For many drivers, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle that has high horsepower is a thrill. Whether they are driving a car down a highway or participating in a race, being able to have a vehicle with such power is an experience unto itself. However, while many people may have heard of superchargers, few know much about the specifics associated with them. If you are curious about how superchargers work, or are perhaps considering adding one to your vehicle, here are some interesting ways in which superchargers impact a vehicle and its performance.
Increased Engine Intake
When a supercharger is installed on a vehicle, one of its primary functions is to increase the amount of engine intake, which is accomplished by compressing air without creating a vacuum. When this happens, more air is forced into the engine, giving it a boost of power. By having additional air in the engine, more fuel can be sent to the engine, resulting in more power. In fact, most superchargers add an average of 46% more power to an engine.
High Speed Rotations
To pressurize the air inside an engine, superchargers have to spin at a pace that is more rapid than the engine itself. To accomplish this, the engine’s drive gear must be larger than the compressor gear, leading to the high rate of spinning. In fact, superchargers often spin at rates between 50,000-65,000 rotations per minute. At these rates, a typical engine receives between six and nine pounds per square inch, which is equal to a boost in power of about 50 percent.
Oil Levels are Important
While having sufficient levels of oil in any vehicle are important, they are particularly important to vehicles that contain superchargers. Since they create tremendous stress on an engine, failure to have enough oil to properly lubricate the engine can lead to engine damage. If this happens, it may cost thousands of dollars to repair the engine, or perhaps cause so much damage that installing a new engine is the only option.
Upgrade the Coolant System
Along with ensuring you always have sufficient levels of oil in the vehicle, make sure that when you install a supercharger, you also upgrade the coolant system in your vehicle. While many novices focus mostly on the vehicle’s engine, many tend to forget just how much a supercharged vehicle relies on a coolant system. Since superchargers put tremendous strain on an engine, temperatures can reach very high levels. Because of this, most vehicle technicians recommend that along with upgrading the coolant system, the vehicle’s temperature gauges be upgraded as well.
Use Premium Gasoline
While many people believe they can use any type of gasoline in vehicles containing superchargers, most car experts recommend using only premium gasoline. Though it may cost more, the payoff will be an engine and supercharger that perform flawlessly. If lower-grade fuels are used instead, severe damage to the engine from pre-detonation can occur. This will result in engine knocks and hesitation, which indicates the engine is probably damaged. If this happens, be prepared to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for repairs.
Since the supercharger is driven by a belt that runs around the crankshaft, idler pulley, and supercharger pulley, it is vital that this belt always be in excellent working order. But just like other belts under the hood, a supercharger belt has a life expectancy of between 50,000-70,000 miles and should always be replaced if it starts to show signs of wear, such as cracking or having edges that are frayed.
If you want to achieve maximum power from your engine, it is often best to steer clear of electric superchargers. While a traditional supercharger will give you perhaps 50% or more increased power, an electric supercharger will likely give you no more than 10% increased power. As to why, the difference lies in how the superchargers are made. With a traditional supercharger, not only are they larger and made from highly-precise machine components, but they also allow more fuel to enter the engine. However, with an electric supercharger, not only is it much smaller, but also relies solely on a blade design powered by a small electric motor.