Turbocharger kits, also known as turbo kits, have many advantages for the car enthusiast who loves both power and speed. Many vehicle owners have considered trading in their own vehicle for one that comes equipped with a turbo kit, but opt against it because of the prohibitive cost. For these people, buying a turbo kit can do the trick. Transforming a vehicle into one with lots of power is not only thrilling, but it is also possible to do it without taking it to a dyno shop mechanic if a person is mechanically inclined. Turbo kits can be purchased from places like car retail shops that sell aftermarket products for vehicles. They also can be purchased at other auto retail establishments, and online at eBay. It is beneficial to know how a turbocharger works and the considerations that may be involved installing one in a vehicle. This guide covers these aspects of a turbo kit, information on the basic installation process, the parts that are included in most kits, and also how to buy one online.
 

How Does a Turbocharger Work?

A turbo kit uses the exhaust waste from a vehicle and changes it into an element that boosts the power of an engine. Turbochargers pressurize exhaust gases that are considered a waste product and change the energy from gases or other fluids into more torque for the engine. These gases or fluids are pressurized and combined with heat created by the pressurization. Because of this, the vehicle’s shaft is able to spin at an increased speed providing more take-off power and faster acceleration speeds by way of a turbo expander.

Turbo expanders are comprised of two separate pieces. One of the pieces is the outer housing which holds the exhaust and the second piece is essentially a wheel that harvests the exhaust as it passes which creates pressure on the wheel causing it to turn in a turbine-like fashion. The exhaust then passes through a hole that is located in the outer housing at a decreased temperature. The energy created by this process from air that is pushed into the combustion chambers is what causes the shaft of a vehicle to turn with increased power.

Turbo Kit Installation

Besides making sure that the turbo kit will work with the engine and fuel system, it is also important to have the vehicle inspected by a dyno mechanic who is experienced in turbocharger installations. The dyno mechanic can inform the vehicle owner if the exhaust manifolds and exhaust pipes need to have further customization and can usually give estimates on how much they charge to perform the modifications. The mechanics check the flanges to make sure they are the same size and can tweak the compression and other processes to ensure the turbo works properly. It is important to get detailed information from the mechanic regarding what modifications are necessary so that no step in the modification process is overlooked, especially if other turbocharger accessories are to be added at a later date.

Most dyno mechanics are specialists when it comes to installing aftermarket features such as turbochargers. A dyno shop can save those who do not have the necessary expertise a lot of time and frustration in the process of changing a lacklustre engine into one that can really move. The mechanics can install the turbocharger and also give the owner guidance on how to best care for the turbocharger and how often maintenance needs to be performed. If the kit will be installed by the owner, the easiest option is to buy a kit designed specifically for the make and the model of the vehicle being altered.
 

Standard Parts of a Turbo Kit

As previously mentioned, turbo kits can be expensive and not all turbo kits are alike as far as performance. Knowing the typical parts that are included in turbo kits as well as their specifications before buying a kit can take a lot of the possible headaches out of an installation process. To give an example of what is included in a turbo kit, the table below lists parts that are typically included in a universal turbo kit for a typical four-cylinder 1.5L engine that provides an 8-20 PSI boost.
 

Turbo Kit Part

Size

Purpose

Turbocharger

350 HP

Adds power to vehicle engine

Gasket Kit

 

Connects two independent items together with a seal

Water Line Kit

 

Necessary to add increase life and durability of turbo

Oil Line Kit

 

Essential for keeping bearings lubricated

Inlet Flange

 

Used to mount turbo to manifold

Outlet V Band Flange

 

Surrounds turbo housing and downpipe

V Band Downpipe

 

Mounted directly to turbo housing

Intercooler

400 HP

Used for cooling down intake air

Pipe, 90 degree

2.5 inches

Used to connect various elements of turbo kit together; around four are necessary

Pipe, 45 degree

2.5 inches

Two of these are standard in turbo kits

Pipe, straight

2.5 inches

Two of these are standard in turbo kits

Couplers, straight

3 ply

All couplers used to reduce restriction and vibration between two metal parts; kits should include six of these

Couplers, 90 degree

3 ply

Same purpose as straight couplers; kits usually include two

T-Bolt Clamps

 

Equipped with springs, these clamps allows hoses to expand or contract under boost conditions; around 16 are needed

Forged Billet BOV

 

Blow Off Valve (BOV); relieves surges from compressor while retaining compressor speed

Air Intake Filter

 

Used to reduce contaminants in the air

Turbo Timer

 

Keeps engine running so that cool-down sequence can be initiated

Vacuum Line

4 feet

Feeds air to wastegate actuator


The only other things that a person who installs a turbo might need are hose clamps, nuts and bolts, and a wrench. Buying a turbo kit designed for specific vehicle will help ensure that engine components will match the ones that come with the kit.