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5 Cheap Mods That Actually Improve Car’s Performance

Honda Civic

Car modding is very hard and tricky for beginners. Those who ask for tips on adding horsepower often end up as a laughing stock on social media. As a result, ricers “tune” their cars so poorly that the horsepower even lowers.

Everybody knows that turbocharging or supercharging the engine will vastly increase its performance, but such mods may take away multiple paychecks to complete. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that one day, but there are much cheaper and also efficient modifications to start with.

Cold air intake

Mazda cold air intake outside

Have you ever seen how a balloon deflates after taking it outside in the cold? That’s because old air is denser. If you’d inflate it in the cold, it would probably blow up once brought inside the room.

Internal combustion engines use air and fuel to create combustion. Most modern car engines use turbochargers, which provide pressurized air, and intercoolers to cool it. The colder the air, the more of it enters the combustion chamber at once. So, installing a less restrictive performance intake filter will provide the engine with larger gulps of air.

Remember that sport intake filters only work when installed properly. Many rookies place them inside the engine bay, receiving the flow of hot air and, therefore, decreasing its performance. Make sure the intake air is as clean and cool as possible to get the best of it.

Modified exhaust system

Performance quad exhaust system

For more air to enter the combustion chamber, exhaust gasses must fly out quicker. Exhaust systems have catalytic converters, DPF filters, and diffusers to suppress the noise and reduce emissions. However, they also get in the way of exhaust gasses all the time, especially in older engines – the older the engine is, the more clogged the exhaust system gets.

Bear in mind that straight piping the car to unbearable noise levels isn’t what you should be aiming for. Take the vehicle to a professional: deleting a diffuser or even cleaning the exhaust system may be what you need to get that extra punch of power when accelerating.

Coilovers

Toyota GT86 with coilovers

Car aerodynamics play a significant role in a vehicle’s performance. The automotive drag coefficient becomes lower as the car gets closer to the ground due to the smaller tire area that’s exposed to the upcoming airflow. In simpler terms – coilovers stick the car to the road easier.

Don’t cut your springs

If you’re thinking about cutting springs to lower your car, you’re playing with fire here. Here are a few reasons why you should avoid this popular way:

  • Every spring is precisely divided into areas of different-strength steel. Shorten or cut one of them off, and overall spring strength is ruined.
  • Springs have additional rings, which work as support at the top and bottom. When springs are cut, their padding area becomes too small – a high risk of breaking.
  • The flying bits of broken coil springs often damage tires, rims, fenders and even injure someone.

The risks of cut coil springs aren’t worth it. The market is full of adjustable coilovers for a few hundred euros, which will let you adjust the car’s height whenever you want. Just don’t chase the cheapest set if you want more performance.

Reflash

Remapping BMW 320i

Automotive engineers always design engines with some reserve power in mind. Some engines are pretty humble in terms of upgrading them, but in some cases, 150 hp power plants can be cranked up to 500 hp without any internal modifications!

Reflashing is upgrading a vehicle’s ECM (Engine Control Module). The upgrade includes adjusting ignition, fuel mixture, timing, and limits set by manufacturers. A simple flash won’t multiply your horsepower, but a modest 15%–30% increase in power is almost guaranteed.

It would be best if you left this tuning for professionals, though. Manufacturers usually set various limits for a reason, and they are not for everyone to play with.

Performance tires

performance low profile tires

Tires stick your car to the road. If they squeak when accelerating, enough with the power – you need more grip! A poor grip is a waste of horsepower, so provide your car with a set of proper tires: wide, low-profile for asphalt, high-profile, rugged for dirt roads, etc.

Performance tires are expensive, but so are any regular ones. Just expand your tire budget a bit and treat yourself with a Michelin Pilot Super Sport, Pirelli P Zero, or another well-rated performance set.

Some petrolheads like to learn from their mistakes, but car-related faults can be crazy expensive. These five tips will boost the performance of your car and keep you safe from destroying the engine.

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