There is a huge world of automotive performance equipment out there. It can be very confusing, so let us simplify things for you. Here are some add-ons and upgrades that will noticeably improve vehicle performance, both in a straight line and around the curves!
Areas of vehicle performance that we’ll be covering:
Think about this for a moment: the only points of contact between your car and the road are those four small rectangles where your tires touch it! The better your tires grip the road and respond to your steering inputs, the better your acceleration, braking, steering and overall handling will be.
The tires that come from the factory on most new cars do not add much to your car’s handling. New car manufacturers are much more interested in putting the least expensive tires on any given vehicle. Think about it – they buy tires by the millions, so saving a few dollars on each one really adds up!
Unfortunately, their gain is your loss. The average original equipment tire is designed with ride quality and fuel economy in mind. Performance simply does not figure into the equation. What’s a performance-minded car owner to do?
Many Performance Tires To Choose From
Fortunately, there are many types of performance tires to choose from. At one extreme, there are all-season performance tires that can be driven in light snow; these make sense if you have wintry weather where you live and want to use the same tires year-round.
At the other extreme, there are street-legal racing slicks designed primarily for track use. In between, you have performance tires, high-performance tires, and ultra-performance tires. Based on your budget and what fits on your car, you can find the right tire for you. Generally speaking, the higher the performance, the higher the price – and the shorter the tread life!
Once you have decided on the right tire, you can move forward. The most cost-effective route is to replace your current tires with the exact same size in a performance tire. This way, you can use your original wheels. You will see a big difference in your car’s ride and handling, and there should be no problems with the tires fitting inside the wheel wells and clearing the suspension. Original size, original fit. Go forth and drive!
Upgrading Your Wheels
The next step beyond original size tires is to upgrade your wheels and get new performance tires to fit the wheels. Going to larger diameter wheels with lower profile tires looks cool, but be aware of the tradeoffs before you pull the trigger. Your ride quality will deteriorate because there is now less rubber between you and the road. If the roads in your area are in bad shape, they can take a toll in terms of bent wheels and blown tires.
Both of these items can be very expensive to replace. Don’t get too extreme here – an inch or two increase in wheel size goes a long way. There are benefits, too: wider tires mean more grip, lower profile means more responsive steering.
You will also want to be sure that your new wheels will fit your car. The tires should not rub on your fenders and should clear the suspension when turned all the way. This may take a little research. A good place to start online is Amazon.com, which has a huge selection of wheels and tires and will help you make the right choice. If you are buying locally, find a reputable wheel and tire shop who can tell you what will fit your car. Make sure that everything clears before you leave the shop.
Take Care Of Your Performance Tires
You will enjoy the improvement that your new tires bring to the driving experience every time you take the wheel. To maximize the life of your new performance tires, remember to regularly check your tire pressures and inspect them for signs of uneven wear. Rotate them at the recommended intervals, too. A little care and attention will go a long way.Learn More About Tires
How Do Air Intake Systems Work?
In today’s high performance scene, air intake systems are a popular and reasonably priced way to get some added power for your car. The primary performance benefit of an aftermarket air intake system is simple – it lets more air into your engine, which results in more power.
How Do Air Intake Systems Work?
How does an aftermarket air intake system improve airflow? Compared to a factory air intake system, the aftermarket air intake system routes air more directly, through a much wider, shorter and straighter pipe. It also replaces the factory air cleaner with a smaller, less restrictive, high efficiency air filter.
Today’s computerized engine controls maintain the optimum air-fuel mixture very precisely as you drive. This provides an acceptable combination of power, drivability, and low emissions. That’s fine for average drivers, but what about those of us who want more performance?
An aftermarket air intake system uses the engine control system to its advantage by “tricking” the engine computer into adding more fuel to match the additional air flowing through the intake into the engine. More air plus more fuel equals more power!
There are three basic types of aftermarket air intake systems to consider:
As the name suggests, a cold air intake system feeds cooler-than-normal air to your engine. A stock engine normally “breathes” air that has been warmed by the heat of the engine, due to its intake being located inside the engine compartment. A cold air intake system is designed to access cooler air that has not been heated by the engine.
This is done by separating the air intake from the hot engine compartment with a partition or a boxlike structure, providing a path for cool air from outside the vehicle to directly enter the engine.
Colder air is denser air. Denser air contains more oxygen. When your engine computer senses a higher flow through the intake, it adds more fuel, and you get more power! It’s simple and effective.
Cold air intake systems are a bit more expensive and complex to install, since you need to be sure that you have set up the system so that it has a good source of cool intake air.
The short ram intake system is easy to install because it replaces the stock intake system with a short, wide ram pipe and an air cleaner. You get the benefits of a shorter, wider intake pipe that flows more air than a cold air intake, but since it breathes warm air from under the hood, you will not likely see all the performance benefits of the cold air intake system. Your fuel economy may improve, though. And the cost is significantly less.
A warm air intake system combines the longer, narrower intake piping of the cold air intake with the warm air-breathing placement of the short ram intake. The result is improved fuel economy and engine efficiency. Performance improvements are not a major factor with the warm air intake system.
