How Much Horsepower Does a Turbo Add?

Photo of author
Written By Will S.

One regular question car owners always ask is how much horsepower they will get if they add a turbo to their engine. The question is valid – after all, everyone wants more power and energy efficiency out of their cars. So, back to the question: how much horsepower does a turbo add?

There is no precise figure for how much horsepower a turbo will add because of so many variations. The figures vary and depend on your current engine strength, the presence of additional upgrades, and other factors. However, you can generally expect a boost of between 15 to 35 HP per pound or a 40% increase in overall power.

One thing is certain: your engine will be more powerful than it was before turbocharging.

In this article, we’ll answer the question in detail and look into how the turbo engine works for better understanding.

What Is a Turbocharger?

A turbocharger is an engine that uses a turbine and the principle of forced induction to improve the efficiency and power output of a car’s engine. Forced induction is a technique used to increase the intake air density.

A turbocharger works by using waste exhaust gases from a car’s engine block to run a turbine which drives the compressor to take in more air, compress it, and return the air to the engine’s combustion chamber to improve performance. This process is known as turbocharging. Learn the difference between turbocharging and supercharging.

You can also learn more about turbo and how it works here.

How Does a Turbocharger Work

To understand how a turbocharger works, you first need to understand the primary function of your car’s engine. 

Your vehicle’s engine is like a large pump that takes in air and fuel, compresses and combusts them before pumping them out via an exhaust pipe. For more combustion to happen, more fuel is needed, and more fuel will be worthless without more air. 

However, there’s only so much air and fuel an engine can take due to its small size. So, in the past, if engineers wanted more fuel and air, they simply made bigger engines. 

The big engines needed more space in the car, so they had no choice but to make bigger trucks. Large vehicles and gigantic engines consumed more air/fuel, made more noise, and were largely inefficient. 

There was also no system of replacing lost air via exhaust until the invention of modern turbo engines. With turbos, small cars can have more power output with their small engines. 

The turbo system uses the exhaust gases of an engine to power a compressor that feeds more dense air into the engine’s combustion chamber. More air means more fuel can burn, large combustion can occur, and the power output of engines will increase. 

Furthermore, an impeller in the turbo engine ensures air is taken to every part of the engine while an intercooler reduces the air temperature (the system makes your engine red hot).

Does a Turbo Make a Car Faster?

A turbo makes your car significantly faster. This is because the turbo’s turbine spins at up to 150,000 rpm, which is approximately 30 times faster than a car engine. A turbo provides your car with better torque and, of course, horsepower – and better horsepower means a quicker car.

A turbo is only one way to increase your car’s horsepower and speed. Other options include:

  • Tuning up the engine
  • Installing a supercharger
  • Installing an aftermarket exhaust system
  • Installing a cold-air intake

To gain horsepower, the usual range of gains is around 15-45 HP per pound of boost. On average, there are 2-4 pounds of boost for a stock engine. Watch the video below to understand more information.

How do I choose the right turbo?


There’s no doubt that a turbo will give your car’s engine more power output and energy efficiency. However, the question of how much horsepower it will deliver still endures. 

The amount of horsepower it can generate will vary depending on the presence of upgrades to your engine. You can get up to a 40% increase without any upgrades, but improving your car’s engine can make a lot of difference.