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Turbocharger Terminology Everyone Should Know

Turbocharger Terminology Everyone Should Know

As turbocharged engines become more common in everyday vehicles, it’s important to understand the terminology that comes with them. Turbocharger technology is essential in today’s automotive world, so it’s crucial to comprehend how it works, what it does, and the components that make it up. Learn the turbocharger terminology everyone should know, and educate yourself on these great machines.


Boost refers to the extra air pressure generated by the turbocharger’s operation—we measure this pressure in pounds per square inch (psi) or bar.

The purpose of a turbocharger is to produce a boost, which forces more air into the engine, allowing for a corresponding increase in fuel and ultimately leading to greater power output. Understanding boost is central to understanding how a turbocharger enhances engine performance.


The compressor draws in air and forces it into the engine’s combustion chamber for ignition. It’s essential to understand that the compressor compresses outside air, creating a boost. A shaft connects the compressor to the turbine, which causes it to spin as exhaust passes over the turbine.


The compressed air passing through the compressor creates a lot of heat, which may reduce the engine’s power output. Intercoolers cool the compressed air as it makes its way to the engine’s combustion chamber, allowing more air to enter.

The intercooler is essential for restoring the engine’s power. They come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of turbocharger setup and the intended usage.


The wastegate is a mechanism used to control the turbocharger’s boost level. Wastegates are popular among automotive enthusiasts and seasoned mechanics. This component plays an integral part in the turbocharger’s function. Without it, the exhaust fed into the turbo would have no way of releasing, eventually causing damage due to pressure build-up.

An actuator allows the engine’s control unit to regulate boost pressure by opening or closing the wastegate. The wastegate helps maintain stable and safe boost levels, preventing engine damage.

Exhaust Manifold

This component collects exhaust gases from the engine and directs them toward the turbocharger, which powers it. The manifold can consist of different materials, such as cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic. The manifold must be strong enough to withstand the high temperatures and pressures of the exhaust gases.

As we navigate the growing world of turbocharged cars and expand the list of turbocharger terminology everyone should know, it’s crucial to keep these basics in mind. More complex terms exist that one could explore, but it’s critical to have a good foundation.

Once you grasp the vocabulary surrounding turbos, consider buying one from TurboTurbo. We have an excellent selection of MHI turbo parts, among other components, that will make your vehicle stand out.

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