F150 5.0 Turbo Kit Guide

Chandler Stark

Meet Chandler

Chandler is an automotive expert with over a decade of experience working on and modifying cars. A couple of his favorites were his heavily modded 2016 Subaru WRX and his current 2020 VW Golf GTI. He’s also a big fan of American Muscle and automotive history. Chandler’s passion and knowledge of the automotive industry help him deliver high-quality, insightful content to TuningPro readers.

The Ford F150 truck is one of the top American trucks on the market today for reliability and performance. Ford’s 5.0 L Coyote V8 engine, which became available in the F150 starting in 2011, is one of the best F150 power plants. The engine offers a great balance of performance and reliability, though it’s a little under powered stock – especially the F150. The 5.0 Coyote in the Mustang GT makes 50 more horsepower than the F150, with nearly equivalent peak torque. While supercharging is the most common upgrade path, today we’re going to look at some F150 5.0 turbo kits.

That’s right, this won’t be your traditional F150 forced induction guide, we’re getting rid of the supercharger and throwing on a turbo – or two – and seeing what happens. If you’re interested in supercharging your 5.0 Coyote, check out our 5.0 Coyote supercharger guide. There’s only a few F150 5.0 turbo kits on the market today, but they provide some serious bang for your buck.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about potential F150 5.0 turbo kits. We’ll start with the basics about turbocharging engines, before getting into the benefits, necessary supporting mods, and Coyote power limits. Finally, we’ll look at the few available F150 5.0 turbo kits on the market and review them. Let’s get started.

F150 5.0 Turbo kit On3
Credit: On3 Performance

F150 5.0 Turbo Upgrade Basics

First, let’s get the basics out of the way: what is a turbo, how does it work, and what are a turbo system’s main components? A turbo, short for turbocharger, is essentially a gas-powered air compressor for your engine. Turbos take ambient air from outside of the vehicle and compress it before it goes into the engine. The compressed air is called “boost,” because it improves the power output of the engine.

Mechanical turbochargers operate by utilizing exhaust gasses exiting the engine to power the compressor. There are also electric turbos that operate through the use of an external motor. However, those are rare and impractical for use on an independent 5.0 Coyote build.

The main components of a turbo system are the turbocharger(s), wastegate, blow-off valve, intercooler, and intercooler piping. The path starts with the ambient air outside the car, which gets sucked into the turbo through the intake system. From there, air gets compressed and fed into piping connected to the outlet, where it then travels to the intercooler.

After exiting the intercooler, the air moves through the remaining piping and into the throttle body. From the throttle body, goes into the intake manifold and finally into the engine. After the exhaust stroke, the air is pushed out of the engine and into the exhaust headers. Turbos sit directly on top of the exhaust headers, and the gasses power a turbine which spins the compressor wheel. Then the cycle repeats.

F150 Coyote Blow-off Valves, Wastegates, and Intercoolers

The blow-off valve’s purpose is to release the compressed air from the system when the throttle blade closes when the car is not accelerating. This prevents the air traveling back into the turbo and creating compressor surge, which can ultimately destroy your turbo. The wastegate’s job is to regulate boost pressure by diverting unnecessary exhaust gasses away from the turbine. Wastegates can be either external or internal, and usually higher boost applications are externally gated and low boost applications internally.

Intercoolers are optional for turbo systems just like supercharger systems. The purpose of the intercooler is to cool the compressed (or charged) air. Compressing air raises its temperature, and turbos themselves run pretty hot. Yet, hot air is the antithesis of power, as it lacks oxygen and can lead to knock and detonation. Intercoolers reduce the air’s temperature, giving it more oxygen and allowing for much better performance and knock protection.

There are two kinds of intercoolers, also called heat exchangers, and they are air-to-air and water-to-air coolers. Air-to-air coolers transfer the heat from the boost into the atmosphere, while water-to-air intercoolers transfer the heat to water. Air-cooled intercoolers are much cheaper and much simpler, but don’t perform as well. It’s a debatable trade-off, and really depends on build level. The higher build the better a water-cooled intercooler will perform.

F150 5.0 Turbo Upgrade Benefits

The top benefits to a F150 5.0 turbo upgrade are:

  • +100-1,000 horsepower and torque
  • Massively improved power band
  • Improved throttle response
  • Improved towing capacity

The biggest benefits from an F150 5.0 turbo upgrade are going to be in the performance department. Depending on your turbo sizing and how many of them you have, you can see moderate to extreme power gains. On the low-end, you can expect to pick up at least 100 horsepower with a decent turbo setup. On the high-end, the sky is truly the limit, as there are multiple 2,000+ horsepower turbo-Coyote builds. You won’t just see improved peak numbers with a turbo, the entire power band will be more robust and usable.

