How Much Horsepower Does A Turbocharger Add – Expert Guide 2022

11 Min Read
Image of a turbocharger installed on an engine

You can change or add several things to your car to increase the HP, but not everything comes within a budget.

So are you willing to increase your car’s Horsepower by installing a turbocharger but are concerned about how much a turbocharger adds? 

Turbochargers have been quite popular from the very beginning as superchargers that increase acceleration power and overall Horsepower significantly.

In the early days, turbochargers were limited to trucks and sports cars.

However, mechanics and researchers eventually discovered that using a turbocharger also boosts fuel efficiency, making it useful for smaller cars.

The latest turbochargers are compact and improve traction, increasing the car’s acceleration.

But how much Horsepower does a turbocharger add?

A turbocharger can increase an engine’s Horsepower by a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 40%.

This turns out to be in the range of 40-150 HP. Keep reading to learn in detail!

What Are Turbochargers?

A turbocharger is a specialized device that uses gasses to provide additional power to the engine.

If we discuss it more elaborately, a turbocharger is an air compressor that uses an engine’s excess energy to “force” more oxygen into the combustion chamber.

It eventually increases the power output of a car’s engine, producing more Horsepower without increasing the engine’s load.

Turbochargers have been used in bulky trucks and compact sports cars for years.

Formula 1 cars are an ideal example of the use of a turbocharger. Despite its small size, the car packs a punch, and the engine can generate the perfect horsepower output.

But now, most cars come with a turbocharger to give the best performance.

Read More: How much Horsepower does a Cold Air Intake Add?

How Does A Turbocharger Work?

A turbocharger can be imagined as a high-rotating fan that compresses additional air and forces it into the engine.

Extra air means more fuel can be added to the mixture simultaneously, giving your engine additional magical power.

However, in more scientific terms, a turbocharger is much more than a rotating fan.

When an engine operates, it creates exhaust gasses that eventually go out into the atmosphere and are wasted.

A turbocharger is attached close to the engine that sucks up all the exhaust gasses into its chamber.

Oxygen is a crucial component in the gaseous substances used to derive more clean and compressed air.

The internal structure of the turbocharger is quite interesting:

  • It contains two turbine wheels, also known as propellers. Each wheel is located at the turbocharger’s two ends, connected to a shaft that allows them to spin simultaneously
  • When the engine powers up, exhaust gasses make their way into the turbocharger, which allows the fan on the outer side to turn and channel the gasses into the chamber
  • Once the wheel rotates, the connected shaft turns the wheel on the other end. The other wheel directs the clean and compressed air back into the engine.
  • The wheels inside the turbochargers rotate at a speed of around 80,000 to 200,000 rotations per minute (RPM). As the wheels turn at such high speeds, the shaft holding them together also spins inside a special bearing covered in engine oil

Turbochargers have an added feature, making them even more efficient and user-friendly.

Exhaust gasses are of high temperature, and when compressed through the turbochargers, they get even hotter.

Channeling this scorching compressed air directly into the engine is not advisable. 

Doing this will result in the engine getting heated up frequently and may even result in engine breakdown.

After the second wheel, an intercooler is installed at the output area to solve the heating problem.

The intercooler cools down the compressed air, making the engine more dense and efficient.

How Much HORSEPOWER Does a Turbocharger Add

How Much Horsepower Does A Turbocharger Add?

Understanding the science behind a turbocharger is crucial to understanding how much horsepower it adds.

The cylinders of current engines are tiny and have a limited capacity for air.

But because compressed air has a smaller volume, more of it can be directed toward the cylinder.

The typical boost from a turbocharger is between 6 and 8 pounds per square inch.

According to the normal atmospheric pressure, i.e., 14.7 at sea level, you can get at most 50% additional air into the engine cylinder.

A 50% increase in the air means the engine reaches 50% more power.

However, engines are not totally efficient like other machines, so a 40% increase in horsepower is the most you can hope for.

Hence, the answer to the question of how much Horsepower a turbocharger adds is a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 40%.

Benefits of Adding A Turbocharger

The installation of a turbocharger in a vehicle has various advantages. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of them:

Produces More Output

We have discussed this benefit in much detail in the above sections.

The primary use of adding a turbocharger is to get around a 30% to 40% increase in engine output.

Stock engines that do not include a turbocharger are 50% less productive than those with a turbocharger.

Reduces Engine Size

A car’s engine capacity must be increased if it needs more horsepower so that there is ample area for air in the cylinder.

More air results in more fuel added to the mixture, producing additional power.

Nonetheless, turbochargers compress air up to 50%, allowing more air storage, thus making the engine size smaller, creating almost double the output.

Reduces Exhaust Emissions

Turbochargers convert engine exhaust gasses into clean, compressed air, thereby lowering the amount of exhaust released into the environment.

The exhaust pipes can be made shorter because longer tubes are not necessary when emissions are reduced.

Eventually, the environment suffers less harm.

Increases Fuel Efficiency

Engine efficiency is increased by turbochargers because extra gas is burned off at slower speeds.

The engine’s workload is minimized, resulting in lesser fuel consumption and increased performance.

Drawbacks of Adding A Turbocharger

All that glitters is not gold.

Similarly, there are certain drawbacks of installing a turbocharger in a car that we have listed below:

Turbocharged Engines Are More Expensive

Turbochargers are special performance devices that include many additional components such as an intercooler, a control system, etc.

All of these other components and the overall quality of the turbocharger demand more money.

Hence, these engines are much more expensive than traditional engines. 

If a car is already installed with a turbocharger, it is evident that it will cost you more than only another car in the same specification zone.

Similarly, other costs revolving around installing a turbocharger include additional maintenance costs and parts replacement.

Engines have many components, such as pistons, valves, bearings, and a turbocharger that can reduce the overall car cost.

Engines Become More Complex

Including each additional component makes the overall engine more complex and prone to damage.

The chance of parts breaking down is elevated.

The complexity of the engine is only valid with turbochargers with additional turbines.

For a single-turbocharger, it is not that major of an issue.

You Might Be Breaking State Laws

Some states in the United States of America and other countries limit performance modifications in a car.

Be sure to check all the guidelines and rules of your city or state to be under the safety radar. Breaking state laws can cost you a lot of money, and you might have to replace your car.

Final Thoughts

We hope we have answered how much horsepower adds.

It all depends on the engine’s efficiency and the turbocharger’s quality. At maximum, a turbocharger can increase horsepower.

Installing a turbocharger into your car engine has many benefits and drawbacks. We urge all our readers to drive safely and comply with local laws.

People Also Ask – FAQs

What Is Meant By A Turbo Boost?

Turbo boost is the positive pressure the turbocharger creates when compressing exhaust gasses into clean air. It is determined through pressure differences.

The increased pressure results in highly compressed gas that ultimately increases turbo boost.

Boost is favorable only to a certain extent as over-boosting can heat the components that cause the engine to collapse and components to break down.

What Is A Turbo Lag?

Turbo lag is when there is insufficient emission gas to compress and power up the engine.

When the engine runs at lower levels, there is not enough gas to intake by the turbocharger.

Turbochargers cannot operate under these circumstances, causing them to lag.

The optimal performance of the turbocharger is during high speeds when more significant amounts of emission gasses can be compressed into clean air and directed back toward the engine.

At What RPM Does A Turbocharger Work?

As mentioned above, turbochargers need adequate emission gasses to operate.

The turbocharger optimally works on an average of 2000 rotations per minute (RPM). The exact RPM depends on various factors, including engine size and efficiency.

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