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1997-2017 Ford F150 Turbochargers and Accessories Explained

1997-2017 Ford F150 Turbochargers and Accessories Explained

Boost is a massive trend sweeping across the entire world of both truck and car owners. With F150s standing strong as the number one truck in America, it’s only natural they’d be subject to this type of modification. EcoBoost models arrived from the factory already equipped with a turbocharger, so it’s natural for Ford owners to follow this trend. To help you get started with your boost build for your F150 we’re going to take a look at what the aftermarket has to offer to help you better understand why this mod is perfect for you, and how you can make this happen.

Shop F150 Turbocharger Kits

Adding a turbo to your F150 is a great way to pick up your truck's response time. With the freedom and flexibility to mix and match the perfect combination of components for your ideal set up, this modification can be a satisfying project. Add a turbo to your truck and boost your performance to a new level.

Shop Turbocharger Kits

Turbocharger Kits

Turbochargers look and work almost exactly like a centrifugal supercharger. In fact, they are basically a variation of this supercharger. The difference is a centrifugal supercharger works off of the F150’s belt-drive to turn the turbine within and a turbocharger works by using exhaust gases to turn the turbine and create boost. 
The benefits of a turbocharger are as follows:

  • Increased peak horse power
  • Increased torque
  • No parasitic drag on the engine

This type of modification isn’t particular to any Ford F150, so regardless of the year of your truck, the aftermarket has something to offer. With that in mind it’s important to know each truck may require different modifications to the entire system.

These kits work off the exhaust system, so the exhaust will need to be modified to install this unit. For 2009 and newer F150s, instead of just grabbing a turbocharger and being left to figure out the rest, an entire exhaust system is a part of the kit which makes your life easier. For 1997-2008 trucks, you will have to get a little bit creative.

The bright side is it leaves you with an open canvas to do whatever you see fit with any sized turbo you want. 

A unique advantage turbochargers have over centrifugal superchargers is you can add multiple units with ease. In a V6 or V8 engine you have two exhaust manifolds and each one can be modified to accept a turbocharger to itself. This means you can build up more boost, and your truck will perform that much better. 

Intercoolers

Added power is added heat. Extreme heat can cause serious and even catastrophic issues for a boosted engine. Intercoolers and turbochargers go together hand in hand for multiple reasons. Heat control to prevent disaster is one of these benefits, but added power is another.

An intercooler is used to cool air as it is pushed along from the turbo to the engine. Doing this not only cools the air down, but condenses it as well. Condensing the air means more can be squeezed into the engine. This in turn means more oxygen can be burned and more power can be made. This kit works much like a radiator and even would appear as such. Installing them does mean you must get a bit creative when it comes to finding the right mounting place in your engine bay, but the results to come are well worth it. 

There are two types of intercoolers. Air-to-air, and air-to-liquid.  Both work to cool air down as it passes through the intake and into the engine. The difference is how they cool the air down. 

Air-to-air intercoolers use air to cool the system. They are simple in the design, and set up is very easy. The only set back is they have a low efficiency, and this could mean they will need to be large in size. Air-to-water intercoolers work to pump water through the intercooler in order to cool the air.

The efficiency is much higher with these types of intercoolers. They can be much more complex in design making for a more difficult setup. However, they can also be much smaller. 


Transmission Cooler with Electric Fan

Blow-Off Valves

Boost is a measurement of compressed air. Compressed air is a bit hard to manage at points and it’s important that it’s under control at all times; this is especially true with mechanical components.

A point of concern is when something known as “compressor surge” takes place. As the engine revs up it builds boost. Quickly letting off the throttle and closing the throttle plate causes this boost to suddenly meet resistance from the engine sending it back through the turbo itself. This can be dangerous as it’s a sure way to destroy the turbo itself. 

A blow off valve is how you can get a handle on this surge. It acts as a release to send that surge out of the engine and turbos entirely. This not only saves your F150 from destruction, it also makes a ridiculously cool noise. The only drawback is they’re not exactly street legal and should be used for track trucks only. 


Blow Off Valve Installed

Boost Controllers

Since control is so important and blow-off valves are illegal we need to find another way for daily drivers. Luckily boost controllers are available. Boost controllers are available in both mechanical and electrical versions. They work to basically put a cap on how much boost is produced by the turbocharger.

If you’re under the impression more boost is always better, you may be a bit surprised that anyone would want to put a cap on it. A turbocharger is going to want to build up as much boost as possible and this can be dangerous to mechanical components.

Namely the stock bottom end of any F150 isn’t exactly built to handle an extreme amount of boost. Throwing too much at it can cause failure in the rotating assembly and make for a bad day.

Tunability is another reason to consider adding a boost controller. Air being added is great, but fuel is also key to the recipe for horsepower.

Too much or too little of either makes for a lean or rich combo and can be detrimental to your truck's performance. You need to be able to dial each factor in just right and a boost controller is the way to do that with turbocharged applications.

The Right Boost For You

Boost can be addicting, and in a world where 2000 horsepower seems to be normal, it’s important to understand you really don’t need that much to make your truck fast. People throw numbers around like 30 pounds like it’s nothing.

The reality is, for the street, 5-7 pounds is perfect on a daily driver that you’re looking to hop up a bit. If you need more, 8-10 pounds is optimal for a street performer truck.

Anything higher and you’re going to be looking at seriously modifying the engine’s valvetrain and bottom end to handle the boost. This means forged internals like the pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft will be a must. The proper camshaft and valve springs also will need to be installed to contain all of that pressure. It’s likely anything of this nature will spend the majority of its life on the racetrack.

What is Water-Meth Injection?

Water-meth injection is a modification to turbochargers for anyone looking for that extra edge. It works on almost the same principle as an intercooler, but achieves the goal of reduced air temperature in a different manner. A combination of water and methonal is introduced directly into the engine.

This not only absorbs heat energy in the surrounding molecules, it also directly introduces more oxygen to the engine. This happens when the fuel mixture is being compressed. The water and methanol can no longer exist as a liquid and is changed into a gas. The oxygen in the water can now be burned which means more power. It’s a pretty amazing concept and is a surefire way to increase performance.


Water-Meth Injection Kit Installed
Fitment includes: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, XL, XLT, Lariat, Lightning, KingRanch, HarleyDavidson, STX, FX2, FX4, Limited, SVTRaptor, Platinum, FXTremor