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Turbo Engine in Cars: Meaning, Function, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Team AckoFeb 24, 2023

When you hear of a turbocharged vehicle, you generally associate it with performance, and rightly so. The leap in the performance of cars over the years can be majorly credited to turbo engines.

Initially designed for use in aircraft, most modern petrol and diesel cars today have turbo engines. But what exactly is a turbo engine in cars, and how does it work?

Read on to find out!




What is a Turbo Engine?

To understand the turbo engine in cars, you must first understand the working mechanism of the car's engine. The following points explain the same.

  • A car engine works on the principle of internal combustion. When the fuel is ignited in a small enclosed space, it releases an incredible amount of energy in the form of gas.

  • The idea is to create a cycle where hundreds of such tiny explosions per minute occur within the cylinder.

  • Each explosion cycle requires another intake of heat, fuel, and air. And by increasing any of the three elements, you can increase the explosion size, resulting in more energy production.

  • If you have a larger tanker, you can increase the quantity of fuel and produce more power. But the higher use of fuel will also cost you more.

  • A turbo engine, on the other hand, forces more air into the engine cylinders, thereby increasing the strength of combustion and producing more power. The phenomenon is called the forced induction of air into the combustion chamber.

How Does a Turbo Engine Work?

A turbo engine comprises a turbine wheel and compressor wheel that are held together by a shaft. These components are enclosed in a snail-shaped housing that contains an inlet and an exhaust port.

The inlet lets the exhaust gases produced by the engine enter the turbo at high pressure and spin the turbine. It, in turn, rotates the compressor wheel, drawing a vast amount of air compressed and pushed out of the exhaust port. The compressed air is then fed into the cylinders through a pipe. The smart thing about turbo is that it does not require additional engine power to run. Instead, the engine's exhaust gases coming at high speed drive the turbo.

So this clever mechanism makes good use of the exhaust gas that would otherwise go to waste. Since the turbo works at incredibly high pressure and generates massive temperatures, they are generally accompanied by an intercooler. The intercooler cools the air before it is fed to the cylinders. Usually, there is also an oil cooler that prevents the overheating of the turbo's lubricant.

The turbo systems of modern cars are pretty complex. They control the movement of gases through the system with a high degree of accuracy resulting in more power generation and higher efficiency.

Also, read: Car Engine Types

How is a Turbo Charger Different From Supercharger?

Like a turbo engine, superchargers also use forced compressed air to boost fuel power and efficiency. However, the difference is that the engine itself powers the turbines in superchargers.

So although superchargers produce more power, their dependence on the engine instead of waste gases does not make them as efficient as turbochargers.

Advantages of Turbo Engine For Cars

Now that you've understood what a turbo system is and how it works, let's look at some advantages of using turbo engines in cars.

Turbo Engines Generate More Power

A small turbocharged engine can produce more power than a larger engine without turbocharging. So with turbo cars, you get more power with a smaller engine.

Turbo Engines Are Efficient

A feature of the turbocharger is that they're not always on full blast but get activated only above a certain engine speed. The more the engine rev, the harder they work.

It also means that the turbo will start gently during light driving.

This feature enables you to achieve good economy and efficiency, unlike large-capacity engines that always draw a lot of fuel.

Turbo Engines Produce More Torque

Besides producing more power, a turbo engine in cars also increases torque, especially at low revs. The useful feature results in excellent initial acceleration in small petrol engines, which do not tend to produce more torque without a turbo.

You can also add a turbo to naturally aspirated(NA) diesel engines, though they already produce high torque at low rev. It will amplify the effect and add a significant amount of horsepower.

Turbo Cars are Lightweight

Turbo engines are lighter than naturally aspirated(NA)engines since they can produce high power even with a small engine capacity.

Also, nowadays, light alloy petrol engine blocks have replaced the older heavier iron or steel turbo engine blocks. It makes the whole car feel more lightweight and efficient.

Turbo Cars are Less Noisy

Turbo cars reduce the amount of gas coming out of the exhaust pipe. So they're comparatively quieter than a non-turbo car.

