Turbocharger or Supercharger? What’s the Difference?

Whether you are shopping for a new car or thinking of adding some performance to what you have, you might be wondering about the differences between turbocharged and supercharged. Both will provide the similar outcome of adding strength, speed and performance. Although the results are similar the process for turbochargers and superchargers is very different.

It is obvious, engines require fuel to function. In order for the fuel to burn the engine also needs an intake of air. The fuel and air combust in the cylinders of the engine, moving the pistons, and causes a chain reaction that moves the wheels. The more air pulled into the engine the faster the fuel can combust, increasing the amount of power the engine can produce. Superchargers and turbochargers force extra air into the engine, thus creating a higher performing combustion process.

Turbochargers will attach to the exhaust of your car. There it feeds off of the exhaust to spin a turbine. This in return powers a compressor blows air into the engine, creating more power. Because the turbo uses the exhaust gasses from the engine it is the more fuel efficient of the two, as the car is not producing anything extra. However, because of this the power that you see from a turbocharger comes when the engine is at a higher RPM. When pressing your foot on the gas there can be a delay in the extra power provided by the turbo as the exhaust builds up energy.

On the other hand, Superchargers are mounted directly to the engine. A supercharger is powered by an accessory belt that runs to the crankshaft of the engine. The belt turns either a turbine or a corkscrew like system that pushes air into the cylinders. The faster the car moves the more energy that is needed to power the supercharger. Unlike the turbo there is no delay with the supercharger, as it is always running with the engine. While the extra performance is instant, superchargers are less fuel efficient than a turbo.

Of course this is only a brief introduction, there is a lot of mechanics and engineering that goes into superchargers and turbochargers .

The debate over whether turbocharged or supercharged is better , has been ongoing in the car industry and culture. Either will achieve more power and performance from your engine. The questions would be: Do you want that boost of energy instantaneously? Or are you willing to experience the delay of the turbo for some fuel efficiency? Then you would have to decide how much power you actually want and what the purpose would be, pleasure, work or racing.