Turbo Lag, and Turbo Spool. This is How You Can Prevent it

If you’re new to owning a turbocharged vehicle, two terms you’re going to have to get used to are turbo lag and turbo spool. But while these two terms often get used in the same conversation, they’re completely different things.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about both terms and give you some helpful tips on how you can reduce both, but chances are you’ll only want to reduce one! Don’t believe us? Just keep reading. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. What's Turbo Lag and How Does It Work?
  2. What can you do to reduce turbo lag?
    1. 1. Downsize Your Exhaust Downpipe
    2. 2. Upgrading Your Blow-Off Valve
    3. 3. Install an Intercooler Upgrade
  3. Turbo Spool: What's it all about?
  4. Summary

What's Turbo Lag and How Does It Work?

Turbo lag is the time delay between pressing the accelerator and when your turbo kicks in to add more air to your engine.

A quick explanation of how turbos work is necessary in order to understand why there's turbo lag. An exhaust impeller extracts energy from your exhaust and transfers it into pressure to the intake pipes. The extra air boosts the power your car can generate.

But since it is quite a big area to build pressure into the intake pipes, it takes a little time to give you the power output you’re looking for. Turbo lag is the term for this lag.

What can you do to reduce turbo lag?

Turbo Spool

While you might be thinking you can’t reduce turbo lag since you’re dependent on the vehicle increasing the amount of exhaust before it can effectively use it, you’d be wrong. While it’s impossible to eliminate turbo lag completely, it’s not impossible to reduce it.

That’s because your turbo system isn’t 100 percent efficient, and the more efficient you make it, the less turbo lag you’ll have. Below we’ve highlighted three different ways you can reduce turbo lag.

1. Downsize Your Exhaust Downpipe

If you’re decreasing your exhausts downpipe, you’re going to decrease your turbo lag, but the tradeoff is that you’re going to reduce your top-end horsepower too. That’s because a smaller downpipe increases the speed of the exhaust, which increases your turbo spooling.

Although this speeds up the turbo's ability to spin, it decreases airflow which in turn reduces its effectiveness. You’ll have to find a balance somewhere, but if you have an excessive amount of turbo lag, this can be an effective way to reduce it.

2. Upgrading Your Blow-Off Valve

Your turbo's effectiveness can be improved by upgrading your blow-off valve. You will have a faster unit and less turbo lag.

Your blow-off valve might make more noise. This might not be a big deal to you, but just know that it’s a possibility. This isn't going to work as well as reducing your exhaust downpipe.

3. Install an Intercooler Upgrade

The shorter the distance between your exhaust and your turbo, the less turbo lag you’ll have. Some units prioritize the shortest possible pipes over everything else, and if you opt for one of these units, you’ll reduce the amount of turbo lag that you’ll have.

Just know that while there are no downsides to upgrading your intercooler and piping, you’re not likely to see significant results when it comes to turbo lag. Instead, you’ll shave hundredths to tenths of a second off your turbo lag time.

Turbo Spool: What's it all about?


Turbo spool refers to the amount of time that it takes for the turbo to reach full pressure. As you might figure out, it is therefore very different compared to the turbo lag – the turbo lag is when you press the accelerator pedal until it starts creating power.

The size of both the turbocharger and engine determines the turbo spool. You can increase it by adding things like an upgraded turbo impeller.


You need to know the difference between turbo lag and turbo speed if your turbo-charged vehicle is turbocharged.

The good news is that if you’re looking to reduce turbo lag, you have a few options, just know that you’re never going to eliminate it.

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