What’s the Difference between a Supercharger and Turbocharger?

You’ve probably read that some cars have engines equipped with supercharger or turbocharger. This really is becoming standard for a lot of cars with smaller engines. Car manufacturers add superchargers and turbos to boost engine power without having to manufacture a completely new engine.

Both devices will raise the power of the car but there are several differences between how the boosters work.

The definition of a supercharger is "any device that compresses the environment being sent to an engine, allowing the combustion chamber to become overfilled without enlarging the area.” An engine can produce more power but “ingesting” more air, and that is the purpose of both a supercharger and turbo - to force more air into your engine. Both do this by utilizing a turbine. While both devices accomplish the same thing, they do it in different ways and each have their own pros and cons.

The turbine in the supercharger is driven (or spooled) by being attached to the motor via a drive belt. Less common are superchargers that use a chain or gear arrangement. A turbocharger uses exhaust gases to turn the turbine which compresses the incoming air. Both systems are made to compress the air making more oxygen accessible to the engine. The greater oxygen the engine takes in, the more power it may output.
Since the supercharger is powered straight from the engine, the power boost is immediate. Once your revs increase so does the power; this is simply not true for any turbocharger.

A turbocharger requires exhaust gases to build before there is enough flow to power the turbine and compressor. Since a turbocharger experiences a momentary delay before delivering a power boost, this symptom is called “turbo lag”.  Newer turbos have an improved design reducing the lag however there is still a delay compared to a supercharger.

Whether your car is outfitted with a supercharger or turbo, your engine will ultimately use more gas with the increased power output.

A turbocharger is usually considered more environmentally efficient when compared to a supercharger as they utilize the "wasted" energy from the exhaust gases. Turbos work best when the engine is at a high RPM.
The benefit to a supercharger is that there is no lag. The benefit to a turbo is that if you’re considering installing an aftermarket unit, it will cost considerably less than a supercharger.

Whether you decide a supercharger or turbo on your next vehicle, SVG Motors has such a large inventory they’ll be able to find a vehicle with the exact option you want.