Driving car (Photo: @burnningbridges via Twenty20)

How to Use a Turbocharger

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Driving car (Photo: @burnningbridges via Twenty20)
There are many ways to optimize your car’s engine. The easiest, and arguably the most important way is keeping your engine bay clean. A grimy engine bay can easily overheat and cause performance issues and breakdowns.
If you still want to improve your car’s engine and increase your engine power, you might have considered purchasing a turbocharger or even a supercharger.
But, what is a turbocharger? And, more importantly, how do you use one?

How a turbocharger works

Inside the engine, there are cylinders where air and fuel mix and are compressed by pistons to cause little explosions. These explosions are the source of a vehicle’s power.
A turbocharger pressurizes intake air and feeds it into your engine’s intake manifold. When the piston takes its downward stroke, the compressed air enters the combustion chamber.
One fan, the compressor, directs the car’s exhaust into the cylinders. The other fan, the turbine, helps pull the remaining air out of the cylinders. Since more air is entering your car’s engine, it can burn more fuel. And more fuel equals more power.

The pros and cons of turbochargers

When used properly, turbochargers can actually make vehicles more efficient than naturally aspirated engines. A turbocharger can give the small engine the power of a big engine, and a smaller engine equates to less fuel (and therefore more fuel savings). Turbochargers also utilize the hot air created by the engine to turn the compressor wheel and draw in more air, which reduces the amount of exhaust gases a car produces.
However, since turbo engines give cars more power, they are often abused. When driven irresponsibly (ie. speeding), the turbocharger’s mechanisms can create a dangerous amount of heat and pressure within the engine, which could cause other parts of the engine to break or fail.
Drivers with turbochargers could also experience something called “turbo lag.” Turbochargers can be somewhat lacking in responsiveness because they are powered by the exhaust system.

How to use a turbocharger

To use a turbocharger, you simply step on the gas and wait for it to kick in. However, using a turbocharger and optimizing a turbocharger are two very different things.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your turbocharger:
  • Let your car warm up before you drive it, as this allows the oil to reach proper temperature and mitigate the demands a turbocharged engine puts on motor oil.
  • Allow your car to cool down before cutting the power. This is also to better preserve your motor oil.
  • If you have a manual transmission, don’t drive too slowly in a high gear because this puts additional strain on a turbocharged engine.
  • Use fuel with the recommended octane level. Turbocharged engines run well with higher octane fuel.
  • Refrain from punching the gas before a sharp corner, as the turbocharge lag can cause the acceleration to occur at the wrong time, putting yourself and passengers at risk.