Unlocking Hidden Power: Transforming Your Non-Turbo Subaru with Turbocharging

Are you a Subaru owner yearning for that extra kick of power? Do you dream of turning your non-turbo Subaru into a formidable force on the road? Look no further, because we’re about to delve into the exciting world of turbocharging and explore how you can transform your beloved Subaru into a turbocharged beast. Strap in and let’s rev up our engines!


Subaru has built a reputation for producing reliable and capable vehicles that capture the hearts of car enthusiasts worldwide. However, some Subaru owners crave even more power under their hood. While purchasing a turbocharged Subaru model is an option, an alternative path awaits those who dare to embrace the challenge of turbocharging a non-turbo Subaru.

Turbocharging 101: The Power Unleashed

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let’s briefly explore turbocharging and its advantages. In essence, a turbocharger is a forced induction system that uses exhaust gases to drive a turbine, which in turn compresses the intake air. By forcing more air into the engine, turbocharging increases the power output, providing exhilarating acceleration and enhanced performance.

The allure of turbocharging lies in the boost of power it brings to your Subaru. Not only does it provide a significant increase in horsepower and torque, but it also delivers improved throttle response and overall drivability. With a turbocharged Subaru, you’ll experience a surge of adrenaline as you carve through corners and leave others in your rearview mirror.

Turbocharged vs. Non-Turbo Subaru: Knowing the Differences

Understanding the key distinctions between turbocharged and non-turbo Subaru models is crucial to embark on the turbocharging journey. Turbo models are specifically designed with stronger internals, reinforced transmissions, and larger fuel systems to handle the additional power generated by the turbocharger. Non-turbo Subarus lack these essential components, making a turbo conversion a more intricate and involved process.

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The Challenges and Considerations

Converting a non-turbo Subaru requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind before diving into the turbocharging process:

1. Engine Compatibility

Not all Subaru engines are suitable candidates for turbocharging. It’s essential to research and identify which engines are compatible with the turbocharger you wish to install. Matching the engine’s internals, such as pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft, with the desired turbo setup is crucial for a successful conversion.

2. Reinforcing the Drivetrain

Turbocharging significantly increases the strain on the drivetrain components, including the transmission, differential, and axles. Reinforcing these components is essential to handle the added power and torque, ensuring the longevity and reliability of your Subaru.

3. Fuel System and Tuning

To accommodate the increased air and fuel demands of a turbocharged engine, a robust fuel system upgrade is necessary. This usually involves larger injectors, a high-flow fuel pump, and a well-mapped engine management tune. These modifications work in harmony to optimize the air-fuel ratio and maximize the performance gains.

4. Cooling System Enhancements

More power means more heat, and keeping your turbocharged Subaru cool is paramount for its longevity and performance. Upgrading the radiator, intercooler, and oil cooler is vital to dissipate the increased heat generated by the turbocharger and maintain optimal operating temperatures.

5. Upgraded Exhaust System

The turbocharging process necessitates modifications to the exhaust system. A turbo-back or cat-back exhaust system with larger diameter piping and a performance-oriented muffler allows for better exhaust flow, reducing back pressure and improving overall performance.

Required Modifications and Components

To successfully turbocharge your non-turbo Subaru, you will need a comprehensive list of components and modifications. Here are some of the key items required:

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Component Description
Turbocharger Matched to your engine’s compatibility and power requirements
Intercooler Cools the compressed intake air before it enters the engine
Turbo Manifold Connects the turbocharger to the engine
Downpipe Channels exhaust gases from the turbocharger to the exhaust
Boost Control System Regulates the desired boost pressure during driving
Fuel Injectors Higher-flow injectors to supply the required fuel
Fuel Pump High-flow pump to meet the increased fuel demands
Engine Management A tune to optimize the engine’s performance and reliability

It’s crucial to consult with professionals and experienced tuners when selecting the components to ensure compatibility and reliability.

The Power Unleashed: Performance Gains and Limitations

Once your non-turbo Subaru is transformed into a force-inducted machine, exhilarating performance gains await. The increased horsepower and torque will deliver blistering acceleration and improved passing prowess. Your Subaru will surge forward with newfound vigor, satisfying your need for speed.

However, it’s important to note that every modification has its limitations. Pushing the limits too far without considering the engine’s capabilities can result in potential reliability issues. It’s crucial to strike a balance between performance and reliability, ensuring your turbocharged Subaru remains a reliable daily driver.

Tuning Options and Aftermarket Support

When it comes to tuning a turbocharged Subaru, the aftermarket support is vast. Reputable tuning companies offer engine management solutions tailored specifically for turbocharged setups, allowing you to optimize your Subaru’s performance while maintaining reliability.

From custom tunes to off-the-shelf solutions, the tuning options are plentiful. Whether you prefer to fine-tune every aspect yourself or seek the assistance of a professional tuner, the tuning world offers endless possibilities to extract every ounce of performance from your turbocharged Subaru.

Cost Implications and Considerations

Transforming a non-turbo Subaru into a turbocharged powerhouse comes with its share of costs and considerations. While the specific expenses can vary depending on the chosen components and whether you seek professional assistance, it’s crucial to budget for the following:

  • Turbocharger and associated components
  • Reinforcement of drivetrain components
  • Fuel system upgrades
  • Cooling system enhancements
  • Exhaust system modifications
  • Engine management solution and tuning
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It’s important to research and evaluate your budget and expectations, as the costs can quickly add up. Remember to allocate sufficient funds for professional installation, tuning, and potential unforeseen expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can any Subaru be turbocharged?
A: Not every Subaru engine is compatible with turbocharging. Research and identifying the suitable engine and turbocharger combination is essential for a successful conversion.

Q: How much horsepower can I gain from turbocharging my non-turbo Subaru?
A: The horsepower gains can vary depending on the specific turbocharger, engine, and supporting modifications. However, it’s not uncommon to see power increases ranging from 50 to 100+ horsepower with proper tuning and supporting modifications.

Q: Can I turbocharge my Subaru without professional help?
A: Turbocharging a Subaru is a complex process that requires extensive knowledge and experience. While some enthusiasts may possess the necessary skills, it’s highly recommended to seek professional expertise for a successful and reliable turbo conversion.

Q: Will turbocharging my Subaru void the warranty?
A: Yes, turbocharging your Subaru will typically void its original warranty. It’s essential to understand the implications and potential risks before proceeding with the conversion.


Turbocharging your non-turbo Subaru is a thrilling endeavor that can transform your vehicle into a performance-oriented powerhouse. The increased power, acceleration, and overall driving experience will leave a smile on your face every time you hit the gas pedal. However, it’s important to approach the process with knowledge, careful planning, and professional assistance to ensure a successful and reliable outcome. So, if you’re ready to unlock the hidden power lurking within your Subaru, embark on the turbocharging journey and witness the true potential of your beloved Subaru.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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