Turbochargers: All You Need To Know

Anirudh Sk
January 24, 2019

Exhaust crackles and turbo flutters are indeed the most pleasing sounds for a petrolhead. However, if you’re not one, here’s what you need to know about the sweet system that adds more excitement to your driving.

Picture this, you’ve just lit a campfire but the kindling is a bit damp and it is struggling to catch. What do you do? Yep, you blow on it. In such a scenario, you are not doing anything other than adding more oxygen to encourage the burning.

To be precise, this is exactly what a turbocharger does. More air is what a turbocharger brings to the party under your hood. Similar to more oxygen that creates bigger flames in the campfire, a turbocharger induces a bigger bang that means more power.

Primarily, a turbocharger is nothing but a fan that breathes more air into the engine. The exhaust gases of the engine that are otherwise wasted in a non-turbo car is used to drive the turbo in a car with turbocharger. So it’s the best kind of performance enhancer, because (aside from the cost of the turbo itself) it’s free to run.

As the exhaust gasses spin the turbo, the fan of the turbo blows extra air into the engine, which then compels the car’s ECU to add more fuel, to keep the correct ratio of air and fuel. This calls for more ponies. Done properly, a turbocharger can allow a small capacity engine to make the power and torque of a much bigger engine.

Smaller engines are also lighter, easier to package physically and, for the majority of the time when the driver isn’t using the extra performance of the turbo, the fuel economy of the smaller capacity engine is maintained. Win, win. The only catch is that a turbocharger is no good for toasting marshmallows.

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