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Updated by John Huh on Nov 08, 2018
Headline for Most Popular Engine Modifications
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John Huh John Huh
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Most Popular Engine Modifications

Hopping up your car has been one of the oldest hobbies for auto enthusiasts. People are always happy with their new car for the first few weeks, but it's only a matter of time before many people are bit with the "mod bug" and want to learn how to make your car faster. Installing engine mods has been a popular pastime for many auto enthusiasts, giving people a fun way to tinker and tweak their cars. Whether your goal is to increase horsepower or to improve fuel economy, there are many engine mods that can help you get the job done.

The engine in your car, truck or van works on four steps or a four cycle combustion process. The engine crankshaft spins your rotating assembly of pistons and rods. As your pistons move down the combustion chamber, it draws in air from your intake through your intake valves. When your engine pistons move back upwards, it pressurizes the atmospheric pressure and your injectors deliver an atomized spray of fuel. Your engine computer then ignites the air fuel mixture to create kinetic energy.

This kinetic combustion of energy is what creates horsepower and drives the crankshaft back around as the process is repeated. If you are interested in learning some of the most popular ways to increase your horsepower, here are some of the best engine mods for your car below.

1

Air Intake Engine mods

Air Intake Engine mods

Your engine basically acts like a giant air pump, so the best engine mods will always be about moving more air in and out of your engine. Air Intake kits can bolt right up to your throttle body, allowing you to easily increase air flow to your engine in the most efficient manner possible. There are several ways to increase air flow and they generally revolve around these important points about your engine intake.

  • More Air flow - Your stock air intake system is restrictive and made to operate quietly to minimize engine noise. Install a high flow intake filter, or a intake kit to deliver air faster and increase air flow to your engine.
  • Colder Air - The colder your intake air charge, the more dense it becomes which makes for more horsepower generating potential. When your intake temperatures are warmer the conditions for your engine to run efficiently is less than ideal. Cold air intake kits relocate your air filter to a colder area, usually outside of your engine bay or by using a air intake heat shield. Install a cold air intake kit to lower your air temperature and your engine will love you for it!
2

Exhaust system - Engine mods

Exhaust system - Engine mods

In the same vein of air intake systems your exhaust system plays a huge role in the efficiency of your engine. Headers and exhaust catbacks are great ways to help your engine scavenge exhaust gases and expel them in the most efficient way possible. Because you are trying to get your engine to pump more air and get rid of it faster, your exhaust system is an excellent choice as the best engine mod for increasing horsepower. Here's a few important tips to making sure you get the most from your exhaust upgrades.

  • Headers - The piping that connects the exhaust ports of your engine to the rest of your exhaust system. The best headers will combine the right size primary tubes with other features like stainless steel or ceramic piping, CNC laser cut exhaust flanges and scavenging upgrades.
  • Exhaust catbacks - These exhaust systems bolt up to the back of your catalytic converter and like your headers help your engine expel exhaust gases faster.
  • High Flow catalytic converters - These emissions components can be upgraded to allow for more exhaust flow, however you should check with your local emissions laws before purchasing an upgraded catalytic converter. Making sure you stay within the legal limits of your state laws is an important part of modifying your car.

Important things to remember about upgrading your exhaust - Many people become disappointed with their exhaust purchase, and think that an exhaust makes your car slower. This is due to a factor called backpressure. When you upgrade your exhaust but don't provide more intake flow to match it, your engine can lose torque because the lack of backpressure. Carefully plan out your exhaust upgrades to avoid this from happening.

3

Handheld tuners - Best Engine Mods

Handheld tuners - Best Engine Mods

Late model vehicles use complex computers to control the fuel delivery and ignition spark timing. These computers are designed to operate the engine as safely as possible with little thought to the performance aspect of the engine. There are many aftermarket tuners that require little to no tuning knowledge to upgrade and improve your engine performance. If you are wondering which one is the best handheld tuner or which one is best for your car, check out this guide here for more information.

Installing and adjusting these handheld tuners are simple and easy to do, because they require very little tuning expertise. Easy to install and configure most aftermarket handheld tuners can get you pointed in the right direction with little homework on your end. If you are looking for the next step up from a handheld tuner of course, what you want to look at is a piggyback computer.

These computers are complete engine tuning tools, and can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But with the right engine tuner and a chassis dyno, you can tweak your engine and increase horsepower, torque AND increase fuel economy.

4

Weight Reduction - Best Engine mods

Weight Reduction - Best Engine mods

Power to weight ratio is one of the most simplest ideas to understand. The heavier your car is the more power is required to move it at speed. Losing weight from your car can come from various sources, but should never be at the expense of any safety equipment or measures. While it may seem cool to ditch your rear seats or air conditioning in favor of saving a few pounds, it's not cool to lose your seat belts or air bags. Like all things weight reduction can be taken TOO far, so make sure to find that fine balance between comfort and performance.

5

Superchargers - Best Engine mods

Superchargers - Best Engine mods

These devices can be an expensive engine mod but also highly effective for a variety of reasons. Superchargers are belt driven air compressors, meant to fill your engine or combustion chamber with air pressures that are higher than atmospheric pressure. This is called boost pressure and is one of the best ways to improve your engine performance. Most supercharger kits come complete with additional supporting modifications like a piggyback computer or additional fuel upgrades. Here's a few points to successfully installing a supercharger kit onto your engine.

Computer Tuning - Whether it's a black box that connects to your Engine Control Unit or Powertrain Control Module, or a full blown piggyback computer you need something that will make the right adjustments to your fuel curves.
Dyno Tuning - Safely make the adjustments while your vehicle is strapped to a chassis dyno, a machine designed to measure torque and horsepower while the vehicle is strapped down carefullly.