It's a commonly held misconception that turbochargers are just for high performance cars, but nothing could be further from the truth. Modern manufacturers are beginning to use forced induction on everything from basic economy cars up to heavy duty trucks. While turbodiesel engines have been common in commercial applications for a very long time, regular gasoline turbocharged engines are now making their way into a variety of workhorse trucks, as well. If you operate a fleet of work vehicles, you may be wondering how this affects you and why turbochargers might be advantageous to your fleet. Turbochargers offer a number of benefits, whether they are an integral part of the manufacturer's engine design or an aftermarket part that you install yourself.
The Basics: What Are Turbochargers?
Turbochargers are one of two common forms of forced induction, with the other being the supercharger. Forced induction is a method of pulling air into the engine. The alternative to force induction, which is used on vehicles without turbo or superchargers, is natural aspiration. In a naturally aspirated engine, air is flows naturally into the combustion chamber. With a forced induction engine, air is helped in. In the case of a turbocharger, the turbine that pushes air into the engine is driven by the vehicle's own exhaust gases.
The Efficiency Advantage
If you run a commercial fleet, then one of the most notable advantages of turbocharged engines is their efficiency. The turbocharger is run by the exhaust gases that are already being expelled by the engine. This allows the truck to recapture what is, otherwise, wasted energy. Not only does this provide the engine with additional power, it actually makes the engine run more efficiently. This is why many modern turbocharged engines have such incredible power figures, while claiming fuel efficiency that exceeds even sedate commuter cars from a decade ago.
Additionally, turbochargers can drastically boost the power output of smaller engines. Since smaller engines are naturally less heavy and use less fuel, this helps significantly with gas mileage, as well. It means that work that previously could only be done with a six- or eight-cylinder engine can now be accomplished by a fuel sipping four-cylinder.
More Low-End Power
Of course, power is what everyone usually associates with turbochargers, but the particular characteristics of a turbocharged engine are exceptionally well suited to work vehicles. Turbochargers produce a large amount of torque at very low engine rpms, often reaching maximum torque output well before the engine is anywhere near maximum power output. This makes them particularly useful, for trucks that need to do significant amounts of towing or that will frequently be ascending steep grades. Even better, modern turbochargers tend to suffer from very little "turbo lag." This is the effect of the turbocharger needing time to spool up, when you hit the accelerator. While some amount of turbo lag will always be present, it has been minimized in most modern engines to the point where few drivers are likely to even notice its presence.
To learn more about turbocharging, contact a resource like Haydens Parts.