As engines downsize in the quest for greater efficiency, turbos have become a key part of the equation to ensure power levels remain decent.
Ricardo Martinez-Botas is professor of turbomachinery at Imperial College London’s Mechanical Engineering department, and a world authority on turbo technology. He says that while current technology means modern car drivers can just get in and drive, for owners of cars that have been modified, or are older than ten years, the following advice is useful:
1: Warm your car up before driving – let the engine run and bring the oil up to temperature.
“Absolutely. If you’re concerned about the age of your car, or you’ve modified it, that would be a sensible thing to consider.”
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2: Don’t switch the engine off immediately – let it cool down. (this text should be in bold)
“In today’s engine the oil system will not switch off immediately, there will be some cooling going on. But if your car doesn’t have that run down cooling system then you do have to be careful. I would imagine most cars would, so I have some doubts. But it can’t hurt to do it." (this text should be in italics)
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3. Don’t lug the engine by travelling too slowly in a high gear, as it puts strain on components.
“Absolutely. I would agree entirely with that.”
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4. Don’t use a lower octane fuel than recommended, as this can cause knocking.
“I agree. That eventuality in current engines has been catered for, but in older engines you could incur some difficulties. I don’t think it will affect the reliability of the turbo, but it will affect the engine itself if a sustained series of knock events take place.”
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5. Don’t mash the throttle if you have a laggy turbo, especially when exiting a corner – you may get power when you don’t want it.
“Current engines have common rail injection systems, particularly in diesel engines, which gives very fast response. But go back around eight years or so and turbo lag was substantial. You get a sudden boost and you need to beware as you go around the corner.”
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