompanies turbochargers.

However, since a supercharger is directly connected to the engine, it can reduce a car’s engine performance. Since it requires more output from your machine, this system becomes more inefficient for powering up your car. Further, since superchargers don’t use wastegate (i.e., exhaust gas from the engine), it emits more smoke and smog, impacting the environment. To better care for these systems, you can use high-performance engine treatments to keep your engine running smoothly.

Supercharger Pros

  • Produces a significant increase in horsepower
  • Less wear and tear
  • Delivers an immediate power boost
  • There is no lag when increasing engine performance
  • Best suited for cars with large displacement engines with more cylinders

Supercharger Cons

  • The engine sounds louder and more abrasive
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • It requires more power from the engine
  • Increases carbon emissions


Choosing the Right Type of Turbo for Your Vehicle

Turbo systems vary according to design. Each type offers different benefits:

  • Journal Bearing: This is the most common system you can find, and they’re suitable for most applications. However, they can produce more lag and can sometimes be less reliable.
  • Ball Bearing: It is equipped with small steel balls supporting the shaft. This design improves the responsiveness of your turbo system and its reliability. The downside is that these systems are more expensive than other turbos.
  • Twin Scroll: This system makes use of separate gas inlets feeding into the turbine’s scroll chambers. These additional parts improve throttle response and reduce lag.
  • Variable Geometry: It makes use of adjustable vanes to optimize exhaust flow rates. It improves the engine’s responsiveness over a wide range of speeds.

When choosing a turbo for your vehicle, consider your driving habits, engine size, how much power you need on the road, and your budget. Ball-bearing turbos are more expensive than other systems, which isn’t ideal if you’re on a tight budget. Some systems are better suited for larger engines, while others are better for small to mid-sized models.

In addition, consider your driving habits and the road conditions in your daily commute. If you usually take to the highways, getting a system offering low-end torque is best. But if you typically drive in crowded streets with stop-and-go traffic, it’s best to choose a turbo system that can spool up faster.


Caring for Your Engine with World-Class Products

Installing turbos can improve your engine’s performance. However, that doesn’t eliminate the need for the required care and maintenance for your car’s engine. At Berryman Products, we provide industrial-grade solutions to care for your car’s engine and improve its performance. Call us today or fill out this form to ask a question, and our specialists will be happy to answer your questions.


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