Turbochargers and turbo lag

Does your car have a turbocharger? Should you be concerned with turbo lag? Perhaps you aren’t even sure if your car is even in the turbo category – more and more mainstream cars and performance cars are generally fitted with turbo or turbo boost.

Turbochargers offer a great option for directly increasing the power of an engine – without having to make significant changes to the engine itself. Another advantage is that it is a low maintenance solution.

Turbochargers work by forcing extra air from the exhaust flow into the engine, in turn creating a more explosive air-fuel mix in the cylinders. Most turbocharged engines – both diesel and petrol – may use intercoolers which cool the air before it goes into the engine. Cooler air is denser and contains more oxygen – maximising the power produced in the combustion process. Turbochargers, however, can only spin up to a speed when there is exhaust gas pressure turning the impeller. This means that the engine has to be working/moving before the turbo can generate enough boost to build on the engine’s power.

Turbo lag is this delay from the time you as the driver hit the accelerator and the arrival of the extra boost. Turbo lag can be felt in both turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.