Induction Bolt Heating

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So you want to turbocharge your car..

It’s obvious that when it comes to bolt-on modifications for your import car, turbocharging is far and away the best bang for your buck.

But what about supercharging your import? Just like turbochargers, superchargers produce boost pressure, but instead of being driven by exhaust gases alone, they’re driven via a belt on the crank pulley, meaning they contribute to parasitic power loss when the engine isn’t yet in boost. Additionally, there aren’t nearly as many supercharging kits designed for imports as there are turbocharging kits. So while yes, supercharging can add just as much power as turbochargers, turbocharging is much more common in the import car community. This popularity translates into a plethora of good, sound online information and advice about turbocharging, meaning if you have a question, it’s probably already been answered in some online car forum. You just need to search and be patient!

Turbocharging an engine that wasn’t designed for forced induction is not for the fainthearted, nor the mechanically-disinclined. It’s a very involved, expensive, time-consuming and headache-inducing project. But in the end, when you are finally treated to the visceral rush of being pinned back in the seat of your car by a turbocharger that spins at 120,000 rpm and howls an intoxicating jetlike song, you’ll know right away that it was all wholly worth it.

But before you get carried away with the obviously impressive final results of a successful turbo installation, you should know just what it is you’re getting into, and how much money you’re looking at. The importance of thoroughly researching this project first cannot be overstated. The more you read, the more prepared you’ll be, and the less likely you’ll be cursing at that one seemingly insignificant, but oh-so-important component that you overlooked. You’ll also have a much better comprehension of how a turbocharger system works and how you can troubleshoot potential problems.

You can start the research here. The following is a bare-minimum list of the parts needed for any custom low-boost turbo installation, regardless of the car. (Each part will be discussed in-depth in forthcoming articles, so stay tuned!)

*these prices are rough retail estimates for new items*

-turbo (duh!): $500-$700

-turbo manifold: .$300-$1000

-turbo inlet piping (steel): $25

-blow-off valve or bypass valve: $150

-air filter: $40

-downpipe: $150

-oil drain line, weld-in bung, and fittings: $40

-oil feed line and fittings: $40

-various silicone couplers: $100

-Around 8-10 quality stainless-steel hose clamps , preferably t-bolt clamps: $83

-air-to-air intercooler: $230

-intercooler piping (regular steel): $75

-intercooler piping (aluminum): $150

-fuel management—piggy back air/fuel controller: $400
GReddy E-Manage
Apexi AFC-Neo

-fuel management—retuned ECU: $600

-fuel management—full standalone: $1500
AEM EMS

-larger fuel injectors (if using re-tuned ECU or stand alone): $260

-fuel rail, if using different style injectors: $150.0

-brackets

-vacuum hose of various diameter: $20

-gaskets for turbo manifold, downpipe, etc: $20

-miscellaneous hardware and fittings: $20

Parts that you ought to buy if you’re at all concerned with your engine’s longevity:

-complete clutch kit: 

once your car is turbocharged, you’ll be making a lot more power, and stock clutches, especially if they’re high mileage, have a tough time handling the large increase in torque without slipping. It’d be a shame to get done with that whole turbo project only to find that you can’t transfer any of that glorious power to the ground! Advanced Clutch Technology offers reliable, reasonably priced clutches.

-oil cooler: 

Turbochargers will get extremely hot, so the oil running from your engine into the turbo via the feed line becomes quite hot after it passes through the turbo, cools the turbo, and drains back into the oil pan. If you can afford it, an oil cooler is a great investment even if the car isn’t turbocharged. Get one with a thermostat that turns on between 180-190 degrees, because cold oil is just as bad as really hot oil!

-boost gauge: 

A very good idea to prevent catastrophic engine failure due to too much boost; also lets you know if there’s any vacuum leaks anywhere in the turbo system.

-heat shield and/or turbo blanket: 

A heat shield will act as a barrier between the sizzling-hot turbo and important engine components that aren’t supposed to be hot, like electrical connections and power steering fluid. A turbo blanket, which is exactly what it sounds like, will drastically reduce under hood temperatures and therefore the temperature of the air being ingested by the turbo. A blanket offers the added bonus of a quicker spool up time due to the heat (energy) being trapped inside of the turbo.

-fuel pump: 

Usually in low-boost applications, the car’s OEM fuel pump will suffice; if you are planning on boosting substantially more than 8 psi, a fuel pump, such as the Walbro 255LPH, is necessary.

-wideband oxygen sensor and Air/Fuel ratio gauge, $279 (sensor only): 

Wideband oxygen sensors measure the ratio of air to fuel that is entering the engine at any given time. You can buy just the sensor and use your laptop to display the ratio, or you can buy a gauge so you always know what your precious engine is inhaling. This is an invaluable tool for tuning a turbocharged car.

So the total cost for piecing together your own turbo kit and turbocharging your car is $2603. (To arrive at this sum, the turbo manifold was $300, the fuel management was $400, and the intercooler piping was plain steel). Compare this to the price of GReddy’s turbo kit, which costs $3699 (for a Nissan 240sx). Of course, buying a bolt on kit is much more convenient than buying each part from its own place, and you are pretty much guaranteed that everything will fit perfectly and that you haven’t forgotten anything. But if you’re on a budget, you enjoy having options, and/or if you’re the type who likes to do things his own way (which is much more satisfying!), you can save $1000+ by piecing together your own custom kit. You can save even more if you buy used parts through online car fora or eBay, but stay away from buying a used turbocharger unless you can physically inspect it, because more likely than not they’ll need to be rebuilt.

Stay tuned for the next article on selecting the right size turbo!

About the Author

Marc graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in English. He has been modifying cars for over eight years along with his father, the chief engineer of a merchant marine ship. He currently has a fully-built Nissan 240sx with 343 horsepower at the wheels (http://ka24det.synthasite.com) mformeister@cox.net

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