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Welcome to Car Tuning Tips

Car Tuning Tips represents the cutting edge of car tuning techniques. We cover the latest methods and tips to get the most performance from your engine. Get an overview of the best methods and learn what each part does and if it is worth fitting. If you are after parts or details about a specific model of car can we recommend that you also visit TorqueCars our main sponsor and one of the largest online tuning sites around. We quickly yearn for more power in our cars. As we start to investigate the options we quickly learn that cars are far from fully tuned. The aim of most manufacturers is to achieve an average power figure as defined in their sales brochure, optimum fuel economy to fit into the tax bands and finally to produce a car that is reliable.

There is much that can be done to improve a car but we need to accept the car tuning mantra there is always a hidden cost. It is also true that your power gain is proportional to your base power so you need to work from the most powerful engine you can afford for the best return on your tuning investment. : Generally speaking we will be pushing the engine harder so it will require more frequent servicing intervals to maintain reliability. With the extra power released you will almost certainly (unless the engine is very inefficient) lose some fuel economy. You will also induce stress on weaker components and these will need to be uprated to cope with the extra power.

Engine tuning
Firstly owners look to increase the power of their engine. Breathing mods ie intake and exhaust are usually the first to be considered. Next up we move on to internal engine modifications ranging from reboring and engine, engine swaps and rebuilding the engine.

The head of the engine is easier to work on with many owners changing their cams for fast road camshafts and porting and polishing the head for better gas flow. It is worth looking into getting uprated valves and springs while you have the head off if you are serious about your engine tuning. With forced induction engines (turbos and superchargers) you have a lot more options open to you and these give very good power gains for a minimal outlay. With a remap you can increase power by as much as 50%. A performance intercooler will greatly benefit most engines as the OEM intercoolers are either ineficient or non existant.

Handling modifications

If you are making the car go faster your top priority should be stopping the car. Uprated brakes include performance pads and disks. Suspension modifications will help to improve the handling and safety of the car. You shouldnt overlook the importance of your tires and the right tire can dramatically improve your cars grip and handling. Alloy wheels also have a number of performance benefits and should not be considered a purely asthetic modification.

Drivetrain tuning

The power comes out of the engine and needs to pass the drivetrain to the wheels. An efficient drivetrain will include a low ratio gearbox and a limited slip differential. It is our aim to cover the sensible modifications and outline the benefits and drawbacks of each. We will also advice of the hidden cost of each part in our well written guides.

Method 1 Method 1
Nitrous injection kits
Nitrous has many names, the most popular is NoS which is actually a brand. Dinitrous Monoxide is the chemical name but for the purpose of this article we shall refer to it as nitrous. We will explore how it works and the various setup options available and see what this does for performance.

Read the rest of this page

Fast road cams (Sports camshafts)

What is the camshaft, what does it do and how can it be modified. The camshaft is located at the top of an engine. Is is a long shaft with a series of lobes along it and it

rotates relative to engine speed. The lobes push close the valves in the head and allow the engines cylinders to suck in air/fuel and expel exhaust gases.

Read the rest of this page

Intake Valve tips

The job of the intake valves is to control the flow of air and fuel into the engine, and then Read More...

Uprated Fuelling

One thing a performance tuner needs to take into account is the importance of the air to fuel mixture. If Read More...

Blow off valves or dump valves

In a turbo engine the pressures build up as air is compressed and forced into the engine. The turbo is Read More...

Aftermarket Superchargers

A supercharger compresses the intake air effectively forcing more air into the engine. More air means you have more oxygen Read More...

Port matching an engine

The ports on the engine allow the air into the engine and the exhaust gases out. There are typically 2 Read More...

Fast road cams for everyday use.

The camshaft is located at the top of the engine and looks like a metal bar with egg shaped lobes Read More...

Cold air vents and CAI kits

You may have noticed that your car feels much more powerful on cold mornings than it does in the middle Read More...

Remote turbo kits

It can be quite time consuming to add a turbo charger to a NASP engine. The biggest problems include avoiding Read More...

Ceramic exhaust coatings

Ceramic exhaust coatings are gaining popularity with performance car tuners. We will take a look at why so many people Read More...

Induction kits & cone filters

Like all of us, car engines need to breathe. They use an air fuel mixture which has to be precisely Read More...

Gas flowing a head

Gas flowing a head Many things go on in the head of an engine. Primarily the air coming into the Read More...

Performance Intercoolers

We all know that cold Air carries more oxygen that warmer air. You may have noticed that when air is Read More...

Performance valve springs

The valve springs pull the valves up when they are closed thereby sealing the valve. The camshaft pushes the valve open Read More...

1. Nitrous has many names, the most popular is NoS which is actually a brand.
Dinitrous Monoxide is the chemical name but for the purpose of this article we shall refer to it as nitrous. We will explore how it works and the various setup options available and see what this does for performance.

We understand that an engine needs oxygen in order to burn fuel. We also know that colder air carries more oxygen than warmer air. Nitrous is ideal for enhancing the combustion process because it releases oxygen as it burns. This property make it ideal for the explosive power requirements of drag racing. An added benefit is that nitrous cools the air charge allowing even more oxygen into the engine. Obviously when you have more oxygen you will need to balance this up by using more fuel. The aim then is to match the fuelling with the extra oxygen released when nitrous is introduced into an engine. Installation is relatively simple and you can choose from various configurations. One adds the nitrous into the intake manifold along side the fuel injectors, alternatively it can be introduced between the air filter and intake manifold. The latter is sprayed into air so

is referred to as a dry system, the former is mixed with fuel and is referred to as a wet system. nder current UK legislation you are not able to run a car with 2 forms of fuel and nitrous is classified as a fuel (although it isnt). Most insurers will also only cover cars if the nitrous is disabled for road use. So nitrous injection is the preserve of the track and drag strip. Nitrous refills are a hidden cost. Although medical nitrous seems similar it is worth noting that automotive nitrous has some very nasty additives and must not be inhaled. You can however use medical grade nitrous in car engine. Medical nitrous is called laughing gas and this where we get the drag term funny cars from. Nitrous should only be used in short bursts at full throttle. The amount of power you get depends on the jet size you select. Most cars will handle a 25bhp shot easily. Some turbo and larger engined cars can run with 50 bhp and 75bhp shots. It is a good idea to have a purge vent which vents nitrous to the outside of a car. This is a good way of clearing the nitrous lines. Starting an engine filled with nitrous is asking for trouble so if you have triggered your nitrous whilst the car is stationary with the engine off YOU MUST ENSURE that the engine is free of Nitrous BEFORE starting it.

Fast road cams (Sports camshafts)
What is the camshaft, what does it do and how can it be modified. The camshaft is located at the top of an engine. Is is a long shaft with a series of lobes along it and it rotates relative to engine speed. The lobes push close the valves in the head and allow the engines cylinders to suck in air/fuel and expel exhaust gases.

Ultimately you want the intake valve opened as long as possible and want to delay the exhaust valve opening until the piston has started to enter the blow phase. Timing is critical. If the intake is not open for sufficiently long a time or the exhaust valves open early much of the power from the engine will be gone. We describe the cam as a duration. A 720* degree duration would not open the valves and a 1 degree duration would keep the valves closed all of the time. Manufacturers optimise their cams for best fuel economy at around 3000 rpm and require a smooth tickover. This caution gives the tuner a good oportunity to improve things. (A camshaft duration is based on 2 revolutions of the crank or 720 degrees.) The 3 power bands of cam durations.

An average family car will typically have a cam duration of 250 degrees or lower. By grinding down each side of the lobe on the cam you can decrease the duration. As a general rule of thumb upto 265 degrees gives a good balance of extra power and maintains smooth running and is most suited to a standard engine. Moving up to 290 degrees we have what is called a fast road cam. This will give a noticable increase in top end power but you will start to experience a slightly lumpy idle. Economy will also be impaired but in most cases you will be within your cars emission standards. This is what most readers of cartuningtips.com will be aiming at. For ultimate performance you can increase the duration to 320 degrees. Tickover will be very irratic, the car is unlikely to pass any kind of emission check and your fuel economy will not exist! When cams are marked for competition use only it will indicate that the cam is prone to excessive wear. This wear effectively reduces the lift and sucks your power. A competition cam is replaced at frequent intervals and is not something the average car owner wants to be doing. Honda have a dual cam lobe which allows a profile for high rpm use and another for low engine speeds giving a much wider power band and good fuel economy.

Fast road cams for everyday use.
The camshaft is located at the top of the engine and looks like a metal bar with egg shaped lobes on it. The shape and size of the lobe determines the amount of time that the heads valves are open, and the amount they are open. The valves allow the mixture of fuel and air into the engine and, after combustion, the exhaust gases to flow out of the cylinder.

Most modern engines have a double overhead cam and configuration with one cannot controlling the intake side of the engine and another controlling the exhaust side. A single a overhead cam has the lobes arranged in a double pattern to allow them to perform the same function. Double overhead cams are more tunable and allow a greater degree of control and accuracy. The downsides to fitting a fast road cam includes lumpy idling and loss of power lowdown. Some high performance cams are constructed of a softer material than standard cans and therefore suffer from premature wear. Motorsport cams will need replacing every few races so for road use we would recommend a fast road cam. For maximum flexibility selected can with between the 257and 285. These are typically referred to as a stage 1 or fastroad cam. (If you have a high revving engine stick to the upper end of these guidelines). A camshaft will be one of the biggest car tuning mods for a NASP engine. We do not recommend a different cam profile if you polish and port the engine. When fitting cams always get new followers lifters and springs or at least check these components for wear.

Performance valve springs
The valve springs pull the valves up when they are closed thereby sealing the valve. The camshaft pushes the valve open against the spring. As you can imagine this is a high wear high stress component of the engine. They need to be fitted using a valve spring compressor any other attempt at installing them will usually result in your chasing a spring around the garage.