Disadvantages of Turbo Engines for Cars

You must have heard of 'turbo lag,' which refers to a slight delay in the delivery of power after you press the throttle. The lag occurs because it takes some time for the exhaust gas to reach the turbo and spin its wheels. The effect is exaggerated in bigger turbos as their large blades take longer to speed up. However, modern cars have developed ways to tackle the issue.

Some manufacturers fit two turbochargers that operate at different revs to deal with the lag. Others use a supercharger to spin the turbine before exhaust gas reaches it. With these improvements, the turbo lag becomes so minuscule that you won't even notice it.

Another disadvantage of a turbo engine in cars could be the turbo's proneness to fault or break down. Neglect or over-aggressive driving could lead to it. However, it should not be a problem if you take good care of the car.

List of Turbo Engine Cars in India

Here are some best turbo-engine cars available in India for your perusal.

Turbo-Petrol Engine Cars

  • Hyundai i20

  • Nissan Magnite

  • Kia Sonet

  • Hyundai Venue

  • Tata Altroz

Turbo-Diesel Engine Cars

  • Mahindra XUV700

  • Mahindra Thar

  • Hyundai Creta

  • Kia Seltos

  • Tata Harrier

  • Tata Nexon

Get Your Turbocharged Car Insured

While making your car more efficient with a turbocharger, do not forget to ensure its safety with a suitable insurance plan. And since turbo engines are costly to repair, it becomes all the more important to cover them.

ACKO offers hassle-free vehicle insurance with wide-ranging coverage that you can buy right from home. Not only is the application simple and convenient, but the settlement is also swift and stress-free.

Plus, you can choose from many different plans as per your need and budget.

Follow these three steps and submit your insurance application right away.

  • Visit the ACKO website and share your vehicle details.

  • Select an insurance plan for your vehicle. We can also get you tailor-made quotes to match your needs.

  • Make the premium payment.

Your vehicle is now insured!


Turbo engines in cars provide several advantages in terms of improved power, efficiency, and speed. However, you must refrain from over-aggressive driving to ensure your safety and avoid damaging the engine.

If properly maintained, you can reap the benefit of the turbocharger for the entire vehicle's lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to the most asked questions related to turbo car engine.


 Are turbo-engines fuel efficient?

Yes, turbocharged engines are more fuel efficient than NA engines without turbocharging. You will get good fuel economy if you are gentle on the accelerator.

Do turbo engines make your car faster?

A turbocharger forces more air into the engine and increases the horsepower produced. As a result, you will get a much faster and more powerful drive.

How much horsepower does a turbo add?

The exact increase in horsepower depends on the vehicle body type, engine type, and size. 

How much cooling does a turbo car need?

A good practice is to drive gently for the last few minutes and allow at least 15 seconds of cool-down before turning off the engine.

Will having a turbocharged engine affect my insurance?

If the turbocharged engine is part of the original equipment list, the insurance premium is calculated accordingly as per the engine capacity and other factors. However, if the turbocharger is added as a modification, you must inform the insurer about the same and pay an additional premium for the coverage of modifications.

What is a turbo petrol and turbo diesel engine?

Any petrol engine equipped with a turbocharger is called a turbo-petrol engine. Similarly, any diesel engine equipped with a turbocharger is known as a turbo-diesel engine.

What should you not do with a turbo engine?

Here are a few things that you should avoid while driving a turbocharged vehicle.

  • Allow the engine to idle before you drive

  • Do not shut down the engine immediately

  • Do not lug the engine

  • Use proper quality fuel as recommended by the manufacturer

  • Do not be aggressive on the throttle if the turbo is laggy

How do I extract the best fuel efficiency from my turbocharged car?

You can follow the tips mentioned below to get good fuel efficiency from a turbo engine.

  • Drive at lower or constant speeds

  • Proper gear shifting or early shifting

  • Lift and coast whenever possible

  • Maintain proper tyre pressure

  • Use quality fuel

Explore More:

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only. It is recommended to take the help of an expert before making any related decision.


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