How to customise turbo kits for non-turbo cars

Written by richard rowe
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How to customise turbo kits for non-turbo cars
Turbo installs are about more than simply bolting the blower in place. (turbo image by Elijahu from

Turbo kits, as a whole, are already tuned to provide boost for non-turbocharged cars. Their intake/exhaust manifolds, inlet tubes, turbochargers and brackets are all designed to bolt on with the minimum of fuss without additional equipment. However, most turbo kits are also designed to the bare minimum, including a turbocharger designed to provide only the amount of boost the manufacturer deems safe for an otherwise stock motor. But if you have designs on higher power levels for the future, then you might want to include a few vital bits that the kit manufacturer might not.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Metric and standard sockets and wrenches, full set
  • Phillips head and flathead screwdrivers, full set
  • Welder and welding equipment
  • Cutting, grinding and basic fabrication equipment
  • Silicone RTV sealant
  • Synthetic oil

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  1. 1

    Install an aftermarket blow-off valve (BOV) in the turbo-to-throttle body tubing. When you lift your foot off the throttle to change gear at high RPM, boost pressure slams into the throttle plate and builds up in the tube. If boost pressure spikes too high it will push back against the turbo's compressor blades, suddenly stopping them from spinning and sending the compressor into "surge." A BOV is a spring-loaded valve that vents excess boost pressure, preventing surge-induced damage to the turbo and engine.

  2. 2

    Purchase and install an intercooler. Compressing air makes it hotter, which is a bad thing where boosted engines are concerned. Shoving compressed air into your cylinders already will make the engine more prone to uncontrolled detonation (knock), and high intake air temperatures exacerbate the problem. An intercooler is a radiator that sits in the tubing between the turbo and the engine's throttle body, allowing you to run far more boost with a far wider margin between optimum cylinder pressure and engine-destroying detonation.

  3. 3

    Install an aftermarket internal-bypass wastegate. The turbo that comes with your kit will come factory preset to provide the maximum boost that your stock engine can handle with the kit in its as-shipped form. However, the customisations mentioned in Steps 1 and 2 will allow you to run a higher-boost compressor trim for more power. This compressor trim may not be as perfectly matched to your engine as the one that came with your kit, so you'll need some way to control the turbo's speed so it doesn't destroy your motor. An internal-bypass wastegate simply sandwiches between the manifold and turbo and routes exhaust gases around the turbo to slow it down.

  4. 4

    Install a manual or electronic boost control valve in the wastegate's sensor line. A boost controller will allow you to control exactly when the valve opens and closes to fine tune your boost settings. An electronic boost controller will allow you to change your boost settings at the push of a button to compensate for factors such as fuel octane, altitude and overzealous valets.

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