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Old 04-02-2006, 03:08 PM   #1
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n00b's guide to turbo'd driving?

So I'm picking up my car Tuesday afternoon. As you know, it's got a turbo. And as has been the running joke for nearly five years, I've never had a turbo. I don't know how to drive anymore.

When I took it for the extended test drive, I had no idea what I was doing with it-- of course it put me back in my seat a few times, which was seriously awesome, but I know I wasn't getting "the most out of it".

As far as the plethora of buttons and switches and levers go, I can figure that out by R-ingTFM. Buuuut, there doesn't seem to be a very good guide to "making the switch". I'm accustomed to dropping a gear and pinning the accelerator to the floor any time I need to get up a hill, and when I did that with the 9-3, I was pretty confident that I was about to die. It's not a fear of driving fast, because I'm used to that kind of thing... it just seems like the turbo is a bit unpredictible? Again, I really have no idea how to use it. I'm back and forth between being afraid of breaking something or killing myself, and thinking that I need to find an empty stretch of highway and just drive the everloving fudge out of it until I have it figured out.

(whimpers)help meee...
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Old 04-02-2006, 03:16 PM   #2
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So it is a 5spd?

Well, the tubo can make 0 psi or 10 psi depending on how far you push on the pedal. You can reve the engine to redline on zero boost if you like. So the turbo does essentially add another variable, in that respect. My best suggestion would be to consider any sort of power curve. At a certain rpm at full boost the car makes X power. Because of this dropping a gear is often unnecessary with a turbo car. So go back to that same hill, leave it in a gear that puts you at like 2500 rpm, and push the gas down pretty far. You will see the guage go to the right and a nice smooth pull up the hill. When you get used to full boost at lower rpms, start upping it more and more. For example take the next hill in at 3500rpm and floor it, etc. etc.

For the ultimate thrill, get the car out on an onramp to a highway. Get it in third and get the revs up to say 3000. Now floor it. This is where out cars trully shine. You will feel the rush that wrx drivers lust for and are jealous of.

Now if you do this in 2nd gear or 1st you will get to know our arch enemy, torque steer.
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Old 04-02-2006, 03:40 PM   #3
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Turbos are different from say an NA or supercharger for one main reason.. Spool. When accelerating, the power is "coming" and is there after a short amount of time.

Its always a blast going from a NA to a stock turbocharged car. Going from NA to an extremely modified forced induced car will make you seen tunnel vision.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:35 PM   #4
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Stromer, it's still an automagic. But you remember that crazy-ass hill near my house, right? With my other autobox, I had to drop it from "drive" to "3" to make it up the hill. It was fun. Sorta. So that's been my habit for a good five years now.

I had encountered a slight bit of what might be torque steer-- the wheel jerks a bit, and the car moves in a direction it's not supposed to? This happened a little even when going straight after the box switched gears... I'm sure it won't be a problem once I'm used to it, but I'm accustomed to cars with little to no power.


Ced... it was DEFINITELY a blast just driving it from the dealership to work and back (10 miles round trip)... I wouldn't have brought it home that night if it wasn't I figure that now that I own it, I should probably learn how to use it... this is the HOT model, too, I think if I started with the LPT and just worked my way up to the HOT I might not feel so nervous?

I just don't want to fuck up my car.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:40 PM   #5
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yea, the little "jerk" you felt was torque steer, and it DOES happen in an automagic. only advice i can give you is to not got WOT from a stop. get it rolling before you go WOT and the torque steer is somewhat managable. but other than that, there isnt too much to look out for when driving a turbo other than when you go WOT, get ready for a nice kick in the ass when the turbo spools and kicks in....you're gonna love it!

some people will tell you that after you go on a long drive (AKA driving to Carlisile) to let your car run for a couple minutes to let the turbo cool, which i heard is pointles because the turbo is oil cooled, but i dont see it being a bad idea.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:51 PM   #6
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Oops, that was another one of those questions I meant to ask... cooling the turbo.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:03 PM   #7
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no I would let it idle like that a little. You are right that it is not as big of a deal as if the turbo was only coolant cooled. This is why a turbo timer is less useful on our cars than so many others.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:15 PM   #8
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Things you will notice:

1. the compression ratio on a turbo car is lower than that of the NA. So you're slower off the line from a standing start until the turbo kicks in.
The turbo starts to kick in around 2200 rpm.

2. the turbo works only under engine load. Try revving the engine in neutral to a high rpm and you'd hardly see the needle move. Do the same rpm under load and you'll see the difference.

3. Not flooring the pedal will only give you partial boost. To get full boost you have to keep the 'pedal to the metal'. Note that bunched-up carpet under the pedal *may* prevent you from reaching full boost...

4. There is a slight delay from the time you floor the pedal before the car reacts. This is because the exhaust gases spinning the turbine need to overcome the inertia of the turbine (turbo lag), then the turbine has to bring the boost up to where it should be (boost lag). After driving the car for a while, you'll learn to anticipate when to floor it..

