One of the most popular modifications for cars nowadays is installing a turbocharger. Turbos can significantly increase the power output of an engine, which is excellent for anyone looking to get more performance out of their car.
But can you turbo an automatic car? Yes, you can turbo an automatic car. In fact, adding a turbo isn’t influenced by the type of transmission your car has but instead the type of engine.
However, installing a turbo in an automatic car can be a bit more complicated than doing so in a manual car. This is because automatics typically have less space to work under the hood, and the extra plumbing required for a turbo can sometimes be challenging to route correctly.
In this guide, I shall be exploring some of the requirements when adding a turbocharger to an automatic car. Let’s get started.
What is a Turbo Charger?
A turbocharger, officially known as a turbosupercharger and street-named turbo, is a device that helps an engine draw in more air and compress it before combustion.
This provides more power to the engine and increases its efficiency. Turbochargers are common in high-performance engines such as those found in sports or race cars.
A turbocharger consists of several parts: the turbine, intercooler, center housing, wastegates, hot side piping, cold side piping, blow-off valves, piping and manifold, compressor, and the bearing system. The turbine is powered by engine exhaust gases and converts pressure and heat into rotational force.
On the other hand, the compressor draws in air from the atmosphere. The compressed air is then fed into the engine, which mixes with fuel and ignites, providing more power than possible without the turbocharger.
The compressor is connected directly to the turbine wheel through the turbine shaft. As the engine accelerates, so does the turbine shaft spin faster, which makes the compressor wheel spin faster; this process creates what we normally call “boost” and is the main reason anyone would want to install a turbocharger.
How to Install Turbocharger in an Automatic Car
When installing a turbo in an automatic car, it is important to make sure that all of the necessary components are accounted for.
In addition to the turbocharger itself, you will also need an intercooler, blow-off valve, wastegate, piping and manifolds, cold side piping, hot side piping, blow-off valves, and oil lines.
Many of these components can be sourced from aftermarket suppliers. Still, it is always a good idea to consult a professional installer to ensure everything is compatible with your car.
In terms of the actual installation process, installing a turbo in an automatic car is not significantly different than doing so in a manual car. The biggest challenge is often routing the plumbing properly, as there are typically more restrictions in an automatic car.
Once everything is installed correctly, the results can be extremely rewarding. Not only will your car have more power, but it will also be much more efficient, thanks to the increased airflow provided by the turbocharger.
What You Need to Install Turbocharger in Automatic Car
The turbine is the heart of the turbocharger, and its job is to drive the compressor using energy from the exhaust gases. The turbine is made up of a turbine wheel and a turbine housing.
The turbine wheel is attached to the turbocharger’s shaft, and it spins when the exhaust gases flow through it. The blades on the turbine wheel are designed to extract energy from the exhaust gases and transfer it to the shaft.
The turbine housing surrounds the turbine wheel and channels the exhaust gases through it. The housing is also connected to the manifold of the engine so that the exhaust gases can flow freely into it.
The turbine housing comprises two parts: the volute and the cover. The volute is the part of the housing that surrounds the turbine wheel, and it has vanes that help guide the exhaust gases through the turbine. The cover is the part of the housing that covers the turbine wheel and helps to contain the exhaust gases.
Turbine wheel selection is very important. Choosing a small wheel can cause excess backpressure and eventually choke the engine, making it lose power rather than gain power.
On the other hand, choosing a too big turbine wheel will result in increased lag and can make it impossible to attain the required boost numbers.
The intercooler is responsible for cooling the air that the turbocharger has compressed. It’s made up of a series of fins that help dissipate heat.
Most turbochargers are cooled by air, but some are cooled by water or oil. Air-cooled turbochargers are less expensive and easier to maintain but less efficient at high temperatures.
Water-cooled turbochargers are more expensive but provide better cooling at high temperatures. Oil-cooled turbochargers are the most expensive, but they are the most efficient at high temperatures.
This part is important because it helps prevent “knocking” or “detonation” in the engine. Knocking or detonation can occur when air that the turbocharger has compressed is heated up too much. When this happens, the air can become “detonate” or “knock,” damaging the engine.
It also helps to prevent this by cooling the air before entering the engine.
