Performance is one of the main reasons diesel truck enthusiasts choose to upgrade their vehicle's turbocharger. But what exactly is a diesel turbocharger, and how does it work?

Keep reading for answers to some frequently asked questions about diesel turbochargers.

How Does a Diesel Turbocharger Work?

A diesel turbocharger is a forced induction system that increases a diesel engine's power, efficiency, and torque by compressing the air that enters the engine. Turbochargers are powered by exhaust gases, which spin a turbine that drives a compressor. The compressor then forces more air into the engine, which allows the diesel engine to burn more fuel and produce more power.

Remember that engines need air to combust fuel. So by compression, the diesel turbocharger allows the engine to pack in more air. As a result, the engine can burn more fuel, which increases power output. This increase in power can be significant, often providing a diesel engine with up to 30% more power.

Do Turbochargers Decrease Fuel Economy?

Turbochargers can actually improve fuel economy in diesel engines. That's because the increased power output of the engine allows it to run at lower RPMs, which burns less fuel.

In addition, turbocharged diesel engines are often more efficient than their naturally aspirated counterparts. Turbochargers force more air into the engine, which makes for more complete fuel combustion. You can also use a smaller engine to get the same amount of power from a bigger, naturally aspirated engine.

Of course, depending on how you drive your vehicle, you can still experience poor fuel economy with a diesel turbocharger. For example, if you constantly operate your diesel engine at high RPMs, you will burn through fuel quickly. In other words, if you constantly race your diesel truck at high speeds, then you probably won't see an improvement in fuel economy.

In addition, choosing a turbocharger that is too large for your engine will also decrease fuel economy. A larger turbocharger will spin faster, creating more heat and putting additional strain on the engine. As a result, the engine will have to work harder, which will consume more fuel.

How Do You Choose the Right Diesel Turbocharger?

Unfortunately, many people choose diesel turbochargers that are either too small or too large for their engines. As a result, they don't see the fuel economy or performance gains that they were hoping for. So how do you choose the right diesel turbocharger?

First, your engine capacity will determine the maximum size turbocharger you can use. You don't want to exceed the maximum recommended size, or you could damage your engine.

Next, you need to consider the type of driving that you do most often. If you spend a lot of time on the highway, then you'll want a diesel turbocharger that provides good fuel economy. On the other hand, if you do a lot of off-roading or towing, then you'll want a diesel turbocharger that provides extra power.

Consult with a diesel mechanic to find the right diesel turbocharger for your specific diesel engine if you're not sure where to begin.