They're the big things that sit on the bonnets of cars; cars that are usually surrounded by young males with loud music pumping from stereos. And they help cars go fast - really fast - by increasing their power. They're usually seen in high performance cars, and they can increase the power without adding size to the engine.
So, in essence, you get a really compact engine in a great looking car that can go really fast. They do have their drawbacks, though, and one is that they suffer from overheating - this needs to be taken into account. Turbochargers can be fitted after-market, which basically means you can put one in yourself, provided you know how to. It's a little difficult if you don't know much about cars, or engines, or turbochargers. Oh, and a high performance car (again, for the uninitiated) is one that has been created with specific facilities in place so that they can do things most other road cars can't - such as drive really fast. They usually have more powerful engines, thanks in part to turbochargers but also to things like injectors, and nitrous. That's nitrous oxide - a gas used to make cars go faster by increasing the engine's power. Beginning to sense a theme here?
For those that drive high performance vehicles, the trade-off comes with a cost - literally. Custom or modified cars contain parts that are pretty expensive and replacing or maintaining those parts can put holes in your pockets - quickly. The enhanced braking capabilities, the super suspension and the needy engines (like we need more needy things in our lives; aren't girlfriends enough?) mean you can spend a fair bit of your weekly wage just keeping your car going, not to mention the petrol and maintenance to keep it looking great. Kinda makes you wonder how some of these guys can spend all day sitting around with their cars, their mates, and their mates' cars - shouldn't they be working?
There are many things you need to take into account when you decide to purchase a high performance vehicle - or if you decide to modify an existing car. It's not just about pinstriping and alloy wheels. It's a way of life that demands expense and dedication - a turbocharger in the engine of a yellow sports car does not a statement make. Well, it makes a statement, but maybe not the kind you want to make. If you decide to go down this road, you need to put everything into it. It's a lifestyle, and not many belong in it.