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10 Fast-Quick Ways to Increase Engine Performance
By Jim Smart/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Estimated Time240 minutes
240 minutes
Getting More Power 
From Your Engine Is Easier Than You Think

A lot of performance promises have been made since the advent of the internal combustion engine more than a century ago: miracle lubricants, gasoline additives, new-fangled carburetors, fire-injector spark plugs, and a host of other miracle paths to power—each with its own disappointments.
Increasing Engine Performance
But there are no free lunches in the world of high-performance engines. Engines are mostly about physics, math, and the process of turning heat energy into mechanical motion. So how to get more twist from that heat energy and rotary monkey motion? We’ve got 10 fast-quick and easy ways to increase your vehicle’s engine performance.
We’re not going to get into supercharging, nitrous oxide, or turbocharging because all pose risk to your engine’s health. And, to some degree, this author considers forced or add-on induction cheating, because it’s power your engine didn’t make on its own to begin with. This is about simple basic engine physics and what you can do yourself to get more power.
1. Switch to Synthetic Lubricants
Because synthetic lubricants such as Mobil 1™ synthetic motor oils reduce or eliminate friction, they help engines live longer. Synthetic lubricants create a better oil wedge between moving parts better than conventional oils. They don’t break down in high-heat, high-stress situations, which is why you see them used a lot in performance applications. They also offer excellent cold weather performance. Conventional engine oils do not offer the same extreme temperature protection as synthetic motor oils do. For example, Mobil 1 synthetic oil is engineered to be more robust in terms of low-temperature pumpability, high-temperature stability, and protection against deposits.
Switch to Synthetic Motor Oil
2. Ignition

Because ignition systems have become low maintenance in the past 20 years, we don’t check them until we get a misfire and a “Check Engine” light. Fact remains, ignition systems still require maintenance. And spark plugs still need to be changed periodically. When it’s time to replace ignition components, opt for the best high-performance ignition parts you can find, meaning coils, ignition wires, and platinum tip spark plugs.
Ignition System
Original equipment grade is your best approach or high-end aftermarket parts like MSD. Reason being, precision ignition operation means power. A misfire or lackluster light off means lost power, wasted fuel, and increased tailpipe emissions. A potent spark from a high-energy ignition system does make a difference in power no matter how small. The lesson here is it all adds up to significant total gains in power.
Ignition timing is also a power dynamic you should play with carefully because too much of it can do engine damage. With conventional distributor ignition systems, set total timing at 2500 rpm beginning your efforts at 32 degrees BTDC (Before Top-Dead Center) with a road test or dyno pull. Then, move timing one degree at a time—33, 34, 35 and so on along with road/dyno testing. Never take total timing beyond 36 degrees BTDC.
Some tuners go to 38, 40, and even 42 degrees BTDC, which is foolish. Anything beyond 36 degrees BTDC total represents risk due to detonation. If you have a sudden lean condition coupled with early timing, you can have engine failure in a nanosecond at wide open throttle. Ignition timing with electronic engine control calls for a professional who knows how to dial in both ignition and fuel maps to where you get power without doing engine damage.
3. Larger Throttle Body/Injectors

A larger high-performance throttle body will deliver more power. Depending on what type of engine you have, you can gain as much as 10-20 more horsepower and comparable torque. There is a catch, however. Go too large and you can lose power. Not every engine is well suited to a larger throttle body, which means you have to do your homework ahead of time. Cruise the Web and learn what others with the same engine are doing and take your lead from there. Also remember that with a larger throttle also must come higher-flow fuel injectors. Throttle body and injector size are proportional. You should also take your vehicle to a reputable dyno tuner to make adjustments to fuel and spark curves, which fine-tunes your throttle body/injector upgrade.
Larger Throttle Body/Injectors
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