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The Anatomy of a Turbo - Diesel World Mag

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Common Turbo Questions & Answers


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Now that you know what the parts do, and how they work together to create power and boost, we know you have questions. So, we sat down with Thom Miles and Kurt Henderson of BorgWarner Turbo and Emissions Systems, Airwerks program and got answers to the most common of these questions.


Q: What does it mean when the turbo is spooling up?


A: The process of “spooling up” is commonly how people refer to the exhaust gases and air making the wheels spin, thus “spooling up” the turbo and bringing it up to its max capacity. This is, also, common the whine sound you hear as the turbo gains force creating power.


Q: When should you upgrade your turbo?


A: It depends a large part on your vehicle, your goals and your application.


Q: What are the benefits of a turbo in diesel applications?


A: The two major benefits are additional power and better fuel economy.


Q: Is it true if you leave the truck idling for three minutes it extends the turbo life? Why?


A: There is not any exact or set time. It is best to let the exhaust gases cool down to around 300 degrees before shutting off.


Q: How do you choose the right turbo for your application?


A: Consult our website. www.turbodriven.com


Q: What is extended tip technology?


A: Extended tip technology is a wheel technology that is a new application here in the AirWerks program. With the extended tips on our compressor wheels you will have all the characteristics of a larger compressor wheel without the turbo lag that goes with it. That means more power, faster.


Q: How is a turbo different on a diesel application vs. a gasoline application?


A: Diesel engines run cooler than gasoline engines, so the component materials are different. The sizing of the turbos remains the same.


Q: How do you know what housing to use or look for?


A: There are two main types of housings. What you should be looking for is the optimum housing that can spool up quickly but won’t kill it. To do this you will need to know and understand the displacement of the engine and the CFMs (Cubic Feet per Minute) of the air intake. You should, also, always consult the compressor maps as they are the roadmaps of how it all works. Best bet is always to consult an expert to keep yourself trouble and headache free.


Q: How do you protect your turbo under extreme conditions like sled pulling and heavy towing?


A: The best way to protect your turbo under extreme conditions or heavy towing is to have a good monitoring system or barometer for your engine exhaust temperatures. Be sure to have good, clean oil and let it cool down before shutting off the engine.


Q: Are there water-cooled turbos, and if so, then why aren’t all turbos water-cooled?


A: There are some water cooled turbos or turbo housings and casings that are mostly used in marine applications. Many water-jacketed bearing housings are used to extend the turbo housing on gasoline engines. Being that diesel engines of the average size run cooler than gasoline, this is not required in the turbo application.


Q: What is turbo lag and how can you avoid it in high horsepower engines?


A: Turbo lag is an increased amount of time in process from the turbo spooling up and the power being transferred. This is typically caused for improper turbo sizing and is easily fixed by using the proper sized turbo and components for your exact application.


Q: Is there a formula or rule of thumb for matching the turbo size to the horsepower of an engine?


A: The formula is really a process of matching the truck with the proper size of turbo and matching the horsepower. It is best to consult an expert on your specific needs and work with them to find the right turbo for your application.


Q: What is the “size of a turbo” in reference to? Compressor wheel housing size?


A: The “size of the turbo” is in reference to different things to different people. In the case of the general consumer it is typically referring to the size of the wheels and housings. These sizes are commonly measure in mm (millimeters). In the case of a manufacturer like BorgWarner Turbo and Emissions Systems it is in reference to the frame and bearing sizes as they relate to an exact part and model type.




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