Additionally, you’ll have a larger towing capacity for your truck, depending on the F150 5.0 turbo kit you choose. As anybody who has towed large amounts of weight will tell you, almost any truck can tow – the difference is how fast and easily it will make it up and down inclines. Adding an F150 5.0 turbo kit will make towing jobs easier, allowing you to move more weight more efficiently.

Keep in mind, a turbo will likely change the characteristics of how your Coyote engine behaves. Horsepower will be prioritized over torque, so if towing is a concern you’ll want to make sure you have a setup that can bring on quick and sustained boost – usually a twin-turbo setup. Single-turbo setups still work, but you’ll definitely need your tuner to crank up the boost early for quick torque.

F150 Coyote Turbo Upgrade Supporting Mods

Before adding an F150 5.0 turbo kit you’ll want to make sure your truck has enough supporting mods. Without additional support, your turbo setup will not perform as optimally as it should, and you’ll sacrifice reliability and performance. We’ll talk about the Coyote’s power limits a little later, for now we’ll focus on supplemental air and fueling mods.

Number one is going to be an intake. The stock intake won’t be reusable on a turbo, and most kits come with an intake designed for their turbo. You’ll also want all basic bolt-on mods done – though it’s a little different with a turbo setup. You won’t need headers, as your turbo kit will provide them, but you might need a new cat-back.

An aftermarket 5.0 Coyote intake manifold, if your kit doesn’t provide one, is a smart upgrade for a turbo. As is a larger throttle body. Catch-cans and air-oil-separators are good investments for forced induction engine builds. Internally, you’ll want larger injectors, with their size dependent on the amount of boost and fuel type. Speaking of which, going flex fuel and utilizing E85 will provide big power gains with excellent knock protection on Coyotes. 2015+ F150s have easily adaptable flex fuel kits, which are great investments for turbo setups.

Finally, you’ll need some sort of tuning to support forced induction. If you need tuning advice, check out our F150 Tuner Guide.

F150 5.0 Turbos: Twin vs Single Turbo?

Now time for the big question: single or twin-turbo setup? The answer for this is really going to depend on your power goals and truck uses. As we mentioned earlier, if towing is a big concern you’ll probably want to lean towards a twin-turbo setup. Twin-turbos can be set up sequentially, with a smaller one for immediate response and a larger one for top-end power. Or they can be set up as parallel, with both producing equal boost pressure together.

If you’re really looking at cranking out big horsepower, a twin-turbo setup is the way to go. Some of the biggest 5.0 Coyote builds in the world use twin F150 5.0 turbo kits.

Single-turbo setups are better for moderate builds that aren’t doing a ton of towing, and they are much more basic. You’ll definitely have a big power boost for both horsepower and torque, but it will be a much simpler setup. Double the turbos means double the complexity, including for tuning. If you just want a good power boost without going too crazy, a single-turbo setup is probably right for you.

Turbo 5.0 Coyote Engine Power Limits

Power wise, the 5.0 Coyote can take a serious beating, and each generation has gotten stronger. The first gens are generally thought capable of sustaining 650 wheel-horsepower, but that’s the top-end. You can push a little more, but it becomes a gamble past that. Even at these power levels, there are still some internal supporting mods you’ll want to make, like an oil pump gear swap, and the internals will be stretched to their limits.

The second generation 5.0 Coyote engines are a little more stout, and they can take roughly 750 wheel-horsepower. You will definitely want to upgrade the internals at this point, as well as other supporting mods like a better cooling system.

The third generation Coyotes are still pretty new, but they seem capable of even more. Many third gen 5.0 Coyote engines have made north of 900 wheel-horsepower while on the stock internals. We wouldn’t recommend testing that out, but it has been shown capable. Likely, you’ll want a completely built block with all supporting mods, but the Coyote can pump out 1,000 wheel-horsepower time and time again without issue on proper builds.

Top 3 F150 5.0 Turbo Kit Upgrades

F150 5.0 turbo kit Hellion
Credit: Hellion Turbo

Now for our top 3 F150 5.0 turbo kit upgrades:

  • On3 Performance Single or Twin-Turbo Kits
  • Hellion Twin-Turbo Kit
  • Custom F150 5.0 turbo kit

There are only a few F150 Coyote turbo kits on the market unfortunately, so options are pretty limited. On3 Performance and Hellion Turbos have the two most popular kits, and both are exceptional. You can also go the route of building a custom turbo setup. We’ll cover a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when starting out on a build like that.

1) On3 Performance Single or Twin Turbo Kit for F150 Coyote

Price: Single-turbo: $3,450+; Twin-turbo: $4,750 – $5,500+

Buy Link: On3 Performance 2011-2021 Single and Twin-Turbos for F150 Coyote

The On3 Performance single and twin-turbo kits are by far the most popular F150 5.0 turbo kits available. Their twin-turbo setup has been used on cars making more than 2,000 horsepower (Mustang GT). It also has the American F150 record for fastest quarter mile for 2011-2019 trucks. Needless to say, the On3 Performance F150 5.0 turbo kit is capable of some nasty things.

