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Are Semi Trucks Supercharged? (15 Interesting Facts)

Semi trucks are massive vehicles. They need extremely powerful and durable engines to power them through their relentless workloads.

What if semi trucks engines had superchargers though?

If you have ever wondered about having a supercharger on a semi truck engine, read on to find out more:

Here is a short summary as to Whether Semi Trucks are Supercharged:

There are semi trucks that are supercharged like the Peterbilt Thor24, but they are custom build. In general, semi trucks have turbochargers instead of superchargers. Although superchargers provide more horsepower, they have poor fuel efficiency, and they are more expensive to maintain and fix.

thor24 semi truck

What is a Supercharger?

A supercharger is a device that is often found on high-performance cars. The device acts as an air compressor for the internal combustion engine.

The supercharger increases the pressure of the air that is being supplied to the engine. The extra oxygen in the engine allows the fuel to burn significantly faster.

The faster the fuel burns, the harder the engine will work. At the end of the day, a supercharger will make the engine perform much better than normal.

Essentially it all comes down to more oxygen being injected into the engine, allowing it to burn fuel much faster and therefore work harder.

Do you get Semi Trucks that are Supercharged?

Superchargers are aftermarket modifications on semi trucks. This means that you most likely won’t buy one with a supercharger from a manufacturer.

The Thor24 semi truck is a custom-made Peterbilt truck that features 12 superchargers. This same truck sold for $12 million.

Check this cool video out on the Thor24:

Manufacturers generally prefer to use turbochargers as they provide better fuel efficiency. However, they do not have the same performance effect as superchargers due to turbo lag and spooling.

How do Superchargers Work on a Semi Truck?

Superchargers work on semi trucks in much the same way as they would on any other vehicle. Once the supercharger has been installed, it acts as a kind of air compressor.

The air that comes in through the engine feeds into the supercharger which builds up its compression. Even when idling, a supercharger can still inject around 10 psi of air into the engine.

The compressed air is forced into the engine. The combustion of the engine relies on oxygen and fuel. If there is more oxygen, the fuel burns faster. If there is more fuel, it burns slower.

The supercharger forces more air into the engine at high speeds, which causes the fuel to burn much faster than normal. This allows the engine to work harder and perform better.

How Much Power does a Supercharger Add to your Semi Truck?

A supercharger can provide a significant amount of power to your engine. In most cases, it can provide up to 50% extra power.

For example, if your semi truck’s engine can produce 600 horsepower, adding a supercharger to it can take that output up to 900 horsepower.

What is the Difference between a Supercharger and a Turbocharger?

Turbocharging and supercharging are both forms of forced induction and they both add more horsepower. However, there are some key differences between the two.

A turbocharger uses a turbine to produce compressed air. That is the key difference between the two elements.

However, the turbine on a turbocharger takes longer to spool up, and they generally require the engine to be running over 3000 rpm before the turbo begins to spool up.

The supercharger on the other hand can feed compressed air into the engine even the engine is idling. This means the supercharger is best for constant performance.

With the turbocharger taking extra time before it is able to kick in, it does affect the overall performance of the engine.

Superchargers provide the engine with more power. However, a turbocharger can be much more fuel-efficient than a supercharger.

Do you get Superchargers on both Diesel and Gasoline Semi Truck Engines?

Modern-day superchargers can be used on both diesel and gasoline-powered engines. However, they may be more effective on gasoline-powered engines.

This is because gasoline naturally burns faster than diesel, and therefore already provides more power in the first place.

Diesel is better for burning over longer periods of time, making it more focused on efficiency than pure power.

How do Superchargers affect a Semi Trucks Emissions?

Superchargers may offer more power; however, they do not have wastegates, which means they produce more smog. This makes them worse for the environment.

In addition, they can also lower the fuel efficiency of your engine by up to 20%. This is the main reason why they are not often used in semi trucks.

Are Superchargers in a Semi Truck Efficient?

Superchargers make engines around 20% less fuel-efficient. This can be worrying for most semi truck owners and drivers as it drives up their fuel costs.

The supercharger is also operated by the engine, so it can use up to 20% of the engine’s energy. This could shorten the overall lifespan of the engine.

Are Superchargers Better than Turbos in a Semi Truck?

In most cases, semi truck owners prefer to use turbochargers. This is purely due to the fuel-saving capabilities and the improved fuel efficiency.

The turbocharger may take longer to charge up, however, it still provides the engine with a significant power boost.

However, if you need power throughout the entire rev range on a semi truck, a supercharger is the best choice. This could be helpful when towing heavy cargo.

What are the Typical Problems associated with a Supercharger?

Superchargers are known for having some drawbacks. The first is that they significantly reduce the efficiency of the engine, and they can cost you a lot of fuel.

Superchargers are also known to have a short lifespan. They might struggle to make it more than 10,000 miles in most cases, especially if they work hard.

Superchargers can also become overworked, this is called over-boosting. Over boosting is when the supercharger begins to blow hot air into the engine, which could lead to engine damage and overheating.

Superchargers add extra working parts to the engine. This means that there is also more that could go wrong and lead to extra maintenance.

Are Semi Truck Superchargers Expensive to Fix?

Due to superchargers being relatively expensive parts that take a lot of strain, they can be quite expensive to repair.

The parts required to repair a supercharger can add up to around $2,600 while the labor costs for getting the job done can add up to around $500.

This makes them difficult to use since they have a relatively short lifespan, especially when considering the high work rates found in semi trucks.

Why are Superchargers not Common in Semi Trucks?

There are several reasons why superchargers are not commonly found in semi trucks. The first is that they reduce the engine’s fuel efficiency.

Many semi trucks are used to haul cargo over long distances, and reducing the fuel efficiency of the engine is counterproductive.

Superchargers are also not commonly found in semi trucks because they are high-maintenance parts, which do not have long lifespans.

In addition, when a supercharger fails or needs to be repaired, the costs involved with maintaining the supercharger are extremely high.

Instead, most semi trucks use turbochargers which have the same effect, but as more durable and improve engine efficiency.

Can you add a Supercharger to your Semi Truck?

Superchargers are bolt-on, plug-and-play type of devices. They can be added to just about any engine if you have the technical skills and know your way around an engine.

It’s highly recommended to hire an engine expert to help you with this process, as doing it incorrectly could cause damage to your engine.

There are several online stores that sell superchargers for semi trucks. It is advised to shop around and find the best possible price. Always remember to check the reviews to see if the product is worth investing in.

Which Semi Trucks have Superchargers?

Most semi trucks are equipped with turbochargers. However, there is one stand-out semi truck that makes use of superchargers to power its engine.

The Thor is a custom-built Peterbilt semi truck that is equipped with multiple superchargers. The engine is capable of producing 3400 horsepower, and the truck sold for $12 million.

Should you Buy a Semi Truck with a Supercharger?

Turbochargers are recommended over superchargers when it comes to semi trucks. However, there can be some exceptions to this rule.

If your semi truck will not be going long distances, but will instead be a workhorse, hauling heavy cargo over short distances, superchargers could be the answer.

This is because superchargers provide extra power all of the time, as opposed to turbos which only produce extra power within the specified rev ranges when the turbine spools up.

Having a supercharger will allow your truck to extract extra power from the engine even at lower revs.