Turbocharged engines have been increasingly favored by car lovers over the years. The main reason for this growth is turbochargers enhance the efficiency of your engine, make the heart of your car stronger and more powerful without requiring a greater amount of fuel. That sounds incredibly appealing, doesn’t it? And if you notice, any cars boosted by turbo engines are equipped with a boost gauge and many car enthusiasts do not know what it shows. For that reason, we have written this article to give you a comprehensive guide on how to read a boost gauge.
What is a boost gauge? And what role does it play?
We believe that we can’t run if we don’t know how to walk. That’s why before we walk you through steps on how to read a boost gauge, we would like to inform you of the definition of a boost gauge and the task it’s in charge of in a turbocharged car so you can get the hang of what is shown on a boost gauge.
First things first, a boost gauge is a pressure meter. It takes the responsibility for measuring the air pressure produced by a turbocharger or a supercharger so you can acknowledge how much energy your car is boosted thanks to a turbocharged engine. Simple as it may seem, this boost gauge is really important because it can enable you to make the best of your engine and provide you with enormous benefits. What benefits? Let’s stay tuned and move to the next part.
What benefits does a boost gauge offer?
There are three key benefits that a boost gauge can offer you when you wish to have a turbocharged engine installed to your car:
The first one is safety. Abundance is not always good. If your engine is supplied with too much boost from the turbocharger or supercharger, it will be badly damaged as every engine all has a safe range where it can give the best performance. When the engine exceeds the upper limit point, your car’s engine could be broken down. So you need a boost gauge to know exactly the amount of boost your engine takes in and control it. This benefit is also the reason why you need a boost gauge in your car.
The second one is enhanced performance. As we have mentioned above, a turbocharger or supercharger gives your engine additional boost. A boost gauge measures this boost and shows that to you, which means you can keep track of the compression levels and pressure and then customize your car’s engine appropriately so that it can give a better performance than usual.
And the third one is improved appearance. A boost gauge can work as an accessory and make your car look more stylish and modern. That’s not to mention that you can install it at places where you find convenient such as dash or air vents so you can enjoy the idea that your car’s interior has a self-tailored look.
What are the types of boost gauges?
Right now on the market there are two main types of boost gauges: the mechanical one and the digital one.
The mechanical boost gauge can operate in almost every type of car and what it shows is incredibly reliable. Why? As it directly measures the pressure that your turbocharger or supercharger produces so the number is seemingly accurate to a T. Not only that this type of boost gauge is very easy to install. You can do it on your own without needing the help from a mechanic. And one more useful piece of information about this product that many of you may be interested in is that it is sold at an affordable price. It only costs you no more than $50 to get one, which is quite cheap compared to the enormous advantages it brings to you. But you should also keep in mind that this product lacks some extra features, which may make you feel rather inconvenient when using it.
The other one, the digital one, seems to be less accurate than the mechanical one. The reason for this is that the digital boost gauge measures the applied boost and then estimates the pressure so what it shows on the display is an estimated figure. One more feature of this product that does not surpass its mechanical counterpart is that it requires an electronic setup so the installation process will be more complicated. However when being put in a parallel line with its mechanical brother, it has a better and more modern look. Not only that it will give you a more comfortable experience of use than a mechanical will. One last thing, you can purchase this product at a price of $60 or more. Every penny counts.
Each type of boost gauge indicates differently so make sure that you know what type your boost gauge is so that you can apply our guide on how to read a boost gauge appropriately.
How to read a boost gauge?
Now let’s get to the subject of the painting. To read a boost guide, you should follow 3 following steps.
Step 1: Take your car to a place where turbo testing is available.
Your boost gauge can read different types of boost pressures once activated. So you will need to test your gauge in different situations to make sure that you know separately the amount of boost gains and the amount of power gains. For this reason the first step you need to take is to drive your turbocharged car to a place where a dynamometer is available. One useful tip is that you should take note of the readings in different cases so you can get the intended result.
Step 2: Start the car and warm it up
Your car needs warming up first so that the result you get will be reliable and accurate. There are two indexes that you need to pay attention to in this step.
The first one is the base pressure shown in PSI (pounds per square inch). Get in the car and crank the engine up to the operating temperature and maintain that in about 15 minutes before coming for a standstill. Once you do that the boost pressure will be shown on the display and this is the base pressure at which your turbo needs to start its working day.
The second index you need to keep an eye on is the base RPM (revolutions per minute). After taking note of the base pressure, hit the gas pedal until the rev reaches 2,500 to 3,000 RPM. Note down the RPM and the time it takes your turbo to produce a positive boost. Once you do that, you will know the base RPM you need to reach to activate the air pushing function of your turbo.
You need to make sure that you make your engine reach these two base figures to know how much boost your turbocharger or supercharger produces.
Step3: Execute different driving situations
This is the final step you need to take to apply our presented guide on how to read a boost gauge. The purpose of this step is to know the lower and upper limit of boost your turbo engine can produce. And to do this you need to drive your car in different cases to take note of how the boost gains range. Normally, you will know that the boost gains have reached their upper limit when you see the temperature of the engine is extremely high and exceeds the safe operation limit. After you have perceived all the limits, you should mark them on the display screen just in case you can remember them. Writing them in opaque ink is highly recommended as you can see them clearly at night.
That’s all you need to know to apply our guide on how to read a boost gauge appropriately and rightly. It’s pretty easy to follow yet the benefits it brings are considerably enormous. We hope that you can succeed in fulfilling this task.
Where should the boost gauge sit at idle?
When your car is at idle, the boost gauge should sit at 0 PSI and the needle stands still at that starting point because your engine has not been started so your car can’t reach the base pressure to make the turbocharger or supercharger start working.
How much turbo boost is safe?
It depends on the quality of your engine. On average, you should not boost your stock engine more than 5 pounds compared to the maximum boost set by the manufacturers. Normally a stock engine equipped with a compressor can take 20 pounds of boost so you should not give it a boost which is more than 25 pounds.
How do I stop my boost gauge buzzing?
Buzzing while your boost gauge is activated is really annoying sometimes as it may distract you from driving. To solve this problem you can install a restrictor to the gauge. It helps to dampen the air movement in the hose and as a result the buzzing sound is stopped.