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What Exactly Is a Turbocharger?

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what is a turbocharger
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A turbocharger is one of those engine components that only car enthusiasts know about. The rest of the world only hear about them on TV or at the mechanic’s shop. The truth is, unless you’re looking to crank more speed and power out of your engine, you may not really need a turbocharger for your engine. But then, if you do need more power in your regular engine, a turbocharger is a relatively inexpensive and effective solution. If you’ve heard about turbochargers and you’re dying to know what they are and what they can do, keep reading to get a crash course on turbochargers.

How car engines work

To understand how a turbocharger works, you need to understand how a car engine works. To produce the power that propels the car, the engine burns fuel in cylinders. The fuel injector controls the delivery of fuel into the cylinders. The more fuel the injector delivers, the more the engine produces. As the cylinders burn the fuel, the explosion drives the pistons and turns the shafts, gears, and other parts of the car’s drive train. The gas produced in this combustion is channeled out of the cylinder and into the exhaust as fumes.

You can increase the power a car produces in several ways:

  • Add more cylinders, so there’s more combustion.
  • Increase fuel delivery.
  • Increase the size of the cylinders.
  • Use a turbocharger.

How turbochargers work

The turbocharger is a relatively cheap modification of the car engine. However, it has the power to increase the output of the car. The turbocharger uses exhaust fumes produced by the car’s combustion to increase its power. It spins the air (oxygen), channeling it back into the cylinders, and that allows them to burn more fuel per second. The turbocharger is very similar to the supercharger because they work on the same principle. But then, instead of using air from the cylinders’ combustion, the supercharger channels air from the car’s spinning crankshaft.

The anatomy of a turbocharger

A turbocharger can be divided into three main components: the turbines, the compressor, and the rotating assembly. The turbines are responsible for channeling the air, and the compressors are responsible for compressing it. Air produced by combustion is hot by nature, and thus, inefficient for burning air. Before making its way to the turbines and back to the cylinders, the air passes over a heat exchanger. From the exchanger, the air is forced into the cylinders, and combustion continues. The waste gas exits through the exhaust.

Not only does the turbocharger increase an engine’s performance, but it also makes the car more efficient. By recycling air, the car basically wastes less energy than it would have without the charger.

The bottom line

The turbocharger works on the same principle as a jet engine. The turbines suck in cold air and use it for the combustion of fuel. Hot air is then blasted out through the back. While your car can’t exactly run on a jet engine, a turbocharger would definitely increase its efficiency. If you understand how a turbocharger works and are looking for how to upgrade your car, you’re in luck. Goldfarb, Inc. supplies turbochargers and you can find just what you need to turn your car into an efficient speed machine.