Tech Corner: What NOT To Do When Making More Power

Tech Corner - IntermediateThere are a lot of reasons enthusiasts want to make more power: increase track time, get up to speed with those bigger tires, or maybe it’s just because of an age-old thirst for more. For all the reasons that exist, there are just as many ways to do it. There are also a lot of modifications out there that are flat out mistakes and will keep you from gaining that edge. So, rather than telling you how to make more power, we’re going to point out some big blunders to avoid.

Giant Carbs

This one goes out to the old heads. It’s simple–more fuel means more power…right? Well, the size of the carburetor needs to be relevant to what the engine is calling for, which means that sometimes less is more. Yes, giant carbs have a place on high-powered applications but on basic street cars, they can be a tuning nightmare. It might sound cool to tell your buddies that you have a 1050 cfm carb sitting on a small block but having to spend hours dialing it in sure isn’t.

Used Parts

Okay, to clarify: there are used parts and then there are USED parts. If more power is the goal, then nothing beats fresh equipment. We’re not saying that all used parts are garbage, but if you plan on picking up a set of used heads, rotating parts, or an intake, it really warrants a run to the machine shop. Sometimes people get lucky, but let’s face it, it’s never us. Additionally, anything used should be resurfaced or rebuilt, unless of course it was purchased from a trustworthy source. You know, the rare kind who actually tell the truth before selling.

Breaking the law

The feverish need for more power can quickly take one over. You let it run away, and suddenly Johnny Law is on your tail. Bypassing or removing emissions equipment is a great way to make power. It’s also a great way to get into trouble if it’s on a street vehicle. If the car will spend the majority of its life on the street with little to no track time, is it worth a run in with the law over a few extra ponies?

Making Assumptions About the Cam

The camshaft is like a brain. It tells the engine how to behave and when to make more power. Without understanding the cam and its variables, it’s useless to throw speed points at it and expect real results. Rather than working around an unknown cam, the best course of action is to usually start the mods here.

Making it Work

Sometimes during a build, the choices are to replace a part entirely or rig something up for a moment to calculate issues. Just because zip ties hold things in place doesn’t mean they’re a permanent fix. Everything on a vehicle, especially one making a lot more power, vibrates. And that means that loose connections will come apart. Broken wires and flying hoses are definitely not cool, so before hitting the road, always make sure everything is snug and secure.

Buying into Gimmicks

There are a lot of tricks and snake oils out there. A good rule of thumb is: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Guys have been making cars and trucks go fast since there have been cars and trucks. There are recipes for just about every build that are tried and true. Throwing turbines in a factory intake is a bust and so are many other gimmicks. Sometimes, the best way to the fast lane means avoiding short cuts.

Forgetting Everything but the Engine

Yes, the engine is the heart of any go-fast build and will be spoiled with the most goodies. However, making power and going fast are two totally different things. The suspension, tires, and drivetrain all feed the need for speed. But without the proper set up, the whole rig can remain a pig. It all needs to work together. So, spending time making mods outside of the engine bay is a must.

Making More Power

Making more power can be intoxicating. It’s a way to push yourself beyond your best, beat the other guy in a race, and simply put: it’s fun. To be done properly though, it requires a certain level of attention and precision–much like the act of driving itself. Sure, you can focus on dropping the hammer and blasting through obstacles with no clear focus. But with a little research and some trial and error, you can learn how to make the right improvements with surprising accuracy.

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