It’s no secret that car manufacturers build some models that don’t have much power under the hood. They are usually cars for people that drive within city limits and prefer gas mileage over performance.
Sometimes people want high-performance cars but cannot afford to buy them. And so they will end up buying cheaper, slower cars. If that sounds like you, all is not lost because you can boost your car’s power. Keep reading to find out how!
Give your motor a tune-up
Before you think about ways to mod your engine for extra power, you need to be sure you’ve got a good base to work with first! Sometimes a car’s motor is down on power because it needs some attention.
If your motor is running rough, what you need to do is give it a tune-up. But what makes up a tune-up? Here are some of the most-common things owners have done to their car engines when they get them tuned up:
- Oil. The lifeblood of all engines is oil. If the engine oil is the wrong grade or is mixing around with thick carbon deposits, your motor won’t perform to the best of its abilities. Before you change the oil, you should first do an engine flush. It helps to break down those carbon deposits so that it gets drained with your oil;
- Spark plugs. They are an important part of the combustion process. Check the condition of yours. Replace them with high-performance items. Especially if yours are all covered in carbon deposits;
- Ignition wires. These wires go from your ignition coil to each spark plug in your engine. They only last around 100,000 miles, or less if your motor gets worked hard often. If the insulation breaks down on your ignition wires, it can cause a whole host of performance problems;
- Ignition coil. The “coil pack” only lasts around 100,000 miles so gets yours replaced with a new one if your car has reached this mileage milestone;
- Air filter. If your motor gets starved of air, it won’t perform too well. The air filter ensures that foreign objects don’t enter and destroy your car’s engine. Whenever your car has a service, this paper filter gets replaced with a new one. I recommend replacing it with a washable foam filter. They let more air into the engine and help you to save money on servicing costs.
Remap your ECU
Today’s modern cars are all controlled by a computer – the ECU or “electronic control unit.” The ECU reads data from various sensors in and around your motor and tells your motor how to work under certain scenarios.
When they read this data in from your motor, they compare that data against a “map” of data it has. If anything is out of a certain range of information, it records an error. It will then illuminate the “Check Engine Light” on your dashboard.
The thing about ECUs is that their maps are static. That means if you add any modifications to your engine, it won’t take those power-enhancing mods into account. As a result, your car could end up performing worse than it did when it was standard!
Once you add any power-enhancing mods to your motor, you need to “remap” your ECU. When this gets done, your motor will be able to take advantage of your new mods. That means you get to enjoy extra power under the hood!
There are various companies around the world that offer ECU remap services. Most cars have ECUs that can get reprogrammed and put back to a standard map without the need for extra mods. Some owners prefer a more bespoke ECU system, such as the Dastek Unichip.
Bear in mind that you need to remap your ECU each time you mod your engine. The good news is that the process is quite straightforward.
Stainless steel exhaust and headers
One of the most-popular mods you can do to your car is to upgrade its exhaust system and headers. The stock systems are often made from mild steel and are restrictive for noise and emissions purposes.
It is still possible to keep those features but increase performance with a stainless steel system. Rather than just changing the exhaust system alone, I also recommend replacing the headers too.
These two mods will have a significant positive impact on your car’s performance and should be the first thing you do!
As with other mods, when you upgrade your exhaust system, you need to tell your insurance company. You can get performance car insurance from Carole Nash Cherished Cars if your insurer won’t cover your mods.
Most people reading this article will own a car with a small engine – i.e. anything under 1.6 liters. If you’ve got enough space under the hood, you should consider twincharging your motor.
In case you wondered, twincharging refers to fitting both a turbocharger and supercharger! The supercharger runs from a pulley on the engine and is good for boosting power at low revs. Meanwhile, the turbocharger kicks in at higher engine speeds.
Twincharging is great because you don’t feel the effects of turbo lag as you’ve always got extra power available to you. A lot of today’s new cars come with twincharging technology. For example, you’ll see the technology used in Volkswagen’s TSI engines.
If you get this done, you will need to ensure that your ECU is remapped by a pro experienced with this technology as you could end up blowing your engine if there is too much turbo boost!
Cylinder head porting and polishing
If your motor is a few years old, it’s worth having the cylinder head sent off to an expert to have the ports lapped and polished. Without geeking you out, this process just makes the air and fuel mixture in your engine a more-efficient process.
I don’t recommend doing this yourself unless you are an experienced auto shop mechanic.
Good luck with your power mods!