How to Get More Horsepower for Your Jeep

by William Zane

The Jeep brand is one of the most recognized makes in the world. Over the years the company has made dozens of different models and different versions of those models. Jeeps are also popular candidates for modifying and tuning, with a huge aftermarket to supply owners and Jeep enthusiasts of this distinctly American brand with just about any performance part they may need or want. There are multiple ways to get more power from a Jeep's engine--from cheap to expensive.

Step 1

Install a performance exhaust. Just about every engine ever made can benefit from a larger diameter exhaust system. In stock form, Jeep exhausts restrict the flow of exhaust gasses from the engine. A larger diameter exhaust and performance muffler will let the engine run more efficiently and make more power in the process. An exhaust should be installed by a professional muffler shop, since it takes special welding and cutting tools

Step 2

Install headers in place of the stock factory manifolds. Like the stock exhaust, the manifold on a Jeep does not flow that well. Manifolds are cast, feature smaller internal passages and rough surfaces, which inhibit the smooth flow of exhaust gasses. A tubular header, on the other hand, features large diameter tubing and smoother walls. To install headers, remove the manifolds where they bolt to the head on either side. Install the headers in their place.

Step 3

Install a larger carburetor on older, carbureted Jeeps. A better exhaust system and headers will allow you to take advantage of adding more fuel to the motor. On a carbureted engine, the best way to do this is to install a larger, more performance-oriented carb. Keep in mind that your fuel economy may be negatively impacted by more carburetion.

Step 4

Reprogram the ECU (engine control unit) or install a performance chip. Which one you go with will depend on the year of your Jeep, and of course this only applies to Jeeps that are new enough to have engines controlled by a computer. A performance reflash to the computer or a new chip will modify the timing of the engine and how much fuel and spark it gets for a performance improvement.

Step 5

Turbocharge or supercharge the engine. This is usually the refuge of those seeking a monstrous power increase, but is also one of the most effective ways of going about it. Forced induction forces air into the motor from the intake side (supercharging) or on the exhaust side (turbocharging). This is also one of the more expensive and complicated methods of getting more horsepower.

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