How Do I Get More Speed From a Nissan Sentra?

by William Zane

The Nissan Sentra is a popular compact car from Japan. While the Sentra is widely appreciated for its frugal appetite for fuel, compact dimensions and impressive reliability, it isn't necessarily known for its speed and performance. But, like any car, the Sentra can be made to perform far better than it does in stock form with the addition of some well chosen components that can improve everything, from its acceleration to its handling and braking.

Increase the horsepower. The Sentra is powered by a four-cylinder engine; the exact specifications vary depending on year. They all benefit from the same modifications, though. A tubular header in place of the stock manifold will get spent exhaust gases out of the engine more efficiently. Replace the stock exhaust with a larger diameter performance exhaust and free flow muffler for better flow and more power. On the intake side of the engine, a cold air intake is a good idea, which will deliver additional cold, dense air to the engine. A performance computer chip is another upgrade to add speed to a Sentra. Forced induction with a supercharger or a tubocharger is the best way to make a Sentra very fast in a straight line.

Improve the handling. The Sentra has a conventional suspension and chassis, so there are really no special tricks to making it handle better in corners. Lowering springs will drop the center of gravity and reduce body roll. Combine these with adjustable performance shocks. You can also install fully adjustable coil-overs, though this is a more expensive option and will provide a far stiffer ride. After that, larger sway bars will eliminate body roll, and urethane bushings will make the chassis feel more responsive.

Upgrade the brakes. A speedier Sentra is not just faster in a straight line but must stop better as well. Here, install performance brake pads for starters. These will have a more aggressive compound that will provide better braking. After that, install cross-drilled rotors and braided steel brake lines. The most dramatic upgrade you can perform is the installation of a big brake kit, which includes larger calipers and rotors.

Install a performance wheel and tire package. Performance tires constructed from a softer compound are among the most crucial components to making a Sentra handle better. Install these on the stock wheels or go with a larger wheel, which will allow you to install wider tires for even more grip.

Remove weight. A lighter Sentra is a faster Sentra. Depending on what you use your car for, you can get as extreme as you want. Start by removing the back seats, carpeting and factory sound deadening. After that, remove the front seats and install lighter, one-piece race buckets. On the exterior, install a fiberglass or carbon fiber hood for more weight savings.

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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.