Without a boost controller, air pressure is fed from the charge air (compressed side) of the turbocharger directly to the wastegate actuator via a vacuum hose. This air pressure can come from anywhere on the intake after the turbo, including after the throttle body, though that is less common. This air pressure pushes against the force of a spring located in the wastegate actuator to allow the wastegate to open and re-direct exhaust gas so that it does not reach the turbine wheel. In this simple configuration, the spring’s springrate and preload determine how much boost pressure the system will achieve. Springs are classified by the boost pressure they typically achieve, such as a “7 psi spring” that will allow the turbocharger to reach equilibrium at approximately
Also to be noted is the way in which boost control is achieved, depending on the type of wastegate used. Typically manual “bleed type” boost controllers are only used on swing type (single port) wastegate actuators. To increase boost, pressure is taken away from the actuator control line, therefore increasing the turbo output pressure required to counteract the controllers leak-lowered pressure acting on the wastegate.
Dual port swing type wastegate actuators and external wastegates generally require electronic boost control although adjustable boost control can also be achieved on both of these with an air pressure regulator, this is not the same as a bleed type boost controller. To increase boost with an external or dual port wastegate, pressure is added to the top control port to increase boost. When boost control is not fitted, this control port is open to the atmosphere.
A bleed-type manual boost controller simple mechanical and pneumatic control to allow some pressure from the wastegate actuator to escape or bleed out to the atmosphere or back into the intake system. This can be as simple as a T-fitting on the boost control line near the actuator with a small bleeder screw. The screw can be turned out to varying degrees to allow air to bleed out of the system, relieving pressure on the wastegate actuator, thus increasing boost levels. These devices are popular due to their negligible cost compared to other devices that may offer the same power increase.