If the valve spring is too strong it cause excessive wear on the cam. If it is too weak then the valve will not fully close, or at least will not close quickly enough. In a highly tuned

engine you cannot afford to skimp on the selection of valve springs. If one of these breaks then the valve will stick open and this will cause catastrophic engine damage, depending on which part of the suck,bang, blow cycle the engine is at. The springs also prevent bounce. When the valve is pulled back into its closed position the last thing you want is for it to bounce open again as it closes. If a spring is compressed and each coil is in contact with the coils above and below you have what is known as coil bind. The spring is extremely stressed at this bind point and you should ensure that you do not approach this bind point otherwise the cam lobes, lifters and follows will be damaged. When you buy a valve spring it will come with 2 numbers, a height and a tension. The two should be read together and the installed height noted on the spring will exert the tension at that height. Should the installed height be different then the tension will also be different. We recommend that you err on the site of a higher spring tension if you are unsure of the exact requirements of your rebuilt engine. When the valve springs are installed you can check for correct opening by rotating the engine through TDC and beyond for each cylinder and measuring the clearance to the piston. The overlap period is critical and you need to take careful measurements at this point. There should be a minimum clearance to the piston of 0.1 and a little more on the exhaust valves . Incorrect oil selection, and indeed to high an oil pressure, can alter the dynamics of the valve train and therefore engine life so stick to your manufacturers recommendations. Always investigate clatter or chatter in the head of an engine as this is usually the sign of a looming problem.

Intake Valve tips

The job of the intake valves is to control the flow of air and fuel into the engine, and then released exhaust gases after combustion. The intake valves have quite a hard life due to the rapid opening and closing, and have a big impact on the performance of the

engine. The intake valve is shaped much like a trumpet and is pulled shut when its job is finished. If it does not close fully you will lose power from your engine, and risk damaging the intake side of your engine as the flame front seeps through the gap. Larger valves allow you to have a larger intake aperture and will allow more air fuel into the engine, and more effectively expel the exhaust gases. As an alternative to larger valves, manufacturers have opted for a greater number of valves. There is no reason why you cannot have larger valves on the a 16 valve engine where there is sufficient clearance space within the cylinder. We initially had eight valve engines, where each cylinder had two valves an intake and then exhaust valve. The next innovation was increasingly is to 16 valves which doubled the number of valves to each cylinder. We now have Audi engines with four cylinders and 20 valves of varying sizes.

In some engines the valves are selected according to engine speed, and innovations such as the Honda VTEC mechanism effectively allows two cam profiles to control the rate of opening and closing of valves for any given engine speed. While you have the head off the engine you may as well get it fully ported and gas flowed. Although engines will benefit from having the valves re-seated especially if a compression test reveals a loss of compression on one or more of the cylinders. A problem with the valves could be due to a worn lifter or cam

Gas flowing a head
Gas flowing a head Many things go on in the head of an engine. Primarily the air coming into the engine flows through the head and into the cylinder via an open inlet valve. The air moving into an engine is travelling at high speed and any turbulence caused can substantially alter the flow of the air.

Think of air like water. If you dive into a pool of water and land flat, the soft gentle water becomes hard and you really feel it. The difference is the speed you are travelling at. The faster you smash into the surface the harder it seems. Also moving quickly in water takes proportionally more effort the faster you go due to the increased drag. Air travelling at speed also becomes solid. I know that the physicists out there will pick me up on this but it is really the simplest analogy I can use to describe the way air moves and flows. A small ridge or dimple in the surface that the air is flowing over will create a turbulent stream and effectively slow up the flow of air. When you gas flow a head the aim is to get the air moving as freely through the head as possible. Bends are either eliminated or made more shallow. Where possible the physical area inside the head is increased to allow for greater flow of air.

Larger valves will also enable the air to flow into the engine more freely. The larger the engine capacity the bigger the benefit of gas flowing the head as more air is moving around. Gas flow is measured on a flow bench and as the head is worked it is remeasured. A professional will get a feel for the type of channels that need to be made inside the head.

Inside the head near the valves there are often steps where a mass produced head is knocked out of the factory for speed. Removing these steps will further enhance the air flow and many car owners report a noticeable power increase solely from this machining away of the steps and grooves around the valve. Particular attention should be paid to the ports. These are the holes into which the induction manifold connects to the engine and the exhaust headers connect to holes on the other side of the head. Aim to get the holes matched up avoiding steps or ridges for smooth inlet and exhaust from the engine. Porting can be carried out with a drill with a grinding wheel and should be performed with long sweeping strokes to avoid cutting new grooves and steps into the ports. Areas to be checked are the valve seams. If these do not properly close there will be a loss of air flow and potentially substantial decrease of power. Valves should always be properly seated and a grinding paste can help improve the closure of the valve to the head.

Port matching an engine
The ports on the engine allow the air into the engine and the exhaust gases out. There are typically 2 per cylinder, an inlet and an exhaust. The inlets or ports are joined to the manifold or headers via a gasket. Whenever you get a join between two surfaces there is typically a step or at the very least a ridge or seam.

These ridges or seams cause turbulence and break up the flow of the air into the engine. This turbulence slows up the air and reduces the efficiency of the engine. When port matching is applied to an engine the intake and exhaust manifold or headers are matched up to the engine block ports to avoid this step. In its simplest diy form a grinding wheel is used to cut away excess metal and widen the receiving port. This reduces turbulence and allows a better flow into the engine. We need to point out that this is a very exact science and should only be attempted at home on basic engines. Anything remotely advanced and you risk ruining the airflow into the engine. For best results you will need a proper flow bench and a computerised CNC milling machine where optimum results can be achieved.

While many believe that bigger ports and manifolds are better for performance this is not always the case. In some applications reducing the port or changing the angle of the inlet port are what give a power gain.

In a race environment an inlet on an engine is completely re machined with the old port blocked up with metal effectively moving the entire port. The aim is to straighten the flow of air into the engine. Most standard engines have ports at right angles to the cylinder and the air has to bend through 90 degrees as it flows into the engine. On a high performance engine you will get a better flow rate the nearer to the cylinder angle you can get. The induction length plays a part and there is an optimum size, the trick is balancing the lag at the beginning of the intake stroke with the additional push of air near the end of the intake. This will need to take into account the configuration of the engine and the desired power band.

Inlet valves and engine head design will usually prevent the ideal 180 degree (straight) inlet but you should be able to get much better than the standard 90 degree bend. See also the article on Gas Flowing a head as this is very closely related to port matching and the terms are often used interchangeably. Gas flowing a head will usually include work on the valve seat and valves.

Reboring an engine
To increase the power of an engine you can increase the cylinder capacity. The best way to increase the cylinder capacity of an engine is by physically making each cylinder a larger diameter.

Firstly sit down and do your research. You need to check that you can get a gasket, piston with rings and other components to match your chosen bore capacity. You cannot undo the reborn and certainly do not want to have to redo it again. There are two main types of engine firstly the cast iron block and secondly the aluminium block. The cast iron blocks are good candidates for RE boring. It is recommended that you get the block stress tested before proceeding especially if you are making substantial changes to the diameter. Aluminium blocks may not be RE bored easily, but you may be able to get different size steel cylinder liners to achieve a similar effect.

We boring and engine is a specialist job and not something that can be performed at home unless you have a very accurate drilling machine. You cannot afford to drill off centre or you risk a piston going awol during some enthusiastic driving.

Youll also need to check that the head will fit on to your new cylinder capacity. You need to check that the gasket still provides an airtight seal. It is also a good idea that you get the head re machined to match the capacity you have selected, and this will help air flow into the engine. Another option to increase the cylinder capacity of an engine is by using a stroker kit. This changes the length of the crank and when combined with a lower profile piston you are able to increase the amount of capacity within the cylinder. Running in the engine after a rebore involves lots of low speed but high load driving. By this we mean plenty of hill work, towing and stop start driving. You must keep the revs of the engine and down during this time. It is also vital that you avoid oil additives which prevents the bedding in process from taking place effectively. If you have scored a crosshatch pattern into the cylinder wall this will help the piston and ring to bed in properly whilst the engine is under load.

Blow off valves or dump valves
In a turbo engine the pressures build up as air is compressed and forced into the engine. The turbo is driven by the exhaust gases so the faster the engine goes the more air you get forced into the engine. This is fine until you lift off the accelerator. You engine speed does not instantly change and you are not asking for fuel to go into the engine where does the compressed intake air go?

This is the job of the recirculating valve also known as a dump or blow off valve.

Well you certainly dont want it to go bang, which it would if the air was not released. Enter the Blow off valve. This effectively vents the air out of the intake area and most OEM recirculating valves put this air in to the air intake upstream from the filter where it does no harm and is actually ready for the next press of the accelerator.

If this process takes a while you have a situation where the turbo compressor is trying to compress air beyond its design. This caused the turbine to spin more slowly and creates drag on the exhaust. In a high performance engine this could easily damage the turbo. Aftermarket valves can handle much more pressure and respond more quickly than the OEM ones. If you remap a turbo engine you should also replace the recirculating valve. The dump valve or blow off valve vents this pressurised air into the atmosphere rather than discretely back into the intake beyond the turbo and filter. This gives the option of a noise as it does this and there are plenty to choose from. Some variations include a whistle, a clatter, a pop, a pfffst noise like a bus brake and variations on these themes. Do not confuse a blow off valve with a screamer pipe or a waste gate control these work in different ways and have more to do with the cars exhaust flow through the turbo than the intake flow.

Performance Intercoolers
We all know that cold Air carries more oxygen that warmer air. You may have noticed that when air is compressed it gets warmer. If you feel the connecting hose on the footpump as you put air into the tire you would notice that a substantial amount of heat can be generated. In a forced air induction engine which uses either a turbo or a supercharger the air charge is much hotter than in an engine without forced induction.

The intercooler works much like a radiator and the cold air from outside is forced through a matrix where the warm charge air is contained. This has the effect of reducing the temperature of the warm air intake. All intercooler is will create drag or slow the flow of

intake air coming into the engine, but the benefits of having a colder air charge far outweighs this. When designing an intercooler much work goes in to preventing this drag effect. The size of the intercooler, along with the dimensions of the internal piping needs to be matched to the requirements of your engine. Bigger is not always better.

The intercooler, usually, is sited in front of the radiator so it can benefit from the cold air as it passes into the engine bay. Some manufacturers have mounted the intercooler on the top of the engine, fitting a Vent to the bonnet allowing the cold air to flow through the intercooler. Perfect siting of the intercooler will often require an excessive amounts of ducting which negates the benefit, so a compromise are usually has to be made in most applications. The same rules of exhaust design applied to intake design, sudden changes in pipe diameter should be avoided and funnels used instead. Bends should be subtle and gradual and there should be no internal seems particularly on joins which will hinder the air flow. Standard intercoolers look relatively inefficient when compared with high performance aftermarket ones, and nearly every forced induction car will benefit with higher power figures when an intercooler is fitted. So will an intercooler make a difference on a NASP engine? Unfortunately the reduction in air temperature is not sufficient to justify the extra drag on the intake air so you would lose power. Intercoolers work well on turbo and supercharged engine. The more boost you are running the better the power gains will be.

