When it comes to maximizing performance and ensuring the longevity of a turbocharged engine, heat management plays a crucial role. In the pursuit of enhancing turbo performance and longevity, the use of a turbo blanket and downpipe sleeves has become a popular topic among diesel (and automotive) enthusiasts.
However, questions surrounding their effectiveness and potential impact on turbo health have left many truck owners confused as to whether these coverings are a good idea. We decided to delve into the discussion drawing insights from a reputable shop to shed some light on the benefits and potential drawbacks of utilizing turbo blankets and downpipe sleeves on street trucks.
The Turbo Blanket Debate
Turbo blankets are designed to enclose the turbocharger housing and act as a thermal barrier that retains heat within the turbo assembly. Proponents argue that by keeping the heat concentrated within the turbo, exhaust gas energy is better utilized, resulting in improved turbo spool-up and reduced turbo lag. Moreover, they claim that retaining heat within the turbo assembly can lead to increased overall turbo efficiency.
To explore this topic further, we turned to the experts at Design Engineering (DEI), renowned for their expertise in thermal management solutions. According to their research, properly designed and installed turbo blankets can indeed provide benefits. By reducing heat soak and heat transfer to surrounding components, turbo blankets can help maintain cooler underhood temperatures. This leads to improved intake air temperature and potentially increased power output. DEI emphasizes that the key lies in selecting a high-quality, heat-resistant material and ensuring proper fitment to avoid interference with other engine components.
The Potential Impact on Turbo Health
A common concern regarding turbo blankets is whether they can cause harm by retaining excessive heat which can affect bearing life. To address this issue, DEI states that their turbo blankets are engineered to provide sufficient insulation while allowing for the dissipation of excess heat. Proper installation ensures the turbocharger operates within its optimal temperature range, avoiding any potential damage caused by excessive heat buildup.
Insights from a Reputable Shop
To gather real-world perspectives, we reached out to a trusted shop that has experience working with street trucks. According to their input, turbo blankets and downpipe sleeves are rarely seen on street trucks due to several factors. While acknowledging the potential benefits of improved performance and heat management, they emphasized that the gains may be marginal for daily-driven vehicles. Additionally, they mentioned that proper heat shielding and turbo placement in modern truck designs has reduced the need for aftermarket heat management solutions in many cases. However, reducing heat underneath your hood is still a definite benefit.
Power Driven Diesel’s Real-World Testing
A few years back, one of the industry’s largest mechanical diesel performance shops, Power Driven Diesel (PPD) questioned this same thing. As you would expect, they tried a before and after test on the dyno. In their testing, they were examining the impact of turbo blankets on performance. They equipped a Cummins-powered Ram with a Garrett Turbo GT42 turbo. The evaluation involves two dyno tests: one without a turbo blanket and the other with the blanket.
Dyno Test 1 – No Turbo Blanket: During the first test, they treated the truck as if it were stock. They mentioned that the turbo had a large turbine wheel which would result in an approximate spool up at 2,200 rpm. Starting the pull at 1,500 rpm and ending it at 3,000 rpm, the truck made 482 horsepower and 996 lb-ft torque.
Dyno Test 2 – Turbo Blanket On: The second test involved the same setup, but this time with the turbo blanket installed. They once again performed the pull from 1,500 rpm to 3,000 rpm to determine if the Garrett GT42 would spool up any faster with the blanket. After the second pull, the power output slightly decreased, registering 479 horsepower, and the torque output reached 953 lb-ft of torque. However, they mentioned the reduction can likely be attributed to minor variations in the dyno rather than the effect of the blanket.
With the blanket installed, however, peak torque occurred approximately 2 seconds earlier, at around 14.5 seconds. Without the turbo blanket, it took about 16.83 seconds to reach peak torque. This surprise finding suggests the turbo blanket might be a worthwhile investment for your truck. Power Driven’s initial expectations were different, and this result challenges their previous assumptions. Although the power output showed a minimal decrease with the turbo blanket, the faster spool-up time indicates that using turbo blankets could be beneficial for enhancing the overall performance of your truck.
What’s The Conclusion About A Turbo Blanket
The debate surrounding the use of turbo blankets and downpipe sleeves on street trucks reveals a nuanced perspective. While proponents argue for their potential benefits in improving turbo performance and heat management, real-world usage on street trucks remains relatively uncommon. Ultimately, the decision to employ these accessories should be based on individual preferences, intended usage, and the specific requirements of the vehicle.
Whether or not to utilize a turbo blanket and downpipe sleeves should be carefully considered, taking into account the reputation and quality of the product, professional installation, and the guidance of reputable experts. By weighing the potential advantages against the particular needs and constraints of your street truck, you can make an informed decision about whether these heat management solutions are right for you. One takeaway from this discussion, though, is we were given no downside to utilizing this technology.