Boost Controller Buyer's Guide
- A boost controller is a device that controls the “boost” level in the intake manifold of a turbocharged or supercharged vehicle.
- Turbocharged and supercharged systems are made to provide more pressure to the intake manifold than atmospheric pressure. The concept behind this is that the greater the pressure inside the intake manifold, the more air is drawn in the combustion chamber. This process lets the engine produce more power.
- When air is pumped into the cylinder, the air pressure inside the combustion chamber increases. This rise in air pressure is called a “boost.”
- A wastegate is a bypass valve that prevents boost build-up and severe engine damage. Depending on the requirements of the system, this valve may allow all of the exhaust into the turbine, or it may let a portion of the exhaust past the turbine to the exhaust system.
- The boost controller controls the amount of intake manifold pressure by changing the amount of pressure entering the wastegate.
- Boost controllers are divided into two main types: manual and electronic.
- Aside from the part’s compatibility, durability, ease of installation, and price, there are several factors you have to consider before upgrading your vehicle’s boost controller or installing a new one.
- Aftermarket boost controller replacements can cost you anywhere from $320 to $960.
- Replacement boost controllers are typically sold individually or as a part of a kit.
- If you’re looking to replace your old boost controller or if you’re thinking of getting an upgrade, CarParts.com has you covered.
With the continuous improvement of automotive technology, more powerful and efficient vehicles with less harmful emissions are available on the market. Aesthetic and performance upgrades are also readily available for those who want to add value to their driving experience.
A boost controller is one such component that improves the performance of a vehicle. How does a boost controller work and why do you need it? This quick guide will answer these questions and more.
What is a Boost Controller?
A boost controller is a device that controls the “boost” level in the intake manifold of a turbocharged or supercharged vehicle. This device can be as simple as a manual control switch. It can also be a part of the complex engine management system of a turbocharged vehicle. This component is installed to improve the vehicle’s performance.
How Does a Boost Controller Work?
To understand boost controllers better, one has to understand how turbocharging and supercharging works and why a wastegate is vital in these systems. Below is a brief explainer on what a boost controller does, starting from the turbocharging/supercharging system.
Turbocharging, Supercharging, and Volumetric Efficiency
Aside from complex sensors, control units, and circuitry, the engine needs three main things to move the vehicle forward: air, fuel, and an ignition source. Automotive engineers are able to improve a vehicle’s performance by designing the engine and its components in such a way that maximizes the use of the three elements mentioned above.
For example, turbocharged and supercharged engines are designed to have better volumetric efficiency than most stock engines. Volumetric efficiency measures how well a vehicle breathes. While most stock engines reach 85% volumetric efficiency and race cars reach around 95%, turbocharged and supercharged engines can easily surpass 100%.
Engines that use atmospheric pressure to push the air-fuel mixture into the cylinders are called naturally aspirated engines. These engines do not rely on highly specialized components to increase airflow into the intake valves.
However, turbocharged and supercharged systems are made to provide more pressure to the intake manifold than atmospheric pressure. The concept behind this is that the greater the pressure inside the intake manifold, the more air is drawn in the combustion chamber. This process lets the engine produce more power.
What is a Boost?
When air is pumped into the cylinder, the air pressure inside the combustion chamber increases. This rise in air pressure is called a “boost.” Boost is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), Atmospheres (ATM; 1 ATM is 14.7 PSI), or Bars (1 bar is 14.7 PSI).
Turbochargers use exhaust gases to increase boost. Because of this, the engine produces more exhaust gases. Because there are more exhaust gases, boost levels increase.
Wastegates and Boost Controllers
A wastegate is a bypass valve that prevents boost build-up and severe engine damage. This component is connected to both the exhaust inlet and the turbine. Depending on the requirements of the system, this valve may allow all of the exhaust into the turbine, or it may let a portion of the exhaust past the turbine to the exhaust system.
When a certain amount of boost pressure builds up in the intake manifold, the wastegate valve opens. This lets most of the exhaust flow directly out of the exhaust system and bypass the turbocharger. When the boost pressure finally drops, the wastegate valve closes and directs the exhaust to the turbocharger vanes to let the boost pressure build up again.
The wastegate works as the pressure control valve in the turbocharger system. This valve is typically controlled by the engine control computer through a boost control solenoid. The boost control solenoid may also be referred to as a wastegate control valve.
The boost controller controls the amount of intake manifold pressure by changing the amount of pressure entering the wastegate. The boost controller “bleeds off” a specific amount of air to reduce the pressure in the hose that leads to the wastegate. This lowers the boost signal to the wastegate’s actuator so that the wastegate remains closed for longer. This allows the boost level to increase and the engine to produce more power but without the wastegate detecting these changes.
Types of Boost Controllers
Boost controllers are divided into two main types: manual and electronic. Manual boost controllers have a dial that lets the user of the vehicle control how much pressure the wastegate detects.
Meanwhile, electronic boost controllers have a solenoid and a computer that controls its operation. Some electronic boost controllers are able to completely shut down the wastegate so it won’t detect the boost pressure. This set-up allows for even more boost.
The computer on electronic boost controllers lets the user set a limit on the amount of boost created and set the boost levels as well. Some electronic boost controllers have mechanisms that disperse the boost pressure when the engine’s temperature becomes too hot. These mechanisms lessen the potential damage to the engine and its components.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Boost Controller
Aside from the part’s compatibility, durability, ease of installation, and price, there are several factors you have to consider before upgrading your vehicle’s boost controller or installing a new one. Listed below are just some of these factors:
- Determine the limits of different engine components in your vehicle. Well-tuned turbocharged vehicles straight from the factory may not be able to accommodate additional boost pressure. If additional boost is introduced into systems like these, the engine block, fuel injectors, fuel pump, and other engine parts may get damaged. Other components may also wear out faster than normal if additional boost pressure is added to the system.
