Supercharger 101: Horsepower, Cost, Engine Damage & Tuning

You can expect an engine to gain 20% horsepower from a supercharger – this is about 50 – 100 horsepower depending on the size of your engine.

A supercharger works by compressing the airflow of an engine before entering the engine. As it adds more air, the engine will also be able to combine more fuel. 

Thus, it leads to a bigger boom. It is a great way to give your old car a fresh start. 

Supercharger works very similarly to a turbocharger. However, a supercharger is powered by the car’s motor. 

Whereas a turbocharger is powered by exhaust gasses – which makes the turbocharger more efficient because it doesn’t use any power from your engine.

More info: Which Is Better: Supercharger or Turbocharger?

Horsepower aside, there are many topics surrounding superchargers that you should also know – things like engine damage, costs and  tuning requirements. 

In this article, I am going to cover the following topics:

  1. The effect of the supercharger on your engine.
  2. The cost of buying and installing a supercharger for your car.
  3. How to buy the best supercharger for your car.
  4. Importance of tuning your supercharger before using it.

Even though superchargers don’t damage the engine, it can reduce its lifespan. 

If you add a supercharger to the car, you can increase its performance to a great extent. The supercharger is a kind of air compressor, which increases the air pressure that is supplied to the internal engine. 

Basically, it ensures that the engine secures more oxygen in each cycle. It allows the engine to burn more fuel to perform better. So, a supercharger can improve the power of your vehicle. 

Superchargers force compressed air into the engine to increase power. This could lead to engine wear and tear because compressed air runs very hot and in high pressure. 

Generally, you shouldn’t expect to damage your engine just by installing a supercharger. However, continuous revving could accelerate this engine wear and tear.

Image of supercharger

A supercharer takes air from its inlet, compress it into a hot high-pressure air and move it directly into the combustion chamber for power.

How Much Does a Supercharger Cost?

A supercharger will cost somewhere between $500 and $7500 – depending on your vehicle (model, year and engine). 

The price of superchargers starts at around $500 for the common applications and then it goes up from there. 

You might find a brand new OEM replacement. However, they might be of a low four-figure range without any noticeable benefits in regards to reliability or performance. 

The cost of installation will largely depend on the car type. Also, the type of supercharger and brand has a significant effect on the cost of installation. 

So, without knowing the car specifics, it is not easy to address the accurate cost.

That said, the hourly rate for auto repairing is typically $50-$250. So, installing the supercharger will depend on the auto shop you are hiring. 

 

Since superchargers are longer-lasting and less common than turbochargers, there are not many replacement options. 

There has not been much demand for superchargers previously for aftermarket brands to make OE-quality replacements. Thus, your best bet is to get one that has been manufactured professionally.

In case you are still not sure about the best vehicle for you, get assistance from experts to secure the best replacement superchargers for the car. 

Since the supercharger price depends on the model and brand of the car, you have to get the one that fits your car. If you don’t, it is going to be very difficult to install.

Supercharger kit

Supercharger kit contains every parts you need to make a supercharger works. Tip: You need much more than just the supercharger.

6 Things To Consider When Buying Supercharger

To choose the right supercharger for your car engine, here are a few tips that you need to follow. 

 

1. Collect Information

It is crucial that you know the make and model of the car. You should also find out about the type of engine, size, and year. 

There are superchargers for different kinds of engines. Hence, you are going to need the details to find the right kind of blower kit or supercharger for your car.

 

Which muffler is your car right now?

2. Consider the Horsepower

When you plan to install a supercharger in a car that you will drive daily, you need to make sure that the car is street legal. A few superchargers have been designed for racing and are not going to pass the considerations of being street legal.

In case you would like to ramp-up the racing performance, you should get a racing package. There are superchargers for drag racing, street, and even marine applications. 

 

3. Check for Warranties

Even though many people consider this as the deciding factor, the warranty plays a crucial role. Buying a cheap supercharger kit might not be worth it if it doesn’t include the same kind of warranty. 

The most reliable and reputable manufacturers provide standard warranties. There are a few that give you the option to buy extended warranties. As superchargers might cost you thousands of dollars, it is crucial to make sure that the amount you are investing is well-protected. 

 

4. Check the Type of System

There are three basic options when you select a supercharger for the car. The best choice is the centrifugal charger, which is used for racing. 

They are not as popular because they are costly and require you to have skills for installation. But a blower kit can be easy to install. 

It is more efficient and offers moderate gains in your engine’s horsepower. These supercharger kits are ideal for those who would like to keep the car street-legal while driving. 

