How To Increase Horsepower

By Slyng Team

Updated Feb 18, 2024

In Learn Feb, 2024
how to increase horsepower
Photo Credit: Diesel Power Gear

There are many ways to increase horsepower in your car. In fact, many people choose to simply purchase a more powerful engine rather than going through the trouble of installing a new turbo or supercharger.

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    Most people know that changing spark plugs, checking engine oil, and using synthetic lubricants can help improve performance in the car's engine. But what if you really want to increase engine performance? From chips to parts, we have just the ticket for horsepower gains.

    So before you go spending money on an engine rebuild or tuning, check out these tips to help you get the boost in the horsepower you're looking for!

    Know What’s Going On Under The Hood

    The first step in increasing horsepower is knowing what you're working with. If you know exactly where your engine is generating the most power, this will help you choose the best parts for your car.

    You can do a couple of things to learn more about the engine bay and what's going on under the hood without taking it out of the vehicle. You can use an internal diagnostic tool like a scan tool or check if there are any oil leaks. Another thing you can do is find out how much air/fuel mixture your engine is using.

    More air is essential to the overall performance of your engine. If you determine that your engine needs more air flow, there are a few things you can do, which we will discuss below. But ultimately, the end goal is to achieve more horsepower and that can be done with more air.

    Once you know what's going on with your engine, it'll be easier to make decisions about what kind of parts you need to purchase.

    Keep Your Engine Clean

     bmw engine

    Although this trick won't give your engine more power, it will allow you to make more efficient use of the power that it does have. Every pound of cargo that you add to your truck is another pound your engine must carry.

    According to the experts, adding 100 pounds of cargo can reduce the engine's efficiency up to 2%. Check through your truck to see if you have any items that need to be removed. You might not need the tools you use every day or the extra bag of sand that is in your bed. You can free up more power by removing every item that you can.

    Give Your Engine A Tune-Up

    It is essential to maintain your truck in order to prolong its life and keep all systems operating at their best. While tuning up your engine won't increase your truck's horsepower, it will make your truck run more efficiently.

    If your fuel filter or air filter gets clogged, your engine could stop running properly. It is easy to fix this problem so don't wait. In doing so, you will allow more air thus equating to more power. A regular oil change is an essential part of engine maintenance. For a slight increase in responsiveness, you might consider using synthetic oil.

    Consider Installing A Supercharger Or Turbo Kit

    It is know that big vehicles do well with turbochargers. That's because turbochargers are fuel-efficient and take the exhaust heat to increase the air intake pressure. Conversely, turbo kits will make your engine more responsive. Turbocharger kits can increase the horsepower of your truck by up to 200 horses.

    They are not cheap. Some kits can run up to a few thousand dollars. The supercharger has a few benefits over the turbocharger. One of these benefits is that there is no delay between the throttle body application and the boost of intake pressure. A turbo is less reliable. A factory-designed or after-market universal supercharger can be used.

    Consider Installing A Cold-Air Intake

     cold air intake

    Going with a cold-air intake is a low-cost option to increase your engine's power. Your ride's stock airbox is restrictive and was designed to reduce noise. If you don't find engine noise bothersome, it is time to get rid of this. With cold-air intakes, you get colder air which is denser. Not only that, but cooler air has more oxygen than hot air.

    Moreover, cold-air intakes let you burn fuel more efficiently thus improving gas mileage. Installing a cold-air intake system could result in an increase in horsepower. In fact, the colder air may even improve throttle body response and give you a six to eleven horsepower increase via the cold-air intake.

    Go With An Aftermarket Performance Exhaust

    A quick and easy way to increase horsepower is to install an aftermarket performance exhaust system. Factory mufflers are designed to be quieter than all other exhaust systems. This quiet muffler can be replaced with an after-market one to increase power and make a more robust sound.

    This little trick could increase your horsepower by as much as 20 horsepower. To increase your power, you may want to replace the factory exhaust manifold using after-market headers.

    Invest In An Engine Tuner

    The engine of your vehicle was not designed to produce maximum horsepower and torque. Rather, the manufacturer designed it to be smooth and efficient. They wanted it to be as quiet as possible. You can see a significant increase in horsepower by reprogramming your truck.

    However, the cost of handheld tuners can be more than $400. They are very easy to use and can make a big difference in your truck's performance. However, premium gasoline will be required. This option should be considered after all the others are completed.

    Consider Your Software

    Here is one of the most economical options for how to increase horsepower in your engine's computer. The vehicle's engine control unit, or ECU, is usually tuned conservatively by the manufacturer to support the use of lower-grade fuel while minimizing stress on the engine's internal components.

    With aftermarket software, flash, you can get more power. A flash is designed to maximize your engine's potential by optimizing ignition timing and leveling power delivery. This software often requires premium gasoline.

    ECU tuning can make turbocharged cars significantly more powerful. This method also allows turbochargers to provide enhanced boost pressure, thereby translating to a few more horsepower.

    Software is a good option, but your vehicle's computer might be sensitive to modifications. You will need to choose a tune that is most compatible with your engine's current configuration.

    Forced Induction

     novi engine

    For vehicles with naturally aspirated engines, this induction method can provide significant horsepower and torque gains. You can choose to use a supercharger or a turbocharger for forced induction.

    Turbochargers produce power by spinning the turbine wheel using exhaust flow gases. This allows for more air to be forced into an engine. The engine can then deliver more power if it has more air and burns more fuel.

    Superchargers work in the same way as turbochargers, where they force the engine to accept more air. A supercharger, however, uses a belt-driven system. Thus, it requires engine power in order to work. A supercharger has instantaneous responses, while a turbocharger can take a little longer to build boost.

    Forced induction can cause more wear and tear on your vehicle's engine, drivetrain, and transmission. You might need to make modifications like a cooling system of a heavier duty clutch. While this will depend on the vehicle, it is worth considering.

    Performance Engine

    A performance engine build is a great way to get the best performance from your engine. This involves rebuilding your engine with advanced parts including upgraded pistons or stroker crankshafts. An experienced engine builder is the best choice if you are not confident taking apart your engine on your own.

    Invest In An Engine Conversion

    An engine conversion is a good option if you don't have any options for bolt-on power. If you are unable to find the right parts and don't want the hassle of tearing apart your engine to make modifications, it would be a good fit for you. Although this isn't for novices, bringing in a stronger motor can increase horsepower.

    You can do some of these swaps in a matter of minutes, while others are far more labor-intensive. To get an idea of the true cost of an engine conversion, it's a good idea to research and talk to others who have done similar swaps.

    Install A Cat Back Exhaust System

     cat back exhausts system

    Cat back exhaust systems improve performance by replacing a stock exhaust with an efficient, large-diameter muffler, mid-pipe, and tailpipe. The catalytic converter is still in place so emissions will not be changed. Vehicles will have a better exhaust note, better fuel economy, and weight reduction.

    It is possible that you are concerned about the legality of adding a cat-back system. You don't need to be concerned because you're not removing the catalytic converter like you would with an exhaust system upgrade. The emission controls won't be affected. When it comes to noise, your conscience should always be your guide. You may have to slow down in certain areas because of noise regulations.

    Parting Thoughts

    To get the engine performance you want, it's important to consider your options. You might not necessarily have to spend a substantial amount of money, such as on a rebuild, when performance parts will do the trick.

    Check around with those in the know before you make any drastic decisions. With a well-researched and planned approach, you can increase your vehicle's horsepower safely and effectively.