- Calculate how the boost controller may interact with your existing engine management system. Your engine’s current computer may also not be able to meet the requirements of this new system. It may also struggle to compensate for fuel and ignition timing. If this happens, the engine may knock and eventually fail.
How Much Is an Aftermarket Boost Controller Replacement?
Aftermarket boost controller replacements can cost you anywhere from $320 to $960. The part’s compatibility with your vehicle’s year, make, and model is an important factor that determines the replacement part’s price. However, other factors may come into play such as brand, fitment, series, and quantity. Replacement boost controllers are typically sold individually or as a part of a kit.
Finding the Right Fit
Making significant upgrades to your vehicle takes a lot of planning and decision-making. Getting the part that you need for a great price shouldn’t stress you out even more. If you’re looking to replace your old boost controller or if you’re thinking of getting an upgrade, CarParts.com has you covered. The site’s selection of aftermarket boost controllers allows you to choose the right boost controller to improve your vehicle’s performance.
You can use the site’s vehicle selector tool to enter your vehicle’s year, make, and model. This allows you to view products and components that are compatible with your vehicle. The search console also allows you to narrow down your choices according to your desired price range and other preferences. Improve your vehicle’s performance and hit the road with confidence with CarParts.com.
Boost Controller: A Shopper's Guide
When you're trying to improve the performance of the engine of a turbocharged vehicle, one effective and cheap method is by buying a boost controller. Basically, what a boost controller does is to control the air pressure that's created in the intake manifold and the wastegate actuator. By installing a boost controller in your vehicle, the role of the wastegate is reduced, and this causes the turbocharger to spool a lot faster-and this means more boost. If you're thinking of buying a boost controller for your vehicle, reading the rest of this article will help you make a smart decision.
Types of boost controllers
- Manual boost controller- This boost controller is the most basic and popular of all because it's cheap and easy to install. The manual boost controller has a dial that lets you control how much pressure the wastegate detects. Depending on how much you want the valve is open, the turbocharger will continue to spin and create boost until enough pressure is created to open the wastegate.
- Electric boost controller- Unlike the manual boost controller, the electronic boost controller controls the valves using a solenoid and a computer. An electronic boost controller can completely shut down the wastegate so it won't detect any pressure. As a result, the turbocharger will just continue to spool to create more boost. The electronic boost controller's computer will let you limit the amount of boost created and the boost levels at the same time. In some sophisticated electronic boost controllers, the boost created is automatically dropped when the engine's temperature becomes too hot. This way, damage to the vehicle's engine is immediately prevented.
A word of caution before buying a boost controller
Before purchasing a boost controller, make sure that you take note of the limits of various engine components such as engine block, fuel injectors, fuel pump, and the engine management system. For example, certain turbochargers don't allow extra boost levels because this can result to faster wear. Aside from that, the fuel pump and fuel injectors may not be able to deliver the proper amount of fuel that is demanded by higher boost levels. Finally, there are also cases wherein the engine management system fails to respond properly to fuel or ignition timing, and this can result to engine failure.
Boost controller price
If you've already considered all the factors that are mentioned above, you can now purchase a boost controller. For starters, BD Diesel offers an electronic boost controller that's somewhere between $80 and $100.
Manual Boost Controller Installation Instructions
If you've always wanted to increase the power of your Audi's turbocharged engine without spending a lot, then installing a manual boost controller is a good starting point. If you've already purchased a manual boost controller from a trusted automotive store, then simply follow the instructions below so you can install it in your Audi vehicle.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- Socket wrench
- Metric sockets
- Metric open wrenches
- Wire strippers
- Electric tape
- Manual boost controller
- Velcro or double-sided tape
Step 1: Mount the manual boost controller near the vehicle's dashboard. You can use the dashboard mount that comes with the manual boost controller. If there's no dashboard mount, you can mount the manual boost controller using Velcro or double-sided tape.
Step 2: Remove the air box found at the driver's side corner engine by using Metric sockets and Metric open wrenches. Remove the tube that attaches the air box to the intake manifold.
Step 3: Set aside the air box and its tube.
Step 4: Disconnect all the wiring harnesses that are attached to the sensors of the intake tubing. This way, you'll have an easier time accessing the turbocharger.
Step 5: Access the top of the turbocharger, and remove the wastegate frequency valve and its hoses. Set aside the wastegate frequency valve and its hoses.
Step 6: Connect the boost controller's actuator and the wastegate frequency valve.
Step 7: Figure out where you'll put the manual boost controller's input hose. One option is for you to course the input hose into another hose that is connected to an inlet of the turbocharger.
Step 8: Route the wiring from the actuator through the firewall of your Audi. The firewall is the barrier that separates the interior and the engine.
Step 9: Once the wire has reached your Audi's interior, remove a small portion of the wire's insulation material and connect it to the manual boost controller. Use an electric tape to cover the connection between the wire and the manual boost controller.
Step 10: Reinstall the components that you've removed such as the wastegate actuator valve, air box, and intake manifold tube.
Step 11: Reconnect all the wires and wiring harnesses that you disconnected in step 4.
Close your Audi's hood, and follow the instructions in the boost controller's manual to calibrate it properly.