Turbochargers are great ways to squeeze more horsepower out of an engine, but turbos keep a lot of heat in the engine compartment. Turbo shields and turbo blankets control that heat and keep it where it should be – inside the feed system for the turbocharger – for maximum efficiency and performance. At the same time, proper heat shields protect components near the turbo system from damage, and can improve the performance of the cooling system, air conditioning, brakes and so on.
Here are areas where using thermal barriers can make your turbo install better.
The Turbo Itself
The exhaust side of the turbo is the cast iron housing that the exhaust gas passes through and spins the intake side of the turbo where the real magic happens and intake air is compressed before entering the engine. Just like the feed piping, keeping as much heat as possible in this part of the turbo is crucial for maximum performance. That’s where a good, high-quality turbo shield is important. Along with that, a quality turbo shield will also last much longer through the many heat cycles it sees, versus cheap shields that can become brittle and lose effectiveness at keeping the heat in.
Above: For this Turbonetics kit install, the included turbo shield in the kit was pitched in favor of a Lava Turbo Shield. It can withstand a constant 1800-degrees F of heat, is chemical and oil resistant, and as an added bonus has a carbon fiber look that really improves the look of things underhood.
Above: If you have an irregular turbo setup with a lot of customization, a Universal Turbo Heat Shield Kit is another option to look at, that includes everything you would need for properly insulating a turbo system, including a DIY turbo blanket that can be made to fit most turbochargers.
The Exhaust Feed Piping
With most turbo kits, exhaust gas is tapped out of the engine just after the exhaust manifolds, and is fed through piping into a single turbo or dual turbos. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even the janitor at a rocket scientist’s lab, to know that piping is going to get hot. And that heat has to go somewhere, like the floorboards and anything else near the turbo feed piping. That’s bad. Additionally, keeping exhaust gas temperature as high as possible means the exhaust gas velocity is as fast as possible. This increases turbo performance, reduces turbo lag and means boost will be available sooner and quicker.
Above: While exhaust wrap is an option for this feed piping, installing it can be laborious, and because you need very long lengths to cover all the piping it can get expensive. A great and extremely effective option is Heatshield Armor. The material secures with HP Thermal Ties, is chemical and water resistant (and if it does get wet will dry out without adverse effects), and installs easily. Heatshield Armor can be sectioned to go around separate pieces of pipe before they’re installed on the car making install even simpler.
Above: Here we’ve got a section of the exhaust feed piping running very close to the motor’s oil filter and factory oil cooler. We installed Heatshield Armor on the pipe to reduce the amount of heat near the filter and cooler. Along with this, we also added one of our new Lava Oil Filter Shields to further protect the filter and oil running through it from high ambient heat that could raise oil temperatures and reduce oil life and effectiveness.
Cooling, A/C, Brake, and Power Steering Lines
Shielding these three lines from increased ambient heat gives two benefits. One, it keeps the lines with rubber sections from degrading faster do to the increased heat exposure. Two, the critical fluids inside are protected from seeing drastically increased temperatures that can affect operation. Brake fluid gets too hot, kiss the brakes bye-bye. Power steering fluid cooks (if you have a fluid power steering system) and the steering will start to go in and out and cause trouble. And if you’re A/C lines get hot, your ride gets a lot less comfortable. Here are some areas where the different thermal barriers can protect things and keep all the peripherals on your vehicle working properly.
Above: Some turbo kits use sections of metal pipe to modify the cooling hoses to work around the turbo location. In this pic, the upper radiator hose runs right over the turbo housing, and to get the correct shape, sections of metal pipe are used with pieces of the original hose to get everything hooked up. HP Hose Sleeve was used to keep the ambient heat from heating the pipe beyond what it sees from the hot coolant passing through it, so the cooling system doesn’t have to work even harder to keep things at proper operating temp. And HP Hose Sleeve also means that if anything comes in contact with the new upper radiator hose/pipe, you won’t have to worry about it melting.
Above: The A/C, power steering, and some wiring that run near the feed piping and exhaust side of the turbo are too close for comfort, and have been covered with Thermaflect Sleeve to deflect away the ambient heat and protect them from damage and keep the vital fluids inside them from being overheated. Interestingly, the owner of the car noted how the A/C system felt a bit colder after the install.
The Intake Piping
Above: Because the new intake piping that comes with the kit is metal, that means it can soak in more ambient heat than the factory plastic intake tubing, and since metal is an excellent conductor of heat, transfer that heat to the air passing through it. Thermaflect Sleeve, available in diameters up to 5.25-inches, was installed to deflect heat away from the intake pipe. Thanks to its high temp hook & loop fastener system, is easy to install and remove whenever necessary.