Whether you drive a Cummins, Duramax, or Powerstroke diesel truck, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with turbochargers. Over the past couple of decades, turbos have nearly become stock equipment on diesel pickups, and are becoming increasingly common on gas vehicles as well. But what are they, how do they work, and why are they there? KG Truck & Auto in Glen Burnie, MD has the answers.
The turbocharger technology was first introduced on a massive scale during World War II, on planes that flew at high altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner. Since then, they’ve been applied to more and more applications, to the point where they’ll basically be stock equipment in the near future.
The most obvious reason for the existence of a turbo is the power increase your engine gains from having one. Turbos cram more air into the cylinders than the engine could possibly consume without one, upping the compression ratio and providing more oxygen to burn. This creates a boost in power, and a significant one at that. On vehicles that are made to tow or haul, and particularly on diesel which consume a lot of air already, turbos are particularly effective.
There are less obvious reasons for turbos as well. Turbos allow for smaller displacement engines to provide power equalling or exceeding the output of a much larger engine. This means a vehicle can be powered by an engine that takes up less space, gets better gas mileage, and produces fewer emissions. That’s why you’re seeing an increase in turbos on gas engines – the current trend in the automotive world is a push for better fuel efficiency and more horsepower, and a turbo achieves both goals. On large displacement engines like your diesel, they allow the engine to run more efficiently while producing more power simultaneously.