Cold air vents and CAI kits
You may have noticed that your car feels much more powerful on cold mornings than it does in the middle of summer. This is due to the effects of air temperature. It is a simple fact that cold air carriers are more oxygen and warmer air. An intake vent will help to address this problem, and can be a stylish addition to your car.

Therefore for performance applications you really want to be sucking cold air into the engine. The problem we will encounter though is that an engine produces a lot of heat. The more power you are producing the more heat will be released by the engine. The job of the radiator is to take heat from the engine exposing is to the cold outside air and therefore reducing the temperature of the engine. The problem with this arrangement is that the temperatures under the bonnet of the car rise to very high levels in a relatively short period of time. One way of reducing the under bonnet temperature is to put lagging around the exhaust, particularly the headers. This will also help the catalyst to reach operating temperature more quickly. Motor sport teams make good use of vents in the bonnet and wing of the car. These allow additional air flow through the engine bay and help to dissipate the high temperatures.

Ideally you want your air intake to be sucking in the fresh air from outside of the engine bay, and one way of achieving this is quite simply to have a vent cut in the bonnet just above the intake area. You will need to be careful that you do not suck water into the air intake as this will really not help the engine. The best applications we have seen include a cold air induction kit fed from a vent on the bonnet with the induction kit housed in a box to separate it from the hot air in the engine. An intercooler may also be used to help reduce the temperature of the intake charge in typical high pressure turbo and supercharged applications. Citing the intercooler behind a vent will be substantially better than mounting it near the radiator, where the hot air around the radiator will reduce the effectiveness of the intercooler. You cannot just cut holes in the bonnet if you look underneath the bonnet and remove the sound deadening material you will notice that there are sets of reinforcement bars usually in the pattern of triangles. You should not cut through any of these bars, unless you want to reduce the rigidity of the bonnet or risk it bending and flexing as you drive along. When creating vents you also have to be conscious that you are not exposing any

electrical components to the possibility of water ingress. A shield or scoop may help to minimize this risk. The addition of a carbon fibre bonnet with integral vents will help also as this will be more effective at dissipating the heat much better than steel unvented bonnet.

Induction kits & cone filters
Like all of us, car engines need to breathe. They use an air fuel mixture which has to be precisely balanced into what is referred to as an air to fuel ratio or AFR. For petrol engines 14.5:1 is the petrol cruising AFR but under load the engine needs more fuel, with typically around a 13:1 AFR. In a turbo engine the AFR might be 11 11.6:1. A lambda sensor sniffs the exhaust and determines the amount of unburnt oxygen and will adjust the fuelling to maintain a clean efficient burn avoiding running rich or lean.

The prime motivation for fitting an induction kit is generally to get the lovely induction roar sound that is muffled by the air box. In larger engines, high performance engines and turbo engines you may also see slight top end power gains. Adding an induction kit allows a car to suck in air more freely. Induction kits typically comprises a cone or hemispherical filter with no air box. The idea is that more air can enter the engine. The standard paper filters that car have in their air boxes are somewhat restrictive to airflow. A performance air filter needs to compromise between filtration and drag. They are generally made from foam, gauze, cotton or a mixture of the three. We have found that cotton filters give the best filtration to reduced drag. Oil is generally used to aid the filtration as it traps the small particles of dirt instead of allowing them to flow into the engine. We read much online of problems caused to AFM/MAF (intake sensors) caused by oil fouling. In reality this will only generally happen if you have primed the filter with too much oil so there is little to worry about as long as the filter is properly maintained. Induction kits should not be confused with performance air filters. The latter fit in the OEM intake box and are swap in replacements. An induction kit replaces the air box and is generally a cone, cylinder or hemisphere shape. Good induction kits include a cold air feed, some type of partial air box to shield it from engine temperatures and full fitting instructions.

One advantage of inductions kits is the fact that most are washable and will last for many years, saving you from buying a new paper filter each year. (Although considering the low cost of paper filters it doesnt make economic sense to buy an induction kit if you just want to save money in the long term.) You certainly get what you pay for and cheap one size fits all induction kits do little for performance or sound. If the engine can suck in more air then it is able to burn more fuel so you are effectively increasing the efficiency and power output of the engine. Not all engines will benefit from an induction kit! It is worth noting that not all engines will experience power gains from an induction kit. Smaller engined cars (those under 1.4 especially) will actually feel less powerful with an induction kit. In this case you should use a panel air filter which replaces the standard paper one inside the OEM air box. Bear in mind that a standard air filter has a much greater surface area than the intake pipe and this generally makes up for the drag caused by the filter. In these smaller engines a certain amount of excess oxygen will not be matched with fuel as the injectors are not big enough and cannot keep up. This causes the engine to run lean. An air filter should also be matched to a good exhaust system to allow a balanced flow through the engine. More air in means more exhaust gases. In all cars induction kits will suffer from a higher intake temp due to the hot under bonnet temperatures. We all know that hot air carries less oxygen. Removing the air box makes the intake temperature rise as air is taken from this hot region rather than from a vent taken from a cooler place. You can negate this issue by adding a cold air feed pipe which pulls in air from outside the engine bay. Some manufactures take air from the front wing or just behind the headlights but there is nothing stopping you from cutting a new vent in the hood to allow in fresh cold air. Most dyno runs are taken with the bonnet open so will not reflect real world power gains. To combat this problem add a cold air feed to pipe in fresh cold air from outside the engine bay.

Ceramic exhaust coatings

Ceramic exhaust coatings are gaining popularity with performance car tuners. We will take a look at why so many people are getting ceramic coatings applied to their exhausts. In very general terms cooler air means greater potential engine power. We can assert this because it follows that the cooler the under bonnet temperature is the cooler the air intake charge will be. Cool air carries more oxygen so allows more fuel to burned. Even in cars where cold air is fed directly from the outside of the car into the intake you will still experience a minor power loss as heat is conducted through the intake system to the intake charge.

It is also true that hot exhaust gases flow more quickly than cooler gases. Indeed a cooling of the exhaust can cause dramatic alterations to the flow characteristics of the engine. The aim then is to trap all this heat in the exhaust at least until the pipes clear the engine bay. This has the added benefit that the catalyst gets up to temperature more quickly and start working efficiently. Why choose ceramic then? Well ceramic is a very poor conductor of heat and is therefore a great insulator. It can be bonded to the exhaust permenantly, looks much better than a bare metal pipe and will help the exhaust to resist corrosion.

Due to the cost involved we generally see the main exhaust headers upto the catalyst treated with a ceramic coating. While there is nothing stopping you from getting the full exhaust stystem coated we have to state that the effect diminishes the further back you go and the main point of this exercise is to lower the engine bay temperatures. How is the ceramic coating applied? It is generally sprayed onto the exhaust in a very high temperature spray at temperatures around 11,000 celcius! This high temperature liquifies the ceramic source material and allows it to bond with the target metal surface. There are a number of patented process out there and ceramic coating certainly remains the preserve of the professional with the right equipment. If the target surface is dirty or rusty the ceramic coating may not always bond as well as it should so we have to stress that surface preparation is key. Drawbacks include the minor point that the engine will take slightly longer to reach operating tempeature. The extra heat within the exhaust will also reveal any weaknesses and stress points in the exhaust. Cast iron manifolds are more prone to this but we have to ask what a cast iron manifold is doing on a performance engine as stainless steel headers flow much more freely.

There is now an alternative to ceramic coatings with the arrival of ceramic wraps on the market which can be cut and wrapped around the exhaust. We would also add that heat proof paint and various other grades of exhaust wrap are also available but ceramic coating remains the most effective insulator

The Benefits of exhaust wraps
As all regular Car Tuning Tips readers know, hot air carries less oxygen than cold air. This can have a big impact on your engines performance. As most cars have an air intake in the engine bay it becomes essential to ensure that you keep these temperatures as low as possible. One of the largest contributors to heat in the engine bay is the exhaust, and the manifold headers in particular. An exhaust wrap is a simple thermal bandage that wraps around the exhaust and acts as an insulator and helps to keep the heat transfer to a minimum.

For those that argue an exhaust wrap will cause more rapid deterioration of the exhaust we would have to concur that this is a possibility. The actual deterioration acceleration is minimal and will reduce the life of your headers from say 15 years to 13 years. In reality many people have an exhaust header with pre-existing weaknesses or extensive rust. The extra temperatures with an exhaust wrap in place will certainly highlight these weak spots and soft areas and are the cause for the rumors that exhaust wraps ruin the exhaust.

We should also stress that you cannot just use any material as an exhaust wrap. Due to the extremely high temperatures encountered, particularly on turbo charged petrol engines you will risk an engine fire if you use the wrong product. Proper performance exhaust wraps are inflammable and are rated to well above and beyond the operating temperatures of your engine.

Apply the exhaust wrap after ensuring the surface area is clean and free from rust, oil and dirt. Some choose to apply a heat proof paint such as that used on BBQ and grills before applying the wrap. The wrap needs to be tightly wound and typically every part of the exhaust will have a double thickness over it as you cover half the previous wind with the successive one. A metal clip or similar heavy duty clip should be applied to the end to ensure that the wrap stays firmly in place. As a precaution we would recommend another clip part way along each branch to give some extra security. The last thing you want to happen is for the wrap to unwind and become entangled in your belts and pulleys.

Sports exhausts
Engines need to get rid of the exhaust fumes created by the combustion process in the same way that we need to breath out when our bodies have consumed the oxygen in our lungs. If our nostrils were blocked up we would and we had a narrow straw to breathe through we would survive unless we started to exert ourselves. We would quickly need to ease off because we couldnt breathe. Engines are the same, if the exhaust is too narrow the engine will struggle to breathe properly and performance will be impaired.

Headers, these connect the engine to the exhaust pipe. A typical engine has 4 ports (6 if it is a 6 cylinder etc) and these are channeled down into a single tail pipe. If there are rough parts in this header or the shape inhibits the flow of the engine then it will take longer to expel the exhaust gasses and also be much harder to do so fully. Most standard headers are cast in iron and this leaves a pitted surface and often thick cast seams are left in the metal. Stainless steel headers make for a better flow, the bends can be more precisely made and the internals are seam free. A standard cast header can be improved with a grinding wheel and polishing wheel. Smooth out the rough internals and remove any cast seams. Aim also to reduce the internal angles by grinding away the excess metal.

