Almost all car enthusiasts want more horsepower out of their car’s engine at some point. But adding horsepower almost always costs money and is also usually a relatively involved process. Rebuilding your engine or converting it to forced induction (turbocharging or supercharging it) are some of the most involved ways of getting more power. On the more simple end of the spectrum are things such as cold air intakes and exhaust systems. There are almost no “easy” ways to get more horsepower out of your car, nor is there a way to get free horsepower.
Things You'll Need
- Socket set and ratchet
- Open-ended wrenches
- Miscellaneous automotive tools
Perform a basic tuneup. This includes replacing parts such as the spark plugs and spark plug wires, installing new points if the distributor uses points and making sure the timing is correct.
Install a cold air intake (CAI). A CAI replaces the restrictive stock air box with a more free flowing air filter and larger diameter tubing so the motor gets additional cold air, usually resulting in at least a small horsepower increase. First remove the stock air box where it bolts to the engine bay and then disconnect it from the intake on the engine. Install the cold air intake according to the directions, which vary depending on the type of car as well as the type of cold air intake.
Upgrade the ignition system. This can be especially useful on older vehicles that use points in the distributor, which wear out and need periodic adjustment. Replacing the points with an electronic distributor that uses an optical trigger for the ignition rather than a mechanical type can add power, help your engine run better and return superior fuel injection. You can also install a more complex ignition such as one that uses an electronic box to control the ignition. Performance ignition systems come with extensive directions and are generally easy for the layman to install with a few basic tools.
Install a performance exhaust. While not exactly simple, a new exhaust definitely falls under the category of bolt-on modifications. A larger diameter exhaust and free-flow muffler will get spent exhaust gases out of the engine more quickly, allowing the engine to run more efficiently and make more power. An exhaust system should be installed by someone experienced with working with welders, pipe benders and cutters. You can also buy off the shelf performance exhausts that are ready to be bolted on.
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