Workshop Wednesday – How to drive a turbocharged car

These forced induction marvels are no longer exclusive to the track. So, how do you run them on a daily basis?

The turbocharger, an invention that was used for high performance motorsports, has trickled down to the daily driven vehicles of the world. It is not only the diesel vehicles that are using this forced induction technology, but even the likes of the consumer market driven vehicles, like the Ford Focus and Honda Civic, use this technology.

In motorsports, trained professionals use turbochargers and they have the expertise to use them optimally. So here at C! Magazine, we would like to share with you 5 tips on the proper use of a turbocharged vehicle, in case you didn’t know:


1.Don’t run the engine hard after a start-up

This might sound like something every car aficionado should know, but here is the thing: the temperature gauge on the dashboard only shows the temperature of the coolant. It isn’t really a problem, it is just that engine oils take a lot longer to warm-up compared to coolants. So your gauge might say that your vehicle is in operating temperature after 3 mins, but it only means that your coolant is ready to go. Many cars do not have an engine oil gauge, and since the coolant and engine block are isolated entities, you won’t be able to tell if the engine oil is ready to go.

Since the turbocharger uses the same oil to lubricate the bearings as it does the engine oil, running it hard while the oil is not at operating temperatures will wear out the turbocharger unnecessarily. And last time I checked, turbochargers cost a lot of money.

2.Cool-down the vehicle after running it hard

Because of the nature of turbochargers using exhaust gases, the temperature of the vehicle will be proportional to how hard you drive it. When you add exhaust heat together with engine oil heat, you know it will be piping hot. So when you shut off the engine, the oil no longer flows, and thus pockets of oil are going to be heated up to very high temperatures. These high temperatures break down the oil to characteristics that aren’t good for the engine. This reduces not only the engine oil life, but also lessens protection at start-up.

3.Don’t floor it coming out of a corner

Okay, this one applies to people who are not trying to drift their car. So if you are someone who is using a turbocharged vehicle for drifting, you can skip this part or stick around to maybe learn something new.

Turbo lag is like the calm before the storm, where storm means torque. If you floor it while taking a corner because it feels like nothing is coming out, you will be in for one hell of a shock the moment the torque kicks in like a sledgehammer and the tires lose their grip. This will result in an understeer for front-wheel drive cars and an oversteer for rear-wheel drive cars.

4. Don’t run your engine at low engine speeds with high load operation

This is also known as lugging your engine. For example, you are overtaking a vehicle with your turbocharged vehicle, but instead of downshifting, you floor the gas pedal as the rpm slowly goes up, making the engine work harder with little gain. This will cause the combustions to have richer mix of gas compared to air, causing damage to the catalytic converter, black clouds for exhaust, and Low Speed Pre Ignition (LSPI) that can damage your engine. LSPI is a when you have pre-ignition of your air fuel mixture before your spark ignites it.

5. Use high grade fuel

If your vehicle is using a modified turbocharger, then I would recommend using the best fuel you can get. Because turbocharged vehicles work with higher pressures and temperatures compared to naturally aspirated ones, compression ratios are reduced to compensate. Using good fuel will ensure reliability by running the right amount of richness on the fuel.

Turbochargers are the future of vehicles because they provide efficiency and performance even at small displacements. It isn’t exclusive to racing machines anymore. You probably are using one right now. If you are, we hope these tips help you maintain its reliability, efficiency, and longevity.


Deputy Editor