Simple ways to give your car a power boost

This is the perfect place to start if you're looking to increase you car's power.

4y ago

Better tyres

OK, this won’t give you a BHP boost but it’s the first thing you should do if you want to improve the handling of your car. You’ll also need the extra grip if you’re going to be increasing the power.

Better fuel

Again, no technical upgrade in BHP but a better octane rating can make a big difference. If your manual says your car runs on high-octane fuel and you put in the regular stuff, you could lose power.

Air filter

A performance air filter will allow your car to breathe better by letting in maximum air while blocking horrible contaminants from entering your engine. Simply replacing your standard filter with one of higher quality that's designed for performance will give your car a bit of a power boost as it draws air into the car more quickly.

If you want to take it a step further then a cold air intake is a good choice as it pulls denser (colder) air into your engine. By replacing your standard air filter with a cold air intake, you move the filter outside of the engine so it can collect this cooler, more oxygen rich air.

Credit: Nick Ares

Credit: Nick Ares

These bolt-on performance kits are easy to install so tend to be a good starting point for any car enthusiasts looking for a power upgrade. Most air intakes can be installed with a screwdriver, pliers and a ratchet set in around 90 minutes, so it isn’t a big job if you’ve got the tools.


Running behind the scenes when you drive is a little computer - an electronic control unit (ECU) - that affects all sorts of things such as ignition timing, air/fuel ratio and turbo boost pressure. Generally, when a modern car rolls out of the factory it has been set to fall in line with manufacturer power levels and so on. This means that new cars are rarely optimised for performance.

There are a number of ways you can remap your engine. The first is by installing a chip (most often known as chip-tuning) to change those parameters that affect performance. These are really simple plug and play devices that can give you a significant power upgrade but there’s the chance you could get it wrong.

The results are often unknown and there’s a chance that you could over do it in your quest for power. The better option is to visit someone who knows what they’re doing where all the settings can be tailored to your vehicle.

Many tuning specialists can adjust your car’s software on a laptop connected to your car’s diagnostic port. Because a remap can put more strain on your engine, working with a professional means they can check things like temperatures and pressures to make sure your car can handle what the computer is telling it to do.

Large diameter throttle body

This is only something you’d be able to do with a remap because you need to tell the engine to adjust for the extra air flow, so consider this only if you’re able to hook your car up to a laptop to adjust some ECU settings.

Factors influencing throttle body size are: Power output, RPM, cylinder head design, cylinder capacity, position of the throttle body in the inlet tract and position of the injector.

Do your research on your particular car, it might take a little time to work out what you need (car forums are great for this) but it'll be well worth it because it could result in a power increase of up to 95bhp. When I say up to, I mean that. It all depends on your car, the size of the bore, how you attach it and so on.

Sports cat or Decat

The catalytic converter is designed to reduce exhaust emissions but in doing so, it doesn't allow the fumes to flow freely out of you exhaust pipe and, as a result, you get back pressure. This limits your car's performance but you can fix it by removing the catalytic converter completely.

Probably not a mod you want if you care about the planet but, again, that's not why we're here. A decat is a simple pipe that replaces the catalytic converter in your exhaust system. This is quite a simple mod but you run the risk of failing an MOT emissions test, so a lot of people just replace the catalytic converter before their car heads out for an MOT.

Another option is a sports cat, which can give a small power boost without the need to swap things over every time you're due an emissions test. This is also a good option if removing the cat completely is illegal in your state/country.

The power you can get from a sports cat could be as much as 15bhp on a turbo car, a naturally aspirated engine might not see quite as much of a gain.

A decat pipe might get you a little more but the biggest benefit is that it's a really simple bolt-on mod that almost anyone can fit with the right set of tools.

Both of these options will make your car louder.

These are just a few options for performance mods you can make to your car. Have you installed any of these?

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Comments (23)

  • Don't forget decals, put an R in your VW, S in your Audi, M if it's a BMW, RS for a Ford and so, trd, nismo, amg, typeR, etc

      4 years ago
  • Instead of spending money on dubious CAI, better learn about pulse charging. That does work, and not because air is "colder", but because of intake length. But overall, on new and "smarter" cars nothing will do as much as ECU tuning.

      4 years ago
  • The intake and exhaust ports on the cylinder head need to be enlarged and the intake and exhaust manifolds need to either be enlarged or upgraded in order to get any benefit from the air filter, throttle body or exhaust modifications. It's like having a thin hosepipe with a wider section at the end. The water still has to go through the thin bit so you're not getting any extra water. All this tuning is bullshit to be honest. Have it done properly by porting the head and inlet manifold along with fitting the air filter, throttle body and exhaust system including the manifolds. You have to improve the flow all the way through otherwise you'll just leave a bottleneck somewhere and it'll all be wasted money.

    With tuning, flow is the key to power.

      4 years ago
    • Hum...if you narrow the hosepipe, you get more pressure, thus increasing the flow.

      I guess you failed all your physics classes, if you attended any.

        2 years ago
    • It's not about pressure, it's about volume. Wider pipe means more airflow because more air can pass through. narrow pipe means little airflow because you can't suck in as much air. Basic physics my dude

        2 years ago
  • Except tires and re-tune, on most modern cars these won't do much except "some cool p-flow sounds" and fart exhaust notes.... And running the right fuel is just wanting not to kill your engine, not making more power...

      4 years ago
    • modern engine controls can detect fuel quality with different sensors(mainly knock sensor) and will adjust the internal base fuel mapping based on the fuel quality. using better fuel might not give you extra power/performance, but...

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        4 years ago
    • Yes we are saying the same differently. An ecu will protect against repeated knock for a lesser fuel and remove timing. Yet a better fuel than required for the tune won't add more power than the requirement. Unless maybe it's a Subaru,...

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        4 years ago
  • Always been a bit dubious about new air filters. People always claim they add power but I've never actually seen anything backing it up.

    Seen lots of people showing it makes no difference (Mighty Car Mods springs to mind) so if anyone has any actual evidence it makes any difference I'd love to see it.

      4 years ago
    • MCM did a follow up video with a NA enginw (the S2K) and they saw a marginal increase in power (i think it was like 5bhp max). But ya deffinently more for sound (some also say fuel economy) but thats it.

        4 years ago
    • Hell, sounds as good a reason as anything!

        4 years ago