Turbo Trivia – 4 Outdated Myths About Turbochargers Debunked

The first commercially viable turbocharger was released in 1925, meaning the technology is now close to a century old. If you think back to who you were, what you were into and how you behaved as little as a decade ago – the massive changes you’ve been through should give you a hint into how much turbo technology has transformed. 

The problem is, the generally accepted “wisdom” surrounding turbos has failed to keep pace with the changes. This means many car lovers are being given mixed messages about their vehicles and what they should be doing with them. To help you sift the facts from the outdated myths, we’re about to bust the four most common misconceptions about turbos.

1. Your blow off valve needs a rubber O-ring

While many blow off valves still come with a rubber O-ring to create a seal between the valve body and the piston, this really is an outdated way of doing things. It will effectively prevent leakage for a while, but rubber can become displaced and is destined to eventually perish.

Of course, you can always disassemble the valve and replace the O-ring. However, this is an old-school way of doing things. The best modern blow off valves are machined with such precision that they’re able to create a seal without needing to get rubber involved. This makes them far more resilient and long-lasting.

2. Your turbocharged engine needs to idle before you can turn it off

There was once a time when parking lots buzzed with the sound of turbocharged engines cooling down before shutting off. This was an important step as it prevented the oil around the turbocharger’s bearings from stopping and getting burnt from the residual heat. 

Nowadays, many models come with stock turbochargers, and after running, they are capable of sitting in perfectly safe silence, ignitions off, and no black sludge forming. Though people with older engines may still insist on this cooling-off period, if you have a modern, well-designed cooling system, there’s no need to be bound by this old practice.

3. Your turbo will take years off the life of your engine

There are people in this world who seem to view turbos as the vehicular equivalent of cigarette smoking. They fear every boost is like lighting up a fresh one – another bit of damage done. If your rig has been improperly designed in terms of timing, ECU programming, or fuel delivery, then this may be true. However, it’s a little unfair to blame the turbo under such circumstances. 

A properly installed turbo won’t damage your engine. To be able to offer the extended warranties they do, vehicle and aftermarket parts manufacturers subject their turbo systems to stringent testing under extreme conditions. The result of all this is that modern turbocharged engines aren’t going to wimp out, even if you give them a run for their money.

4. All turbocharged engines waste gas

This myth brings you into the equation, casting all those with turbocharged engines as rev heads willing to guzzle gas in exchange for power. While this may be true (let’s be real here), there are plenty of vehicles with smaller engines that use turbos to create the perfect balance of fuel consumption and performance. Turbocharging allows them to keep gas consumption low without sacrificing power and acceleration – a key selling point for many buyers. 

Next time someone hits you with one of these outdated turbo myths, keep this list in mind and set them straight with some cold hard facts.

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