Why Should You Install a Turbocharger Instead of a Supercharger?

Posted on: 25 April 2018

Even if you know absolutely nothing about cars or engineering, the words 'turbocharger' and 'supercharger' are likely to get your heart pumping. And they actually live up to their names. These are both forced induction systems, which means they compress the air flowing into your engine. With more air flowing, the engine can work a lot harder and product far more power. Such systems also help deliver the high-end roar associated with serious sports cars and luxury models.

However, there's a difference between turbochargers and superchargers, and it comes down to how each one is powered:

  • Turbochargers use the exhaust system to run waste gases through a turbine and spin a compressor.
  • Superchargers use a belt connected to the engine camshaft.

So, which one is better? There are pros and cons on both sides, but here are just a few reasons why most drivers will be better off installing a turbocharger.

Turbochargers Are More Efficient

The main disadvantage associated with superchargers is that they take power from the engine—of course, they produce more engine power in the process, but what you're essentially doing is powering the new supercharger air pump with an existing air pump. As such, superchargers are far less efficient than turbochargers, which simply use the exhaust gases already being produced by your engine. If you want to enjoy a more thrilling ride without having to worry about your mileage, picking a turbocharger over a supercharger is a good call.

Turbochargers Are Much Smaller

If you ever see a turbocharger and supercharger side by side, you'll easily be able to tell the difference: turbochargers are much smaller. Thanks to their compact designs, turbochargers deliver more power relative to their size compared to superchargers. They also take up less space in your vehicle, making them both easier to install and more convenient to tune. This is why superchargers tend to be used in professional vehicles while turbochargers are often preferred for consumer vehicles.

Turbochargers Run a Lot Quieter

Whether you add a turbocharger or a supercharger to your vehicle, you should expect more noise to be produced when you accelerate, especially when you really put the pedal to the metal. However, turbochargers tend to be much quieter than superchargers. If you tend to drive through lots of residential neighbourhoods or simply don't feel the need for a car that announces itself as loudly as possible, pick turbocharging over supercharging.