Turbocharger-What Does It Do?

First turbocharger

I am sadly old enough to remember when the mention of the word “Turbocharger”it was something special. The first production cars to be fitted with turbos (as I am going to abbreviate them) was in the USA, back in 1962, when the Oldsmobile Jet-fire and the Chevrolet Corsair cars were fitted out with the first production car exhaust turbo. These cars did have a few teething problems such as engine knocking, but this was corrected with a few modifications.

One of the next important developments for the turbo came in 1973, with the beginning of the oil crisis. The diesel engines of the time were expensive enough, but the addition of the


Turbocharger almost hidden away

turbo to these engines made them even more expensive. However the fuel crises and the expensive cost of fuel made the turbo driven engines more cost effective because of the fuel savings.

The next chapter was in the 1980’s when governments started to issue legislation to restrict fuel pollution in the new cars that were produced at that time and this was the beginning of almost all the cars produced, having a turbocharger fitted. In fact this is about the same time that diesel driven engine cars became more popular to make for the car manufacturers. The turbo diesel engines were giving a high performance with much lower fuel consumption.

This trend was started off in Germany, in the late seventies and early eighties, when Mercedes Benz and VW started producing production cars that were fitted with a Turbocharger and a turbo charged diesel engines the Mercedes 300 SD and the VW Golf Turbo Diesel models.

The turbocharger into the 90’s and beyond

The main emphasis of the Auto manufacturers was now to drive down the amount of emission’s that the cars were producing. Governments all over the world were throwing huge amounts of money at the problem in order to drive down the carbon gases that cars were producing. The turbo charged engines certainly helped to fulfill this achievement. The advantages of the Turbocharger were that the engines could have a high performance, whilst at the same time be produced with a lower CC, engines were made smaller with more power.

The engines could be made smaller with higher torques and lower speed ranges at the same time. The engines would also become less noisy, we all remember the terrible sounds that would come out of a turbo less engine, and we needed ear plugs to drive some of the early diesel engine vans. The biggest gain though was the fuel consumption. The early diesel engines used to eat fuel, but with the addition of the Turbocharger , the fuel consumption lowered dramatically, cars can now get as much as 80 mile to the gallon, with other added improvements, that are happening all the time.

Our customers know very little about the turbocharger that is on their car.

The Turbocharger can be very complicated to explain, but I will attempt to put it in simple terms, that is the only way I can understand it myself anyway. The basic design mechanism of the


How a Turbocharger works

turbo works in a very similar way the jet engine. The jet engine draws in air from the front, compressors the air into a chamber where it burns with fuel. It them blasts the hot air out of the back. The hot air then drives past a turbine , which in turn drives the air pump at the front of the engine. At this stage the heated compressed air is pushed into the car’s engine to make the fuel burn more efficiently. The cars turbo is very much like a small car engine, it uses the expelled exhaust gases that are produced in an engine to drive a turbine, this spins the compressor, which pushes more air/oxygen into the cars cylinders  which, allowing more fuel to be burned  each second. This is why a Turbocharger can produce more fuel efficient energy per second.

Theoretically Turbocharger care, by the car owner is only down to general care and servicing of their car. Clean oil is very important and indeed one of the main problems with turbo care is when dirty oil is sucked into the turbos lubrication system. It is also a good idea to make sure that your engine warms up slowly on a cold morning. The cold thickens the viscosity of the oil which could starve the Turbocharger of oil, but with all the different oils that are used now, then I am not sure that this applies any more.

It is certainly a wise thing to make sure that your vehicle has the correct type of oil and that you top the engine up with the same type of oil as used in an oil change. If you are not sure, have your car serviced by a garage of your choice, it is not worth the risk, some turbos are well over £1000 each, and you can’t do without one.

Hope this helps.

Pellon Tyre and Auto-centre offer car and van servicing and repairs to all makes of vehicles. We are members of Unipart Car Care centres and give a nationwide guarantee for all our work and parts. We also sell tyres online from our website www.pellontyres.co.uk by using the tyre selector and choosing your tyre size. We offer courtesy cars to local motorists who need to go to work and leave their car with us for work doing. We are also an official MOT testing station and are members of Motor-codes, who carry out checks for high standard of equipment and workmanship.