Many of today’s higher end cars come with turbochargers under the hood to give the driver an extra boost of power. It’s not every car that has it though, which may explain why turbo kits are a popular choice among those that want to give their vehicle a little extra oomph. Many car enthusiasts opt to do the work on their own, but even if you leave the installation to a pro, it’s still good to know all of the turbo components and how they work.
The bearing housing is home to all of the pieces that are responsible for rotation, as well as for receiving and draining the oil supply. The turbine and compressor housings are bolted to the outside of the bearing housing, and on the inside you will find a pair of journal bearings, kept in place by a spacer, that center the shaft and ensure it stays centered and spinning smoothly. The housing also contains a flinger and insert assembly which is designed to prevent oil entering the intake, as well as making sure that the boost pressure doesn’t leak into the housing.
The thrust bearing bears the weight of the acceleration load of the wheels, with the entire thrust assembly seated by a snap ring. That ensures that the whole set up, namely the rotor, is correctly positioned within the bearing housing. That takes us to the compressor side of the turbo set up, with this particular part comprised of a number of different components. This is a crucial part of the entire kit as it’s from here that the power boost is sent to the engine.
A turbocharger is powered by exhaust gases and it the turbine housing that allows those gases to enter the entire set up. It also makes sure that the exhaust gases are directed away from the manifold and turbine wheel. Inside of the turbine housing is where you will find the compressor housing which is responsible for directing the intake air out, making sure to send it around the compressor wheel. Inside the compressor housing is the shaft which does the hard work of holding and spinning the turbine and compressor wheels. The two wheels are held in place to the shaft in different ways: the turbine wheel is welded on to improve performance, whereas the compressor wheel slides on and is held in place by a nut.
As the name suggests, the compressor wheel compresses the air that is brought into the system, which is what provides the boost pressure. The turbine wheel is basically the part that makes the whole thing tick on the intake side, as the faster the turbine spins, the more the compressor wheel spins. Each individual piece in the turbo set up, no matter how small, plays a part in the smooth operation of the system. Just one component installed incorrectly can mean the difference between a high performance turbocharger and one that does nothing at all.