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.
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.
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.
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
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?