Supercharger vs. Turbocharger: What’s the Difference?

November 16th, 2015 by


If you’re looking to add more power to your engine when visiting auto engine repair shops you may be considering a supercharger or a turbocharger. But what exactly is the difference? While they both involve getting more power into your engine through forced induction systems, they each have different ways of doing it. Read on to find out the difference between these two systems.

Different Power Sources

Let’s start with the supercharger. The supercharger is directly connected to the engine of the vehicle and uses a crankshaft to obtain its power. It compresses air and forces it into the engine, therefore giving your vehicle a boost. This boost can, believe it or not, add up to nearly 50% more horsepower as a result of this increased air to the engine. The increased air gives more fuel to the combustion charge. Supercharged engines can obtain up to 50,000 RPM.

The turbocharger isn’t connected to your vehicle’s engine and instead uses part of the exhaust stream to obtain its energy. Since the exhaust goes through the turbine, which spins the compressors, the turbocharger gets its power in this way. A turbocharger can get up to 15,000 RPM, which is quite a difference from the supercharger.


Other Differences

The supercharger tends to be a little more reliable than the turbocharger. The turbocharger can get pretty hot while it’s running and it’s essential to have it properly insulated in order to prevent overheating. It also takes the turbocharger a little longer to produce the “boost” your car will experience with one of these forced induction systems. This is because it’s not directly connected to the engine and it takes the turbine a little longer to deliver the power.

One good thing about the turbocharger is that it has equipment that keeps its carbon emissions low and reduces its smog output. The supercharger doesn’t have such equipment and therefore its carbon emissions are essentially unfiltered. The supercharger does tend to be a little easier to maintain, however.


These induction systems that are all about getting power to your car do share some similarities. They each create some decent boost that can get a lot more power to your engine, nearly 50% more. They each also make your car louder, which can be ideal for those who want their luxury vehicles to have some noise rather than a quiet ride.

Each of these systems is also efficient at high altitudes. The turbochargers don’t suffer any power reductions at high altitudes because they’re efficient at pumping thinner air. The supercharger also does well at high altitude.

Each of these forced induction systems has its pros and cons, but it suffices to say that in the end, they’re all about getting more power to your vehicle. The main differences are in the power sources that these systems rely on to give your engine a boost. When deciding which one is right for your vehicle, consider the power source, whether or not you’d like to minimize carbon emissions, and how much more horsepower or RPM you’d like!

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