Now go out and have fun learning...
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:15 PM   #9
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Well - you picked a great time to buy your first turbo, you wont have to deal with snow until next winter so youll have plenty of time to get used to the turbo. Boost is really important to keep in mind when your in the snow - as great as Saabs are in the snow (and they really are amazing) if your not careful with your throttle inputs - its super easy to break loose even with the best of snow tires. I find myself stomping on it in fifth on the highway, even in very lite snow conditions and some wet conditions, and my tires will break loose.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:16 PM   #10
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So just, like, coasting down the hill to the house should be sufficient to let the turbo cool, I assume? ...the driveway is up a hill too, shit.

What are the potential consequences of not allowing the turbo sufficient time to cool?
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:18 PM   #11
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The science involved in this is... overwhelming. I liked getting in, being able to floor it straight away, and being able to kill the engine as I coasted into my parking spot. Oh well. I hope the trade-off is worth it, and doesn't involve trees or cracked bumpers.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:19 PM   #12
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Its not like you have to let it cool for 30 minutes after youve been driving - but yea a coast down a hill, and even up a driveway is sufficient to cool it down. Youll get used to it, and see what Im talking about, but you can drive just about anywhere (slow speeds obviously) off boost - up hills, on the highway, through the snow...

I always sit in mine for a minute or two before I shut it down - turn down my radio, shut off my ipod, grab my bags or whatever and then shut it off when Im done my routie , its reall not a hassle and you would truly have to work at blowing the turbo in a stock car - even in a modded car for that matter, by hot shut downs and cold runs.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by escalator guru
The science involved in this is... overwhelming. I liked getting in, being able to floor it straight away, and being able to kill the engine as I coasted into my parking spot. Oh well. I hope the trade-off is worth it, and doesn't involve trees or cracked bumpers.
haha it will be worth it, and when you have the car for a little but longer the science of it will turn into common sense.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:27 PM   #14
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yea, dont worry at all about the turbo cooling, like some1 said, itd be hard to blow a stock turbo just for not letting it cool down
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Old 04-02-2006, 06:39 PM   #15
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This is my routine with my 9-3, although it has the puny GT17 which seems to lose seals more often than the TD04 from reading the boards.

Start it, idle it for 15-30 seconds, then pull off. Don't put the turbo gauge above the white arc until the water temperature is in the middle of the range (horizontal). Even then I usually don't floor it for a few more minutes to let the oil get a bit warmer. Then I let it rip.

Try to coast for a bit before pulling into the driveway (usually 1/2 to 1/4 mile out) staying within the white arc if you need power. Idle for 30 - 60 seconds then shut off. Smile.

The turbo hasn't smoked yet and it's been 40000 miles since the CPO kicked in and replaced it right after I bought it, I think the PO may not have followed my advice.

Paul
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Old 04-03-2006, 06:02 AM   #16
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first off let me clarify on some points above about how turbos are cooled.

All turbos are oil cooled. the oil also is the lubricant that allows the turbing to sping at speeds in excess of 100,000rpm. Most newer turbochargers, ours included are water cooled as well. Being water cooled is a big advantage, as it greatly extends turbo life, while making it easier on the driver as far as shut down goes.

Coasting for the last 1/2 mile is far better than just letting it idle, becasue as you are mooving there is air passing over the turbo helping to keep it cool, just idling all you have is the coolant and oil circulating through it. Basically you just want to stay off boost before shutting it down, becasue that turbine could be spinning at 100,000rpm and if looses oilk supply while it is still spinning this fast it will coke the oil in the turbo. This is where you run into problems.

so you'll be fine, just coast for 30 seconds and shut her down. I you really beat on the car and your on boost till you get parked, then you can let it idle for 30 seconds or so. BUt lets put it this way. I have 97k miles on my litte girl turbo of a T25 running at around 16psi. I hardly ever let the thing idle (I just coast) and who knows what the previous owner did. I have absolutely no Shaft place what-so-ever. Also both PaulH and Delorean will tell you the same thing about this. For example last weak I took a ride in Deloreans SPG going 125mph, we pulled into pauls Driveway and pretty much shut the car down, and then proceded to set stuff on fire using the exhuast manifold
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Old 04-03-2006, 06:06 AM   #17
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since we have the same car....

let me tell you I have found if you pin tyhe pedal to the floor, it almost seems like you get slightly less acceleration/smoother power than at say 3/4 - 7/8 throttle. strange thing I have noticed. (on stock ECU maybe this is a difference between fuel maps for WOT and part throttle, difference between closed and open loop engine management controls or something????)

yes, the lag is fun to get used to... slam the pedal, nothing, then BOOM!

and you don't need to manually shift down to climb hills, just drop your right foot.
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