Consider the kind of investment you would like to make and what you can get out of the supercharger. It is also necessary to take into account the amount of work you want to put into the installation process. 

 

The types of superchargers you will come across are given below:

 

Centrifugal Supercharger

It uses a powered impeller for drawing air within the compressor at a higher speed. The impeller might attain a speed of 60,000 RPM without any hassle.

With the air being drawn, it will be transformed into high-pressure air, which is pushed through the system. The systems are highly efficient and are available in the truck supercharger.

 

Root Supercharger

It is the oldest kind of supercharger that you will come across. The root system uses a large amount of air in the process of intake. It provides a quick burst of excessive energy and is quite well-known among racing vehicles.

Root superchargers are more expensive than the other types that are available. They are mounted on top of an engine and are pretty large.

 

Twin Screw Supercharger

It functions by pulling in through the lobes. The air is going to be trapped in the rotor housing. Thereon, it is compressed through a taper that is shaped like a cone.

It is more expensive than the other superchargers available in the market. But I found that they can be a little noisy. Also, they might not be street legal in every state.

 

supercharger types

Types of Supercharger

5. Take Installation Options into Account

As I said, the manner in which a supercharger is being installed depends on the kind of blower kit you are buying. 

A few might be easier to install than the others. For a root supercharger, you need more room and also a special hood. While a centrifugal supercharger might be most difficult to install, it is better if you leave it to the professionals. 

Even though there are kits that are best for those who have dealt with cars. You can always install a supercharger all by yourself but it is better to take the help of a professional. 

 

6. Check the Cost

The ultimate factor that you need to consider to get the ideal supercharger for your car is the cost. When you have everything else in order, start shopping for the best price. 

You can expect to pay $2500-$10000 for any aftermarket supercharger kit. It will depend on the kind of engine you have. Check by comparing the prices offered by several websites. 

A few of these sites might also include details of local auto parts stores. You need to dedicate enough time to the shopping process. When you shop, make sure the store is legitimate and provides exactly what you require. 

Make sure you don’t buy from stores, such as eBay as they might supply you with supercharges without warranty or with missing parts. Sometimes they might also deliver a product of the wrong size. 

Do You Need to Tune after Installing a Supercharger?

Yes, you will have to tune a supercharger after installing it. If you do not, it is going to destroy the motor.

When you tune, you adjust the fuel injector for injecting more fuel. This is because more fuel comes from the supercharger.

 In case you do not tune the supercharger, you run the risk of the vehicle running lean. It might even lose horsepower and your car might get hot.

More info: Turbo & ECU Tuning: Can You Turbocharge Without Tuning?

Conclusion

Superchargers just like turbochargers can improve the performance of your car by sending added compressed air to the combustion chamber. 

But the process of the air compressor getting power is different. But a turbocharger is a much better choice than a supercharger. 

In the case of the turbocharger, the air compressor is powered by the hot exhaust gasses that come out of the combustion chamber. However, the supercharger is powered by the car engine directly. The car engine will then spin the accessory belt that in return powers the car’s air compressor.

Even though a supercharger doesn’t have any performance lag, turbochargers are more efficient. The latter is powered by the exhaust gasses that are expelled. It means the engine doesn’t need any additional power. 

So, the turbocharger is highly efficient in terms of power source. Supercharger, on the other hand, gets its power from the crankshaft of the engine. Thus, before it produces more power, it will be using the power of the engine on itself. Hence, the supercharger is less efficient than a turbocharger. 

A supercharger can consume more fuel. It is because they draw power from the engine at an all-RPM range. 

Also, a turbocharger is available at a much cheaper price than a supercharger. Now, turbochargers are much more available, particularly after the car manufacturers start to equip them with the stock setup. So, if you are on a budget, a supercharger might not be the ideal choice for increasing the performance of your car. 

But, apart from that, which one you should use depends on the vehicle you are driving. In case you will be driving on the street, you should get a turbocharger. It is going to provide you with better emissions as it reuses the exhaust gasses for powering itself. The turbocharger also runs quietly. 

Thus, it is ideal for a street setting. However, you have to be careful with the turbocharger as at times it might give out an unexpected boost to your car engine in a corner and it can be dangerous. 

But if you are going to drive on the race track, a supercharger might be the right choice for you. With a supercharger, you can expect more performance gains.

Both superchargers and turbochargers offer a performance boost. In fact, they are the best way to provide some power to your engine.

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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