How to Get More Horsepower From a 3.8 V6

by Scott Eilers
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Almost any vehicle can be made to produce more horsepower through aftermarket modifications. Some of these modifications are possible for someone with experience working on cars, while others typically require professional installation. Vehicles with a 3.8L V-6 engine, such as the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, are no exception to this. While some upgrades are car-specific, there are many for virtually any vehicle containing an engine of this configuration and displacement.

Step 1

Increase the amount of air flowing into the engine. Air mixes with fuel in each engine cylinder to produce combustion, which in turn increases horsepower. The simplest way to increase airflow into the engine is to replace the factory cold air intake with a performance aftermarket cold air intake. This upgrade can be done in less than one hour and is relatively inexpensive. Alternately, consider adding a forced air induction kit to your 3.8L V-6 engine. This is a costly and time-consuming upgrade, but it can enhance horsepower by more than 50 percent.

Step 2

Increase the amount of fuel flowing into the engine. While these upgrades will naturally decrease fuel economy, they will substantially increase horsepower by improving combustion. On newer vehicles, the engine control unit which monitors the electronic fuel injection system can be replaced with a performance computer chip, a relatively simple and inexpensive upgrade. You can also upgrade the fuel injection system itself. If you are looking for a major performance upgrade, consider installing a nitrous oxide injection system, which injects nitrous oxide into the fuel line for a temporary but substantial horsepower boost.

Step 3

Increase the amount of air flowing out of the engine. Air needs to exit the engine once it becomes hot, and the better your vehicle is able to expell this air, the more horsepower it will produce. Replacing the factory exhaust system, which carries air from the headers into the environment, and the header system, which carries air from the engine to the exhaust, will enhance your vehicle's ability to do this. These upgrades also give your vehicle a louder, more aggressive sound, which many owners enjoy. However, note that replacing your vehicle's exhaust system will also increase emissions and is prohibited on street-use vehicles in certain states.

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