How to Install a Bolt-On Turbo


Upgrading your engine's turbo system by installing a bolt-on turbo will substantially increase the horsepower potential of your engine. The turbocharger is responsible for flowing pressurized air into and out of the engine. Upgraded turbochargers feature a larger turbo housing that allows for increased airflow, as well as larger turbine wheels that are capable of pressurizing a larger volume of air compared to smaller turbocharger units. The exact requirements for installing a bolt-on turbo will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the model of the turbocharger installed. However, the basic installation procedure for any bolt-on turbocharger is the same.

Things You'll Need

  • Turbocharger
  • Turbo flange adapter
  • Turbo flange gasket(s)
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Socket wrench
  • Socket set
  • Screwdriver set
  • Engine oil
  • Park your vehicle on a solid, flat surface, and engage the parking brake. Raise the front of your vehicle with a floor jack. Support each side of the chassis on a jack stand so that you can safely work underneath the vehicle.

  • Remove any engine components that restrict access and removal of the turbocharger, which is mounted to the exhaust manifold. Common engine components that require removal include the plastic engine cover, exhaust manifold heat shield, and engine undertray. Note the direction that the turbocharger will detach from the exhaust manifold, and remove any components that will be in the way of lifting the turbocharger free from the engine bay.

  • Place an oil drain pan underneath the oil drain bolt, located on the underside of the engine. Remove the drain bolt, and allow the engine oil to fully drain. This is to keep the engine oil from spilling out when you remove the turbocharger, which is lubricated by engine oil. Once the oil has finished draining, replace the drain plug.

  • Loosen the hose ring that secures the intake onto the turbocharger inlet, then detach the intake tube from the turbo. Loosen the hose ring that secures the intercooler piping to the turbocharger outlet, and detach the intercooler piping from the turbo. On the underside of the turbocharger, remove the bolts that secure the exhaust downpipe to the turbo exhaust outlet. Disconnect any oil and vacuum lines that are connected directly into the turbocharger.

  • Remove the four bolts that secure the turbocharger to the exhaust manifold, equally spaced along the turbocharger mounting flange. Once these bolts are removed, the turbocharger can be lifted free from the vehicle. Note that on some engines, it may be easier to remove the turbocharger from underneath the engine. If this is the case, fully remove the downpipe by removing the exhaust bolts that secure the downpipe to the catalytic converter. You will then be able to work the turbocharger free of the engine bay from underneath your vehicle.

  • Place a new flange gasket onto the exhaust manifold, then install your bolt-on turbocharger by the opposite procedure you used to remove the stock turbo. Some upgraded turbochargers may feature a larger mounting flange that is incompatible with your current exhaust manifold. If this is the case, install a turbo flange adapter between the turbocharger and exhaust manifold. Flange adapters feature a tapered design to line up the upgraded turbocharger's mounting flange with an exhaust manifold that features a smaller mounting flange. If you use a flange adapter, be sure to install two flange gaskets, one on each side of the adapter.

  • Reinstall any stock engine components that you removed to access the turbocharger. Remove the oil fill cap at the top of the engine and refill the engine with oil. Remove the jack stands from under the chassis and lower your vehicle off the floor jack.

Tips & Warnings

  • To utilize the increased flow-potential of your bolt-on turbo, various supporting modifications may be needed. This can include a turbo boost controller, fuel injector, fuel pump, and/or fuel tuning software.

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