This work presents a study to characterize and quantify the mechanical losses in small automotive turbocharging systems. An experimental methodology to obtain the losses in the power transmission between the turbine and the compressor is presented. The experimental methodology is used during a measurement campaign of three different automotive turbochargers for petrol and diesel engines with displacements ranging from 1.2 l to 2.0 l and the results are presented.With this experimental data, a fast computational model is fitted and used to predict the behaviour of mechanical losses during stationary and pulsating flow conditions, showing good agreement with the experimental results. During pulsating flow conditions, the delay between compressor and turbine makes the mechanical efficiency fluctuate. These fluctuations are shown to be critical in order to predict the turbocharger behaviour.