Which aftermarket air intake system is right for your car? Cold air intake systems give you the biggest power boost for the most dollars, while short ram intake systems and warm air intake systems cost less, but put more emphasis on fuel economy.Learn More About Intakes
Are you ready to take a giant step toward truly high performance? If so, then an aftermarket turbocharger system is the way to get there. Complete turbo kits have everything you need to get you to the next level.
How Does A Turbocharger Work?
Think of the turbo as an air compressor driven by the pressure of your exhaust gases, revving at 200,000 RPM or more. The high exhaust pressure spins the turbine wheel, which is connected to an impeller on the intake side. This compresses the intake air, which now contains much more oxygen than before it was pressurized.
To maintain the correct air-fuel ratio, the engine computer adds much more fuel than it would without the turbo, resulting in a large increase in power, and much quicker acceleration.
Another way to think about the effect of a turbo kit is that, by pushing more air and fuel through your engine, it gives you the effect of having a larger engine!
If You Can’t Stand The Heat…
The unwanted byproduct of this plentiful high-pressure horsepower is a large quantity of heat that must be managed. The exhaust side of the turbocharger can get red-hot, transferring all that heat into the engine compartment. This can not only damage heat-sensitive components, it also heats up the intake air, making it less dense, reducing horsepower, and causing detonation in the cylinders, which is a VERY bad thing.
These heat-related issues are well known after decades of turbocharged production cars, so they are easily dealt with. Heat shields protect vulnerable underhood components, while an intercooler acts like a radiator to cool the intake air, keeping detonation under control and your engine in one piece.
Turbochargers That Make Sense
As usual, horsepower costs money – how much do you want to spend? A good place to start is a bolt-on turbo system that does not require you to upgrade the internal parts of your engine. This type of system can give you a horsepower increase of 50% or more. That’s enough to make a big difference in your car’s performance. A 150 horsepower engine would get a boost to 225 horsepower, a 200 horsepower engine would put out 300 horsepower or more.
These bolt-on aftermarket turbocharger systems typically include a turbocharger, exhaust manifold, intercooler, blow-off valve, air intake hoses and pipes, oil and water lines for turbo cooling, heat shields, all needed hardware and fittings, and sometimes parts to upgrade your engine computer and fuel system.
The Limits Of Turbocharging
Beyond this state of tune, the sky’s the limit. Doubling or tripling your stock horsepower rating is a possibility, but it will require a thorough engine rebuild with strengthened components to withstand the incredibly high pressures required to achieve such a high output. Custom engine control software and a higher-capacity fuel delivery system will also be needed. It will cost you more, but you will have an incredibly powerful engine!
Whether you choose to go mild or wild, aftermarket turbocharger systems are an excellent way to give your car a major horsepower boost.Learn More About Turbo/Superchargers
Now that you have an aftermarket air intake system or a turbo system and you are flowing major volume into the engine, let’s consider what happens on the other side of the combustion chambers. Aftermarket performance exhaust systems help to move those spent gases out of the engine faster and improve your overall performance.
Let’s first acknowledge that in today’s heavily regulated automotive world, you are required in most places to retain your engine’s emission control system when you modify your car. Some places even demand smog tests at regular intervals. The catalytic converters normally must remain as part of your exhaust system.
The aftermarket exhaust system industry has learned to live within these regulations, producing systems that are 50-state legal and include any necessary emissions ports. We can focus on the two basic categories of products that attach to either end of your catalytic converters. These are exhaust headers and cat-back exhaust systems.
Performance Exhaust Headers
Your factory exhaust headers connect the exhaust ports of your engine to the catalytic converters. These factory headers are the result of many compromises. They need to meet emissions requirements and they also need to cost as little as possible. This is not a formula for high performance.
Performance headers are specifically designed to move the exhaust flow quickly and efficiently. They add horsepower and torque at specific points in the rev range, based on their design. They help your engine breathe better and operate at cooler temperatures.
Improved fuel economy is another benefit. Good performance headers are mandrel bent, which assures smooth, constant radius bends that let the exhaust flow smoothly without obstruction or constriction. Some will have equal length pipes from each cylinder to where they meet at the collector.
Cat-Back Exhaust Systems
As the name implies, a cat-back exhaust system attaches to the rear of catalytic converter. It includes all the pipes, mufflers and tips necessary for the exhaust to exit at the rear of the car. It is a major improvement over your stock exhaust system – it is less restrictive, usually with wider, more gradually curved pipes and freer-flowing mufflers. The sound is usually much improved, too!
Both performance headers and cat-back exhaust systems come in different materials. It is usually a matter of which material fits within your budget. The longest lasting and most expensive material is solid stainless steel. Less expensive finishes are ceramic-coated steel, aluminized steel and painted steel.
High Performance Catalytic Converters
You can also choose to upgrade the catalytic converters themselves. Many exhaust system manufacturers offer better-flowing converters that will fit their systems perfectly. These high-flow converters work with the rest of your aftermarket system to maximize exhaust flow and horsepower.Learn More About Exhausts
Now it’s your turn to make your ride into the performance vehicle of your dreams! Start with some performance tires, add an aftermarket air intake system or turbocharger, and finish with an aftermarket exhaust system. Vehicle performance will greatly increase in the areas of quicker acceleration, more precise steering, harder cornering and improved sound note.Shop Amazon.com!