Engine

How Much Boost Can A Stock Engine Take Before Blowing Itself To Pieces?

As more cars get turbocharged, it’s important to learn what an engine’s limits are.

Fuel, air, spark. These are the three ingredients our species has harnessed inside of precision-crafted metal blocks to mobilize an entire society and when possible, get some fun out of life. That technology didn’t come easy. The beginning was all about trial and error, and failure usually meant a spectacular explosion—a rod tearing off the crankshaft and being shot thorough the oil pan for example. Thanks to engineers who know what they’re doing, that isn’t as frequent an occurrence nowadays.

When it does happen it’s usually because knuckleheads like these guys, Motor Trend’s Engine Masters, get ahold of a stock motor and attempt to push its limits. Thanks to curiosity, the lifeblood of the scientific process, this episode of Engine Masters is dedicated to seeing how far a motor can be boosted before it goes out in a dramatic fashion.

Last time the crew played around with a stock engine, they tried to see how much nitrous it could be fed before exploding. This experiment, however, is more important than that. At a time where automakers are boosting every block they can get their hands on, it’s important to see how the increased taxation affects reliability. Not that the next EcoBoost engine you see is going to fail spectacularly, but seeing where a stock engine’s limits lie can either deliver some assurance or raise fears about the industry’s current state of affairs. To avoid being total sadists, Engine Masters sets a grace period of 750 horsepower at which point they promise to stop adding boost. Suffice it to say, this shouldn’t be tried at home.

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