What to Know About Engine Upgrades?

This short guide will focus on the basic tips to get the most out of your engine to maximize longevity and horsepower.

The Importance of a Routine Maintenance

Often overlooked in the world of engine tuning is routine maintenance. A car that is serviced in line with the manufacturer guidelines will always be a better starting point to increase power than a motor with a patchy history as it will be far more likely to last longer and be able to cope with the extra demands that power increases will place upon it. Always service your car with good quality lubricants and filters for best results.

If you’re satisfied that you have a good engine to work with then the most basic way to increase power is to swap out the standard airbox, which is often very restrictive, for a cone type filter or an uprated panel filter if you wish to keep the airbox. These filters allow the engine to breathe easier and carry the additional benefit of not needing to be replaced – at service time you can simply clean and refit them.

Your Exhaust System

Once you’ve allowed the inlet system to breathe a little easier you should consider turning to the exhaust. Standard exhaust systems are very restrictive in terms of air flow as they are designed to be quiet, not something that benefits power. Installing a well-designed stainless steel exhaust system will further increase the airflow, allowing the engine to make more power. Most manufacturers of stainless exhausts also include a lifetime warranty so it shouldn’t ever need replacing.

When upgrading to a stainless system it may be tempting to fit the biggest diameter system that you can, but this is a bad idea as too large a pipe can actually slow the airflow down. Realistically unless your car is making over 350-400 brake horsepower then a 3-inch exhaust will be plenty. If you’re unsure of the size to go for then there are several charts online that should allow you to find the perfect fit. Modern exhaust building techniques have advanced to the point where Bluetooth controlled valves can even be fitted, so yes, you can make your car louder or quieter by installing an app on your phone. Perfect for not upsetting the neighbors!

Now for More Power!

Now your car has a nice induction roar and exhaust burble it’s time to think about really squeezing more power. If you have a turbo or supercharger you should be thinking about a remap to increase the boost pressure (more on that later) and if your car is naturally aspirated, you should consider changing the camshafts for some racing cams. Your new cams will come with spikier lobes to force the valves open for longer, increasing how much power the engine can make. These are best installed by a professional as the engine timing may need adjusting to suit your new cams. If your car has a turbo or supercharger the best way to increase power is by remapping the engine to increase the pressure that the turbo operates at. This is often a precursor to fitting an uprated turbocharger as instead of replacing the whole item you will likely only need to upgrade the actuator and dump valve, at a cost of around $2-300 compared to potentially thousands for a new system.

Treat Your Car to a Safe Fuel

Fueling may seem like a dull topic but it is very important to use the correct fuel in a tuned engine, particularly if it has a turbo. High octane fuels like Shell V Power and Tesco Momentum are far less likely to cause detonation in an engine than lower grade fuels. This makes them a relatively cheap way to prolong engine life and also allows tuners to squeeze more power out of the engine when you come to remap your vehicle. Couple your new fuel with oversized fuel injectors and a high flowing fuel pump to ensure your engine will never run lean – this is critical as it can cause severe engine damage. You really don’t want to melt your engine after doing all this work!

What Remap Should I Go For?

Now you’ve invested in all the basic areas of engine tuning, it’s time to think about a remap. This will bring all of your modifications together and ensure that the car is optimizing each part to produce as much power as possible. When searching for a re-mapper use owners forum to find a tuner that specializes in your type of vehicle – they’ll have years of experience tailored to your car and will be able to extract the maximum power while also ensuring that the process is done safely, and your engine will be useable for a long time. Finding a good tuner really isn’t worth scrimping on – they are the ones that will bring all of your modifications into harmony so do your research, read reviews and ask them questions if you’re unsure – a good tuning company will be more than happy to help you. Some tuning companies such as Revo and Dream science now offer “boxed” remaps in the form of a small computer you plug into the OBD port. The system then installs the map for you. These maps have been extensively tested by the developers for safety and longevity and are a good starting point, however they may not suit the exact modifications on your car so if you can then it’s always best to get the vehicle live mapped on a dyno for optimum results.


We hope this quick guide to engine upgrades has helped you in some way or another, whether you’re new to cars, or have been loving them for years! Feel free to visit our website to have a look at our products.

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