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Can You Put a Turbo on Any Car?

car turbo

If you’ve ever watched any of the Fast & Furious movies, you may have asked yourself if you could put a turbo on your car. Well, great news, you don’t need a brand new car or even an expensive car. Pretty much any car can be fitted with a turbo. There are some factors that play into it, but the primary consideration is whether there is space or not.

Engine technologies have come a long way over the years, and many new cars come from the factory with some form of a turbo. In addition, there are many different turbos available. So, not every turbo will fit on every car. But with a bit of customization, you’ll be able to take your whip to the next level.

The cool thing about putting a turbo on your car is that it offers one of the best bangs for your buck. Sure, new tires and changing and tuning the suspension will give you some increase in performance. Changing the exhaust or installing a cold air intake will also give you a boost. But none of these will provide you with the increase in power that a turbo will.

Chances are, if you are interested in turbocharging your car, you probably have some general knowledge on modifying it for performance already. So, this might even be a DIY project, or you might have a buddy that can help you out.

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What is a Turbo?

So, you know that a turbo can substantially boost your car’s power. But what is it, and how does it do that? Simple answer: the turbo compresses extra air into the engine. This compression is where the increased power comes from.

Essentially, there are two parts to a turbo joined by a shaft. Hot exhaust spins a turbine on one end, which causes the other half of the turbo to suck in air. This air is then compressed into the engine, boosting its efficiency and horsepower.

When a car is fitted with a turbo from the factory, they are generally more fuel-efficient. This doesn’t mean that your fuel economy will be better after putting a turbo on your car. It works from the factory because the engine displacement is usually decreased substantially without sacrificing power because of the turbo. That being said, a turbo does improve your engine’s efficiency, so depending on what other changes you make, you may see some fuel economy improvements.

car turbo
Image By: Janbarkmann, Pixabay

Things to do Before You Turbo Your Car

It’s not quite as simple as pulling a turbo kit out of the box and slapping it in your engine. In reality, with only a few adjustments, most cars will accommodate a turbo, however, you’re taking an engine that was designed to be naturally aspirated and increasing the horsepower—sometimes by 50hp or more—and if everything else is left “stock,” then you could run into problems. Here are a few things to consider changing or upgrading before diving into a new turbo.

  • Clutch: This one is dependent on what the stock clutch in your car is. In some cases, it will be sufficient for a low-boost turbo. However, in most cases, it’s a good idea to upgrade to a performance clutch to prevent slipping when it’s engaged.
  • Engine Control Unit (ECU): You can either replace the original ECU entirely or install one that piggybacks on the original to modify it. Essentially your goal here is to modify your engine’s electronically controlled aspects because the stock ones will no longer be correct once a turbo is introduced.
  • Fuel System: Depending on how far you want to increase the performance, your stock injectors and fuel pump will likely be inadequate. Both can be replaced with higher-flow parts that will be able to keep up with how you tune the system.
  • Internal Engine Parts: If you are putting a turbo on a car that already has a reasonably powerful engine, then the stock components may be able to withstand the horsepower increase. But in many cases, it’s a good idea to replace parts such as pistons, rods, and camshafts. Many of these parts are available and specifically manufactured for turbo applications.


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Now, you know that a turbo can be installed on pretty much any car, and a few of the things that you will have to change before it is. Make sure that you do some research before you start buying parts or modifying the engine. Because many parts cannot be returned once purchased, you want to ensure you’re getting components that work together.

Car modifying is a deep, deep rabbit hole to go down. But if you have the time and money, it can be a super fun and rewarding hobby. You may not end up as a street racer, but there is something incredible about being sucked into your seat just a little bit when you gear down and step on the gas.

Featured Image Credit: ArtisticOperation, Pixabay

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