Car Modifications - Turbocharging

  • Feb 21, 2019

In the world of car modifications, the most common term you will found thrown around is turbocharging. You will often hear tuners speaking about slapping on a turbo to get more power out of your engine. But what is this witchcraft that allows you to add an air compressor to your engine and extract more power and torque out of it? Well, the key is in those two words: air compressor.

Internal combustion engines require a mix of fuel and air to burn inside their cylinders to create power and torque. Increase the amount of fuel and air you let into a cylinder and you have a simple formula to get more output from an engine, right? Wrong. While increasing the amount of fuel that entered the cylinder was not difficult, the entry of air inside the cylinder of an engine was dependent upon atmospheric pressure. So mankind was reliant on nature to force air inside an engine. If you wanted to increase the amount of air that your engine could suck in, you simply had to increase the cylinder size. This made engines large and heavy. As the good old saying went, there was ‘no replacement for displacement’.

Well, that was until a Swiss engineer named Alfred Buchi stepped in and introduced the world to turbocharging. Buchi’s concept worked around using exhaust gases from the engine to spin a turbine, which was connected by a shaft to another turbine, both encased in their individual housings. When the first turbine spun due to the exhaust gases, it forced the second turbine also to spin, due to the interconnecting shaft. The second turbine sucked in air and compressed it, feeding it to the engine. Lo and behold, an engine with a turbo was making more power and torque than a similar naturally aspirated engine.

This is the premise that turbo charging works on. There are different ways to turbocharge your car and you can add even more than one turbo to your car. There are different kinds of setups while turbocharging that can be utilised depending upon your need and the kind of performance gains you are expecting. And while there are definite benefits of turbocharging, there are a couple of downsides using forced induction also. Primarily, the biggest complaint people have about turbocharging is the turbo lag. What that is, is the absence of power during the time it takes a turbo to spool up. Now you can negate turbo lag using different kinds of turbo setups but that is expensive.

Which brings us to the second problem of a turbo. They are expensive. Not only negating turbo lag is expensive, installing a turbo in the first place is an expensive affair as well. However, for road-going cars, there is pretty much no other upgrade that will give you the kind of performance boost that a turbo does.


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