How to Fix Turbo Lag


Turbo lag is an issue that has plagued nearly every turbocharged vehicle. It occurs when you floor the throttle, and instead of experiencing an immediate surge in forward thrust, you are effectively left standing in place. After a few seconds the turbo unit finally spools up (most turbochargers spin at over 100,000 rpm) and the vehicle begins to accelerate. This behavior is especially disconcerting when you're circuit racing or even attempting a freeway overtaking maneuver. While there's no way to totally eliminate turbo lag, there are several steps you can take to minimize its effects.

Things You'll Need

  • High-flow exhaust system
  • Sports intake
  • ECU tuning
  • Replace your stock factory exhaust system with a free-flow unit. Replacing the entire pipeline, including the exhaust manifold, O2 housing and downpipe will eliminate the restrictive factory setup and allow the turbo to spool more quickly by minimizing engine back pressure. As an added benefit to this modification, overall horsepower and torque will be increased.

  • Install a sports-intake system for your vehicle to increase airflow to the turbo. This will further decrease turbo lag and may produce a pronounced whistling noise during periods of spirited driving.

  • Select the proper gear according to your vehicle's powerband. Most modern turbocharged vehicles reach their torque plateau anywhere from 2500 rpm to 4000 rpm. Staying within this range will provide adequate exhaust energy to rapidly spool the turbo.

  • Advance the ignition timing and optimize air-fuel ratios through an engine control unit tune-up. Not only will this reduce lag, but it will also create a broader and flatter powerband with improved drivability and fuel economy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bring your vehicle to a reputable dyno shop to maximize gains and perform testing in a controlled environment.
  • Modifying your vehicle can cause engine damage and void your factory warranty.

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  • Photo Credit John Harrelson/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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