Down pipe flexi coupling. This prevents vibration from the engine affecting the exhaust mountings and also protects the engines from car body movement. Again this should be internally as smooth as possible and any welded seams should be smoothed down.

Catalysts. A subject in their own right. This forces the exhaust gases to react with the catalytic material to reduce the emissions of the engine. A free flowing sports cat can do a little to increase the power output of the engine. Removing the cat altogether can cause problems in a closed loop system and will not yield much of a noticeable power gain over a sports catalyst. Overall gains for a sport cat or decat installation are 2-6 bhp. Main exhaust. This will need to bend around the contours underneath the car so it would be best to minimise the bends as much as possible. Generally though the exhaust has to go around the rear axle so bends cannot be avoided. When joining pipes of different diameters you should always make the join a cone shape otherwise you will suffer from a turbulent flow of exhaust gases. Stainless steel is a good long life material provided it is bent to shape rather than cut and welded. Silencer. Sometimes cars have an expansion box before the final silencer. The job of the silencer is to control and muffle the noise of the engine. In most setups the exhaust gasses are channeled through a series of baffles which contain a sound deadening material. The more freely the exhaust gases can flow through this the better. The larger the bore of the silencer the deeper the tone of the exhaust. Twin pipes and slashes do little to alter the flow of gasses and are primarily there for aesthetic purposes but the larger the volume of these pipes the greater the air flow. So the bigger the exhaust the more power you can make, right? WRONG! Back pressure, a small amount of resistance in the exhaust keeps the low down power of the engine. A large exhaust will reduce the torque of the engine and leave it with no low down pulling power. The diameter of the exhaust is a precise calculation and takes into account the engines volumetric efficiency. The exhaust is too large if local cats can sleep inside it at night! Ideally you want less back pressure as the engine revs increases and to this end some manufacturers have fitted a valve to the exhaust which opens to increase the flow rate of an engine at high rpm.

Sports exhaust silencers
The basic job of a silencer in an exhaust is to dissipate the sound waves coming from the engine. In the UK and America where early cars had poor silencers we have a culture that associates noise with power. In Japan where engines were introduced with silencers the accepted exhaust note is very quiet and more of a buzz.

Are silencers really necessary? The noise an engine generates is phenomenally loud and most of this exits the engine via the exhaust. The noise is to great to be comfortable when driving and is a nuisance to everyone else around. For this reason then most countries have legislation requiring a silencer to be fitted to the exhaust.

Most silencers around contain some kind of sound deadening material to absorb the sound waves but exhausts work in different ways. There are 2 primary exhaust types one contains a series of baffles and this reduces the exhaust flow as well as reducing the noise emitted.

The second type is a straight through pipe with perforations in it. The perforations take the sound energy and as this bounces back of the outside of the silencer it distorts and reduces the sound waves in the main exhaust charge. Some manufactures have a primary and secondary resonating chamber to break up the sound and these can be of one or both types outlined above. In a performance engine you really want the exhaust gases to be emitted as quickly as possible. The baffle type of exhaust is too restrictive in this instance so we would need to look to a straight through exhaust back box. The benefits of the perforated pipe are obvious. The main exhaust stream is allowed to continue virtually unimpeded and the holes primarily allow the sound waves to penetrate and be absorbed. The overall bore size of the entire exhaust system has an optimum setting. To small and it is restrictive, too large and the exhausts will flow more slowly. A larger bore silencer will not affect the airflow by a noticeable amount, and the larger the silencer the deeper the sound. If you are performance tuning your engine, you need to choose a silencer that does not restrict the engine. A silencer alone will not add power to an engine but a restrictive silencer will rob you of power.

Sports Cats vs de-cat pipe
The catalyst (also referred to as a pollution or smog control) resides inside the exhaust. Its job is to create cleaner emissions by causing a reaction which reduces the CO2 and NO2 in the exhaust. Because they are constructed of a matrix they impede the flow of exhaust gases and have been blamed by many as power stealers. What options are out there that regain this robbed power?

Primarily there are 2 options to get faster flowing gases through the exhaust:The first and easiest is referred to as a de-cat. It is quite simply a pipe that sits where the catalyst should go and effectively the entire catalyst is removed. What are the drawbacks of a de-cat? It is illegal in most states and countries unless your car can still meet its stringent emissions requirements without one. Many people swap back the catalyst at the time of the annual test to obtain a roadworthyness certificate but the Police are increasingly using spot checks at the road side to catch people out.

Some engines will also have a probe further up the exhaust from the catalyst and if this reports dirty exhaust fumes it will adjust the ignition timing typically running the engine lean. This will result in a loss of power and could even cause the ecu to go into a limp home mode. The second and most professional option is a sports catalyst. These are manufactured to higher tolerances than the OEM ones and have much better flow characteristics. The drawbacks of the sports cats are usually the cost but in real terms they cost little more than a standard original brand catalyst. When you put a car on a rolling road what sort of results can you expect to see? Car Tuning Tips took a Mitsubishi Evo IV onto a rolling road and the baseline power with the original catalyst was 295bhp. With the decat pipe this increased to 305 bhp and then when the sports catalyst was introduced power reached 304 bhp. So we have to conclude that there is very little perfromance difference between a sports cat and a decat. The standard EVO catalyst is actually very good which is why we see little gain between them but on more humble engines power gains reach around 5-10% higher.

If your catalyst needs replacing we would strongly recommend that you source a suitable sports catalyst rather than going for an illegal decat option. If you are using the car off road then the decat would be the sensible and most cost effective option open to you.

Method 2
Uprated Fuelling
One thing a performance tuner needs to take into account is the importance of the air to fuel mixture. If this is too lean or too rich the engine power will be reduced and this also impacts upon the reliability of the engine. The more power you are extracting from an engine the greater is requirement for the air/fuel mixture.

The main fuel pumps are usually sufficient to cope with most off the shelf tuning modifications. However when turbos, superchargers or extensive engine work has been carried out there is a need to increase the output of the fuel pump. It is not unusual in the motorsport world to see multiple fuel pumps installed. Having a couple of fuel pumps can also help with starvation in low tank conditions as each will typically have its own fuel pickup.

The injectors will also need uprating as these deliver a measured amount of fuel and are sold in sizes. Often times adding a set of injectors from a larger engined model of your car will have the desired result. This fuel mixes with the air in the intake manifold before it enters the chamber so see the articles on air intake to fine tune this part of your engine. Another critical component in fuelling is the fuel pressure regulator. This maintains a set pressure in the fuel lines. The engine also has to return excess fuel to the tank via a return feed if the pressure is too great. Factory fit fuel pressure regulators can be unreliable and almost any aftermarket fuel pressure regulator valve with react faster to changes in the

throttle position. So although your power will not increase with an uprated fuel pressure regulator the power will arrive more quickly and the car will be a much snappier drive. Remember though that increasing the fuel line pressure will increase the stress the fuel line is under and will show up any weaknesses there may be. Blocked fuel filters are a major cause of lost power and should always be one of the first things you look at if you are suffering from fuel starvation or bad starting conditions.

Petrol, octane and additive tips
There is an ever increasing array of fuel on offer. With the addition of a whole plethora of additives the motorist can be left wondering what is the best for his car. Which octane is best and should you use additives? Are all brands of fuel the same?

The quick answer is that all fuels and additives are not the same. We typically buy petrol by its octane rating. The octane rating or RON is solely an indicator of how resistant the fuel is to knock. (Knock is premature ignition caused by pressure within the engine) In general most Japanese performance cars require a high RON fuel as the Japanese domestic market use a high octane fuel as standard. If you increase the compression in an engine or add a turbo for example you will certainly benefit from the extra RON. An engine contains a knock sensor and if it detects that knock is occurring it retards the ignition timing of the offending cylinder. If you put a higher octane fuel in your car it is unlikely to cause any damage. Unless the engine is experiencing knock on a lower octane fuel you are unlikely to get any performance benefit either. Running an engine which requires high octane fuel on a lower octane will typically cause damage. So avoid going lower than your makers specification. High octane fuel does not mean it is more powerful or that you will get better economy.

IT JUST MEANS THAT IT IS MORE RESISTANT TO ENGINE KNOCK! High octane fuels in the UK typically range from 97-99 RON. Check with your local forecourt. Try a higher Octane and see if you benefit from it, if you do then this shows that the engine was not operating at peak efficiency under the lower octane. Race fuels are also available that exceed 99 RON but should only be used in highly modified engines or engines which run high compressions such as Japanese cars and turbo cars. All petroleum producers put additives in their fuel. These are a carefully controlled blend to enhance both the storage and use of the fuel and maintain the octane levels. Detergents added will help to keep the injectors and engine clean. This in turn means the engine is more efficient and you will get better economy. Other additives may include bio elements such as esthers or alcohol. We are firmly opposed to the compulsory addition of bio-fuel into our regular petrol. There needs to be more research carried out as early indicators show this to be detrimental to most petrol engines. Of all the fuel additives we have encountered the only one we can say has made a difference is REDEX. After a long run every car I have used it in shows an improvement of around 2mpg. The older the car the better the improvement. The octane boosters usually work out more expensive than buying the higher octane fuel in the first place.

Engine Balancing and Blueprinting tips.
Think of an engine as a series of metal components moving at great speed changing direction frequently. The faster the speed of the engine the greater the vibration and forces encountered. There is a limit to how fast and engine can goes safely, and manufacturers set this red line and include a Rev limiter.

Disruptions, or vibrations, within the engine will sap power, and substantially reduce the life of the engine. To get more power from an engine each of the main dynamically moving components need to be balanced and precisely machined. This will allow the upper Rev limit of the engine to be substantially increased. In the Formula one world the large engines are capable of revving to speeds of over 20,000 RPM. This is an indicator of how under tuned are stock engines are.