The single-turbo setup is a On 3 Performance 76 or 78 mm turbo with either a cast or billet wheel and journal or ceramic ball bearing. It comes with an intake manifold, race intercooler, and all necessary tubing and parts. It’s a very stout setup, and can make power figures from 550 wheel-horsepower all the way to over 1,000+ horsepower. The options are either a 7875 or 7675 turbos, and pricing starts at $3,450 for the bare bones setup.

Their twin-turbo kits feature On3 6466 or 6766 billet wheel journal or dual ball bearing turbos. It also comes with a manifold, full race air-to-air intercooler, and all other necessary parts. Depending on the turbos’ size; 64, 66, or 72 mm; power ranges from 600 wheel-horsepower to 1,200+ wheel-horsepower. Quite the step up from the stock 330 wheel-horsepower.

The On3 Performance kits are both very reliable and highly respected in the Coyote communities. There have been countless proven builds using the On3 Performance kit, and it holds multiple American and world records. You won’t be disappointed going this route.

2) Hellion Twin Turbo for F150 Coyote

Price: $8,995

Buy Link: Hellion Twin-turbo F150 5.0 Turbo Kit

Besides the On3 Performance setups, the Hellion twin-turbo kit is the top option available for the 5.0 F150. Hellion is famous for making some absolutely outrageous builds, and their F150 5.0 turbo kit is no exception. It features twin Borg Warner 57mm EFR 7163 turbos, which make over 550 wheel-horsepower without breaking a sweat.

The Hellion kit comes with a massive 4.5” intercooler and all necessary piping and parts. It’s not nearly as customizable or powerful as the On3 Performance kit, but it still packs a pretty solid punch. The smaller 57 mm turbos are very quick to spool, bringing on quick torque while still maintaining top-end power.

The Hellion’s twin-turbos are both low-mounted below the engine, opposed to the On3 setup which has them on top and in front. This definitely helps add some stealth to your truck with the Hellion setup, as really all that’s noticeable is the intake.

3) Custom F150 5.0 Turbo Kit

While the On3 Performance and Hellion F150 Coyote turbo kits are both solid, American hot rodding is all about innovation and custom builds. Plus, if you don’t like either the On3 or Hellion turbo options, you’ll need a custom kit to work.

When creating your own turbo kit you’ll need a few basic things: the turbocharger(s), intercooler, piping, exhaust manifold, and engine tuning. The turbos are going to depend on the size of your build. Smaller builds will probably want 55-57 mm turbo(s), while larger builds will look towards the 67-72+ mm blowers. You’ll need to make sure your turbos have wastegates and blow-off valves, too.

An intercooler is optional, but highly recommended on any 5.0 Coyote builds. You’ll also need custom piping done to connect everything together. Twin-turbo setups will be much harder to design and fabricate, but will obviously produce more power. No matter what your setup, you’ll need to replace the naturally aspirated headers with a turbo-manifold.

Finally, you’ll definitely need some sort of custom tuning setup if you plan on running your custom kit for any decent period or time. With a custom kit, you’ll almost certainly need a stand alone ECU system and a custom tuning program like HP Tuners.

If you’re seriously considering a custom single or twin-turbo F150 5.0 Coyote build, contact a respected performance shop. They’ll be able to start you off in the right direction, and if they want to help with the build you can work out the design together.

F150 5.0 Turbo Upgrade Guide Summary

While turbochargers are not the typical forced induction route for the F150 5.0 Coyote, it’s certainly a viable option. Depending on the setup, single or twin-turbos, fueling, and supporting mods, you can pump out anything from 500-2,000+ horsepower out of the Coyote V8.

Unfortunately, the available turbo kits for the 5.0 F150 are pretty limited, but luckily both of them are outstanding options. The On3 Performance F150 single and twin-turbo kits are both the most customizable and pump out the most power.  If you’re looking at pushing past 1,100 horsepower, the On3 kit will get you there.

The Hellion twin-turbo kit still performs very well, but not quite as well as the On3 kits. The smaller Hellion turbos will spool faster and make earlier power, but they won’t be able to match the larger On3 kits on the top-end. Still, for a moderate F150 build, the Hellion is more than capable.

The other option is to go with a custom turbo kit, and we went over some places to get started with that. No matter what your goals, the Coyote V8 is a very capable motor that absolutely loves to eat boost.

Are you considering adding a single or twin-turbo setup to your F150 5.0 Coyote? Let us know about your build in the comments below.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *