FAQs About Turbocharging Your Vehicle. Why a Turbo Kit. Turbo Sizing and More...

FAQs About Turbocharging Your Vehicle. Why a Turbo Kit. Turbo Sizing and More... by Grant Smith

I’ve been bombarded with 100s of thousands of questions over the last 17+ years of being in the turbocharger business and thought maybe, just maybe, the time has come to share the answers with you! My hope is that by discussing some of the common inquiries, you’ll have the information needed to make an informed buying decision. People decide to turbocharge their vehicles for various reasons- they need more power, want better fuel economy, desire added performance, or simply that “cool” factor, but regardless of what brought you to your new favorite website, www.TurboKits.com, you likely have questions. In an effort to be your one stop turbo and INFORMATION shop, here we go:

“The turbo kit year range says it will fit cars from 2011- 2015. I have a 2016. Will the kit fit?”
A: This is probably one of the most asked questions. The answer is simply: “Yes and No”. In short, if the engine you have in your vehicle is the same as used in past models, the kit will likely bolt to the motor, HOWEVER, due to likely differences caused by a body style change, modifications to the kit components or vehicle may be necessary to get it to fit perfectly. This is likely an intercooler bracket change, a charge pipe adjustment, or maybe welding the flange differently on the downpipe. The adjustments are surely not limited to those possibilities, but are examples of hurdles you could face.

“I think I can build a kit for cheaper, can I buy just the manifold?”
A: I get this question A LOT, and rightfully so. The amount of parts it takes to properly install a turbocharger on your vehicle is extensive. The $450 cast manifold out of a $3500 turbo kit sounds appealing, but after a closer look at what’s included in our “one stop” turbo kit solution, it starts to look less attractive. The oil/water lines and fitting can cost in excess of $150, the turbo alone is probably north of $1200, intercooler- there’s another $350, and don’t forget the custom intercooler piping in the $700 range. You’re already at $2850 and that doesn’t include the downpipe, wastegate, blow off valve, intake, and the very extensive labor time constructing your own turbo system will consume. Furthermore, how do you know the components you are selecting on your own are correct for your application? What about fuel system and tuning components? Do you have a source for them? How about Tech support? Now you see what I mean… Our complete turbo kit option is the best value!

“How do you know if your car is ready to be turbocharged?”
A: A quick trip to your local mechanic for a compression and leak down test will provide invaluable information about the health of your engine. If the compression test reveals an imbalance or low cylinder compression, you’ll need to resolve that before turbocharging your vehicle. If the leak down test finds leaky gaskets or seals internally, that is cause for concern and repairing the issue before installing a turbo is suggested. I’d suggest all manufacturer recommended maintenance be performed in order to optimize the reliability and performance of your newly turbocharged vehicle!

“What is the difference between a Ball Bearing and Journal Bearing turbo?”
A: In short, the difference lies in the type of bearing construction used to support the wheels and shaft. The roller bearing, ball bearing design provides superior durability, faster spool/throttle response, and helps combat oil starvation situations. It uses less bearing components to simplify the package and provide a robust design for extended life.

 Journal bearing or journal “bushing” turbos utilize a thrust system to support the wheels and shaft- the thrust collar, thrust bearing, and thrust washer. The thrust components support the shaft against lateral loads and the float bearings suspend the shaft using a cushion of oil supplied by the engine. Both turbo types are serviceable, but sourcing the repair parts for a ball bearing turbocharger is less likely.

“What does a thermal coating upgrade option provide?”
A: You’ll notice that many of our products offer a thermal coating or ceramic coating option. What does this do? The coating plays a larger role than you realize. Covering the “hot” parts of the turbo kit with a high heat finish means less heat dissipation to neighboring under-hood components, which may eliminate the need for wraps or blankets in some applications. The custom coating retains heat in the manifold and turbine housing; aiding in superior throttle response and turbocharger spool time. If you aren’t “sold” of those advantages, the visual appeal will do it! The custom coatings simply look sexy and help eliminate the rusty, oxidized color you’ll get from uncoated cast parts.

“What is the difference between a Tuner kit and a complete kit?”
A: The inclusion of fuel system components and tuning is the only difference in these packages! If you opt to go with a “tuner” solution, you’re doing so because you plan to supply your own fuel system upgrade and source your own tuning separately from the option we offer with the turbo kit. Most of our complete kits include the fuel system upgrade and tuning software required to run the turbo at the suggested boost level. Typically, even though a suggested basic fuel/tuning package is offered, there is still flexibility in the supplied injector, pump, or software options that will best suite your build.

“Can I drive my vehicle after the turbo kit has been installed?”
A: On average, most single turbo systems take 10-12 hours for installation. While the fitment process is the most time consuming part of the conversion, tuning your vehicle after the turbo is up and running is just as important as making sure every bolt is tight. When it comes to ECU calibration, there are a few options: Remote Calibration, ECU “Bench flashing”, live- local tuning, and custom flash tunes which are uploaded through your OBD2 port. Regardless if which option is available to you, it is important that the process gets done! Can you drive your car to a local tuning shop after the kit is installed? You can, BUT, we’d recommend staying out of boost, installing your larger fuel system when you get to the tuning location, and limiting acceleration until after the ECU adjustments have been made. Keep in mind your un-tuned vehicle check engine light may be activated due to the ECU not “knowing” how to handle positive intake manifold pressure, but allowing the tuner to work their magic on your ECU will make the drive home far more enjoyable!