There are two parts to balancing an engine. The first is where the components are physically weighed and material added or taken away to ensure that they balance. Typically this is performed on the pistons connecting rods and bolts. When these fast moving components have the same weight they will exert the same amount of forces at each parts of the engine cycle. This phase of engine balancing is often referred to as a blueprint stying where each component of the engine is exactly matched to the required specification. Where possible mass is also removed from the engine as lighter components are generally able to move at faster speeds and change direction more easily. When an engine is in motion you need to take into account the dynamic forces generated. So the second phase of engine balance requires specialist equipment where the engine components are assembled and monitored for dynamic imbalance. By balancing your engine you will benefit from more power, better economy, longer engine life and a higher red line. The higher the revs the greater the power produced, on the basis that the engine is using more air and more fuel per minute. Peak power also tends to arrive on most engines part way through the rev band and many engines are just getting into their potential stride as the rev limit approaches.


Cryogenic engine treatments

When building a new engine you really want it to be as strong as possible. Cryogenic treatments were discovered by accident. It was noticed that metal exposed to the cold temperatures of space and high temperatures of re-entry were substantially stronger.

The effect of slow cooling and slow heating up was even better than the sudden temperature changes and the process of cryogenic engine treatments arrived. An engine is stripped and sprayed with liquid nitrogen in a controlled manner dropping its temperature to near absolute zero for a long period. Then the temperature is slowly raised to 150C and held for around 12 hours. This process can be repeated a few times for better results. Cryogenic engine treatments result in a much harder and smoother finish to the metal with obvious benefits to the car tuner.

Whole engines cannot be effectively treated in this way so they must be stripped down and the individual components treated. The resulting metal is substantially harder so is capable of with standing much higher stress than a standard block. The molecular level smoothing also reduces friction which is another source of power loss and internal engine stress. There are a growing number of companies offering a full cryogenic service for engine builders. The initial costs are relatively high and this renders cryogenic treatments the exclusive preserve of the motorsport team or serious tuner. Eventually the cost will come down and this will be a viable option for all car tuning enthusiasts. Rarely do we see a tuning process that doesnt introduce negative points. All power gains tend to come with a hidden price but cryogenics seems to have only positives and upsides. Expect a net power gain of around 3% and much better reliability from a cryogenically treated engine.

Electric water pumps
The coolant needs to run round the engine taking the heat from the block and dissipating it in the radiator. Most cars come with mechanical water pumps which have a

number of drawbacks, www.CarTuningTips.com will take a look at the benefits of upgrading to an electric water pump. Mechanical pumps take a lot of power from the engine. They also rotate and therefore pump in proportion to the engine RPM. This does an adequate job but causes the following 2 issues. 1. After a hard run with lots of heat in the engine the pump will slow down as you slow down. This can mean the engine temperature raises to dangerously high levels. 2. When the engine is cold the coolant is being pumped round at the same rate as a warm engine causing the engine to take longer to warm up. This is tolerable on a standard car which rarely is driven hard. But when you have a highly tuned car and frequently take it for a spirited drive you can start to experience problems associated with overheating.

The solution then is to go with an electric water pump. This has a separate controller and allows much more control over the flow of coolant around the engine. 1. You can preset the engine temperature for high (better economy) or cooler (better performance). 2. The average temperature is much closer to the preset temperature. 3. The electric pump is only working when the engine is up to temperature allowing the engine to warm up more quickly. 4. The pump can run after the car is stopped to cool any residual hot spots. 5. Water speed can be faster than with a mechanical pump when required. So there are many benefits from an electric water pump. When you fit this you remove the engine thermostat which controls the flow around the engine as the new EWP controller does this. For simple installation many owners remove the mechanical water pumps impeller to reduce drag but retain the belt tension and pulley. What are the drawbacks? Reliability has been sited as a possible issue. Electric motors wear whereas the mechanical water pumps pretty much keep on going. Although certain VAG engine water pumps have plastic impellers which brake requiring complete replacement of the whole water pump. As long as you keep an eye the condition of your engine you should have little trouble with an electric water pump.

Water injection

In a forced induction engine (turbos, superchargers and twin chargers) and to some extent a NASP engine with a high compression ratio you have the ever present risk of detonation. This is where the fuel prematurely ignites typically causing major engine damage. When adding or increasing the amount of air going into the engine you have an icreased risk of detonation. One solution is to use a higher octane fuel because it will be more resistant to knock.

More professional engine buildings are looking to the benefits of water injection. Simply put the water dampens the fuel air mix allowing it to resist detonation for a longer duration. Ehtanol/water mixes are sometimes used but for the purpose of this article we shall focus on water injection. Water can be injected at any stage along the intake. Some proponents of water injection insist that it is better to spray this before the compressor and allow the water to better vapourise, some insist that it is sprayed just after the turbo and there are also fans of direct injection at the point of fuel delivery. Each system has is merits and drawbacks and depends to a large extent on the engine.

A crude setup can deliver a set amount of water each time but ideally you will need some form of engine management to match the fuel and water delivery to allow for the optimum settings and benefits to be obtained. A water injection kit can be purchased now from many motorsport retailers and these typically come with everything you need.

Some water injection systems use your screen wash reservoir but ideally you should have a separate water reservoir with a level warning device fitted as some screen washes contain undesirable elements to be spraying into your engine. Problems. Water can cause corrosion so it becomes essential to properly maintain your engine and the intake will ideally need to be periodically removed for inspection. If the water reservoir dries up then you will risk engine damage unless the fuel and air mixture is reduced. Benefits. In addition to the extra detonation resistance water injection will provide a cleaning action and help to remove carbon deposits from the engines valves and cylinders keeping the egnine in peak condition. I have yet to be fully conviced that the merits of water injection outweight the potential problems. Considering a properly designed and built engine with lower compression pistons will suffice it does seem a bit of a bodge. However in high stress ultra high performance settings it gives an opportunity to release a little extra power from the engine.

Remote turbo kits
It can be quite time consuming to add a turbo charger to a NASP engine. The biggest problems include avoiding detonation, making space to join the turbo to the exhaust and sorting out the fuelling and mapping. Although still a big job the remote turbo is being hailed as the simple bolt on solution for NASP engines.

A remote turbo, so called because of its remote location is generally fitted at the back of the car near or instead of the rear silencer. It can also be mounted part way along the exhaust but this can be prone to damage and reduces the cars ground clearance. The remote location ensures that the exhaust gases are substantially cooler than they would be in the exhaust headers. Due to the catalyst and expansion box the exhaust gases are also flowing a little slower. These two factors make it a lot easier to add a remote turbo.

The lower boost they produce and cooler temperatures they run at help the simplify the installation. The long pipe run back to the air intake will act as an intercooler negating the need for an additional intercooler. Your remote turbo will need a very good supply of oil and we would recommend fitting an oil pump and taking an oil feed from the engine sump. An inline oil cooler can help if temperature issues ensue. Although remote turbo kits are available you can actually source suitable turbos from breakers yards and salvage agents. Go with a small turbo set to low boost with a wastegate and diverter valve for best results, unless you are prepared to lower the compression of the engine. You will need to adjust the fuelling and the engine mapping to cope with the additional supply of air and this is best done on a rolling road. Avoid detonation by running a low boost, using high octane fuel and adding a water injection system if you do not want the expense and inconvenience of a full engine rebuild.

Aftermarket Superchargers
A supercharger compresses the intake air effectively forcing more air into the engine. More air means you have more oxygen and when this is matched to more fuel you will benefit from more power. There are a number of benefits to superchargers compared to turbos, but there are also some drawbacks. We aim to provide sufficient information here to allow you to ascertain if a supercharger will provide a solution to you.

The supercharger is powered by a belt from the engine. Superchargers force air in at a constant rate in line with the engine speed. As engine speed decreases the intake flow

matches this precisely. Because it is driven by a belt from the engine some power is lost as this needs to drive the compressors. This is more than made up for by the extra power on offer.

Superchargers work better than turbos in aftermarket bolt on application because the power increase is so well matched to the engine speed. With a turbo the power levels fluctuate with the exhaust gases and there tends to be lag low down and a big power hike in the top end. Superchargers deliver power throughout the rev range so although it will not typically peak as high as a turbo you will benefit from a no lag boost low down in the rev range. The biggest problem with superchargers is where to site them. A simple solution presents itself on cars with air-conditioning. As the air con is heavy, and saps power a performance car is better off without it. Removing the air con leaves a nice space for the supercharger compressor to fit. The belt will usually be the right length and you will be able to utilise the air conditioning compressor mountings to fit on the supercharger. When fitting a supercharger you will need to get the engine timing remapped. Depending on your boost level you will need to look at the fuelling. It is surprising how much more fuel you need to run to match the extra air coming into the engine. There are a number of supercharge and turbo applications around. The VW twin charger is a case in point. These are designed to give the benefits of each system and a relatively small engine, like a 1.4 is able to produce the power of an engine 2 times its size. The engine, being smaller is lighter and there are performance benefits all round.

Adding a turbo
We all know that one of the best ways to improve a cars performance is to uprade to forced induction. More air going into the engine means that you can burn more fuel and produce more power. In games we often see that turbo upgrades are easy to do and give phenomenal power gains to a car but is it like that in the real world?

If you have too much pressure in an engine then it will cause the fuel to prematurely ignite. This can lead to serious engine problems so when you add a turbo you need to actually reduce the pressure in the engine.

We do this by lowering the compression ratio. This can be achieved only with some major engine work. Adding a thicker gasket or even worse using 2 gaskets, will do very little to the compression ratio and will be prone to premature failure.

Ways to lower the engines compression ratio.

Replacing the pistons with low compression pistons and using a stroker kit to alter the throw of the pistons will potentially reduce the engines compression ratio. Reboring the engine will increase the cylinder capacity but this should be mated to lower compression pistons. It is also possible on some engines to enlarge the head area around the valves but this would not be very practical or effective. If you are unable or unwilling to reduce the engines compression ratio then your options are restricted to a low pressure forced induction system. You could also use a higher octane fuel, which is by its very nature more resistant to knock. It is worth noting that many Japanese cars engines have high compression ratios and already prefer higher octane fuels giving little scope for adding a turbo without substantial internal work. Alternatively a water injection system can dampen the air fuel charge down and delay the effect of premature ignition. There are a number of considerations and drawbacks to water injection so this should only be used in certain situations.

