A turbocharger, sometimes called a turbo, increases the density of air that enters a vehicle’s engine to provide more power. An engine can be modified with a turbocharger for increased power, or the vehicle might come stock with one.
According to Corky Bell, author of “Maximum Boost,” while turbochargers provide the engine with more power, they come with their own set of drawbacks.
Increased Fuel Consumption
Increased fuel consumption is a pricey drawback to a turbocharged engine. According to Jay K. Miller, author of “Turbo: Real-World High-Performance Turbocharger Systems,” this is because the engine must work harder to crank the turbine within the turbo. This, in turn, increases the engine’s fuel consumption significantly. This not only increases the average cost of running the vehicle but also reduces its point-to-point range on one tank of gas.
A phenomenon known as turbo lag is another major drawback of a turbocharged engine. Because a turbocharger runs off the engine’s exhaust gases, the engine must reach a certain pressure before it kicks in. This means that until the car has reached a high enough speed, the power boosting effects of the turbo are non-existent.
Shorter engine life and lower engine performance are big drawbacks to turbocharging an engine. According to Jeff Hartman, author of “Turbocharging Performance Handbook,” this is because a turbocharged engine has a lower compression ratio than an engine with normal aspiration. An engine with a lower compression ratio will run significantly less efficiently at low speeds, notes Miller. A lower compression ratio also means that the engine will require servicing more often.