Let’s be honest, everyone wants a turbo. Even if they don’t think they want one, let’s face it, they do. How could you not? If we are honest with ourselves the only thing between us and a turbo, let alone a painted turbo, is the money you’d need to fork over to get one, .
If you are lucky enough to have a turbo kit you may have possibly had choices of color. Black, blue, and red. But what if you want a different color, or even want to touch up the one you’ve got if it’s just plain metal, well you’ll need a quick blog post like this to help guide you through your options.
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Can I Have A Painted Turbo?
Many people are unsure about whether or not a painted turbo is even an option. Which it absolutely is! It isn’t the most common modification to make because it doesn’t always serve a purpose. However, the option is there if you wish to pursue it. Whether or not your turbo will be suited for being painted will depend on the material it is made from.
Sometimes the material needs to be sanded before painting will take to it very well. And sometimes, even with proper sanding, the paint will refuse to take. This isn’t super common but it is a possibility with turbos that are designed to repel oil and carbon and look “clean” for longer.
Why Do People Have Painted Turbo?
Many people like to paint their turbo, at least some of it because it looks cool. It can also make an older worn out turbo look newer and the simple aesthetics of the matter are all that, well, matters.
When you are painting your turbo, you can only paint certain parts of it, purely because the heat will burn off any paint no matter what, therefore some people like to paint the compressor housing of the turbo so it contrasts with the exhaust housing.
How To Make Sure The Color On A Painted Turbo Lasts Forever
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to having a painted turbo. First, keep in mind that the job is not as easy as you might initially think. Turbos are absolutely not designed to be painted, that’s not to say they shouldn’t be, but it’s not what the manufacturers had in mind. Despite that, it is possible to paint most turbos so long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
First, you absolutely need to use high-temperature paint. Your turbo, especially the housing components, will get extremely hot very quickly and anything less than high-quality high-temperature paint will become burnt off almost immediately. And, you’ll be lucky if it is burnt off and you are left with a blackened mess. Worst case, you now have carbonized paint that is both sticky and rock solid stuck all over your turbo kit. Is that the aesthetic you were going for? Probably not.
Many people find that painting the turbo is easier if the turbo itself is warm, you can do this by sitting the turbo on a radiator and allowing it to become very warm (but not hot) and then applying the paint. You will also need to ensure that the painting surface is smooth and clean. This entails sanding down the housing units (turbo frame components) and cleaning them. It is best to soak it all in warm soapy water, scrub with a sponge, pat down with a dry rag, and then give it a once over with a dry alcohol wipe.
Can I Do My Own Painted Turbo?
Sure, you can sort out the painted turbo on your own in your yard or in your garage. This is certainly the case if it’s a new turbo kit that you want to paint as it will, naturally, already be outside the car. The real question is whether or not you can uninstall, and reinstall, the turbo kit after you have painted it. The actual paint job is a matter of patience and attention to detail rather than outright skill. A body shop will likely be able to do the job for you, quite cheaply, if you are willing to communicate exactly what you want to them.
Cost Of Having A Painted Turbo
Given you will need to use high-temp paint the cost of the paint itself can be quite high. Standard high-temp heat-resistant paints that you might use for something like a BBQ might cost about $100 for a gallon. You will likely need the entire can so keep that in mind when you are pricing the painted turbo as a finished product. Some people use paint that’s geared up for plane engines that can withstand crazy high temperatures but then you are looking at paying crazy high prices! If you want to pay a body shop to do the actual painting for you, it could cost as much as $300-$500 all in.
What Is The Difference Between High-Temperature Paint And Regular Paint?
High-temperature paint is, obviously, designed to withstand much more extreme temperatures than regular paint. Everyday paint, even standard car paint, does not need to withstand hundreds, or even thousands, of degrees. There is simply no situation where that would ever be necessary.
When high-temperature resistant paint is necessary they have to use some specially blended paint formulas. Most of these formulas use inorganic pigment powder (for color) and a polysilicon-based alkoxide. Which is basically a binder. In simple terms, high-temp paint is more complicated and is thus more expensive.
Now you know how to make sure that your painted turbo stays painted. It’s a cool project that can make the inside of your hood look a lot cooler, and it doesn’t have to be super expensive. In terms of real-world applications, it doesn’t really provide much of a benefit.
But neither does lowering your ride and putting underskirt lights on. Sometimes a car project is just fun and that’s alright! Good luck painting your turbo and remember, everyday house paint isn’t going to cut it.