Dodge Challenger/Charger

Cheapest car to Turbo Charger

How to Add a Turbo to a Non-Turbo CarFor many people the word "turbo" has become synonymous with speed and power. It does not matter what someone is talking about; as soon as someone uses that word, everyone thinks performance, and cars are no different. For many makes and models, the turbocharged version has by far the best power to weight ratio available. But what of the cars that do not come equipped with a turbocharger? It is possible to pull the engine and replace it with a turbocharged one, but that can be both time-consuming and expensive. The other option is to simply add a turbo to the existing engine. It does take time and some specialized knowledge, but it is one of the best ways to increase the power of any car.

How a Turbo Works

A turbo, originally called a "turbosupercharger" and shortened to turbocharger, works by actively pumping air through the engine's intake valves rather than relying on the vacuum created by the piston's intake stroke. It gets its name from the fact that it draws its power from a turbine driven by the car's exhaust, as as opposed to the earlier superchargers, which were often driven by the engine's crankshaft. The big benefit of a turbo is that it does not require any power from the engine in order to work, as the energy it draws from the exhaust is essentially "thrown away" otherwise.

An internal combustion engine generates power by burning an air-fuel mixture in the cylinders, and the best way to increase the engine's power output is by putting more of that mixture into the engine. The most obvious way to do that is by making a bigger engine. The problem with this approach is that increasing the size of the engine means it becomes heavier and requires more room. Supercharging, which includes installing a turbo, is based on the idea that one can increase power by putting more air-fuel mixture into the same size cylinders. In most cases, this translates to somewhat more than a third more horsepower than the same engine would produce in its naturally aspirated form.

Parts of a Turbo

The majority of turbochargers have two main components and a host of ancillaries. The two main components are the turbine and compressor. Exhaust gas spins the turbine, which drives the compressor to pump air-fuel mixture into the cylinders. Everything else serves to support these two components. Some turbos use an intercooler, which is essentially a second radiator that serves to cool the air coming from the turbocharger to the engine. This increases the compression and thus the performance of the turbo. Another important component is the wastegate, which serves as a bypass valve to divert exhaust gas from the turbine if it is spinning too quickly. Many turbos rely on fluid bearings and require special oil coolers to make sure they do not overheat.

Installing a Turbo

Installing a turbo is not hard for anyone who has the time and proper tools, but it does require a significant time investment and careful preparation before beginning the process.

Determine the Right Turbo for the Car

The first step to installing a turbo is finding one that is compatible with the car and its engine. One of the best ways to do this is by using a turbo kit. The big benefit of a turbo kit is that it is usually made to work with a specific engine, so home mechanics can rest assured that the turbo in the kit is compatible with the engine in the car. While it is possible to install a turbo without using a kit, it is not recommended unless the installer has done it before and has access to a full machine shop.

Prepare the Turbo for Installation

Before installing a turbo, it is important to make sure it is ready for installation. This means making sure all gaskets are in place as well as all bearings and lubrication. In many cases, this includes removing the turbo from the header first, and then making sure that all interior parts are scrupulously clean before re-attaching the housing to the header and preparing it for installation. This is also the time to install the wastegate and make sure it operates smoothly.

Prepare the Engine for the Turbo

Even with a turbo kit, it is not a good idea to simply bolt the turbo onto the engine block and call it a day. The engine has to be ready for the turbo just much as the turbo has to be prepared before it is mounted. If the turbine uses a fluid bearing, as most do, the oil pan will usually need to be replaced with one that has the proper oil fitting to connect the turbocharger. Fluid bearings use oil from the sump to support and cool the turbine. This means they not only require a connection to the oil pan, but they may also require additional filters and in some cases an additional oil cooler. This is also the time to mount the intercooler, if one is being used. The installer should also remove the existing exhaust, as the turbo is normally mounted to the exhaust manifold.

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