What is the difference between a turbo and a supercharger?


If you ask the average car enthusiast what they value most about their ride, you are likely to hear a lot of them talk about the power under the hood. Automakers understand that desire which is why so many of them are so quick to push turbochargers and superchargers when they are advertising their vehicles. For those that don’t know much about vehicles, both of those are forced induction systems that compress the air flowing into the engine in order to produce a real boost in power. While they both basically do the exact same job, the way in which they go about it is a little different.

As previously mention, turbo and superchargers are added to give that extra kick of power without adding any additional weight to the engine. The compressed air that both provide allow more air to be forced into the cylinders, producing a larger explosion that translates to more power. The addition of either one is usually enough to deliver a power boost in the range of 6-8 pounds per square inch, which basically translates to about 50% more compressed air being delivered to the engine. That level of air means that the average driver can expect to see a 30-40% boost in power, which is why both are so popular among power seekers.

The difference between to two comes in the way in which they deliver that extra air. Superchargers do so in a mechanical way, using a belt that attaches to the engine to deliver power to the air compressor. The easiest way to imagine how that works is to take a look at the way in which a water pump or alternator works, as they are both powered in the same way. Turbochargers rely on exhaust gases in order to get their power, with the exhaust running through a turbine in order to make the compressor spin. Both systems also require a cooling method of some kind as the rpm’s that they produce can greatly raise the temperature under the hood.

The biggest decision that drivers have to make is deciding which of the two to use in their engine. The general consensus is that a turbocharger is the more efficient of the two as it is basically powered by energy that is normally considered as being wasted in order to operate. The downside of a turbo charger is that it doesn’t really provide the full power boost until the vehicle is running at higher RPM’s. Superchargers on the other hand are a whole lot easier to install than the turbo option, albeit at a heftier cost. At the end of the day it really comes down to the driver to decide which of the two best suits their needs. Both of them have their pros and cons, but since both basically do the same choice it often just boils down t how much money you have in your budget.

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