Improve Your Car's Engine Performance

Edited by Jerry Rivers, Inukshuk, Eng, Doug Collins and 1 other

You can do much to improve your car's engine performance yourself.

Don't take your car for granted. Every time you get behind the steering wheel and turn the key in the ignition, you expect it to get you anywhere you're going - reliably. It is easy to expect it to do so indefinitely. With proper care, your car will perform well for years.

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It's worth the investment to maintain the engine regularly for reliable performance, and to prevent replacing it. Expect to pay at least $500 for a new engine, which is the very heart of your automobile. There is much you can do yourself to improve your car's engine performance. Follow along and learn ways to maintain your engine's so it's always performing its best, and how to boost its horsepower without a trip to the mechanic.

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Improving The Performance of Your Car's Engine

Air Filter

Change your air filter every 12,000 miles, or once a year if you have not reached 12,000 miles. Your car's engine needs oxygen for combustion.

Replacing your air filter is easy.
  1. 1
    If the airflow is diminished the engine will run poorly
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  2. 2
    As its name implies, an air filter will filter out dirt and other particles that can destroy your engine quickly
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  3. 3
    Changing that air filter regularly also cuts down on harmful exhaust emissions
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    This will help the environment, and keep you healthy.
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  4. 4
    Each time you check your oil, check your air filter at the same time
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    You can replace it yourself in a few easy steps.  
    1. To boost horsepower, you might want to replace the air filter with an induction kit-racing air filter. It will allow more air to flow into your car engine, which will provide more horsepower from the added combustion.
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How To Replace Your Air Filter

You can buy a new air filter for about $12 to $15 at any auto parts center. The owner's manual will give the specifications of the air filter you need for your make and model of car.

  1. 1
    Under your car's hood, there will be a black plastic compartment connected to a large hose somewhere near the top of your engine.
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  2. 2
    Flip open the clips, and take off the air filter cover
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    Take out the air filter and wipe the inside of the compartment clean.
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  3. 3
    Fit the air filter into place, close the top, and flip the clips closed
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Spark Plugs

It is imperative to change your spark plugs according to your owner's manual.

  1. 1
    Regular sparkplugs
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    Many cars will require the first spark plug change at 30,000 miles with ordinary spark plugs.
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  2. 2
    Special sparkplugs
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    If you have a set of extended-life spark plugs made of iridium or another precious metal they may be keep your vehicle performing smoothly for the first 100,000 miles (under normal driving conditions in a non-severe climate).
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  3. 3
    If your car begins to sputter, changing your spark plugs may be all you need to improve your car's performance
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    For most cars, you can do this yourself and save the $60 per hour rate charged by mechanics.
    Replace one spark plug at a time.
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Change Your Own Sparkplugs

  1. 1
    You will need the following tools.
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    1. Spark plug gap gauge
    2. Ratchet wrench and extension
    3. Spark plug socket
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  2. 2
    Instructions
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    Your car's engine will have four, six, or eight cylinders. You will have a spark plug wire connected to the spark plug for each cylinder. The array will vary depending on the number of cylinders, but the method will be the same to replace any of them.  
    1. Consult your owner's manual for the number of cylinders, and where to find the spark plugs in your car.
    2. You will need a gap gauge tool to measure the proper gap for each spark plug. The gap for your spark plugs will be between 0.028mm and 0.060mm. The precise measurement depends on your make of car and its engine size.
    3. Consult the auto parts manual where you purchase the spark plugs or your owner's manual.
    4. Always purchase spark plugs of equal quality, or better, to the ones you are replacing.
    5. Make sure that your vehicle engine is cool before you change spark plugs. ##Remove and replace only one plug at a time. This will ensure that you are keeping the firing order correct for your spark plugs.
    6. If you plan to remove all the spark plugs at the same time, you should label the order number of each with a marker on a piece of tape attached to the respective wire.
    7. Pull the wire to your first plug by gripping it near its bottom, just above the spark plug.
    8. Remove the spark plug with the ratchet and socket.
    9. Check the gap by inserting the gap gauge. Ensure that it is set at the recommended gap.
    10. The gauge should be snug between the tip and spark plug.
    11. Make sure that the threads of your spark plug housing and the wire are clean. If any of your spark plug wires are dirty, or do not snap into place over your spark plug, you will need to replace it.
      Check the spark plug gap before installing it.
    12. Note: If your engine is aluminum, lubricate each spark plug with a thin coating of anti-seize lubricant.
    13. After you align your new spark plug and tighten it into the housing, only tighten it one-eighth of a turn beyond "hand tight". If you used masking tap to label each plug, be sure to remove it once the spark plug wire is attached.
    14. Repeat this procedure for all of your spark plugs and their wires.
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Oil Change

Change your engine oil with a multi-weight all weather motor oil, such as 10W-40W at least once every 5,000 miles to keep it performing optimally. You can do this yourself.

  1. 1
    Tools and supplies required
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    1. Replacement oil filter as instructed from your car owner's manual.
    2. Several quarts of oil specific to the make, model and year of your vehicle.
    3. Oil filter wrench.
    4. A socket and ratchet wrench to unscrew the oil plug at the bottom of the oil pan.
    5. A standard sized bucket to catch the old oil. Have a newspaper to set under the bucket.
    6. A couple old towels or towel-sized rags.
    7. A couple of plastic car ramps are optional. They will give you more room for changing the oil. If you do use ramps:  
      1. Place a couple blocks behind the back wheels for safety.
      2. Have someone guide you as you drive onto the ramps.
      3. Have your emergency brake engaged once your car is on the ramps.
    8. Be sure that your engine is warmed up, but not hot when you change the oil.
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  2. 2
    Instructions for changing your oil
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    1. Under your car hood, remove the oil cap so that you have airflow while draining your oil. This will allow the oil to drain faster.
      Remove your oil cap so that oil will drain faster.
    2. Under your car, beneath the engine is the oil pan. Set the bucket under the oil pan.
    3. Loosen the oil pan with the wrench before you unscrew it completely with your fingers.
    4. Hold onto the oil plug as the oil drains, and set it in a safe place. The engine will be completely drained in just a couple minutes.
    5. Find your oil filter, and set the bucket under it to catch any oil from it as you remove it.
    6. Loosen the oil filter with the oil filter wrench.
    7. Then remove it and its rubber seal with your fingers.
    8. Dab oil onto the new oil filter's rubber seal, and screw it in with your fingers. ##Next, give it only a half turn beyond that.
      Smear a dab of oil on the new oil filter seal.
    9. Screw the oil plug back into place until tight about one-eighth of a turn beyond finger-tight.
    10. Remove the bucket with the old oil. Save the old oil to dispose of properly in a container destined for a service station or lube center.
    11. Fill the engine with the specified new oil by using a funnel set onto the oil filler hole.
    12. Screw on the oil cap.
      rightYou car needs 4-5 quarts of oil for an oil change.
    13. Start your engine, and let it idle for a few minutes.
    14. Check to ensure there are no leaks.
    15. Have someone guide you as you back off the ramps.
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Questions and Answers

How much performance boost will I get from changing the air filter?

Will I notice the difference while I'm driving, or is it just a small amount?

If your car sounds rough when running - like it is struggling then changing the air filter will have a noticeable effect because it is starving for air. Just as a Turbo Booster adds extra oxygen to increase horsepower, replacing your clogged air filter will also allow your engine to run with more horsepower. Your engine cannot burn fuel cleanly unless it has enough oxygen.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Automotive

Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Eng, Inukshuk

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