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Car Modding 101: How to Modify Your Car for Better Performance

If you are interested in modding your vehicle, you aren’t alone. Every year in Vegas there is an annual tradeshow put on by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA. 

Last year the four-day event drew 165,000 registrants and 70,000 buyers. This one show has a $315.5 million economic impact

Car modding is more than a passive hobby these days. To help those who are new to the modding game, we’ve created this guide. 

Get started in modding by doing these things to your vehicle. 

Have the Right Tools 

Before you get started working on your car, you need to make sure you have the right tools. Otherwise, your project will take significantly longer as you continually stop to buy tools. 

The further you get into modding, the more tools you will acquire. Then you’ll need a way to keep them all organized and in good condition. View this product as an excellent option for storage in your garage. 

You should also have the manual for your vehicle. This isn’t the owner’s manual that comes with your car. What you need is the service repair manual

This is the shop manual that goes in depth on how to take apart and put back together every individual part on the car. 

Superchargers and Turbochargers 

Install one or both of these to boost your engine power. Both superchargers and turbochargers will pressurize the air intake. This injects more air into the engine. 

More air going in means more fuel can also go in the combustion chamber. More air and fuel means more power is created. 

While a supercharger works on the front end of the engine, a turbocharger works on the backside. This difference means there is a delay in performance with the turbocharger. 

You can expect to get at least 50% more power by making these mods. 

Upgrade the Air Filter 

Cooler air is denser, so by dropping the temperature of the air going into the engine, more air can get packed in. This goes back to the previous mod; more air means more power can get produced. 

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Right now, hot air from the engine bay is what goes into the engine. To cool this air down, replace the air filter with a cool air intake. 

A good quality one will pull air from the outside of the engine bay. This air is significantly cooler. 

While you are at it, make sure you use a high-quality air filter. Replace the stock paper one with one that uses cotton or mesh. These aftermarket filters will clean the air better and thereby reduce the number of contaminants going into the engine. 

Bonus: You save money with the better filter, simply wash, dry, and replace when it gets dirty. The cheaper ones you have to throw away and buy a replacement for. 

Reprogram the ECU 

Inside every vehicle is a computer that controls the functioning of the vehicle. This computer controls the amount of air and fuel going into the engine. It monitors the exhaust coming out for air quality. 

When your car leaves the production line, manufacturers program the ECU for optimum fuel mileage and emissions. Unfortunately, the limits manufacturers put on the ECU means that performance is often sacrificed. 

You can buy an aftermarket ECU and replace the entire unit. OR you can buy a kit to reprogram your ECU. This will erase everything on it and put a whole new program on the computer. 

A third option is to buy a kit that lets you adjust the current settings of your ECU. Be careful with this option; you need to understand how your engine works before you start making tweaks. 

Lose Some Weight 

Instead of trying to increase power, you can reduce the weight of your vehicle. This way you make the horsepower more effective by having less weight for the power to move. 

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Work your way through the vehicle and replace the heaviest of parts. This could mean replacing the body panels with carbon fiber ones. You could replace the glass windows with lighter plastic ones. 

If you are serious about reducing weight, you could remove the extra seats. This is a big commitment though, and you won’t be able to use the car as a daily driver anymore. 

Don’t forget to look at the engine and transmission too. Replace heavy parts with lighter weight ones. 

Get a High Flow Exhaust 

Your exhaust and catalytic converter only allow air to flow at a certain amount. The problem with this is that it limits the engine’s production. If you increase the engine’s output, it will get backed up in the stock exhaust. 

Your catalytic converter cleans the exhaust coming out of the engine to make it more environmentally friendly. Replace the stock converter with a high flow one. This will move the air more quickly and reduce the back pressure on the engine. 

You should also replace the stock exhaust with one that has a wider diameter. This will also increase the flow of air. 

Don’t go nuts with this though. You need a certain amount of back pressure on the engine for ideal performance. 

Get Started with Car Modding

Start small when getting started with car modding. Do something easy like having a new air filter or exhaust installed. Then you can move on to more in-depth mods like superchargers and ECU reprogramming. 

Only do one mod at a time, that way you know where to look if you run into any issues in performance after the mod. 

Did the ECM in your vehicle go haywire? Then you need this repair guide