Cheap Car Performance Upgrades

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Geoff S, Sep 7, 2002.

  1. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking for some more upgrade ideas for my 1998 Pontiac Grand Am SE (V6).
    So far I've changed the spark plugs to ACDelco RapidFire Platinums, changed the Air filter to a K&N filter, installed a new fuel filter.
    Some things I'm going to do soon are : change the oil, and put in some fuel injector cleaner, also I'll change all my tires to performance tires. I also thought of putting in one of those devices (looks like a fan) into my intake, which as more air hits it, it spins, causeing more air to be pushed through for better performance. Can't remember what it's called.
    Anyone else got any more ideas for cheap (and some not cheap) upgrades for performance, and fuel economy. Not trying to be a street racer exactly, but be nice to know I could if I wanted to [​IMG] except here in H-Town cops have been busting a lot of street racers lately, so not a good idea to do it until things calm down and it isn't such a big deal like it was before the News kept doing specials on it and so forth...
     
  2. Bill_Weinreich

    Bill_Weinreich Second Unit

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  3. Henry Carmona

    Henry Carmona Screenwriter

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  4. Bill_Weinreich

    Bill_Weinreich Second Unit

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    Yeah the Tonado is another snake-oil story. Theoretically it's supposed to swirl the incoming air to facilitate better air-fuel mixture and atomization for a more efficient burn. Unfortunately an engine's vacuum will suck the air straight again shortly after this "device". There are, however swirl combustion cylinder heads (for certain vehicles) that use this process rather effectively within the combustion chamber.

    Bill
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    what sort of performance are you looking for...speed, handling, how much work can you do yourself and what sort of dollars are in your budget?
     
  6. Tim Markley

    Tim Markley Screenwriter

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  7. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    Probably the thing I'm looking for most is accelaration and top speed. (on my car 0-60 was approx 10 seconds, like to get it down to 8).

    Don't have too much budget for it now, but lets say if I had $500 what could I do?

    Some newer Grand Ams, and Firebirds have RAM Air, anyway I could put that on my car?

    Also sway bars for the suspensions... do they make any difference?
     
  8. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    save your 500$ and buy a turbo kit when you can afford it [​IMG]
     
  9. Jason Wilcox

    Jason Wilcox Supporting Actor

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    a big rear spoiler...xenon headlights...coffee can sized exhaust pipe...tinted windows...and stickers from the companies that make said items make my car the fastest in the high school parking lot [​IMG]
     
  10. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    [​IMG] Jason
    Anyways... I'd watch out for the K&N Air Filter.. though it does increase power by a couple horses, its also a less effective filter, so you can get more crud into your engine. Its a tradeoff i guess.
    Yeah i agree with everybody else, dont go for the tornado.
    A more efficient exhaust system would free up a couple horses, like hwat henry said
     
  11. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    A quality exhaust which will give you a significant hp gain will set you back between $450 and $800 US. Most cold air intakes (once again quality with proven hp gains) will cost $400 or better, although I have seen some which claim to increast hp go for as little as $150. I have seen ram-air kits but know nothing about them. You can always consider a JET chip (replaces your OEM chip which regulates air/fuel mixture, engine timing, etc...). These are quite pricey, but will give you good results.
    Invest in a set of underdrive pulleys as they will gain hp. If you decide to replace your stock exhaust manifold with an aftermarket header, wrap the header with heat-resistant tape (I forget what it's called). The purpose is to keep the engine bay cooler as well as keep more pressure flowing out of the exhaust giving you better performance.
    For handling, put on a set of lowering springs or coilovers. By lowering your car, you are lowering the center of gravity and cutting air resistance. You will acquire better handling as the car doesn't lean and roll as much. Also, you will lose a lot of "squat" on takeoff and "nosediving" under braking. Adding anti-sway bars is also a good upgrade as it helps to keep the chassis from flexing while turning. If they are available for your car, upper strut tower bars (braces) are a useful tool to keep the chassis stiff. If you do lower your car, however, you must get a 4-wheel alignment or your tires will be eaten away in no time and you may have very unpredictable and dangerous handling.
    I haven't looked through the sites for parts for American made cars but you can try a few of the sites I buy import parts from:
    Speed People
    Driver FX
    Matrix Racing
    Pro Car Parts
     
  12. DavidY

    DavidY Supporting Actor

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    I, too, have been bitten by the performance bug. I've added a K&N filter and have recently ordered a Magnaflow cat back exhaust system for my Mazda pickup.

    The computer chip is suppose to be the very last upgrade done....in order to maximize all your other performance upgrades.

    Dave
     
  13. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    $500 isn't going to get you to your goal, unless you spring for a low end Nitrous setup (maybe a dry 50hp shot), but I don't know if your engine will take it gracefully. Plus it's a crappy power option.

