Turbocharger vs Supercharger


Turbocharger Supercharger
All automobile enthusiast are fascinated by the idea of having a car more powerful than the other person on the street. The best way to increase the power output of a car is to equip that car with a bigger engine that burns more fuel and produces greater horsepower, but this approach can be applied only up to a certain limit, because increasing the engine capacity has a serious drawback that it drastically reduces the fuel economy of the car.

Automobile technology nowadays has been developing at a very fast pace, and engineers have found a way to increase the power output of the car without increasing the cubic capacity of the engine. This technology is known as forced induction.

Forced induction is the process by which air from atmosphere is compressed before it is allowed to enter the combustion chamber, now more volume of air is available for combustion, and this significantly increases the power output of the engine without disturbing the fuel economy of the car. Many major car manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, etc. have achieved more than 100 horsepower per liter of engine capacity, a figure that could not have been possible without this forced induction system.

Primarily two kinds of systems are used for providing this forced induction, first is called Turbocharger and the second is called a Supercharger. While both these systems work in a similar fashion and provide a considerable power boost, but the way these systems receive their power is entirely different.


In a turbocharger, a centrifugal compressor is powered by a turbine which is fitted in the exhaust system of the car, therefore the energy of the exhaust gases turn the turbine which powers the compressor for forced induction.
On the other hand in a Supercharger, the compressor used for forced induction is powered by engine itself. The supercharger is connected to the crankshaft of the engine by a belt pulley mechanism, so the faster the crankshaft rotates, the more boost a supercharger provides.

Both the systems are widely popular in the automobile industry, both have their own advantages and drawbacks.


  • As the turbochargers are powered by the waste exhaust gases, they tend to be more efficient than the superchargers which extract mechanical energy from the engine itself. Therefore a turbocharger is preferred in passenger cars where fuel economy is required, whereas a supercharger is preferred in sports car where power output is more important.
  • Complexity in design is another important factor that makes turbochargers ideal for passenger cars. Turbochargers have a fairly simple design and compact construction, they require less space and can be easily fitted in the exhaust system of the car. On the other hand, a supercharger needs to be directly installed with the engine unit and therefore require proper designing and large space.
  • Turbochargers cost relatively less than the superchargers, thus they are ideal for increasing the output of the car with a reasonable increase in cost of the car. Superchargers are more precise machinery and therefore costs more than a conventional turbocharger.


  • The reason why superchargers are preferred in sports cars is that they provide the power boost in a controlled and precise way. The power output remains fairly linear which enhances the control over the car. On the other hand, turbochargers provide a tremendous boost of power with sudden rise in pressure and temperature, making it difficult to control the additional power.
  • The Supercharger is coupled directly with the crankshaft, therefore the increase in power is instantaneous. This improves the throttle response of the car and provides the driver with adequate power whenever he/she needs it. A turbocharger on the other hand is powered by the exhaust gases, therefore it is not efficient until it reaches its operation speed. It suffers with a problem called Turbo Lag, which is the delay in power surge after pressing the throttle. This turbo lag makes the engine feel sluggish.

While both the systems have their pros and cons, turbocharger is preferred over a supercharger due to cost effective nature, increased fuel efficiency and simpler design.

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