• Cheap Horsepower: Tips for Engine Performance Tuning

    For adding more power, there are plenty of engine-tuning techniques most people can do very easily without a lot of involved mechanical work. Simple bolt-on products or replacement parts add a lot of horsepower needing massive amounts of money or specialized knowledge. Here are a few tips for adding cheap horsepower.

    Add a Turbo

    Perhaps the biggest gain in horsepower you will get, short of adding a bottle of nitrous oxide to the mix, is by adding a turbocharger. The great thing about turbochargers is that they do not impact your fuel usage very much, but can add as much as 50 horsepower.

    Let It Breathe

    Getting as much air as you can through the intake system will also add some horsepower. By adding a max flow air-filter or air sensor, it removes the restrictions for gainful aspiration. Giving your engine more air can add up to 15 more horsepower and also keep your car ecologically-sound.

    Even the mildest of forced induction setups tend to rival all but the most extensively modified naturally aspirated engine, so this is something to think about when planning your next project.

    Cylinder Head

    The cylinder head is the part of the engine that controls airflow in and out of the engine. Smoothing and matching the dimensions of the intake and exhaust ports can have a large impact on power, especially when combined with more aggressive cams and re-sized intake manifold and throttle body. To compliment these improvements to airflow, properly tuned headers help improve exhaust flow leaving the engine and further improve power.

    Exhaust Improvements

    As much as it is important for the car to breathe in more air, it also has to have a way to get rid of most of the exhaust that it can. The better an engine can remove the gases from the internal combustion, the more power it will have. Adding high performance mufflers, headers and larger diameter pipes add several more horsepower to your car.

    Engine Block

    The bulk of tuning in the engine block focuses on strength and durability but there are several common ways to improve power as well. Altering bore size and increasing stroke length via a modified crankshaft can have a substantial effect on an engine’s power and power delivery characteristics. In addition to changes in displacement, changing items such as the oil pan improves oil capacity and cooling; even better is changing the oil system itself over to a dry-sump system. Systems such as these generate a mild vacuum in the crankcase which improves power through a reduction in windage losses.

    ECU Tuning

    Most engines have a computer that is telling them what to do. You can reprogram this module or you can perform a simple swap chip swap. A performance chip tells the sensors, injectors and valves to do different things to let in more air more fuel and expel more fumes. Another 25 horsepower is possible through this very simple process.

    To compliment any modifications made to the engine block or the cylinder head, changing the engine’s fuel and ignition mapping is a vital step to optimizing an engine’s performance. While this may free up mild performance gains in stock engine configurations, this type of tuning is best used on engines that have received extensive modifications, where both power and reliability can be improved simultaneously.

    There are a countless number of philosophies and methods for going about the process of engine tuning but one thing they all have in common is the pursuit of performance. A well-tuned engine can give a vehicle a whole new persona and in many cases, gives even a modestly priced car match-performance.