How to Choose the Best Turbo Kit

How to Choose the Best Turbo Kit

Do you want to increase your vehicle’s power? What about improve TQ? How about more MPGs? Installing a turbo kit is the answer!

Shopping for a turbo kit can be intimidating at first. It can be overwhelming to determine what you need and which option is the best fit for your vehicle.

Let’s pinpoint some of the questions you may have and discuss the answers. Knowing what to expect will prepare you for your purchase.

What’s included in a Turbo Kit?

Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars on a kit only to find that they’re missing crucial pieces. A standard turbo kit includes the following components:


A turbocharger consists mainly of a turbine and compressor wheel. The compressor or “cold side” is responsible for generating airflow or boost, ultimately to build power. The turbine or “hot side” takes spent exhaust energy, spins the turbine shaft, and thus turning the compressor wheel at a high rate of speed to build PSI.

If the turbine wheel/housing is too small, excessive pressure and heat can build in the hot side, causing inefficiency and limiting power potential.

If the turbine is too large, it can create a “lazy turbo.” In this situation, the turbocharger will take longer to spool.

Similarly on the compressor side, determining your HP goal is critical when selecting wheel sizes and cover options.


As the name suggests, the intercooler’s job is to reduce engine intake air temps, which creates a denser air charge, meaning more HP. An intercooler can be classified as air-to-air or air-to-water.

Air-to-air intercoolers come with fewer components, are easier to install, and are more readily available. The downside to air to air coolers is they can require a lot of space if you have big power goals. However, air-to-water intercoolers pull more heat from the charged air because water pulls and stores heat more efficiently than air. Want big power and have big space? Go Air-to-Air. Want big power and have limited space? Go air-to-water. Keep I  mind, with Air-to-Water, you’ll need a suitable location in the vehicle to mount the tank and pump for the cooling system.


Wastegates control the rate at which the turbocharger spins (and, therefore, how much boost it produces). If a wastegate is too small, you’ll experience inconsistent boost control, which can lead to irregular or excessive boost pressure.

Blow-Off Valves

Typically located in the charge pipe, a blow off valves job is to release compressed air after the throttle plate has been closed, preventing compressor surge and extending the life of your turbo.

Properly sizing the blow off valve will insure enough pressurized air is released to stop the turbo surge.

Piping and Manifolds

The piping and manifolds hold the turbocharger in place and play a vital role in the turbo’s overall performance and capabilities.

The manifold, also known as a turbo header, controls the flow of exhaust gases through the turbo, determines its placement, and dictates the size of the turbo that can be installed.

Having a header that is too restrictive, and can cause the turbo to spool more slowly and increase lag. Additionally, excessive power robbing heat will build up and limit performance.

Charge/intercooler piping connects the turbo to the intercooler components and is critical to ensuring you are seeing the maximum gains from your turbo.

How to Choose the Right Turbocharger Kit

Besides making sure your turbo kit contains all the essential pieces, there are a few other factors to consider when selecting the most suitable package for your vehicle.

Here are some aspects you’ll want to consider:

Your Goals

First, and perhaps most importantly, consider your goals and how you’ll use your turbocharged vehicle. Are you looking for a 1000 wheel HP drag car or a 300 wheel HP fun daily commuter? The intended use will help you determine which turbo kit is the best option. If your goal is to have a fast spooling street car, we’ll be recommending a different turbo than an exclusive drag car.

Desired Horsepower

Take your desired horsepower into account, too.

On average, a turbo kits can produce gains of 75-150 horsepower depending on engine displacement. Several factors influence the gains you’ll experience, though, including the engine’s compression ratio, boost pressure, and the size of the turbocharger.

It’s not as easy as buying the largest turbo you can find. You must also strike a balance between engine design (compression, displacement, RPM capabilities) and boost pressure to ensure reliability and avoid unnecessary (and potentially expensive) mechanical stress.

Vehicle Make and Model

The turbo kit for an Audi A3 will be very different than the one for a Dodge Charger.

Look for a turbo kit specifically meant for your vehicle’s make and model. This step can save you a lot of time and increase your chances of having a successful build. Buying a box of universal pipes and calling it a “kit” will be costly to install and limit performance.

Single vs. Twin Kit

Do you want a single or twin turbo kit?

Generally, twin kits are more expensive and more complex, but tend to produce less turbo lag. Twin kits are also typically found on larger displacement motors that have very high HP goals. Typically, twin kits are used on V- shaped engines as a turbo can be mounted on each of the engine’s banks.

If this is your first time trying to turbocharge a vehicle, you’ll likely want to stick with a single kit for the sake of simplicity. Most in-line 4 cylinder motors would have a single, manifold mounted turbocharger.


Turbo kits range significantly in price. The turbo, the “heart’ of the kit, can vary drastically in cost. Some cast wheel, journal bearing turbos can cost a little as $700, while ball bearing, billet wheel, custom ported turbos can cost $2700 or more! The turbo selected for the kit plays a huge factor in the cost of the package.

It’s good to have a budget in mind before you start shopping, but don’t let that be your only deciding factor. Focus on the topics we mentioned above to ensure you’re not sacrificing quality to save a few bucks.

User Reviews

If you’re struggling to choose between a couple of different kits, compare user reviews to see what past customers think. Call the store selling the kit. Did they pick up the phone? Did they reply to your e-mails and answer questions? Is the dealer knowledgeable? Finding an experienced, supportive dealer offers more value than just having the best price.

Get the Best Turbo Kit for Your Car Today

This isn’t the time to take a guess and hope for the best when you’re doing something as complex as turbocharging your vehicle.

Keep the tips and guidelines discussed above in mind so you can choose the best turbo kit and achieve the results you’re hoping for.

Now you’ve got the tools you need to start shopping for your turbo kit! Log on to to purchase the system best suited for your project.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about turbos, parts, or need assistance.