Here at Shaus Motorsport in Aurora, we want to share more about turbochargers and how they work. Did you know that the turbocharger is actually a big improvement on the internal combustion engine? Thanks to the turbocharger, turbo engines can go further faster and use less fuel. Turbochargers, in a nutshell, are a pair of fans that use waste exhaust from the rear of an engine to force more air into the front of an engine. The result is more get up and go than you would get otherwise.
The turbocharger was originally developed by Alfred J. Büchi. He was an automotive engineer who worked for the Gebrüder Sulzer Engine Company in Switzerland. His invention was patented in 1905, and he worked on improving the turbocharger for the rest of his life. Büchi was fascinated with everything about turbochargers and how they work. He felt that they could improve combustion engines dramatically.
Everyone can tell that a tailpipe streaming exhaust is polluting the air. What isn’t as noticeable is that such tailpipes are also wasting energy at the same time. Exhaust is actually a mixture of different gases being pumped out. Turbochargers harness the exhaust, using the heat, gases, and energy to actually help the vehicle travel faster. Turbochargers force more air into the vehicle’s cylinders, which in turn allows fuel to be burned faster. The faster fuel burns, the faster a vehicle can travel.
Turbochargers and Cylinders
Since cars go faster based directly on how much fuel they can burn, adding cylinders was the original way to get a car to go faster. This explains why sports cars typically have eight and twelve cylinders. Those extra cylinders will help burn more fuel quickly. Your conventional vehicle typically has just four or six cylinders. Owners of performance vehicles such as a BMW, Audio or Porsche may want to go faster. Installing a turbocharger is a great way to gain speed without more cylinders.
Turbochargers: Like a Small Jet Engine
When we talk about turbochargers and how they work, we often compare them to how jet engines work. Based on the same principles as turbochargers, a jet engine sucks in air from the front, squeezes the air into a chamber where the fuel is burned, and the blasts hot air from the rear. As the hot air exits, it blasts past a turbine that drives the air pump (also called a compressor) which is at the front of the engine.
Turbochargers do much the same thing as jet engines. Turbochargers are basically two little air fans (called gas pumps or impellers) that sit on the same air shaft and both spin around together.
One fan is positioned in the exhaust stream coming from the cylinders. This fan is called the turbine. The cylinders blow hot gas towards the fan blades which then rotate. The second fan, which is sitting on the shaft with the turbine, spins at the same time. This fan is called the compressor. It is mounted so that it is inside the car’s intake and as it draws the air in, it forces it into the cylinders.
Disadvantages of Turbochargers
You may be wondering why turbochargers aren’t in every vehicle, everywhere. Well, in theory, more power means more energy output (and speed) and this is a great thing. At the same time, more energy output means more energy input is required. Ultimately, these engines need more fuel and expend it faster which isn’t the right fit for everyone.
If you’ve read up on everything about turbochargers and how they work, you may already know that early turbochargers didn’t deliver quite the amazing results that manufacturers promised. While they were eager to lay claim to having better engines than the competition, the turbos sometimes turned out to be less impressive. Had there been less of a rush to get turbochargers to market and more time spent fine-tuning its capabilities, the turbocharger could certainly have gained wider acceptance.
Turbochargers are also a little different to drive. There is a slight delay between pressing the gas and having the car take off. There is even a term for it: turbo lag. This means turbos are a bit trickier to drive and not all drivers might appreciate the difference. But those who do, love what a turbocharger can offer on the street and track.
Finally, turbochargers make engines more complicated. It makes sense since you’re adding another component to an engine which is another part that requires proper maintenance. Additionally, turbochargers run hotter. This subjects engines to higher stress, which in turn, means that turbocharged engines don’t always last as long as conventional counterparts. It all really depends on the driver though. Even without a turbocharger, plenty of people with standard engines find countless ways to drive them into the ground prematurely.
Of course, if the turbo in your Audi, Porsche, BMW, or Volkswagen needs maintenance, repair or even a rebuild, you can contact us here at Shaus Motorsport in Aurora. We’ll make sure your turbo delivers on its promises, delivering the performance you want from it.
Advantages of a Turbocharger
When it comes to understanding all about turbochargers and how they work, their many advantages are the best part. Turbochargers can be used with either diesel or gas engines and, for the most part, can be used on cars, trucks, buses, and more. Basically, the primary advantage is that the same size engine can get a great deal more output. A turbocharged engine produces more energy with every stroke of each piston and in each cylinder.
Engineered and performing properly, a turbocharged engine can actually save up 10% of the fuel. These engines also tend to burn the fuel more cleanly because more oxygen is burned with the fuel. Manufacturers can now produce the same size engine, or sometimes even a smaller engine, and get faster and better results. What was once a V6 engine can now be a 4-cylinder with a turbocharger.
The advantages are what make us the most excited about turbochargers and how they work. If you need our specialists to take a look at your Porsche, Audi, BMW, or Volkswagen engine, contact us here at Shaus Motorsport in Aurora. We can repair, maintain and even fully rebuild your turbocharged engine – all in less time and at less cost than other shops.