Making An Ebay Turbo Kit "Better"

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So you've decided to give boost a shot, but you have absolutely no idea where to start. Should I just buy a turbo kit, or piece together a kit of my own? and if i do, what parts can i buy without breaking the bank? Well, hopefully, the rest of this blog helps you figure that out. 

First things first. What are your Horsepower goals?

This 1 question is what can turn your build from a budget based, street setup to a down payment on a house worth of performance parts. So be wise. In this article ill be focusing on the budget minded individual. 

Ebay kit?

Ehh, they can work, and they are definitely cheap but the quality is lacking. The turbos that come with most of these Chinese kits aren't that great. While they can last at a low boost setting they almost always seem to fail once you start upping the psi. Not to mention some of these kits dont even fit right. But, there are a few "Ebay" parts that you can get away with. Such as:

  • Intercoolers
  • Intercooler piping (the piping itself will work just know you will most likely have to modify it, for this its almost better to buy piping that fits off the bat)
  • Casted turbo manifolds (may not be great quality but they last surprisingly, oh and be really careful about the "eBay special" tubular manifolds unless they are a schedule 40 thickness)
  • Couplers
  • Clamps
  • Fittings
  • Lines
  • Hardware (bolts, nuts etc)

The parts you still need are:

  • Turbo
  • Wastegate
  • Good gaskets (the china made multilayer bs, will not cut it)
  • Downpipe (s)
  • Intake filter 
  • Bov

Let's go a little more in depth as to why some of the above "eBay special" parts can work.

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eBay Intercoolers: These intercoolers are by no means "quality," that being said they do the job. They don't leak, and they cool the hot air from the turbo. Their efficiency isn't great but for a budget based kit, there are a few sacrifices. 

eBay Intercooler piping:  the piping that comes with these kits is just a bunch of straights and random 90's. you can probably make it work with a little cutting, BUT I highly recommend finding someone that can tig weld aluminum. Or just buy an intercooler piping kit designed for your vehicle.

Another option for a budget based intercooler piping setup is to buy steel or stainless steel piping, it doesn't shed heat as well but it's much easier to work with, and you can find people to weld steel so much easier than finding people that can properly weld aluminum.

eBay turbo manifolds: DO NOT BUY THE THIN TUBULAR MANIFOLDS!!  At absolute minimum go with schedule 10 thickness, but schedule 40 thickness china manifolds are preferred. The thin tubular manifolds will work briefly, but they crack ALL THE TIME. The best option is to find a cast manifold(s) for your engine, as the casted manifolds are much more durable. If you can't find a casted manifold for your vehicle, look for a thick wall tubular manifold. These manifolds are still prone to cracking but they can last for quite a while before you get to that point. 

Couplers: The cheap silicone couplers on eBay will work, but you have to realize they are normally 2 or 3 plies, so they will not hold a ton of boost, and are prone to being punctured easily. Your best option is to find 4ply reinforced coupler(s) and going that route. 

Clamps:  not much to say about these, they are clamps, even the cheap ones work. A T-bolt clamp is your best bet but honestly as long as it clamps..

Fittings & Lines: The main thing when buying cheap fittings and lines is to make sure you have the right size feed and return lines for your application. Other then that just make sure that everything is sealed and tight. Also, NPT fittings are your best friend, they have a tapered thread which allows for a better seal. 

Hardware: Bolts and nuts. It's pretty self-explanatory. The Chinese hardware is surprisingly durable.

 

The Parts You Don't Cheap Out On:

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Turbo: I highly recommend you don't buy a 150-250 dollar "eBay special" turbo, they just aren't worth it especially when you have turbo companies like Borg Warner, Holset, and on3 out there. Plus most of the china turbos out there aren't balanced correctly and have issues above 12 psi.

Borg Warner turbos: Borg Warner has some of the highest quality turbos on the market, they are up there with the likes of Garrett Turbos. The cool thing about Borg warner though, is that they have SUPER bang for your buck journal turbos. like the Borg Warner 177275 sx300sx3 which is a turbo rated up to nearly 800hp for low $600. It's not going to spool up as fast as something like a Garrett GTX3576R GEN 2's but hey it's a third of the price.

Holset Turbos: Holset turbos have been around for quite a while, and they are one of the more popular choices for budget-based turbo setups. Just look around for hx35, and hx40 turbo's, you can normally find them for 200-700 bucks 

ON3 Performance turbos: This turbo company about 6 years ago was considered an "eBay" turbo company if you will. But they have stepped their game up quite a bit. It's not a borg warner type of quality but they have turbos from as low as $350, while their higher quality turbos get up to around $1200 which is still on the low end in the turbo world.

Wastegates: The reason I don't want my readers and customers to use these cheap china wastegates is that... to put it lightly, they are shit. They are prone to failing, they don't seal correctly, and they don't regulate boost very well. And when you are doing any type of turbo setup on your vehicle, the one thing you don't want is for your engine to BLOW UP because your wastegate couldn't control your boost level/psi.  

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TialSport Wastegates: My personal favorite wastegate company. I've used Tialsport parts on multiple builds, and I have nothing bad to say about their company. Most of you will be using the f38, mvs38, or the mvr44 wastegates. The wastegates are text linked if you want to read more about them, or if you want to purchase one for your build.

Turbosmart Wastegates: super high-quality wastegate and bov company. Any of their products are worth the price tbh. Most of you will probably be using the wg38 (which is similar to the f38 from Tial) as well as the Hyper-gate45.

 

Blow off valves (bov): As stated in the above wastegate section, Chinese bov's also do not seal well and leak air. This is a huge issue because it creates a boost leak right off the bat, causing idle and drivability issues, as well as tune related issues. So its always a good idea to get a high-quality bov. 

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Tialsport bov's: once again my personal choice, their 50mm Q bov is my favorite sounding bov out on the market, or if you want to do a recirculating bov their QR bov is a good option.

Turbosmart Bov: baller blow off valves, definitely check out their race port bov, you can also get one of their cheaper bovs such as their V-port bovs which as Turbosmart puts is is their "sleeper" bov for the street, and at $179 it's not going to break the bank.

Intake Filter: Get a good intake filter. The 15-25 buck ones on eBay aren't that great. The one thing you don't want happening is a crappy filter to unravel itself, allowing for some of the mesh to get dragged into your turbo and destroy the compressor housing and compressor wheel. go with a K&N, or Aem filter if you can. 

Downpipes: The reason I put this on the "don't cheap out" list is that a lot of the cheap eBay downpipes have fitment issues. The flanges are either messed up, or they are too long and hit the firewall etc. So try to find a decent quality downpipe for your setup.

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Overview:

Be smart about the parts you choose, there are cheap options out there, but always make sure to do your research. This Article is just the basics of budget based turbo parts and is a general approach. I hope the info I provided above helps a few of you with your builds. In depth pieces coming soon. ;)

 

By: Ocean Nickel