    Past that, the exhaust system may gain you a couple hp, maybe at most 5hp. A set of headers will do very little unless you get rid of the restrictive part in the middle of the system (the emissions equipment, the cats). Wrapping the header will help with heat issues, but also is a huge PITA...and it does nothing for flow (except your waterbills when you take 9 showers getting all that crap off your skin).

    A cold air intake will help a little bit, but most systems are poorly designed and will gain you little to no gains. Plus you risk lowering the intake to the point where a deeper puddle presents a risk to your engine (I know 2 people who have hydra-locked engines with CAI's). In fact for dollars spent/hp (Bang for the buck if you will), a K&N filter in the stock airbox (the FIPK's) will yield you a nice hp gain for the $50-60 it costs.

    The biggest thing is to do lots of research, and when you think you've done enough do a little more. 90% of the products out there do nothing performance wise to your car, depite what they claim. You don't know how many people I've seen who go out and buy some cheezy intake system that sounds cool, but when you strap their car onto the dyno they find out they lost 5hp. Or sometimes you get lucky and get a 5hp gain high in the rev range, but you've lost 10hp everywhere else (this is incredibly common). Find some forums like this one that are specifically about your car and just search and learn. There will be a couple of guys with fast cars, see what kind of stuff they are buying and using.

    As to the suspension, this is another area where you have to be careful. Lowering the car to much can be very bad for everything other than looks. Most of the time the best compromise is going with a set of "sport springs", with say a .75-1.25" type drop. Sway bars don't do anything with chassis flex, they help the cornering attitude of the car, when your car corners weight is "thrown" to the outside, and your car leans over. A bigger swaybar will keep the car from leaning as much. Again, find out what other people have used and like, it's possible to do to much with this as well.

    Andrew
     
  14. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    your best bets are A new ECU "chip" better intake and exhaust, watch using the K&N, there have been problems with the oil on it ruining the MAF sensor in the intake
    I believe your best bet would be to trade your current car for one that allready performs better from the factory like a supercharged grand prix or bonnivile or maybe a firebird with the V8 engine. ther are several import sedans that have 0to 60 times in the 7's like the nissan Maxima SE
    I would stay away from Nitrous oxide or NOX because you will shorly kill your transmission (about 2000 to rebuild) using it on that car, the transmission was never intended to take that kind of power
    of course you could always pick up a used 94 to 96 caprice classic 9C1 package (police car) with the LT1 v8 in it, 0 to 60 is in the high 6's and it handles pretty good, I used to have one and it was a great car and suprised alot of people. this is the car they made the impala ss out of
     
  15. Steve Russell

    Steve Russell Stunt Coordinator

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    If you install an exhaust header, DO NOT wrap the header with the heat resistant wrap. Keeping that much heat in the header will bake the carbon out of the mild steel tubing. After a while the metal will become brittle and self-destruct. This has happened to me personally. Ceramic coating of the header inside and out is a much better and more durable option. It is more expensive to start with but you will never have to buy another header.
     
  16. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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  17. Jason_H

    Jason_H Second Unit

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    Lots and lots of yellow tape and stickers are the only ways to successfully upgrade your car. [​IMG]
    www.beaterz.com
     
  18. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    i really doubt you'll see any improvement from an exhaust. and frankly, a V6 with an opened up exhaust doesn't sound particularly good. if i were you i'd focus on improving the handling. you're not going to get much more power out of the car short of a supercharger or nitrous.

    i would find a forum for cars similar to yours and talk to the people that frequently autocross or open track their cars. they'll be able to tell you what sort of suspension mods work and what ones don't. just lowering your car is not going to improve things, in fact it stands a fair chance of making them worse. there's a lot more to it than just swapping springs.
     
  19. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    I spent several years driving a big block v-8 (350 ci) with dual Hooker headers wrapped in heat resistant tape with no problems. It lowered the engine bay temp by about 10° and I am told it has the effect of giving you more pressure in the exhaust because the heat cannot escape under the hood.

    In any case, there are many ways to go when looking for performance upgrades. The best advice above all is hours of research.
     
  20. AviTevet

    AviTevet Stunt Coordinator

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    I think if you want to improve the engine significantly in a Grand Am SE you will have to go with forced induction, ie supercharger or turbo. To just get better accleration though you could do some cheap mods like the ones you are doing, the underdrive pulley, and some weight reduction. You don't need a passenger seat anyway, right? [​IMG]
    If I were going to put money into that car I'd do suspension first. Better tires, then lighter wheels, anti-roll bar, then heavier/stiffer springs and adjustable shocks (or just coilovers). I think you would see a much bigger difference for your dollar than doing engine mods.
     

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