Are you thinking about kicking up your vehicle’s performance with a turbocharger, supercharger, ram air, or other performance mod? Let’s talk about it!
First, we should make a couple of distinctions as to turbochargers and superchargers. Turbochargers
were designed to enhance high-altitude performance in fighter aircraft, such as the P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt of WWII. Turbochargers scavenge hot exhaust gases and direct them back into the engine through the intake, with a turbine compressing and driving the gases. A turbocharger puts no drag or mechanical load on the engine, relying on the pressure of the exhaust gases to drive its turbine; the disadvantage of a turbocharger is that it needs time to “spool up,” with the engine having to hit a certain RPM range before the turbo starts to spin. Superchargers
are similar to turbochargers, except that the turbine is driven at all times by a gear, belt, or chain drive. The principle behind superchargers actually dates back to the 19th century, with mechanisms that were developed to force air under pressure into blast furnaces. Superchargers have the advantage of instant response, with no spool-up time, but they also tend to be bulkier, heavier, less fuel-efficient, and more difficult to install. Ram air intakes
are designed to get more air into an engine’s air filter and intake, except by using the pressure created by the vehicle while it’s in motion. It’s much like the air intakes on a jet engine, with higher speeds meaning more efficiency of air flow. Engineers and tuners have known for years that cold air induction means a denser mixture of air and fuel, so ram air intakes are also commonly referred to as cold air intakes. Where the intake itself is situated can be critical to this design; an intake behind the radiator will not only funnel hotter air, but will be below ambient pressure outside the hood. Cold air or ram air intakes are commonly located either in a hood scoop or buried in the bumper or grille.
If you’re planning on installing a supercharger or turbocharger on your car, be prepared for a fairly involved job. Edelbrock’s turbo kits are designed for installation with no welding or grinding, but that doesn’t mean an easy installation and setup. Superchargers also will have electronic issues that will have to be taken into account, and include a tunable PCM programming module. If you have a turbo-equipped Diesel, we stock J-hooks, wastegate orifices, down pipes, replacement turbines and other parts that can amp up performance without replacing the entire unit!