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Types of Turbochargers That Are Better for Smaller Vehicles

Types of Turbochargers That Are Better for Smaller Vehicles

Do you have a smaller car with a smaller engine and are worried a turbocharger won't fit? Size is an important consideration when choosing a turbo, but just because your engine doesn't have much space to spare doesn't necessarily mean you're limited in choices. Here are some types of turbochargers that are better for small vehicles, along with advice on how to size your turbo correctly.

Am I Limited To Certain Types?

There are several types of turbos to choose from, including single-turbos, twin-turbo, twin-scroll turbos, variable geometry turbos, variable twin-scroll turbos, and electric turbos. If you have a small engine, are there certain ones you should steer clear of? Not necessarily.

If you're really limited on space, you may want to stick with single turbos and avoid twin-turbos and bi-turbos. As the names imply, twin-turbo and bi-turbo configurations consist of two turbos instead of one. It's important to note that twin-scroll turbos aren't the same as twin-turbos and bi-turbos. Twin-scroll turbo configurations, despite the name, consist of only one turbo. The term "scroll" describes the winding path the exhaust gases take when they enter the turbine section of the turbo.

But for the most part, there’s no specific type of turbocharger that’s better for small vehicles. Turbos come in various sizes designed to suit different engine configurations and sizes. Making sure you size your turbo correctly is more important than the type of turbo you choose. A turbo that's too small for your engine might over-rev, surge, run out of flow, or overheat. A turbo that's too large for your engine can likewise cause problems.

Smaller vs. Larger Turbos

For those with small engines, the turbo is bound to be on the smaller side. That’s because smaller turbos take up less space than larger turbos. But turbo size affects more than the amount of room a turbo will take up in your engine. Here are some other differences between small and large turbos.

Small turbos spool faster and provide more midrange. They produce good down-low torque but can choke the engine at high RPMs. They also have a shorter lag time.

Conversely, larger turbos spool slower. They don't produce much down-low torque, but they do provide more airflow and power at high RPMs. They also have a longer lag time.

Sizing Your Turbo

So, how do you go about sizing your turbo? By doing a lot of complicated math. You need to determine:

  • How much air your engine uses at certain boost pressures
  • How to maximize volumetric efficiency (VE)
  • The ideal compressor
  • The ideal turbine
  • The ideal trim

Not great with complex formulas? Don't worry. Turbo Turbo has a handy guide on matching your turbocharger to your engine that will make determining the right fit easy.

Turbo Turbo carries turbos and turbo parts for all your turbocharger needs. If you need a quick and easy solution to a damaged turbo, come and check out our high-performance CHRA turbo cartridges. Shop our full selection of turbo products today or reach out to our team with any questions!

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