Superchargers vs. turbochargers

Superchargers and turbochargers. You often hear these two terms used interchangeably, and we can’t really blame anyone for it since they’re both big modifications (or mods) available in the market — if your stock car does not sport one, that is. If your car was produced originally without either mod installed, and are looking to source them as aftermarket parts, they may cost you an arm and a leg. 

So, let’s start with similarities. They both make use of forced induction: They force-feed more air into the engine, although in different ways. A turbo uses the exhaust gases to spin the turbine that supplies the air. A supercharger, on the other hand, uses a belt connected to the engine, the alternator, water pump, and aircon compressor that spins two rotors inside to force more air into the engine. 

Both basically operate on the same principle: Get more air, suck more air, blow more air, and make more power. The main difference between the two is their visual appearance and the hardware used to house the turbine and rotors. The supercharger is no different from the turbocharger in terms of principles of operation – except that the former is belt-driven.

A supercharger can be fitted onto any car, but it can cost you more compared to a turbo because it’s harder to install. Why? A supercharger sits in front of an engine, as it has to be where the intake manifold is. In most cases, it replaces the whole manifold. 

If the supercharger sits too high up the engine, you might not be able to close the hood, necessitating in more modifications like a hood scoop. Yes it looks very cool, but that will add to the cost. So overall, you’re looking at the supercharger as a more expensive unit than a similarly sized turbocharger. The question is, how much more do you have to pay for a supercharger compared to a turbocharger? About 20 to 25 percent more. 

So, do you go for a supercharger or A turbocharger? Which makes more power?

Well, one does not make more power than the other. It really all depends on what you want – like ice cream. Which flavor do you prefer and, of course, which brand? The biggest advantage of a supercharger system is that most of them are made in kit form so everything that you need for installation in your engine comes with it and can be done in a day. A custom turbo setup, where everything will have to be fabricated from scratch, will take about a week at least. 

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