How Do Superchargers and Turbochargers Work?

August 21st, 2017 by


Many vehicles today are being built to have more fuel economy via smaller engines. However, there are some auto brands, such as Dodge, that are known for muscle cars with crazy measurements of horsepower, currently up to 840 horsepower with the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Along with several components that work a lot more like magic because the science behind it is mind-boggling, there is a core system that allows the Challenger SRT Demon to build so much horsepower. A supercharger.


Superchargers and turbochargers, in laymen’s terms are systems that pump more air into an engine’s combustion chamber for a bigger boom and effectively, more horsepower. However, it’s a lot more than that. Yes, both systems feed more air into an internal combustion engine, but they both work differently.

For instance, the supercharger is sometimes referred to as more of an air compressor. As the engine fan sucks air through the intake (and if integrated hood scoops maximize this effort), the supercharger compresses all of the air being fed through it, increasing the pressure and the density of the air being supplied. During each intake cycle, the engine is exposed to more oxygen, letting it burn more fuel, and that in turn increases the horsepower. A surprising yet interesting fact – the supercharger is powered by the engine itself and uses ten horsepower to work. A small sacrifice for the increase in horsepower a supercharger helps to create.


Turbochargers on the other hand are turbine-driven, powered by the engine’s exhaust gas. In essence, some could say this is “free energy” since a turbocharger doesn’t use horsepower to power it and simply uses the resources already being expelled, kind of like regenerative braking if you think about it, but let’s not go into hybrid territory for now. Furthermore, a turbocharger, because it is powered by the exhaust, has a bit of a kickback to it, a delay between the acceleration and the boost generated.

* That’s all there is to it. Surprisingly, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has many heat-treated components and a cooling system to withstand the 2,000 F° heat generated by a turbocharger. Ah well, another topic for another day. Interested in muscle cars that use superchargers and turbochargers? Check out our inventory for Dodge performance vehicles . *

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