How to Increase Horsepower & Upgrade Performance
Look at your air intake and exhaust
The engine is really just a big air pump. To get your car moving faster, just help air move faster and flow better through the engine. Look at upgrading the cold air intake to bring better air in, and add a performance exhast to kick air back out.
The air intake system replaces the factory air filter and intake housing. And it's designed to dramatically reduce intake restriction as it smooths the airflow path. Now this allows your car's engine to take in a larger amount of air than the factory air filter assembly, and more air means more usable power and better acceleration through your RPM range.
There are several different ways to improve the performance and the sound of your exhaust system. The simplest one is simply to replace your factory mufflers with high-flow performance mufflers from brands like Flowmaster and Magnaflow. Now this can be a bit of a heavy DIY project, because it can involve cutting and some welding. So if you don't have the tools, and you're not quite there with your skills, a local muffler shop can take care of this for you quickly. Now another alternative is with a cat-back exhaust system on a later model vehicle. What that does is replace the factory exhaust system from the catalytic converters to the rear of the car. Now cat-back exhaust systems offer real performance gains and most installations can be taken care of with simple hand tools.
Upgrade the brakes
If you want a car that goes fast, then you better make sure it can stop fast, and upgrading your brakes is something that most of us can do. For performance, you want to look at your pads, calipers, and your rotors. And if you want a little extra flare, you can use some custom caliper covers, or go on to the full brake kit.
Upgrade Tires & Handling
You have got to be able to control your car, especially when it's screaming at the top of its RPM range. You can really improve the handling with some performance tires, and you can get better feedback with a performance steering wheel. Most stock steering wheels are typically a larger diameter; they're made from molded plastic, and they can be hard to hang on to in extreme conditions. A smaller diameter wheel, covered in leather or suede give you better feedback, a better grip, and better car control.
Upgrade fluids and chemicals
High performance means high heat, and if you're dealing with high heat, you've got to go with synthetic. One of the best benefits of synthetic oil is that the oil itself doesn't break down as fast. The viscosity stays the same for a longer period of time, and especially under extreme conditions. But it's not just your engine oil. Synthetic and performance fluids throughout your vehicle can free up horsepower with less friction, and better protect your parts under stress, all at the same time.
Reprogram the system
Power programmers are a simple and proven way to really wake up your car, providing power gains up to 30 horsepower or even more in some diesel applications. They use a data cable that connects the programmer to your car's computer by plugging into the car's diagnostic port of a '96 and newer vehicle. A programmer can access and change tuning data that controls air and fuel into your engine, timing events, even transmission shift points, and line pressures to give you more power and a better performance feel, better towing, and even better fuel economy, depending on how the programmer is set.