How a Turbocharger Works

Turbochargers are one of the best ways to get more horsepower out of your vehicle. Do you know how a turbocharger works, though?

This brief guide breaks down exactly how a turbocharger can get you more horsepower.

Keep reading to learn more!

What is a Turbocharger?

In simple terms, a turbocharger is a device that pumps compressed air into your vehicle’s engine. The increased air pressure, within limits, creates an environment where fuel burns more efficiently.

This increased fuel burn means more power output.

How Turbochargers Work

Exhaust gas is used to power a turbine connected to a compressor wheel. The compressor sucks in cold air that gets pushed into the engine.

The increased air pressure allows smaller engines to produce more horsepower than they would otherwise. Let’s examine the phases of the process in more detail.

Exhaust Capture

The first stage is to capture exhaust gasses. The exhaust coming from the combustion chamber of your engine gets captured by the turbocharger.


As the exhaust hits the turbine’s blades, it causes them to spin. Alternating pulses of the exhaust can help to eliminate the time it takes from pushing the throttle to feeling the turbocharger kick in.


After the exhaust has gone through the turbines, the gasses flow through an outlet. This outlet leads to the catalytic converter.


While the above is all taking place, the turbines power an air compressor pushing air into the combustion chamber.

Dense, compressed air means better fuel burn and more power.

Choosing the Right Turbo

There can be many aftermarket turbo kit options on the market. Here are some options you will come across:

  • Single turbo
  • Twin-turbo
  • Twin-scroll turbo
  • Variable geometry turbo
  • Variable twin-scroll turbo
  • Electric turbo

Don’t just go for the largest option available when choosing a turbo. You need to choose one that meets your needs and works with your vehicle.

What to Consider

Before purchasing, consider the target horsepower you have in mind. Take into account what your vehicle is used for, how much traction you will have, and what your engine can handle.

Worry less about boost pressure and more about horsepower and airflow. You might find that a quick-spooling small turbocharger will benefit you more than the largest turbo your engine can handle.

Turbochargers and Fuel Efficiency

Turbos and Fuel Efficiency

Now, more than ever, gas mileage is likely a consideration with any vehicle upgrade. If you are concerned about burning through too much fuel, try to keep a light foot on the throttle and reduce how much your engine is working to produce a boost.

You will be happy to know that the right turbocharger will get you better gas mileage because turbos get more power from small engines! In fact, you can expect a turbocharged vehicle to get 8% to 10% better fuel efficiency than the same vehicle that is not turbo equipped.

Want to Learn More?

Do you want to learn more about cars and engines beyond turbochargers? If so, We have a wide range of articles on all things automobile. We cover everything from reviews to repairs.

Check out our other popular posts on our blog!

The post How a Turbocharger Works first appeared on Daily Car News and Reviews | AutomobileGator.

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