Improving horsepower isn’t as simple as many people make it out to be. The improvement of horsepower requires a little planning, and lot of research in order to find the products that will best benefit your particular car. There isn’t a single approach that is going to work on every vehicle, but we describe the parts that help with producing the greatest possible horsepower.
Whether yours is the latest model or you paid it off years ago, it’s easy to upgrade your ride with some or all of the accessories provided below.
All new cars are operated by a computer chip that tells how much torque and horsepower can be displaced. Performance chips, or recalibrations of your current chip, can produce significant increases in horsepower and torque for your vehicle.
The factory settings to your vehicle’s onboard computer are designed with the average motorist in mind. As a result, they limit high-performance drivers from tapping into the maximum output of their drivetrain. To recover this lost performance, aftermarket manufacturers have created a series of chips and programmers that safely access your onboard computer to make specific adjustments that boost power and improve efficiency.
These small adjustments can have a huge impact on the overall performance of your vehicle, especially if you’re towing, off-roading or even just racking up those extra miles on your daily commute. By making adjustments to your air/fuel ratio, ignition timing and other variables, aftermarket chips and programmers unleash immediate increases in horsepower, torque and throttle response. Plus, by enriching fuel delivery to key areas, increasing transmission pressure, enhancing exhaust cooling and adjusting the shift points and RPMs on a manual transmission, this simple upgrade has been shown to add anywhere from 10 – 20 hp.
Cold Air Intake
Aftermarket air intake systems are among the most common and least expensive methods to increase horsepower. It is a simple bolt-on kit that consists of a conical air filter fixed onto a metal inlet pipe. When it is installed, the inlet pipe starts from the top of the engine and makes its way down to the outside of the engine bay, and the conical air filter is fixed onto the lower end of the pipe. The conical filter can now breathe the air beneath the engine, which is cooler than the air being brought in by the stock air box. This is why the setup is called the cold air intake system. Cool air is denser in oxygen molecules than warmer air, resulting in a more powerful combustion when mixed with fuel.
Typical gains range from 5 to 10 horsepower. A cold air intake system generally cost around $200 – $400 for a good quality system from reputable manufacturers – such as K&N, Injen, and AEM – who have a large selection of models and applications.
Stock exhaust systems restrict the flow of engine exhaust, which robs the vehicle of both output and fuel economy. Unlike the factory pipes, performance exhaust pipes provide optimum flow rate because they are much larger in diameter and lack the kinks and bends of standard systems. As a result, aftermarket exhausts address this problem by allowing exhaust gases to flow more freely — aftermarket catalytic converters are often straight pipes from the front to the exhaust, eliminating any drag along the way — which decreases the back pressure generated, giving you the oomph you crave.
Complete exhaust systems, including the muffler, exhaust headers and pipes, run from $500 to more than $1,000. Power gains of 10 to 20 horsepower are common with this modification.