How Does a Turbo Intercooler Work

How Does a Turbo Intercooler Work? Different Ways Explained


You may have seen a turbo intercooler being used with a turbo or supercharged engine. But you may be wondering how do it truly functions. Well, as a reaction to people’s enthusiasm, we have put together this article.

The engine, being the most critical component of a vehicle, must constantly be kept cool using external power in order to maximize performance and efficiency. In this scenario, the turbo intercooler has a significant impact.

In this article, we have thoroughly discussed how a turbo intercooler works in order to clear up the confusion of an inquisitive mind.

What Is a Turbo Intercooler?

What Is a Turbo Intercooler

An intercooler is a unique piece of equipment that is often seen in turbocharged or supercharged engines. Its goal is to gather the compressed air produced by the turbocharger and supercharger and then strategically cool it down.

Due to the reduction in temperature, larger densities of air are forced into the engine, resulting in improved performance and efficiency.

An intercooler is a heat exchanger that is used to cool a gas after it has been compressed. Intercoolers are often seen in turbocharged engines, but they are also found in air compressors.

It is intended to offset the heat generated by compression as well as heat soak in the pressurized intake air.

Lowering the intake air’s temperature makes it denser, which allows for more fuel to be injected, which results in improved power, and less prone to suffer from pre-ignition or knocking, which are both detrimental to performance.

If evaporative cooling is desired to further reduce intake charge temperature, it is feasible to externally spray a fine mist over the intercooler surface or straight into the intake air to accomplish this.

The performance and space requirements of the system may have a significant impact on the size, shape, and design of an intercooler.

Many passenger cars use top-mounted intercoolers instead of front-mounted ones, which are situated in the front bumper aperture. If air-to-air or liquid inter-cooling is required, then the method should be chosen accordingly.

Read more about a turbo blanket. 

How does a turbo intercooler work?

a Turbo Intercooler Work

Turbochargers compress air, increasing its density, before it reaches the engine’s cylinders, resulting in increased horsepower. More power may be generated with each explosion when additional air is squeezed into each cylinder.

As the air is compressed, it creates a lot of heat, which raises its temperature as it enters the engine. Air density decreases with temperature; therefore, less oxygen is available in each cylinder, and performance suffers as a result!

Additionally, the intercooler tries to counteract this process by chilling and enhancing combustion in each cylinder. Additional benefits include ensuring that each cylinder is operating at a safe level of the air-fuel ratio by controlling the temperature of the air supply.

As discussed before, there are two main types of turbo intercoolers: air-to-air and air-to-water, and a special type: the combination of both. Now, we’ll discuss how they work.

How does an air-to-air turbo intercooler work?

During its journey through an air-to-air intercooler, compressed air is routed through a labyrinth of tiny tubes before passing through a series of cooling fins to cool the air.

While traveling through the compressed air, the heat is transferred to the cooling fins, which are subsequently cooled by a rapid flow of air from outside the driving vehicle as it passes over them.

After the compressed air has been cooled and passed through the intercooler, it is supplied into the engine’s intake manifold and into the cylinders.

Because of being cheaper in price and simple and easy to use, air-to-air intercoolers are the most common option for the vast majority of turbocharged cars on the road.

Air-to-air intercoolers may be installed anywhere between the turbo and the engine, but they work best behind the grill, near the front of the car, where there is better airflow.

How does an air-to-water turbo intercooler work?

Air-to-water intercoolers use water as a cooling medium in order to lower the temperature of the compressed air being used.

In operation, cold water circulates through the unit to remove heat from the air flowing through it, which then returns the heat to the environment.

Once heated, the water is sent out of the intercooler via a radiator or cooling circuit before returning to the intercooler after cooling down.

The size of air-to-water intercoolers takes less space than air-to-air intercoolers, which is why people mostly use air-to-water turbo intercoolers in their vehicles.

Additionally, water can tolerate a higher range of operating temperatures than air since it conducts heat more efficiently than air.

An air-to-water intercooler is actually an air-to-air unit that is enclosed and has ice water pumped through it to cool the air within the intercooler. When people think of an air-to-water intercooler, they’re picturing something for street racing.

On the racing circuit, the hard-core air-to-water intercoolers are commonly found in the passenger seat of the Pro 5.0 or any racing outlaw vehicle.

Because of their massive box size and weight, they must be installed within the cockpit, and it is the only area where they will fit.

An alternative option to turbo intercooler:

Excess fuel is generally injected into the combustion chamber as an alternative to utilizing intercoolers, which are now seldom used because of the high cost of maintenance. The vaporization process cooled the cylinders, which helped to reduce knocking and overheating.

The disadvantages of this strategy, on the other hand, were greater fuel consumption and exhaust gas emissions. 

Turbo intercooler working system

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Does the intercooler affect the power output of an engine?

Answer: The density of the air load has an effect on the output power. By lowering the temperature, the intercooler improves the density of the air charge, which in turn enhances the output power.

For the average boost pressures, the range of the increased performances will typically be between 10 and 20 percent.

Question: Air-to-air or air-to-water intercoolers are both effective, but which one is better?

Answer: Air-to-water intercooler largely stores the heat in water until it can be reversed when the car isn’t going very fast, which is a small amount that comes out of the front section.

The temperature difference between the water and the air isn’t big enough to drive out much of the heat. It doesn’t matter if the heat is removed from the air charge by an air intercooler or a water-based intercooler.

The heat must be released into the air at some point. Heat can’t get out of a water intercooler as quickly as it can out of an air intercooler.

Eventually, each of the turbo intercoolers has a barrier to the flow of heat, whether you like it or not.

Final Words

a Turbo Intercooler Work

You should have no worries regarding the functions of a turbo intercooler now that we have had a detailed description of how does a turbo intercooler works.

We hope you can find the best turbo intercooler for your vehicle by following the details explanation presented in this article.

Also Check:

1. Learn how to paint an engine bay

2. How to prime an engine 

3. Know what to do with a blown engine