Why Does Anti-Lag Shoot Flames?

Because awesome?

Just kidding! In reality, anti-lag systems shoot flames because the air/fuel mixture is very, very rich and the unburnt fuel and exhaust gases ignite and send flames out of the exhaust. 

What’s the Difference Between Anti-Lag and a Two-Step?

A lot, actually. Though many people confuse these terms, anti-lag and a two-step are different beasts.

As we’ve explained above, anti-lag dumps fuel and air into the exhaust system to keep a turbocharger, or set of turbochargers, spooled and ready to produce all the horsepower. A two-step is simply a secondary rev-limiter. The system works as such:

There are two rev limits, one at a launch rev limit that is lower than redline, another at the upshift high rev-limit. A two-step can hold the launch rev-limit almost indefinitely and keep the turbocharger spooled. Two-steps are only used for launches, while anti-lag is used throughout a drive. 

Turbo Terms You Should Know

Get schooled!


The turbocharger itself resembles a snail and features an air intake, an exhaust intake, two different impellers (a turbine in the rear and compressor toward the front), and a charged air exhaust that goes to the intercooler. There’s also a hose line for oil. 


To reduce the temperature of the charged air forced out of the turbocharger, a secondary radiator, or intercooler, intercepts the air before it reaches the engine. It uses coolant as a chilling agent. 


A wastegate is a valve located between the exhaust intake and the turbocharger that bypasses the turbine to control the boost pressure.  

ECU Tune

A turbocharged engine’s electronic brain needs different calibration for fuel-to-air mixtures and ignition timing, compared to a car with a naturally aspirated engine. As such, if someone adds a turbocharger to an engine that was never meant for one, they’d have to reprogram the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU) in order for it to function properly. 

FAQs About Anti-Lag

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is Anti-Lag at Rally Races the Best?

You. Know. It. Son

Q: Does Anti-Lag Hurt Your Engine?

A: It can if you have it tuned wrong. Most stock engines aren’t tuned for such high fuel and pressure loads. If your car is stock, you don’t want an anti-lag system.

Q: Do Modern Cars Have Turbo Lag?

A: Most don’t. A lot of engineering has been done to ensure that you have immediate pickup from a turbocharged engine. There are, however, a handful of factory systems designed to react similarly as an ALS would, such as Porsche’s Dynamic Boost system, though it doesn’t use fuel as a normal anti-lag system would.

Q: Then Why Do Reviewers Still Talk About Turbo Lag?

A: Because they don’t know what turbo lag is. What they’re actually feeling is an engineering workaround of traction control. Modern, highly powerful engines can’t put all their power down right from 1st gear. To maintain traction, and keep drivers pointed straight, engineers developed ECUs that’d meter out power as you upshift, giving you more and more as the gears progress.

Some reviewers have called that turbo lag. It isn’t.

Let’s Talk, Comment Below To Talk With The Drive’s Editors!

We’re here to be expert guides in everything How-To related. Use us, compliment us, yell at us. Comment below and let’s talk! You can also shout at us on Twitter or Instagram, here are our profiles.

Jonathon Klein: Twitter (@jonathon.klein), Instagram (@jonathon_klein)

Tony Markovich: Twitter (@T_Marko), Instagram (@t_marko)

Chris Teague: Twitter (@TeagueDrives), Instagram (@TeagueDrives)

Toni Scott: Twitter (@mikurubaeahina), Instagram (@reimuracing)

Watch Anti-Lag in Action

Source Article