We’re in the day and age of instant and quick-paced lifestyles. Our phones are faster, our fast food is even quicker, our computers are almost instantaneous, and our cars are much, much faster. The latter is due, in part, to the glorious engineering of the turbocharger. Sure, we’ve all heard about them, many of us have friends with them, and some of us may own them. But how many of us actually know how it works? We’re guessing…very few. You might hear “turbo” and think fast. And while that’s not entirely wrong, it’s not entirely true either. So we’re talking the basics of what a turbocharger is in an attempt to help you leave your race car ignorance in the rearview mirror.
Welcome to the Age of the Turbocharger
Alright, let’s talk about the mechanics of turbochargers and what that actually means. To sum it up, a turbocharged vehicle means there is a forced induction system that compresses airflow into the engine. More air equals more fuel, which equals more overall power. Simple, right? But how does that happen? Answer: through very careful engineering and…science.
To understand a turbocharger, it’s important to recall how an engine produces power. Air is sent through a chamber and compressed internally. As air compresses it heats up, expands, and eventually combusts, causing power output. A turbocharger essentially enhances that process. Cylinders are either added or enlarged to push more air into the chamber. Typically 6-8 pounds per square inch (psi) are present and the result is added power to the car.
Turbochargers mean more air and bigger combustion resulting in more power. The added benefit of turbochargers is that they add very little weight to the vehicle as well. So there you have it, the basics of turbochargers. They’re small, they’re mighty, and they’re more popular than ever. And if you ask us, we can see why.