How Much Does A Turbo Kit Cost? A Complete Guide

If you’re looking to add some power to your engine and to save money on fuel (and who isn’t; these days?), you may be thinking of getting a turbo. But, you may also be wondering: how much does a turbo cost?

What Is It?

A turbo – also called a turbocharger – is a device you can install in your car to improve its engine’s power and efficiency.

The turbo heats up and uses that heat to channel extra air into your vehicle’s combustion unit forcibly. With this air, the combustion unit will be able to burn more fuel and therefore transform your engine into a more efficient, higher-performing machine. Turbos can be used with cars, trucks, trains, aircraft, and heavy machinery.

Turbos were first developed for use on aircraft. Automakers and auto owners started to use them in the 1960s, and they began to be very popular in the 1980s.

Close-up photo of a new turbocharger.

When installed, a turbo lies between your vehicle’s exhaust manifold and the exhaust pipe. Turbos are made of materials that can endure very high heat since the exhaust passing through the turbo can reach up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit.

A turbo has two halves. A shaft connects the halves. On one side of the turbo, the hot gases from the engine will spin a turbine inside the turbo. This turbine is connected to a second turbine.

Turbine #2 sucks air into itself and compresses it. That compressed air is then released into the vehicle’s engine. It is this compressed air that helps to increase power because the compressed air allows for additional combustion. More combustion means more fuel burned – and more fuel means more power.

Turbo Costs

The cost of a turbo depends on the make and model of your vehicle. It ranges from $500 to $5,000. To find the correct turbo for your vehicle, you can search online using the year, make, and model of your car.

If you have some experience in auto maintenance and installing parts, you may be able to install it yourself. If you do so, go online and find out what parts you will need in addition to the turbo. In the end, it is always safest to have the turbo installed by a trained mechanic. Depending on the type of car, the labor costs can run from $400 and up.

Please keep in mind that, in addition to installing the turbo, you will need to have someone update your vehicle’s software, as the engine’s new capacity will configure differently. If the software is not up to date, your vehicle’s computer display will not be accurate. Depending upon your vehicle, the computer may even influence the smooth running of your engine.

When planning your turbo purchase, be sure to figure in the part’s cost, the labor cost, and the cost of the software update. The size of your car and your engine will influence the cost of all these elements. For example, a small car like an Audi or Subaru will have a relatively low cost, while a truck or an aircraft will have a price in the thousands.

Before you install a turbo in your car, you will need to revise or add parts for it to be ready to handle the increased engine power soon to be produced by the turbo. These parts may include a downpipe, intake piping, a knock sensor, a boost controller, a blow-off valve, an intercooler, an exhaust manifold, plus a higher-capacity fuel pump and fuel line.

Consult your mechanic if you want to be sure you have all these needed parts, and be sure you know how to install them safely.

Also, when searching for a turbo, you will find a range of prices even for each model. These prices will be based on the quality and materials in the turbo.

Is It Worth It?

After installing a turbo, numerous reports from satisfied customers have unanimously reported they experienced a big difference in their vehicles’ performances. So, a turbo may be a good investment if you’re looking for better engine performance, reduced gas mileage, and decreased exhaust emissions.

One advantage of a turbo is that, unlike a supercharger, a turbo doesn’t need to use the engine’s power to get its energy. A turbo is also ideal for vehicle operators who frequently drive in high-altitude areas. When the altitude changes, the turbo efficiently takes the oxygen and channels it into the combustion chamber.

Turbo purchases have reported the device needs to be replaced (on average) every 100,000 -150,000 miles. But, those purchasers who are meticulous about their vehicle maintenance – including regularly scheduled oil changes – have been able to change their turbos much less frequently.

Another advantage of a turbo is that it produces a quieter exhaust. Because a turbo reduces the amount of gas exiting the exhaust pipe, its exhaust is not as loud.

Keep in mind that because the turbo operates at and with hot temperatures, the turbo can sometimes become overheated. This is an increased risk when the engine is pushed to its maximum capacity for extended periods.

Race car drivers are especially at risk for this problem, so many race car drivers have hoods with vents or have vents down their cars’ sides. These vents will use the current of the outside air to keep the engine cool, especially around the turbo.

Ford GT race car with side vents.

Some vehicle owners who add turbos have reported a disadvantage called “turbo lag.” This happens when you put your foot on the accelerator but feel a delay in response from the car.

Since the turbo runs on the heat of the exhaust gas, the turbo will take time to gather that heat when the vehicle is first started. Wise drivers have learned to compensate for turbo lag by using a lower gear; until the engine is sufficiently heated.

Final Thoughts

Turbos can be the solution for vehicle operators who want to add power or fuel efficiency to their vehicles. These devices can make a difference in your vehicle’s performance. The device can cost between $500-$5,000, plus labor and technical upgrade service fees.

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. Thank you.

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!

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