car tech

How A Turbocharger Works In A Car


What exactly is a turbocharger for cars and what does it do? Heres learning some more about the same!

Turbochargers are specific car components used to boost vehicle performance through pumping fresh air into the engine with exhaust gases coming from the same. They were invented in the year 1905 by Alfred Buchi and have since evolved considerably, becoming standard engine components. The mechanisms are quite simple for turbochargers which are made of a compressor and turbine. The exhaust gases have an outlet, spinning the turbine and working as a suction pump for fresh air from outside.


When the engine runs, exhaust gases are tapped from the exhaust and brought within the turbocharger. They help in spinning the wheel of the turbine that is linked to the compressor. This sucks the fresh air inwards in turn. The air goes through the intake and into the engine. However, sucking the air means that its temperature goes up with compression. Hence, cars have another component known as the intercooler. The blow-off valve is linked to the inlet manifold while making that signature whooshing sound with excessive air sucked into the same. The wastegate is the part linked to the exhaust manifold and helps in releasing extra gases outside. It also creates what is known as turbo whistle or turbo flutter.


Advantages of turbochargers

  • The main job is to improve power delivery and performance.
  • Another benefit is better efficiency if the car is carefully driven.
  • A turbocharger helps in smaller engines especially 1.0 litre mills which would otherwise be sluggish.

However, there are some challenges worth noting. Turbo lag is one such issue- it means the additional waiting time while more power is made. The power band is narrow at times, hindering overall boost times as well. There are many types of turbochargers available with cars too. They include Twin and Single Turbo units along with Twin-Scroll Turbo as well. Then there is Variable Twin Scroll Turbo which is rare but one of the most advanced options, working on the VGT principle but offering superior performance at an affordable build cost.



Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) is known for the single-turbo system with vanes within the unit that help in airflow control and spinning the turbine. This leads to higher efficiency overall, along with improved delivery of power. Electric Turbo is another type of unit which is a cutting-edge system to use. It solves various issues including excessive heat and also overall turbo lag. There are no more power delays or inefficiency issues. With the electric motor linked to the turbine, the turbo unit spools up quicker, leading to enhanced effectiveness overall.

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