Boost Gauge

For many people, automobiles are simply a way to get from point A to point B. They need them for work, shopping, going out and visiting friends. These people generally maintain safe speeds, wash the car periodically, and of course, make sure to get routine maintenance like oil changes and other preventative care. For other people though, cars are not just vehicles to get them from one place to another, but fetish like objects which they revere, upgrade and customize in order to make them into something more than a utilitarian object. For these people, who you may see driving cars with souped up engines, flashy, complicated paint jobs and dashboards full of interesting instrument panels, cars are not just a way to get from point A to point B, they are a way to show their personalities and drive with authority and style.

Car enthusiasts who choose to upgrade or customize their cars use many different instruments. One of those instruments it he boost gauge. Basically, a boost gauge is a pressure gauge in a car that indicates manifold air pressure in the car's internal combustion engine. Manifold air pressure is often referred to by these car aficionados as turbocharger or supercharger boost pressure, hence the name boost gauge. Boost gauges are part of the complicated instrument panel on the dashboard, and are often mounted on the driver's side or even in a radio slot. Yes, car performance enthusiasts often give up a radio slot in order to tweak their car's performance. For the average driver who uses the car's radio or CD player to get through a nerve wracking commute, this may seem unbelievable. But for car modifiers, precise instruments such as boost gauges are worth what they consider to be a small loss.

So what are turbochargers and superchargers? Are they the same thing? And why are they so important to car modification enthusiasts? While not exactly the same thing, turbochargers and superchargers are both engine driven air compressors. The turbocharger is an exhaust-driven air compressor while the supercharger is a mechanically-driven air compressor. When either is installed in a car, it provides "boost" (hence the necessity for a boost gauge.) The amount of boost provided varies according to engine rpm, load, and other factors. Now, for drivers who use turbocharging and supercharging it is very important to keep an eye on the amount of boost given, which necessitates the boost gauge. Just like other drivers may keep an eye on their engine's rpms, performance drivers keep a close eye on their boost gauges.

The reason performance drivers keep an eye on their boost gauges is to make sure that too much pressure is not being generated. Excessive pressure can cause problems, up to and including wrecks. Also, in some types of racing, the amount of boost allowed is regulated. Allowing too much turbocharging or supercharging is considered cheating and can come with disqualification, fines and, in street racing, even stiffer penalties.

Boost gauges measure manifold air pressure (or supercharger or turbocharger boost pressure) in pounds per square inch (otherwise known as psi.) They usually have a range of 0-30 psi. Some boost gauges also measure manifold vacuum pressure before boost. This means that they could actually be called vacuum boost gauges if one were inclined to quibble over semantics. It is, of course, to measure boost if you plan on supercharging or turbocharging your engine, because it is quite possible that if you let too much air into the engine, it is quite possible that the engine won't be able to handle and then you will have a real life automotive problem on your hands.

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