How do I Make an Altima Faster?

by William Zane

The Nissan Altima is a mid-sized car that is available as a four-door sedan or as a sporty two-door coupe. In stock form, the Altima is a nice, reliable Japanese car that is a great commuter. However, though it's not the slowest car around, it can benefit from the addition of some modifications that can make it faster. Whether it's adding parts to the engine to make the Altima faster in a straight line or modifying the suspension and brakes for more power, there are numerous ways to improve this car's performance.

Install a cold-air intake in place of the stock air box. The stock air box is relatively restrictive on the Altima. A cold-air intake uses a cone filter mounted to larger diameter tubing to deliver additional dense, cold air to the engine, which allows it to produce more horsepower. To install a CAI, remove the stock air box from the engine bay, disconnecting it from the intake of the engine. Install the stock intake in its place with the supplied hardware.

Replace the stock exhaust with a performance exhaust. The stock exhaust on the Altima is smaller than optimal in diameter and restricts the flow of exhaust gasses as they leave the engine. A performance exhaust will feature larger diameter piping for better exhaust flow. A better flowing muffler will accomplish the same thing by being less restrictive than the stock muffler. Your engine will also sound better. This should be installed by a professional exhaust shop.

Swap the stock manifold for headers. This is another great bolt on that will make your Altima faster. The stock manifolds have smaller than internal passages that are also rough cast, both of which inhibit the flow of exhaust gasses. Tubular headers have smooth internals and larger passages, which allows the engine to breath better and make more power.

Improve the suspension. In order to make your Altima faster around corners as well, stiffen the suspension with lowering springs, which will also lower the car's center of gravity and reduce body roll for increase grip. Pair the springs with performance shocks for the ultimate upgrade in handling. Adjustable shocks will allow you to dial in the car's handling precision.

Install performance wheels and tires. While wider and taller wheels will not necessarily make your Altima faster, stickier tires installed on those wheels will. Tires that have a softer compound than the stock tires will dramatically increase grip. Just keep in mind that installing a taller wheel and tire package will actually make your Altima a little slower in a straight line, though it will still be faster overall.

Upgrade the brakes. With the handling and braking dialed in for more performance, a brake upgrade is always a good idea as well. Here, you can start with cross-drilled rotors and performance pads, which will improve cooling, reduce brake fade and decrease stopping distances. The ultimate upgrade of course is a big brake kit, which replaces the stock calipers and rotors with larger ones and also usually includes braided steel brake lines for a firmer pedal feel.

Items you will need

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.