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Turbocharging or Supercharging: Pros and Cons

Turbocharging or Supercharging: Pros and Cons

Modern diesel engines require a lot of air to function properly. This is why simple air intakes are no longer enough. Most diesel engines are fitted with either a turbocharger or a supercharger. If you have no idea what either of these means and are wondering which is better, here is a short overview of pros and cons for both of these air intake methods.

If your engine is fitted with one of these, it pays to know what can go wrong with them, and where you can find turbo repair in San Diego.

What’s the difference?

Both of these are methods of delivering more air than would be possible by just atmospheric pressure. These air compressors serve the same function and operate in a similar manner. The only real difference is the power source. 

The supercharger is powered by the engine itself, typically via a belt. Turbocharger, on the other hand, is powered by the exhaust gas turbine. Essentially, superchargers use the engine’s power to operate, while turbochargers use the waste energy of the exhaust.

Pros of Turbochargers

Turbochargers offer a boost in horsepower to the engine. If you fit a turbocharger, you can have a smaller engine that will have better power to size ratio. With that comes fuel economy as well. Small engines require less fuel to idle, so you can get more miles per gallon. 

The most important trait of turbochargers is their efficiency. As mentioned before, they run on waste energy, thus improving the efficiency of the engine even further.

Cons of Turbochargers

Sadly, it’s not all great news for turbo enthusiasts. Traditional turbochargers experience something called ‘turbo lag’. Essentially, they require some time to gather the excess energy or ‘spool up’ to give you the boost. 

Once you get the boost, though, it typically comes in a single power surge which may cause some traction problems for inexperienced drivers. One final issue with turbochargers is that they get really hot, so they need to be cooled. They are often connected to the cooling system of the engine, which complicates it somewhat.

Pros of Superchargers

They can easily be added to any engine to grant some more power. The key advantage of superchargers over turbochargers is that the power surge is immediate. Superchargers use the engine’s power, so there’s no lag. It can also provide a boost at lower RPMs, something turbos aren’t good at. Finally, another selling point for superchargers is that they are comparably cheap.

Cons of Superchargers

They are far less energy efficient than turbos since they draw power from the engine to provide a boost to the engine. The downside of both turbochargers and superchargers is that they are forcing air into the engine, creating higher pressures. This significantly affects the longevity of the engine and the engine parts if the engine is not built with these devices in mind.

What’s the verdict?

The market is probably the best judge of what is better. Since both of these devices seem to have strong supporters, it appears that both of these are suitable for certain purposes. That being said, there are great technological strides being made to make turbochargers better. Electric turbos are able to provide the much-needed boost at lower RPMs to fight the turbo lag. And finally, you can have both turbo and supercharger in your vehicle if you want.

Superchargers and turbochargers are great for boosting your engine, but they can break down and cause early breakdowns of other engine parts as well. If you find yourself in need of a turbo repair in San Diego, contact PCE. PCE has over 40 years of experience with diesel engines and other machinery.

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