Fitting the turbo

Now that the engine is able to cope with the extra air and fuel without prematurely igniting we have to get the turbo plumbed in. The plumbing requires a custom exhaust header and you will need to route the air intake piping through the turbo. A turbo will need the following components to work properly. A wastegate to control the flow of exhaust gases through the turbo, a diverter or blow off valve to vent overboost on closed throttle and a good supply of oil. Additionally Car Tuning Tips suggest you fit an intercooler to lower the intake air charge as the turbo compressiong will significantly warm it up. Because the engine is undergoing a dramatic transformation you will certainly need to alter the timing map. If you get the timing wrong you risk destroying your engine so it is best left in the hands of an expert who can set this up on a rolling road. Keep a close eye on engine oil temperature, you may need to add an oil cooler if your car starts to overheat. We also suggest you user a higher grade of oil, the engine will be working much harder after all and the heat in a turbo unit can really degrade mineral oils very quickly.

It is certainly a good idea to overhaul an engine thoroughly before adding a turbo charger. Fitting forged parts is a good idea as this will help to maintain the reliability of your engine. A good source of cheap turbos is your local wreckers, breakage or salvage yard. A new turbo can set you back substantial amounts of money. With turbos being commonly installed on VAG group cars and many Japanese performance cars there should be a good selection to choose from. It is also worth checking the classified adverts for old turbos as many owners uprate their turbos and seek to sell on the old one. Remember that bigger turbos spool up more slowly and are suited to high revving or large capacity engines. When adding a turbo to a NASP engine the Car tuning tips recommend you stick with a smaller turbo unit and as a bonus you will benefit from a faster spool up and lower lag. A turbo can dramatically increase the power of your engine. Typically power gains range from 40% to 200% of your base power although a sensible figure to aim for is around 75100% of a power increase but this does depend on how strong your base engine is and how much work you have had done on it. If you have not lowered the compression ratio of your engine or strengthened it then we suggest you stick with a very low boost setting and settle for a 25% power hike. Superchargers are easier to add than a turbo so you should consider this as a low cost, lower hassle alternative to turbo charging.

Turbo engine tuning
When deciding on a power train which should you go for? I will admit to being a little biased towards turbos. Here is my take on Turbo Engines. The sheer exhileration and excitement you get as the turbo kicks in is something that sticks with you for a long time. I will concede that due to lag the turbo does not produce much power low down. Even the mighty Mitusbishi EVO suffers from terrible lag low down in the power range. Instead of this getting you down view it as a car with a split personality. In heavy traffic it is civil and economical but if you are overtaking or enjoying a thrash there is a monster waiting to be unleashed. Nearly all turbo engines are built to withstand more pressure in the combustion process. Most cars with turbos (yes even diesels) can be remapped to release loads more power. A remap is a simple reprogram of the cars computer which controls the wastegate, fuelling

and thereby the amount of fuel/air that can be burnt. A remap will cost a few hundred pounds but will typically give another 30% of reliable power to your car.

After this modification there are loads more, if you strip down the engine and get it gas flowed and ported, strengthen the rods,pistons and crank and get it balanced you can look at doubling the power output of the engine. (Some cars can cope with 100% more power without an extensive rebuild although reliability may suffer. A turbo upgrade will also yield substantial power gains, so look out for an OEM (standard case with uprated internals) or after market (bigger housing requiring minor modifications to the cars exhaust, wastegate and air intake housing diameters.) A ball bearing turbo will spool up quicker. Smaller turbos reduce the problem with lag. A twin turbo setup with a boost controller will control the sheer power and manage the delivery to a more progressive level again minimising lag. Large turbo conversions will make bigger power figures but tend to suffer more from lag at the lower end of the rev range

Big turbo conversions
A turbo charger has a finite capacity to force air into the engine. The basic principle that more air equals more power holds true (as long as there is a sufficient supply of fuel to match this). Hybrid turbos are one way to increase the capacity of your turbo, with different impellers the characteristics can be changed. But for larger power gains you really need to add a larger turbo.

A larger turbo is obviously physically bigger than an OEM one, and it will therefore require a custom exhaust header and different oil feed lines. The benefits of a big turbo conversion is a massive increase in power. The increase typically focuses on the top end of the rev range where you get a massive power increase. There is a a downside, a large turbo takes a while to get up to speed and it can seem quite hesitant (a condition known as turbo lag) where the engine struggles for power below 3000 rpm. Big capacity engines (2.5 litres upwards) are best suited to large turbos as they can sustain the exhaust flow rates that the turbo needs to spool up.

Some tuners use a twin turbo setup fitting a smaller initial turbo (or even a supercharger) and then bringing the big turbo online when the exhaust flow rates can support it. A ball bearing turbo will spool up more quickly than a thrust bearing one and the ball bearing turbos are more tolerant of larger power figures. (Thrust bearings tend to prove unreliable when pushed beyond 350bhp). So can you just bolt on a big turbo and everything will work? Unfortunately things are not this easy and the car will need to be remapped. A standard ECU will usually have a failsafe that cuts in where boost exceeds a certain limit so this will need to be removed. Also when increasing the power of an engine you will need to strengthen the bottom end of the engine and ensure the head is capable of flowing the supply of air and fuel correctly. This also means increasing the injector capacity and supplying fuel at a greater rate will usually need a higher capacity fuel pump. You will also need to uprate the intercooler as a standard intercooler can become restrictive when you have a larger turbo.

Hybrid turbos
One great way to easily uprate and improve a turbocharged engine is with the aid of a hybrid turbo. Sometimes it is quite hard to fit a larger turbo to an engine, the most notable reason being the lack of space available. Add to this the complexity of fitting a larger unit into the exhaust manifold and relocating the oil feed and air intake piping. So you can see that there is a lot to recommend getting different turbo internals in a standard turbo housing as this becomes a bolt in upgrade.

Turbos are simple double ended propellers or impellers. The size, angle and shape of these will greatly affect the performance characteristics of the engine. By adjusting the profile of the exhaust impeller you can encourage early spooling or focus instead on producing a wider power band. Turbo housings can often be flowed, that is smoothed out and opened up a little allowing a greater throughput of air and this also allows the use of larger internals. Common applications include taking a large turbos internals and fitting these to a smaller unit. The smaller turbo is still externally the same as the OEM turbo and can therefore be bolted straight in place.

Another option is that completely custom made internals are fitted to your turbo. Due to the high rotational speeds it is essential that the internal components of a turbo be balanced pushing the job of hybridising outside of the scope of most DIYers. Look at the engines existing power band and decide where you want the power to come in and how much more power you want. A hybrid turbo specialist can then work out which profiles to use in your turbo. The trouble is that you cant usually have it all. Whilst there is a certain degree of improvement available over the standard OEM turbo you need to select where you want the power to be. A larger power figure will often mean later spooling and more lag and lowering the spool up time will usually be at the expense of top end power. Variable geometry turbos are great for this reason as they are adjusted depending on engine speed and load. Sadly it adds another layer of complexity to the manufacturers of hybrid turbos. So work out carefully what your needs are and have a chat with your local Turbo specialist to decide on an appropriate solution.

Method 3
NASP engines and tuning options.
When deciding on a power train which should you go for? Both have merits. The answer really depends on driver style and preference but I will admit to being a little biased towards turbos. Here is my take on NASP Engines.

NASP Engines (Naturally Aspirated)

These engines suck in the air they need filling the vacuum created as the piston moves down the cylinder. Large naturally aspirated engines and high compression engines produce a lot of power. The power delivery is instantaneous and the torque curve will gradually build as the engine revs increases. The benefits are the steady stream of power and lazy delivery across the rev range. There are plenty of tuning options open to you but you are best to focus on CAMS and getting the head flowed and ported. While you are working on the head a 3 angle valve job does wonders for engine intake and will at the same time improve the economy of the engine (in most cases). An induction kit with a suitable cold air feed or prefereably a sports panel air filter and full stainless steel sports exhaust with a sports catalyst will also help to free up the power particularly at higher rev ranges. Balancing, blueprinting and a lighter flywheel will free up a fair bit of power allowing you to exploit a higher RPM redline limit. Increasing the compression ratio is also a good way of extracting more power from a NASP engine. After you have finished on your internal modifications you should get the engine remapped, typically the timing will be slightly advanced allowing for more power and greater efficiency. An ECU remap will also control the fuelling allowing you to fine tune the engine under WOT full load and partial load conditions. Fuelling may also be uprated for bigger power gains but it is generally harder to tune a NASP engine than a Turbo one as it requires a lot of internal engine work.

Low ratio Gearboxes

Many drivers overlook the importance of the gear ratio in their tuning project. The manufacturers spend a great deal of time matching each individual gear ratio and final drive ratio to the power bands of the engine. Car tuners should do likewise.

Years ago manufacturers used to provide an overdrive gear which effectively changed the final drive ratio creating an additional set of gears. This was primarily intended to improve the economy of the car. Acceleration times can be greatly improved when the gear ratios are closer together. Therefore six speed gearboxes are becoming popular options on high performance models. When I rebuilt my gear box which had broken for the second time I was determined to get it right. Strength is important and you really cannot afford to skimp using cheaper components. I stuck to a five speed gearbox and used a closer ratio first and second gear, which gave me faster acceleration. Third gear was only very slightly lower than normal, fourth gear was unchanged and fifth gear was much higher. I chose this configuration because I rarely use the fifth gear when on the track, but cruising on a motorway I really wanted the economy. So this represented the best choice for me and was perfect for my requirements. If the car was exclusively for competition I would probably have chosen a gearbox with lower ratios througout and used the full power band in all gears. A gear box can be built from scratch using custom cog sizes and configurations, but this can be very expensive and time consuming. It also requires specialist knowledge of gearing and engine power bands. The second option is to strip down your gear box and replace the main gear Cogs with those from another car which match your performance requirements. For example if you have a 2.0 engine and there is a 1.6 hot hatch version, you can cannabilise this box for suitable shorter gears. Dog tooth gears have better performance as power is not lost in the twist as gears mesh but this can make gear changes a little more crunchy around town. The simplest way of getting a low ratio gearbox is merely fitting the gear box from a smaller engined version of your car. Smaller engines have a narrow power bands, and therefore the gear ratios are closer together. Do not expect this option to be reliable as you will be putting much more power through the gear box than it was originally designed for, but it can be great fun and will show the benefits of a lower ration gearbox.

Quick shift gear kits
A fast gear change is an essential in any form of competitive driving. One of the easiest modifications to allow you to achieve this is a quick shift gear change kit. We look at what a quick shift gear kit does and how it will help to improve your car.