“I just installed a brand new turbo in my vehicle and it failed again!”
A: Turbochargers are expensive and properly diagnosing the cause of turbo failure is critical to insuring your replacement unit will provide years of reliable service. In most cases, turbocharger failure is caused by factors outside of the turbo itself. Hopefully this list will help!

Common causes of turbo failure:
-Restricted Oil Feed Lines/Filters: Starves turbo for oil, prevents proper turbo bearing lubrication. Kinks in the feed line can restrict oil flow
-Internal Engine Bearing Failure: Metal/debris shavings contaminates oil and causes scoring of turbo bearings/internal turbo components
-Underperforming Oil Pump: The pump is overworked as it tries to pump oil through the clogged filters. Even when new turbo and filters are installed, limited oil pressure is still an issue
-Improper Oil Drain: Oil return line is kinked, clogged, or restricted and not allowing oil to return to the motor from the turbo
-Engine/Turbo Intake Debris: Broken engine components (pistons, rings, valves), nuts, bolts, dirt, foreign material can damage compressor and turbine wheels, cause turbo failure this is called FOD (Foreign Object Damage)
-An improperly vented crankcase can prevent oil from returning to the engine after it passes through the turbo. Piston ring blow by can exaggerate this situation so ensuring piston rings are properly seated is critical to turbo life.

“Can I cancel my custom turbo kit order?”
A: NO! In most cases, the turbo kits are built and configured to your custom project! Turbocharger selection, coating colors, and wastegate and blow off valve options are unique to your order and therefore cannot be canceled. Once your order is processed, our team puts the wheels in motion! Your turbocharger is secured, materials are ordered, and components that need to be coated are sent off to the experts for finishing. Because each kit is unique and the investment in your kit has been made, the process cannot be stopped and your payment cannot be refunded. While it may feel the process takes too long, boost addition is worth the wait!

“Does the kit come with a warranty?  Does the manufacturer’s warranty cover my engine/drivetrain/labor?”
A: We can revert back to question 6 for part of our answer. A portion of the higher expense in a quality product is that manufacturers often provide coverage in the case of faulty assembly. While warranty times and coverage varies by manufacturer, an average of 1 year is considered standard. In the event a warranty claim is required, TurboKits.com can quickly retrieve your sales history and be your liaison with the manufacturer. It is NOT industry practice for the part manufacturer to cover any engine, drivetrain, or labor claims.

“I already have a turbo I got from my buddy’s old Saab; can I remove the turbo that comes with the kit?”
A: Often times we can remove the turbo supplied with the kit and issue some credit, however, this is not recommended. More often than not, the flanges on the turbo you have aren’t compatible with the manifold, downpipe, or charge piping/intake we supply with your new turbo kit. You’ll be left cutting and welding and modifying to make your buddy’s old turbo work. Additionally, a lot of our turbo kits include tuning calibrations that are developed based off the original turbo in the kit. We do not have the means of devising a tune around a 2nd hand turbo you thought you got a “deal” on. Trust me on this; you ultimately aren’t saving any money in the end.

“I don’t see a kit listed for my vehicle. Can you custom build a turbo system?”
A: In summary, we are a turbo kit manufacturer and “YES”, we can essentially turbo ANYTHING, but in most circumstances, having us build a custom one-off kit may not best suite your needs/budget. We’d need YOUR vehicle at our R&D center in order to design, develop, and build the custom kit to suite your application. The extensive labor and materials cost can drive the price of a custom turbo build past the $10,000 mark. If you want to turbocharge a vehicle, we advise buying one we already offer a turbo kit for. We will continue to release turbo kits/upgrades and post new product details on our website and social media outlets.

“Can I swap the BOV/Wastegate out for something different?”
A: In most cases, we cannot. It is likely the components in the kit were chosen by the manufacturer for a specific reason- there is limited space so a compact blow off valve is necessary, or they opted for a wastegate that does not require water cooling, etc. Additionally, each wastage or blow off valve likely has a unique flange which would require the installer of the kit to cut and remove the old flange in order to weld on a new flange for the alternate components you have selected. If your piping is coated, this will ruin the coating and add time/cost to the installation process. Rest assured, we sell quality kits that come with quality components.

“Why are your kits so much more expensive than the ones on auction sites?”
A: From my personal shopping experiences, I have come to realize the VALUE in buying a quality product. Turbo kits and performance parts are no exception- You Get What You Pay For. Research and development costs a tremendous amount of money, brand name products are more expensive, and you can’t put a price on the value of sales and tech support! Investing in a quality product that is meant for your application the FIRST time, saves not only dollars and cents at the time of installation, but for the life of your vehicle.  Choosing higher quality, superior performance, and vehicle specific components is not a decision that “costs” more, it “pays”!

Q: "Do you have an official Terms of Use document?"
A: Yes we do, you can find it on our website here: TurboKits.com Term of Use Page