The bearings are responsible for supporting the turbocharger shaft and allowing it to spin freely. There are two types of bearings used in turbochargers: ball bearings and journal bearings.
Ball bearings are the most common type of bearing used in turbochargers. They are made up of a series of balls that rotate between two races. The advantage of ball bearings is that they allow the shaft to spin with very little friction.
Journal bearings are another bearing that can be used in turbochargers. They are made up of a series of journals that rotate between two races. The advantage of journal bearings is that they can handle higher temperatures than ball bearings.
However, journal bearings can be more susceptible to failure if they are not properly maintained.
The wastegate regulates the amount of exhaust gas that flows through the turbine. It’s controlled by a valve that is opened and closed by a solenoid.
When it’s open, exhaust gas can flow freely through the turbine. This causes the turbine to spin faster, which increases the amount of boost that is produced.
When it’s closed, less exhaust gas can flow through the turbine. This causes the turbine to spin slower, which decreases the amount of boost that is produced.
The wastegate is crucial because it prevents the turbocharger from producing too much boost. Too much boost can cause the engine to “detonate” or “knock,” which can damage the engine.
The compressor is responsible for compressing air and forcing it into the engine. It’s made up of a compressor wheel and a compressor housing.
The compressor wheel is attached to the turbocharger’s shaft, and it spins when air flows through it. The blades on the compressor wheel are designed to compress air as it passes through them.
The compressor housing surrounds the compressor wheel and channels air through it. The housing is also connected to the engine’s intake so that air can flow freely into it.
The housing comprises two parts: the volute and the cover. The volute is the part of the housing that surrounds the compressor wheel, and it has vanes that help guide air through the compressor.
The cover is the part of the housing that covers the compressor wheel and helps to contain air as it is being compressed.
Benefits of a Turbocharger on Automatic Car
A turbocharger can significantly improve the performance of an internal combustion engine by increasing the amount of air that is drawn into the cylinders.
This, in turn, allows the engine to burn more fuel and produce more power. Additionally, a turbocharger can also help to improve fuel economy by reducing the amount of fuel that is required to achieve a given level of power output.
Some of the other benefits associated with using a turbocharger include:
- Reduced emissions – By increasing the efficiency of an engine, a turbocharger can also help reduce the emission of harmful gases.
- Increased torque – A turbocharger can help increase the amount of torque produced by an engine, which can be beneficial for towing or hauling heavy loads.
- Improved reliability – Turbochargers are designed to withstand high temperatures and pressures, which can help improve an engine’s overall reliability.
Disadvantages of Turbochargers
Turbochargers can cause a few potential problems in an engine, the most common of which are turbo lag and compressor surge. Turbo lag is the period between when the driver presses on the accelerator and when the turbocharger provides increased power.
Compressor surge happens when the throttle is closed suddenly at high RPMs, causing a mini-tornado inside the turbocharger that can cause damage to turbine blades. Improperly sized or maintained turbochargers can also lead to premature wear or failure.
Another disadvantage of turbochargers is that they can add high cost to an engine build. Turbochargers are more complex than naturally-aspirated engines and require extra maintenance. They also generate more heat, which can lead to additional cooling costs.
Finally, turbocharged engines often have higher insurance premiums than their naturally-aspirated counterparts. This is because turbocharged engines are typically more powerful and therefore considered a greater risk by insurers.
Can You Turbo An Automatic Car? Author Notes
Whether or not a turbocharger is suitable for a particular engine depends on various factors. If you’re interested in installing a turbocharger, consult a qualified mechanic to determine if it is a good option for their vehicle.
Mechanics can take into account the specific make and model of the vehicle, as well as its intended use, to help decide.
In some cases, a turbocharger may not be the best option for an engine, and another type of performance modification may be more beneficial.
- Miller, Jay. Turbo. North Branch, MN.: Cartech Books, 2008
- Bell, Corky. Maximum Boost. Cambridge, MA.: Bentley Publishers, 1997
Hi I’m Marshall based in 1478 Doctors Drive Santa Monica, CA. I’m your DIY Car Repairman with more than 5 years experience in automobile repair, a skill I learned from my old man.
I started this blog to share my experience on both simple and technical aspects of your car.