A gear stick is pretty much just a simple lever. As you move the gear stick the gear selectors in the gearbox move as your motion is translated via a set of levers and rods. A short shifter or quick shift gearstick essentially alters the throw distance between gear changes by changing the angle/pivot of the lever. They are typically shorter than a conventional stick and can reduce the amount you have to move it by around 40%. This makes for a much more positive gear change action with each gear slicking into place in a shorter time. With practice the racing gearchange becomes second nature. Every twisty road that requires frequent gear changes will just melt away and you will greatly enhance your driving pleasure. Most quick shift kits come with full fitting instructions and various, washers, lubricant and bushes. Essential you just remove your gear gaiter, release the old stick mechanism and insert the new shifter and refit. Some cars will need to be jacked up to make the job easier and gives access to the gearbox and underneath more easily. The downside that comes with a quick shift is that it requires a little more effort to change gear but most drivers will not notice this. If you have a sloppy worn gearbox you may notice that because gearchanges happen more quickly it is a little more crunchy. After you fit a quick shift gear stick you will not want to go back to a conventional one again.

Performance Brake Pads
Brake pads are the essential items when it comes to stopping your car. Their function is even more vital than that of the disks as it is the pad that creates the friction and the disks main job is to dissipate the heat generated. Uprated pads will make a big difference to a cars stopping power.

The pads comprise of a high friction material and are shaped, often with a groove in the middle to help prevent squeeling. As the pad is applied to the disk surface it creates heat effectively converting the forward momentum of the car into heat. The disks main job is to dissipate the heat generated.

There are a number of pads to choose from and although there are lots to choose from we shall generalise and put them into a few groups.; Budget pads. These are typically non branded OEM replacements and offer a long life. The downside of these are the lack of friction. To get the longer life the friction surface is compromised. If you have a performance car then we strongly recommend that you avoid these budget pads at all costs.

OEM pads. These pads come from the original manufacturer and have been specified for your vehicle. These are generally a good balance between friction and wear rate. Lots of R&D went into the construction and specification of your brake pads and it would be foolhardy to dismiss this. Use OEM pads as a minimum. Now we come to the performance pads. These come in various grades ranging from a fast road to track days.The downside of these pads is that they take a while to get up to operating temperature. From cold they offer very poor braking but they can operate to very high temperatures. Getting a track pad for the road is not a very good option as most of the time it will be cold and not operating at peak performance. However if you are doing track days then a performance pad is a very good idea.

Car Tuning Tips have seen standard pads literally on fire after some heavy track day action. This amount of heat in the pad is obviously not a good thing if it will start to smoke or catch fire. On a track day your cars brakes will be operating far and beyond the intended temperature range. If you are doing a track day session on standard pads we would suggest that you stop every few laps and check the condition of your pads. Upgrading to a dot 5.1 brake fluid will certainly help to minimise heat related braking issues. This is why it is essential to get your brakes uprated and choose the right pads for your application. Failure to do so can be both very costly and very dangerous.

Brake upgrades and brake conversion kits

The brakes of a car should never be overlooked, especially if you have made the engine more powerful. Being able to stop the car quickly can be a real life safer. We shall take a brief look at the various components of a braking system and see what can be done to improve a cars braking ability.

The cars brakes convert the movement of the car into heat. So how does all of this take place and where does the heat go? When you push the brake pedal a servo is activated which causes pressure to rise along the brake lines which are filled with brake fluid. As fluid does not compress it exerts pressure in the pistons which push the brake pads into contact with the brake disks. It is the pads and disk which cause the friction much like a bicycle brake but obviously on a much larger scale. The fluid is a vital element of this system. If it contains bubbles of air, or even water which boils relatively easily, then the whole braking system is compromised. At best the

brakes are spongy and more pressure has to be applied, at worst you suffer from complete brake fade and this can be catastrophic! Most manufacturers recommend that you change the brake fluid once a year or at least get it checked. A gravity reading is taken and this determines the purity and effectiveness of the fluid. The brake pads are made from a high friction material and must withstand very high temperatures so asbestos is often included. (This is why you should be very careful when dealing with brake dust.) Sport pads require warming up before they start to bite and reach peak efficiency. Standard pads, however, give fairly good cold braking but become less effective at high temperatures or under heavy use. Choose pads that match your needs carefully. Larger pads will increase the effectiveness of the brake. The disk has the job of dissipating the heat created. The larger the disk and therefore the larger the surface area the better this is. Grooves on the surface of the disk help to keep away gas build up under the pads and drilled disks are more effective at dissipating the heat. Vented disks typically have a gap between the two contact sides which give twice as much surface area. So the best disks are big, drilled and vented. As the disk and the pad size is important most people will upgrade their disks by getting a big brake conversion kit. It is not possible to fit a larger disk, or just put larger pads into a standard braking system, both need to be matched.

Suspension kits
The biggest impact on a cars handling performance is the suspension. The main parts of a suspension package are a spring and a damper (sometimes called a shock absorber although this really describes the whole thing.)

Springs control the ride height of a the car and determine the amount of road bumps that are absorbed. A stiffer spring is more resistant to movement and a softer spring will allow the wheels to better follow the undulations of the road surface.

Generally the lower the better. A car that is low has a lower center of gravity and axis of movement. This allows faster cornering. We need to bear in mind that whilst tracks are perfectly smooth our roads are not. A low car will often grind the sump of the engine on speed bumps and the ride quality will be seriously compromised on rough surfaces. For road cars then we recommend that you fit a slightly stiffer spring. If the coil size decreases this will help to maintain the amount of travel and allow you to achieve a good balance between comfort on the road and good handling. The damper is what prevents the car from jumping and bouncing up the road by absorbing as much of the vertical motion of the wheel as possible. A damper is a cylinder filled with oil or filled with gas and oil with a piston that moves inside the cylinder. The friction of the fluid will create the damping effect. If the damper is too soft the car will start to bounce and wallow. If it is too hard the car will skip over bumps. Again a careful balance is needed. The uprated shocks with gas and oil are a good compromise as the gas layer allows for some compression and the oil maintains the friction required. When lowering and uprating a cars suspension you should always go for an fully adjustable suspension kit. Each car and indeed each driver is unique. You ideally will adjust your handling to suit your personal driving style.

Tips for fitting strut braces
Due to the need for doors and windows in a car the whole body is subject to flexing. For just commuting or the daily drive around town this is not a problem. However when driving near the limits or on the track, the flexing can seriously reduce your cornering ability. A strut brace is the solution to this problem and is actually an easy DIY modification.

The struts are located in each corner of the car and house the suspension components, namely the spring and damper. Overtime the geometry of the struts changes, requiring camber and toe adjustments to maintain wheel alignment. The job of the strut bracing is to connect the two strut towers at the top, and give extra rigidity between the two. Strut braces are typically machined from aluminium or steel. These can help to reduce the separation of the strut towers in older cars. You should aim to get the towers as near to the 90 degree vertical as you can.

The best strut braces are those which have adjustments allowing you to fine tune the setup. These will typically have a nut and screw and one or both ends of the brace. Fitting them is a relatively straightforward job. Most aftermarket strut brace kits will come with complete instructions and all the required components included. If your car has a set of screw and nuts at the top of the strut, these will typically be used to connect the strut brace to your car. In some vehicles there is only one nut which is directly at the top of the of the damper and this will not be suitable for connecting a strut brace. In these circumstances it is necessary to create your own mounting points. You will notice after fitting a strut brace that the car is more responsive, you get better feedback from the front wheels whilst steering, and the court car is able to corner at greater speeds. Most drivers concentrates on the front struts, but you can purchase strut braces suitable for their rear struts, and these will give us lights performance benefits. Do not confuse a strut brace with an anti roll bar. The anti roll bar is fitted to the bottom of the suspension at the rear and prevents the rolling motion of the car which has a tendency to lift the inside wheel when cornering quickly.

Weight reduction
Losing some weight from your car will help all aspects of performance. As there is less weight to pull around the acceleration will be quicker. Braking will also be better and general handling will improve. So what can you do to reduce the weight of your car?

Wheels: fitting alloy wheels will help to reduce the weight. As the wheels are unsprung and will hit every road bump and dip you will get much sharper handling. Lighter wheels are not always as strong so there is a bit of a compromise to be made here. Bodywork can be lightened. The heaviest panel in any car is generally the bonnet and boot. Replacing this with a carbon fibre (looks cool) or fibreglass (will look plasticy) will dramatically reduce the weight. The bonnet may well flex at high speed so be sure to fit proper fasteners at each edge. To save money buy a scratched or imperfect carbon fibre bonnet and then paint it it will look standard and you will have the benefit of a lighter car.

The front wings can also be easily replaced with most wings bolting on. Again a carbon fibre or fibreglass option will cut this weight down. Dont worry too much about losing protection the box section of chassis and the suspension mounts will still be quite protective. Internally you can remove just about everything. Pull out the sound deadening the carpets, the dashboard the radio and even the seats. Replace the drivers seat with a lightweight drivers seat with fixed height. In the engine you should use stainless steel exhaust headers which are not only lighter than cast iron ones they will give you a performance benefit. Air conditioning and even power steering pumps can be quite heavy so remove these and change the gearing of the steering if it is too heavy. Glass is another weight causing item. Removing the glass from your vehicle and replacing the windows with perspex will shave off a few more pounds. When you start getting down to the nuts and bolts you really need to be fussy about the additional weight of performance parts and go with the lighter option. Finally throw out all the junk that accumulates in the car. The spare wheel is also pretty heavy so switch to run flats, or carry a tyre repair spray can or similar. Also a full tank of fuel can weigh a fair bit so I know many drivers that deliberately run round on a half full tank (the pessimists tanks are half empty of course!)

Roll Cages
Roll cages are considered a safety requirement on most circuits. Although the safety benefits are obvious they also help to improve the handling of the car. The basic shape of a car, particularly its requirement to have opening doors decreases the rigidity of the body. Add to this some serious weight reduction and you are left with a shell that will flex and roll every time you go into a corner.

A roll cage is welded into the inside of a car and it provides much greater rigidity with improvements in body roll reduction across all axes.

There are 4 or 6 point roll cages with each point being attached to the cars chassis. You will need to bear in mind that having metal tubes inside the car will reduce the amount of space and you can have some nasty impacts with it. The solution to this is to add some cushioned wrapping to the roll cage frame in the vicinity of the drivers head and limbs. Rear passenger space is also compromised although if you have harnesses fitted you will already have decided against having rear passenger seats. You will also need to take into account the fact that roll cages will inhibit access to the car if cross members go past the doorways. A roll cage is best fitted with the car stripped out completely rather than trying to weld and cut around carpets and plastic trim.

