Forced Induction for the Ford 2.3L Engine

There are two methods of forced induction for the 2.3L engine: supercharging and turbocharging. Both are expensive to do and will not give you the performance that you expect from a stock normally aspirated 2.3L engine. The problem is the compression ratio for a stock 2.3L engine is TOO HIGH at around 9.7 to 1. Ideally you want a low compression ratio of around 8.0 to 1 for forced induction. The high stock compression ratio means that you will be FIGHTING detonation with anything but the MINIMAL boost.

Supercharging - For a truck, this would be the best choice as it delivers lots of low end power and torque. The disadvantage is that it takes hp to drive the supercharger. There are no kits available and all mounting and ducting would have to be made. The best candidiate supercharger that I've come across would be the one used in the BMW Mini Cooper S. It is small and made for a small displacement engine. An alternative is the one used for 2.3L Mercedes Benz. I believe that they are Eaton M45 models (going from memory).

Supercharged Ranger

Turbocharging - Uses the exhaust gas to spin a turbine to create the air pressure. It is considered to be free energy. The effects are typically seen at a higher rpm than a supercharger. For the everyday low rpm range, the engine is just the same as a normal until the rpm rise and the turbo "spools up". This would be good for a performance vehicle - you would have good gas mileage during regular driving and the extra power at spirited driving. You need to modifiy both the intake manifold and exhaust system and provide oiling to the turbo.

The best solution is to find a factory 1980s Turbo 2.3L and swap the engine, ECU and electrical harness in. The factory turbos put out 145 hp in the 1979-86 Mustangs, Capris and Merkurs and up to 200 hp for the 1988 Turbo Thunderbird

Turbocharged Ranger on Dyno

You do not want detonation as it will melt your stock cast pistons which leads to other disasterous results. The cost of forced induction when used with minimal boost just doesn't make sense. If you are going to dish out that much money for forced induction then you might as well rebuild the engine with lower compression pistons.

Overall Problem

The stock ECU may not be able to handle forced induction. You would have to find a 1980s turbo ECU or go to an aftermarket ECU or something like MegaSquirt which is an open source project. The overall cost and time for forced induction really doesn't make it a reasonable thing to do. You could swap in a larger 4.0L V6 or a 5.0L engine for less and have better performance and less headaches.

Don't even think about the cheap electrical fan super/turbo chargers, they are a joke! I experimented with squirrel cage fans for forced induction in the 80s and unless you have machined fans with clearances in the thousands of an inch, then you will not be able to generate any practical boost. The inexpensive $50 electric fan super/turbochargers, you see on ebay are a scam. You'll get much better performance using a ram air setup

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Copyright March 2011 Eugene Blanchard