How Much Horsepower Does a Turbo Add?

How Much Horsepower Does a Turbo Add?

The question of how much horsepower a turbocharger adds is one that resonates with automotive enthusiasts worldwide.

At HPT Turbo, we understand the curiosity surrounding this topic and aim to demystify the complexities involved. Buckle up as we delve into the basics and unravel the factors that contribute to the horsepower gains facilitated by turbochargers.

Turbocharger Size:

The size of a turbocharger plays a pivotal role in determining its impact on horsepower. Small framed turbos, renowned for quick spooling, offer instant throttle response. On the flip side, larger turbos generate substantial airflow, leading to increased combustion pressure and power gains that can far exceed 30-50% of the engine's baseline output. HPT is known for faster spool, lighter weight turbos, and more horsepower! 

Turbocharger Design:

At HPT Turbo, we recognize that turbocharger design is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different designs influence performance and efficiency, with high-performance turbos delivering enhanced air pressure. Compatibility between components such as the compressor and turbine is crucial for optimal operation, ensuring they complement each other's capacities seamlessly.


Boost Pressure Limitations of the Engine:

While a turbocharger may have the potential to boost power output, engine limitations can impede harnessing this additional horsepower safely. Components like pistons, connecting rods, and cylinder heads must withstand increased stress. Proper tuning is equally essential, with suboptimal ECU settings restricting the engine's ability to handle added boost, potentially leading to breakdowns. Fuel quality, specifically using the recommended octane rating, is paramount to prevent pre-ignition and subsequent engine damage.

Engine Displacement:

Size matters, especially when it comes to the impact of a turbocharger on horsepower. Smaller engines experience more significant power gains due to their lower baseline output. Thanks to technological advancements, turbochargers empower smaller engines to deliver substantial power without compromising fuel efficiency.


Placed between the compressor and intake manifold, intercoolers cool the air-fuel mixture, increasing its density and oxygen content. This enhancement in combustion efficiency translates to a noticeable increase in power output.

Exhaust Flow:

Efficient exhaust flow is the lifeblood of turbocharger and engine performance. Turbochargers rely on exhaust gases to function, and any issues with the exhaust flow can compromise overall efficiency. Addressing leaks or restrictions ensures the turbo operates at its full potential, contributing to improved engine performance.

Type of Turbo:

Ball bearing turbos and journal bearing turbos represent two distinct designs within the realm of turbochargers, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Ball bearing turbos are favored for their reduced friction, quicker spooling, and improved durability. The implementation of ball bearings instead of traditional journal bearings results in lower frictional resistance, promoting enhanced responsiveness and reduced turbo lag. Moreover, ball bearing turbos excel in high-stress applications, offering improved stability at high speeds, the ability to handle higher boost levels, and a more efficient oiling system. On the other hand, journal bearing turbos, while generally more affordable, may exhibit slightly slower spooling times and can be prone to increased wear. We only manufacture ball bearing turbochargers at HPT. 

In the world of turbochargers, the impact on horsepower is a combination of size, design, engine limitations, displacement, intercooling, exhaust flow, and ECU tuning. At HPT, we understand the importance of assessing these elements as a cohesive unit to provide a more accurate estimate of the horsepower increase delivered by our turbochargers. 

Want to talk turbo? Call one of our experts! (219) 996-3461

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.