Alloy wheels
Whilst many people view the wheels as a purely cosmetic addition to a car they actually have a profound impact of the handling. We shall look at the pros and cons of fitting alloy wheels to a car.

Steel wheels that come with cars tend to be quite heavy and are usually solid, save for a few holes cut in. Having something heavy spinning around takes more energy that something lighter. Also having a heavier unsprung mass means the car will be less predictable on rough surfaces. The brakes main job are dissipating the heat. If they are housed in what is effectively a steel drum they will be unable to do this as effectively. So alloy wheels or if we correctly name them, magnesium alloy wheels, are the potential solution. The alloys are generally lighter than their steel counterparts and allow larger air holes.

For most effective brake cooling go with a set that has a double row of holes around the outside of the wheel such as those produced for rally cars by OZ and compomotive. Larger wheels will usually impair the drive and ride quality of the car so you should endeavour to maintain the same rotational diameter. If this diameter is larger then the speedo will under read so recalibration will be required. Problems of larger wheels include tram lining, poorer cornering and as the final drive ratio is altered the acceleration will also be worse.

One method to maintain the same rotational diameter would be to fit lower profile tires (we will look at these in another article) but they will help to reduce the circumference of the wheel back to OEM specifications. Wider wheels are generally and incorrectly perceived to improve grip and cornering ability. In reality though the area of the contact patch remains the same. The size of the patch is governed by the pressure exerted on the tyre by the weight of the car and the gas pressure inside the tyre. A wider wheel may change the shape of the contact patch slightly but will not in itself give better grip! When you change the wheels you should always get the tracking, camber and toe reset to avoid premature tire wear.

Sports performance tires
It is surprising how much difference a tire can make to the handling of a car. Motor sports teams select a tire for the prevailing conditions of the track so have a range of wet weather dry weather and of roads tires with various stud profiles and patterns. Normal drivers however have to opt for an all round tire with suitable dry and wet weather characteristics to last a whole year.

The range of tyres available can often presents a problem when choosing tyres, and often expensive tyres are not always better than their cheaper counterparts. You need to take into account the specification from your original manufacturers handbook. Tyres have a speed rating which should not be ignored. You may reason that if a tire is rated to 140 miles an hour, as you will not be going this fast you can safely select a tire which is rated for 100 miles per hour. In reality this is false reasoning as speed is only part of the equation, your cars Torque exerts a great deal of pressure on the tire and you require a stronger tire or risk shredding the tire under full load.

Any damage to the wall of the tire can result in a serious blow out at speed, whether time is subject to additional heat and stresses. Performance tires tend to have a greater rubber surface and are made of a softer compound to give more grip. The V Groove pattern whether trading is a series of V shaped grooves give a very good cornering characteristics and excellent wet weather handling. Tyres with a wide unbroken tread band are primarily designed for greater straight line stability. Most tyres are a combination of tread patterns to give the best compromise in different conditions. Some manufacturers specify a very specific tire Brands and model, and unless you have dramatically altered the performance of your car these are the best to go with as they have been extensively tested. It is possible to fit slightly wider tyres on your standard rim. You can also select a lower profile but these adaptations must be done to each of your wheels and you may require a speedo recalibration. Low profile tyres give a better handling, more grip but are less comfortable ride and a lot more road noise. Choosing a larger wheel in combination with a low profile tire will help to maintain the overall rotational diameter and avoid major suspension alignment work.

Engine oil change schedules for performance cars.

You spent a lot of time and effort tuning and enhancing the performance of your car. You want to keep the car in peak condition and dread a visit from Mr Breakdown! How important is a maintenance schedule for your tuned car? We shall look at the importance of oil changes in this first of our maintenance articles. When pushing the engine to its limits each and every component is put under more stress. The payoff for the extra performance is often much less reliability or at best poor running. If you car has a 10,000 mile or 1 year service schedule as standard you should ideally shorten this by 1/3. This may sound like a pain but you are pushing the engine harder, it is running more power and receiving more wear as a result. So shorten the service interval to 6000 miles. The single most important thing to do is to change the oil and ideally this should be done every 6 months. The oil is the one barrier the engine has to protect itself against wear. An engine which had an oil change every 6 months was stripped down. Despite its high mileage (240,000) the engine was still in very good condition and require very little rebuild work.

Which oil you use depends on the specifications for your engine but please research this and get it right. Too thin an oil (less viscous) will lead to excessive wear and eventually oil burning and damage the engine and too thick an oil can lead to heat build up and premature wear. If you have a turbo engine the only oil I would recommend you use is a fully synthetic oil. Long life oils have better characteristics and can stand up to the extra stress put on an engine.

As an engine gets older you may be tempted to use a slightly thicker oil as the pistons have worn down and blow by can occur causing oil burning but the rate of wear will increase and you will actually be harming your engine, so stick with the recommended oil spec throughout a cars life and upgrade the oil if the car has been specially tuned. The oil grades typically range from 0w15 to 30w60. Most oils starting with a 0 are synthetic. Semi-synthetics are a mixture of minerals and synthetics and work well in most performance cars. Remember the turbo is spinning at 100,000s of rpm and also runs really hot so any oil in the turbo when the engine is switched off will degrade unless it is in good condition. This also shows the importance of allowing and engine to cool down a little after a spirited run. When changing the oil you will also need to change the filter. The small metal particles from the engine will collect in the filter and you dont want the smaller particles breaking up and flowing round the engine again. Oil additives can be effective at improving the qualities of the oil but most are over rated. A good quality premium oil will outperform a cheap oil with an additive (and probably cost less overall!) Warning - some oil additives will block up your filter and may also damage your engine! We do not recommend using oil additives.

How to do an oil change

An oil change is one of the best maintenance tasks you can perform. Regular changes of oil will prolong the life of your engine and reduce expensive maintenance on moving parts.

Garages will charge for this service and it is a simple job you can do yourself. We also note that many garages (3 in 5 we tried) filled up with too much oil with one managing to put a whole litre too much in. Then one garage failed to top the oil up to the min level on

the dipstick. So in our experience only 1 in 5 garages filled the oil up to the correct level on the dipstick. The only way to guarantee a proper oil change is done is to do the job yourself. Things you will need to do an oil change. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Sump plug washer (use a new one each time.) Socket or spanner to remove the sump washer. Oil filter removal tool. Oil catch tank, tray or bowl low enough to fit under the engine but big enough to contain your engines oil (5-6 litre capacity will suit most engines). Oil filter (the filter catches tiny metal particles and stops them wearing away at your engine so you will need to replace the filter each time.) Car Tuning Tips recommend that you use a proper OEM or premium quality filter. Oil flush fluid (only really required if your oil changes have been neglected.) New oil to the correct spec and grade preferably with a measuring window so you can assess how much to put in. Thick rubber gloves capable of resisting the heat from hot oil.

A word of warning, engine oil is dangerous and if you get it on your hands it should be washed off immediately use gloves. Choosing the correct grade of oil is important. If you are unsure on which grade and oil type to select have a read through this oil grade article. First off you will need to be parked on fairly level ground and have access to the underneath of the engine, locate the sump plug which is generally placed in the most difficult part to reach!


How to drain the oil.

First you need to warm up the engine, we prefer to avoid letting it get too hot as this can be quite dangerous. If there is evidence of sludge build up in the engine then you should use an oil flush additive but there really is no need to make this a part of your regular oil change regime. When the engine has warmed up place the oil catch tank under the sump. Undo the sump plug, being careful not to drop it into the oil catch tank and not to scald your hands. (You are wearing the protective gloves at this point arent you?)

If your car does not have a sump plug (stupid design) then the oil will need to be pumped out. TIP: Remove the oil filler cap and this will actually help the oil flow rate by reducing any vacuum created by the escaping oil. Leave the sump to fully drain and have a look in your cars manual to see how much oil you need. It does help to measure this out into a container with a spout, Ive used a clean watering can for this purpose (dont tell the wife though!)

When the oil has fully drained out it is time to replace the sump plug with the new washer. (Dont be tight they only cost a few pence and pretty much guarantee you will not get any leaks and will be able to remove the sump bung next time!) Forgetting this stage will make you look pretty stupid as the new oil will just drain out of the car.

How to remove the old oil filter.

Now it is time to remove the oil filter (be careful as it can be quite warm). Using the filter removal tool which looks like a bicycle chain with a handle on one end. Wrap the chain around the filter and turn in an anticlockwise direction to release. Do not puncture the old filter to remove, an old favourite bodge is to shove a screwdriver through it. This doesnt work as there is a lot of thicker metal inside the filter and it will leave sharp edges cutting your hand. If you do not have a filter removal tool you can use sand paper to get a grip (if your rubber gloves are not doing the job.) Place the grit side around the filter, squeeze and turn. Putting the new oil filter on (again if you forget to do this you will look daft as your new oil pours out of the side of the engine. The new filter will come with a rubber ring to seal it, it is recommended to coat this ring with a film of oil for a better seal.

Pour in the new engine oil

Pour in 3/4 of the oil you have measured out and wait. Wait a bit more and then keep waiting for a bit longer. Now check the dipstick and see where the level is. If you have done it right you should be just under the minimum level. Now top up the oil slowly adding the final quarter you had measured out, and check the dipstick again (after waiting.) If you are unsure how much oil you will need then just keep checking the dipstick and add 1/4 of a litre of oil at a time.

(On a very small minority of cars dipsticks should only be read with the engine running, most are only to be read whilst the engine is off check your manual. Porsche engines are sometimes the exception.) Replace filler cap, run the engine for a short period and turn off and wait an hour or so. Check for leaks and that the levels are OK. Dont overfill the oil as this can damage your catalyst, encourage burning of oil, break oil seals and cause leaks in a worst case scenario. The crank will also be splashing in the oil in the sump robbing you of power. If the oil level is too low then you risk oil starvation and loss of oil pressure, although the sump contains a reservoir of oil it is possible for this to run really low as oil is channeled around the running engine. Check your oil levels regularly, some cars need a litre of oil every 6 months other may require this much oil adding over a period of a week or two! Dont assume that oil consumption is steady either, driving habit changes and ambient temperatures can all alter the consumption rate of oil. Disposing of the oil should be done properly it must never be poured on the ground, burned or poured into rivers and streams. Most Municipal authorities have areas for the collection of used engine oils.