How to choose a turbocharger for your car?

Many factors must be considered while choosing the right turbocharger for your engine. Not only are the details of your unique engine crucial, but so is the engine’s intended purpose. A realistic mentality is the most important approach to these considerations.

A horsepower target is the first step in selecting a performance turbocharger. Each turbocharger is engineered to accommodate a specified horsepower and displacement range. There will be a lot of turbo lag if a turbo is too big for your engine, and if a turbo is too tiny for your engine, you may not reach your horsepower target.

turbo for your car

In other words, if you’re turbocharging a 400-hp naturally aspirated engine, you’d probably like it to produce 600 hp. A 50-percent increase is more practical for all-around street driving, and matching a turbo to this amount of increase will offer more pleasant results. In this article, you’ll learn how to choose the right turbocharger for your car and a list of the best turbo options out there.

Read more: Understanding Turbocharged Engines

How can I choose the right turbocharger for my car?

A turbocharger is a turbine that compresses and forces air into the combustion chamber using the exhaust gases from your engine. More fuel can be added if there is more air in the cylinder.

The larger the combustion and the more power produced, the more fuel and air in the cylinder. This boosts the weight-to-power ratio of your car dramatically. Turbos can be utilized for more than just raising your vehicle’s horsepower. Automobile manufacturers utilize a turbo on a smaller engine to enhance fuel economy without sacrificing power.

A smaller engine will save you more money on gas than a larger one. The smaller engine can now create the same amount of power as a larger engine thanks to the addition of a turbo. The followings are procedures to follow when choosing a turbo for your car:

  • Setting a realistic goal
  • Choosing the right one
  • Do some calculations

Setting a realistic goal

It’s a reasonable expectation that if your engine now generates 400 horsepower, you’d like to increase it to 600 horsepower. However, if your engine now produces 200 horsepower, you may wish to increase it to 600 horsepower. This, however, seems a little impractical.

By adding a turbo to your engine, you can expect to gain roughly 50 percent more horsepower. While a 300 percent boost in horsepower from 200 to 600 might be possible, it would necessitate many more upgrades than a turbo. You’d also have to fine-tune all of the changes so that they all function together.

Choosing the right one

To select the best turbo, first determine your desired horsepower range. Keep this goal in perspective. Buying the biggest turbo, you can find on the spur of the moment is a bad idea. Consider the following considerations while determining your optimum goal horsepower range:

  • What do you use your car for most of the time?
  • What kind of traction can you get?
  • What can your engine and transmission take?

Turbos are available for a variety of purposes. Some will improve the speed with which your engine responds. Others will help to boost the economy. Some turbos, on the other hand, are designed solely to increase performance.

Read more: Common reasons why turbo fails and symptoms you should notice

Do some calculations

You can either use an internet calculator or do the arithmetic yourself. You’ll need to figure out how much air your engine requires at a given boost pressure. Begin by looking up the following figures:

  • Engine RPM
  • Engine size
  • Volumetric efficiency


Boost pressure

You’ll be left with a pressure ratio and three digits representing the amount of air. The crankshaft’s revolutions per minute, which connect to the piston rods, are measured in RPM. This indicates how many times the pistons in the cylinder rise and fall.

This is a measurement that indicates the engine’s displacement. Typically, it is expressed in liters or cubic centimeters. Your vehicle’s VIN number can be used to determine the engine size. The VIN is a one-of-a-kind identification number found in the bottom corner of your windshield. The code for your engine can be found by counting eight numbers from the left.

The mass density of the air and fuel combination that enters the cylinder is compared to the mass density of the same volume of air entering the intake manifold in this measurement. This ratio indicates how effective your engine is at moving the fuel charge through the cylinders. The pressure will diminish if there are any flow constraints in your intake system.

The density of the air entering the cylinder is reduced as a result. The turbocharger you wish to install in your car’s engine will counteract this by pumping more air into the combustion chamber. This is the increased positive pressure that a turbo injects into your engine. More airflow will be produced by larger turbos. They do it with a lower boost level and a longer lag time between boost and performance.

There will be less lag time with small turbos. However, in order to obtain the same airflow as the larger turbo, they will need to run at a greater boost level.

Read more: Understanding Supercharger in Automobile Engines

Which should you choose; a small or large turbocharger?

It would be lovely if turbocharging were like many other options in which more is better, but that is not the case. While 90% of the internet will urge you to choose the smallest turbocharger that fulfills your horsepower needs, I’d want to offer a different perspective after we go over the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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For smaller turbo, it is lower in the power band, and spools faster to provide more torque. Smaller dimensions make it easier to install, and it’s also less expensive. However, Smaller turbine wheels create more exhaust manifold pressure (EMAP), which causes more cylinder reversion of exhaust gases, boosting cylinder temperatures, and making the motor more prone to detonation and pre-ignition. Torque usually comes on quickly over a small rpm band, causing traction problems. Finally, it does not make as much power as larger turbochargers.

For larger turbo, it maintains torque all the way to redline in most cases. Large turbine wheels allow for better flow, which results in higher volumetric efficiency and less exhaust gas reversion, which helps prevent cylinder detonation and pre-ignition. Torque curve that is more progressive and comes online in a more gradual manner. But it is possible to get leggy. That is, it takes time to obtain the second boosted torque curve over the N/A torque curve. Because they are physically larger, they can be more difficult to install in a given space. It is more expensive than a smaller turbo.

Read more: Different types of carburetors and their functions

Why should I choose the turbo that suits my car?

You risk harming your turbo and engine if you choose a turbo outside of your engine’s efficiency range. While it’s fine for a turbo to glow now and again, you don’t want it to glow all the time. You will quickly burn out your turbo if you force it to run outside of its efficiency. In addition, superheated air will be forced into your combustion chambers.

This is incompatible with your efforts to boost horsepower, such as the cold air intake you added. It also puts your motor in jeopardy of being destroyed. The intercooler will have to work harder due to the superheated air. If the intercooler can’t keep up, the heat will build up and eventually kill your engine.

best turbo for your car

Read more: How do I fix a gas leak in my car?


Everyone wants to taste a great speed on the highway, so turbo installation on an engine is very common in automobiles. In this article, we’ve learned how to choose the right turbocharger for your car. Also, some factors to consider while choosing a turbo is also discussed.

I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you around!