People often look at a cars’ specs as something set in stone. Vehicles, like any other machines, wear out as time goes by. If they are not properly maintained or once they pass too many miles, their performance will start to take noticeable drops. In the same way, good care and a couple of smart performance upgrades can turn even the biggest automotive slob into a snappy city cruiser.
Since there is very little doubt which one of these situations you find preferable, let’s take a look at a couple of tips that should help you to give your old car a new breath of life.
Install a cold air intake
In order to produce the internal combustions that keep the entire vehicle moving, your car needs an ample supply of air. Well, most of the built-in air intakes (especially in older vehicles) aren’t particularly efficient at this task. In this case, the best thing you can do is to replace the old unit with a more efficient cold air alternative. Why cold? Well, the colder the incoming air is, the more power the engine produces. The power-boost you can expect ranges from 5 to 20 horsepowers. Not bad at all.
Consider replacing the exhaust
In regards to air consumption, your vehicle is no different from you – it breathes in the air, uses it to power itself, and then breathes the by-products of this process out. The main difference here is that you won’t be able to run any faster if you replace your nose for a bigger one. Your car, on the other hand, could greatly benefit from a higher-flowing exhaust that would allow it to increase the engine efficiency. This upgrade can prove to be especially useful if you are driving a 4×4 – a vehicle designed to tackle rough terrains and needs every horsepower it can squeeze.
Boost the engine with a performance chip
Most of the vehicles that are recently manufactured (by recently, we mean the last decade or two) use built-in computers to regulate the basic functions like anti-lock brakes, timing, and, most importantly, fuel-to-air ratio. If you only had some way to override these factory settings, you could set your engine to produce bigger combustions and run more efficiently. Well, this problem can be remedied by installing quality aftermarket performance chips that allow you to manually adjust these functions when installed into the car.
Use the power of forced induction
We have established by now that your car can strongly benefit from a seamless flow of air necessary for engine combustion. And we have seen how intakes and exhaust factor into this story. Now, it’s time to cover the last piece of this puzzle. We are, of course, talking about forced induction systems that allow you to maximise the potential of your vehicle’s cold intake and force a large amount of air directly into the engine. Once again – an essential upgrade if you are driving an older 4WD. So, find a reliable vendor selling quality 4×4 turbo parts and write this essential upgrade off your wish list.
Ignite the sparks
Speaking of the equipment that often ends up overlooked in the grand scheme of car mechanics, we have to mention spark plugs. What these small cylindrical tools do is to provide the electrical sparks that ignite the mix of fuel and air in the engine. Over time, they wear out, and the engine loses efficiency (the famous ignition misfires). If you are experiencing this problem, replace your old plugs with new, iridium units. They conduct electricity just as good as copper plugs, but last far, far longer.
Optimise the tyres
Although they often don’t get enough credit, the tyres actually have a very strong influence on the performance of our vehicles. After all, they are the things that keep the car rolling and provide it with sufficient traction. So, if you want to increase the performance at the slight expense of stability, you should go with a narrower set that will make sudden turns far easier. Also, don’t forget the treads. Deeper treads and an asymmetric design will help you to easily cut through the gravel and prevent hydroplaning.
Even if we completely put aside the whole topic of safety, a car that does a good job at handling uses less fuel and lasts longer. Now, handling is affected by numerous factors, so it can be improved in numerous ways. Here, we’ll quickly cover three upgrades that produce the biggest impact:
- Replace springs and shocks with high-performance alternatives – Stiffer units will compromise some of the comfort but make your vehicle a far leaner beast.
- Ditch the rubber bushings and switch to polyurethane – Although they need additional maintenance (greasing), polyurethane bushings do an excellent job reducing vibrations and helping proper weight distribution.
- Use the anti-roll bars – Essentially, anti-roll bars are installed at the undercarriage of the vehicle and they’re used to improve the structural integrity of the vehicle. The bottom line, they’re better to have then not.
We hope these few tips will help you to turn your shabby old vehicle into a lean, mean city cruiser you always wanted. Sure, your car may have some factory set of specs that may be better or worse. But you have to remember that these features are more of a recommendation than the final say. So, feel free to play with these features as much as you like. You are bound only by your imagination.
Mike Johnston is an avid creative writer and blogger. He is a regular contributor to numerous blogs and online magazines, where he writes about home improvement (his specialty!), interior design, family life, green living and many other topics. Mike’s goal is to create interesting and compelling content and then share it throughout the online community.