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How to Install a Turbocharger

Posted by Scott Goldfarb on

Turbochargers improve the engine’s performance by utilizing exhaust gases for additional energy. This makes turbos ideal for strong and weaker cars as generating more power also improves fuel economy. Knowing how to install a turbocharger will save you from extra costs and enable you to customize your engine performance.

Installing your turbocharger might look tricky initially, but it can be a fun and satisfying experience. As a result, you will have a better-performing car with better acceleration and handle tougher tasks.

So, this article will provide a step-by-step turbocharger installation guide and how to maximize your car’s performance.

Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Maxx-Studio

How to Install a Turbocharger

The key to a smooth process is having patience and a meticulous approach. Rushing through the installation can lead to mistakes that might set you back or result in suboptimal engine performance. 

Another important thing to consider is having the right working environment and tools to perform this task.

Here are the steps to fit a turbocharger in your engine:

1. Preparation

Before you start, it’s important to get everything ready, including learning about the task ahead. It would be best to research what size fits your engine and purchase the turbocharger that aligns with your specific vehicle's performance needs. Smaller turbos spool faster and deliver a better boost at the low end, while big turbos are better for bigger engines.

Adapt your search according to your car’s needs and your goals. The manufacturer specifications will give you information on the flow rate, pressure ratio, and efficiency, which must match your engine’s requirements.

The tools you’ll need include:

  • Wrenches
  • Sockets
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses

Finally, this type of operation requires focus, a good vision, and a decent skill level with the tools. That’s why it’s important to clear enough room in your garage and set up proper lighting so you can perform this task. 

Ensure that you will have access to power outlets and organize your workspace to your liking so you won’t have any distractions. 

2. Disconnect the battery

Disconnecting the battery is easy. It represents the first step of the actual work and is certainly vital as you need to switch off the battery from the system for various reasons. 

You should already be wearing safety gear while performing this task, and if it’s your first time, pay attention to the instructions.

For starters, disconnecting the battery is for your safety as this way, you will avoid the possibility of an accidental short circuit while you work on the engine. You will also prevent the engine from starting while you’re still working and potentially cause damage to its components. 

Lastly, it’s to protect the ECU and accompanying sensors, which may suffer damage from voltage spikes during the process.

Here’s how to disconnect the battery:

Disconnect the negative terminal

It’s often labeled with the “-” sign or the letters “NEG”. Loosen the nut on the terminal and carefully lift the cable from the battery post.

Disconnect the positive terminal

The positive terminal has the symbol “+” or the letters “POS”. Loosen the nut and lift the positive cable from the battery.

Place the terminals away from each other, and the battery

This is for your own safety. Ideally, you can wrap the ends with plastic or a cloth to ensure they don’t come into contact with metal surfaces.


You must wait a few minutes as the vehicle discharges the residual electrical charge. Waiting for the discharge reduces the risk of accidental sparking. 

After this, your battery will be safely disconnected, and you will be ready to move on to the next step.

3. Removing additional parts

After disconnecting the battery, you will need to remove some parts to allow access to the installation area. Some parts may block your vision, and it’s worth knowing that you can remove anything and put it back as long as you know how to do it.

Here are the parts that usually come off during the turbocharger installation:

  • Air intake system
  • Exhaust manifold
  • Exhaust pipes
  • Coolant hoses
  • Engine covers

Some other parts may require removal, especially when installing a turbo for added power on a larger engine. However, these are the most common obstacles to having good access to the area where the turbo must be.

The air intake system or parts of it consists of hoses and connectors, which may get in the way, and the same goes for the coolant hoses. The exhaust manifold and pipes may be unnecessary to remove, depending on the design, or you may need to detach smaller segments of it to allow better room for maneuver. 

Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Evannovostro

4. Installing the turbo

When you’ve prepared enough room for its installation, mount the turbo on the designated location for this purpose. This is usually on a special bracket on the engine or the exhaust manifold.

Here are the steps to installing the turbocharger on the engine:

  • Place the turbo on the mounting point.
  • Align it for optimal positioning.
  • Place gaskets and sealant if needed.
  • Fasten the turbo using bolts and fasteners.
  • Install the brackets.
  • Tighten the screws and bolts.

You must mount the turbocharger tightly and securely because it’s vital for its proper functioning. Otherwise, it may cause your engine to have leaks or abnormal vibrations. 

Accurate alignment and using the right bolts will prevent exhaust gases from escaping, allowing the turbo to use them to boost the engine.

This step will test your patience and capacity to adopt a meticulous approach. You must double-check each connection to ensure everything is in place and tightly locked into place.

5. Connect the exhaust manifold

Once the turbo is firmly mounted, you can connect it to the exhaust manifold. This device will feed the turbo with the engine’s exhaust gases to power up its function.

The role of the turbo is to deliver more compressed air to the combustion chamber and support the combustion process. It does it by using the exhaust gases from the engine that power the turbine, which is connected to the compressor. As the turbine rotates, the compressor follows suit and compresses additional air for combustion.

This is why the connection to the exhaust manifold must be tight and without the possibility of any amount of gas escaping. The flange on the exhaust manifold and the flange on the turbo’s turbine housing must align precisely to create a proper seal and efficient gas flow.

Align the bolt holes on the exhaust manifold and insert the bolts through the holes to secure the connection. After that, you can tighten the bolts evenly to ensure there won’t be warping or damage to the surface during driving. 

In most cases, a metal gasket or a temperature-resistant sealant is placed between the exhaust manifold and the turbine.

6. Oil and coolant line

Turbochargers spin at high speeds and generate a significant amount of heat. They require oil to lubricate the internal components and reduce friction. 

The oil supply line connects the engine’s oil system with the turbo, allowing the oil from the engine to lubricate the turbo. The system requires a return line to move the oil back into the engine and allow proper circulation.

The heat they generate also causes overheating if not for popper coolant lines. The coolant supply line connects the engine’s cooling system with the turbo to allow the coolant to flow through the turbocharger and absorb the excess heat. The cooling system also needs a return line to ensure proper liquid circulation.

7.Double-check and test

Once done, you must double-check to see if everything is in order. Make sure that all screws and bolts are tightly sealed, and there’s no way that the turbo can fall off or allow gas leakage. You must return everything into place, including the parts you took out as part of step three.

Reconnect the battery and ensure that you don’t get the positive and negative connections wrong. After that, you need to start the engine and be very vigilant for any unusual noises coming from the engine. 

Also, check for leaks that may manifest as oil spots or coolant drips around the connection points of the oil and coolant lines.

Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: DedMityay


Knowing how to install a turbocharger is a useful skill that will save you a lot of money and time. The article delivers comprehensive and straightforward steps to performing this otherwise demanding task and allows you to customize your engine’s power output. 

The road to an effective installation of the turbo is first to prepare a safe working environment with plenty of room for maneuvering. Disconnecting the battery and removing the additional parts is necessary before mounting the device onto the designated spot.

After attaching the turbo, you have to connect it to the exhaust manifold, the cooling system of the engine, and the oil. Once you ensure everything is in order, you can start your car to see how the device works.


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