Unless you have your car professionally re-mapped, making a car faster and expecting improved economy may sound a little farfetched. We’re not talking big figures here, but with a few easy DIY jobs and a little TLC, you can improve your engine’s performance whilst gaining a little economy – after all, the smoother an engine runs, the less effort is needed to propel the car.
A full engine service should be the first item on your list. This should include an oil and filter change, new spark plugs, HT leads, fuel filters and air filter (we’ll talk about air filters next).
If you are not confident in tackling this yourself, find a specialist like Big John’s Auto Centre, a company who’ll also have a decent website where you can get an idea of anything else you may think needs attention.
When an engine is running smoothly and efficiently, you can expect to gain a few HP.
A cheap and easy modification to help your engine breathe better involves the air-filter. The easiest option is replacing the stock panel filter with a sports filter – these are virtually identical in that they simply pop back in where the old one comes out. Instead of paper, oil coated wire mesh is used. They can be easily cleaned and re-sprayed with oil for re-use.
The second option is a little more hands on but is easy enough to install following instructions. Once the air box is removed, a CAI (Cold Air Intake) pipe is fixed in its place with a cone filter at the other end. The cone filter should be placed as far away from the engine as possible, perhaps near the front of the car. Since the internal combustion engine produces large amounts of heat, simply moving the air intake and air filter away from this heat improves performance by putting more fuel-air mixture into the cylinders – some kits come with a heat shield, a sheet of metal positioned over the filter to prevent any hot air entering the engine.
Forced-air (RAM) induction is a third option but you may find it harder to install without some more serious cosmetic modifications to your car. Some people confuse CAI and forced induction, as they are similar in what they achieve. Where an engine naturally sucks in air at atmospheric level, with forced induction the engine is force-fed larger volumes as the car approaches and exceeds 40-mph and the air flows through the filter. It uses the same components as CAI, only the cone is positioned in a place where air will pass through it from the motion of the car accelerating. This is where you may face difficulty placing it without cosmetically modifying your car. Some racecars replace a headlight with an air intake to maximize the amount of air flowing into it.
Combined with a full engine service, and depending on your car and engine, a good CAI should increase your power by around 10-14-HP.
This is the easiest and cheapest item on the list, yet it gives the most impressive results. Simply adding half a bottle of REDEX (engine cleaning fluid to every full tank of petrol – around 2ml per L) cleans away any residue from the fuel tank clogging the fuel lines and injectors. Again, depending on the age of your engine and how well it has been maintained, once a whole bottle of REDEX has made its way through your car’s system, expect to gain around 10-HP.
So for the price of a full engine service, a few air intake components and a bottle of REDEX engine cleaning fluid, your car should gain at least 15+HP and run more efficiently and economically.