In the 1980s, a car with a turbocharger was seen mostly in movies and only occasionally on the road locally. They could also mainly be found on rare performance specials and diesel trucks. It is, therefore, safe to say that most people back then never had the privilege of driving a turbocharged car. Today, turbochargers are in abundance, and a large percentage of new cars have turbochargers. So, what is a turbocharger? How should you treat your turbocharger to ensure that you get years of trouble-free service out of it? More so, is there a special way of driving a car with a turbocharger?
A turbocharger is an air pump, pure and simple. It has a turbine that fits inside an engine’s exhaust manifold. Exhaust gases that exit the engine, rotate the turbines. It connects via a shaft to a compressor that is plumbed into the engine’s intake system. When the engine’s speed increases, the exhaust gases spin up the turbine. This, in turn, spins up the compressor, which then forces more air into the engine’s intake manifold. More air means the adding of more fuel, and this results in more power. A small turbocharged engine can develop as much power as a large engine without a turbocharger while using less fuel.
A turbocharger has to spin very fast to deliver boost – in fact up to 250 000 rpm. It is also important to note that engine speed and turbocharger speed bear almost no relation to each other. Your engine could be turning at 2000 rpm, yet your turbocharger may be delivering full boost at its maximum speed. It is therefore important to drive with a light foot when your engine is cold. You should avoid that characteristic “push” in the back when the turbo starts to spin up and deliver a boost. Drive more gently until it is warm.
An exhaust manifold can become so hot that you can see it glow. The turbine and its bearings and lubricating oil sit right in that hot zone and become extremely hot. Sufficient oil pressure and flow can keep the temperature within acceptable limits. When you switch off your engine, the oil stops flowing and it just sits in the hot turbine housing. The oil will heat up even further and, in the worst-case scenario, carbonise and damage the bearings. It is good practice to idle the car for a while before switching it off.
This is especially important after you drove your car hard. The reason for doing this is to allow the turbo to cool down. Lastly, adhere to frequent oil changes because a turbo needs clean, good-quality oil. Feel free to watch a five-minute video explaining five things you should never do in a turbocharged vehicle. Learn how to properly take care of your turbocharged car. Most drivers don’t know these tips. Don’t be one of them, just click here.
Can you optimise a turbocharged engine? Indeed, you can. If you want to optimise your turbocharged engine’s performance and economy, fit a Unichip piggyback computer to it. We can customise your Unichip with personalised maps to get the best blend of performance and economy. We can do this without your engine running up a sweat or working too hard. With power comes responsibility, so let us provide you with both. Do not miss out. Click here to contact us and have our technicians fit your Unichip today.