Need for Speed: What to Expect From Adding a Turbo

Thinking of turbo boosting your vehicle’s engine? Speed is the number one reason to install a turbocharger but as with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to revving up your engine making it turbo-charged. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the turbo engine.

Image via Flickr Travis Isaacs

You Can Go Faster and Use Less Fuel

Surprisingly installing a turbocharger means less fuel consumption—about 20 percent less. This is due to the power behind the turbo engine. Once installed, on say a four cylinder vehicle, the turbo engine acts as powerful as an engine with six cylinders.  An engine void of the turbo, if you wanted the same power and speed results, would have to have a larger engine such as a V6. And, with a smaller engine your vehicle weighs less.

Increased Performance in High Altitudes

A turbocharged engine fares better in high altitudes simply because they adapt to the lower air pressure. Engines powered with turbochargers are popular due to increased power levels. Because engines need air pressure for optimal power, in higher altitudes, a normal engine has no added extra to help burn fuel and keep going.  Simply put, an engine equipped with a turbocharger will increase air density so power isn’t lost.

Lower Emissions and Noise

This advantage to installing a turbocharger is an environmentally-friendly one. As stated above, with turbo engines, it means smaller engines can still crank up the speed. With less cylinder operation you gain a quieter ride and lower noise pollution; who wouldn’t love this feature?

As far as emissions go, because the turbo charged engine operates more efficiently, the amount of released carbon dioxide is reduced.

Pesky Turbo Lag

Along with the advantage of installing a turbocharger comes some disadvantages. Turbo lag is just one of them. When an engine is operating at low RPMs it’s difficult for them to produce the right amount of exhaust gas to boost power and speed. The result is called turbo lag which results in a delay in low RPMs. One good thing is today’s turbochargers are available in both low and high end models which often helps alleviate this problem as depending on the model, they adapt to RPMs easily and prevent dreaded turbo lag.

Turbo Engines Need Added Extras


Another con to turbocharged engines is once the turbo is installed, you may need enhanced extras in the braking and transmission areas. Further, with more enhancements to any vehicle comes the expense of regular inspections and maintenance by a qualified mechanic. If you skip adding enhancements to work in conjunction with your turbocharged engine, you may not be able to achieve the speed or power you desire—and a strict maintenance schedule means more money out of your pocket.

There are pros can cons to turbocharged engines, but all in all the pros outweigh the cons so if you’re feeling the need for speed, consider installing a turbo engine or buying a vehicle already equipped with one and rev up and go faster.

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