If you own a turbocharged vehicle, you’ve probably heard the term “turbo lag” before. It’s one of the most common complaints of turbocharger enthusiasts worldwide.
But what exactly is turbo lag? And what makes it such a problem? Here are some important things you need to know about turbo lag.
What’s a Turbocharger?
First, let’s go over what turbochargers are and what they do. Turbochargers, colloquially known as turbos, are forced induction devices powered by exhaust gases. They suck more air into the combustion chamber for use in the combustion process. The more air and fuel there is in the chamber, the more power created during combustion, and more power equals better horsepower, torque, fuel economy, and drivability.
What’s Turbo Lag?
Turbos consist of a turbine side and a compressor side. The turbine takes some time to spool after you mash the throttle. This creates a delay between when you push the throttle and when the boost kicks in. This delay is called turbo lag.
Turbo lag is the result of low RPM. At low RPMs, there aren’t enough exhaust gases to spool the turbine. The engine needs to create more to get the turbo running, which takes a second or two to accomplish.
Can You Avoid Turbo Lag?
Another important thing you need to know about turbo lag is that you can try to avoid it. You can’t fully eliminate turbo lag, but you have a few ways to minimize it. For example, you can add a waste gate to help the turbo spool faster, narrow the powerband, or use oil additives to boost compression.
Fortunately, turbo lag is much less noticeable than it used to be and shouldn’t have much of an impact on your drives. However, one important thing to keep in mind when driving a turbocharged vehicle is that you should avoid mashing the throttle when exiting corners. The delayed boost could result in understeering or oversteering and cause an accident.
The Future of Turbochargers
What does the future of turbos hold? Will we ever eliminate turbo lag? All signs point to yes. Electric turbochargers have made a lot of progress over the years and are currently entering the production phase. If all goes according to plan, turbo lag may soon become a thing of the past.