Performance Upgrades for a Mini Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

A number of performance upgrades exist for the Chevrolet car some improve both horsepower and fuel economy, while others sacrifice fuel economy in favor of increased horsepower. Depending on the type of performance you seek, upgrading the power control module, exhaust system and air intake can increase the power of the vehicle. You can also increase power in the Chevrolet car by adding superchargers and turbos.

Under The Hood:

 Performance Upgrades for a Mini Cooper S

Cold Air Intake

A cold air intake is relatively easy to install and gives your MINI Cooper a boost in horsepower. John Cooper Works (JCW) offers one option and K&N offers another.

Exhaust

The exhaust allows the gas from the engine to exit your MINI more efficiently which leads to more horsepower. Borla and JCW both make upgraded exhausts for the MINI Cooper and Cooper S

Spark Plug Wires

New spark plug wires give a stronger spark to the engine and give the engine a little more power for a very cheap price. You can find spark plug wires from various manufacturers including Plasma and Nology.

Limited Slip Differential

A limited slip differential (LSD or limited slip diff) helps get the power on the road as you are coming out of a turn. It helps improve handling and acceleration although not actual horsepower. It was offered as a factory option on some cars, but there are also aftermarket options available. Quaife and OS Giken both offer limited slip diffs for the MINI Cooper.

Suspension

Suspension upgrades will help you corner better and get your power onto the road more efficiently. While the sport suspension on the MINI is pretty good, JCW and Koni, among others, offer upgrades to the shocks and struts for better ride and handling.

Tires

The stock run-flat tires on the MINI Cooper grive a notoriously harsh ride and are low on grip. Replacing the tires will help you corner faster, get the power down more easily and ride in a little more comfort. Replacement tires are offered by every manufacturer, but Michelin, Goodyear and Pirelli all offer well received aftermarket options. Bear in mind that the MINI has no spare tire.

Brakes

JCW and EBC offer upgrades to the pads and rotors on your MINI Cooper, helping you stop faster and with more control than the stock brakes. If you do upgrade the brakes make sure you upgrade the tires to handle the extra stopping power.

Intercooler

The intercooler helps increase power by getting more air into the turbo. A better intercooler means cooler air into the turbo and more power from the engine. Alta makes an upgraded intercooler for the MINI Cooper, as does Helix.

 Performance Upgrades for a 1995 5.7 GM

Performance Air Intake

One way to upgrade the performance of a 1995 GM 5.7L is to improve the air intake to the engine. Most standard intakes pull air through a fiber filter that needs to be changed routinely. High-flow filters and intakes allow the engine to breathe easier which boosts horsepower and torque without using more fuel. Often these high-flow air filters can be regurally cleaned instead of disposed of. One example for a 1995 GMC 5.7L is K&N model 57-3026 performance air intake system. According to K&N, this model air intake system can boost horsepower by about 10.

Brakes

Improving horsepower and acceleration is useful but this extra power and speed puts more friction on the brakes. Super heated brakes will not wear evenly and will not stop the vehicle as well. A perfromance improvement for the GM 5.7 is to use slotted or drilled brake rotors and high-friction brake pads. EBC Brakes makes a series of slotted rotors, which, according to EBC, helps pads wear evenly, removes water and grime, and helps cool the brakes. For suburbans and trucks, EBC also offers improved brake pads called "yellow stuff" that have a higher friction coefficient than regular brakes.

Headers

Improved headers allow the engine to exhaust waste gasses more easily. This reduces the force needed from the piston to force out the gasses, which means more power. Many different headers for a 5.7L GMC from 1995 are offered, including model numbers GP100S-C, GP100 and GP100S. As of 2010, the headers range between $600 and $800.

 Performance Upgrades for the Chevrolet Suburban

Cold-Air Intake

Cold-air intake upgrades improve the engine's ability to pull cold air into the engine. Extra-cool air means a greater compression in the engine's cylinders and a more complete, powerful ignition, which in turn boosts power and helps gas mileage. K&N makes a cold air intake performance filter (model 77-3070KP) for the Chevy suburban line. According to K&N, the improvement filter can add up to 9 horsepower. The model comes with a high-flow, cleanable air filter. Most cold air intakes are relatively easy to install but are illegal in some states (such as California).

Power Control Module

Power Control Modules (PCMs) are chips, sometimes programmable, that control how much fuel the vehicle injects into the cylinders of the engine. A PCM upgrade changes the signals to the engine so it receives more fuel, leading to increased horsepower but lower gas mileage. JET makes a PCM for the Chevy suburban models 20710 and 20710S that can increase power by 25 horsepower. The chips are legal in all 50 United States and are easy to install.

Supercharger

A supercharger, which runs using direct power from the engine, actively sucks in cold air and forcefully injects it into the engine. This action dramatically increases horsepower but reduces gas mileage, since some of the engine's power is going toward running the supercharger. Vortech makes a supercharger kit for Chevy trucks and suburbans.

Turbocharger

A turbocharger, or turbo, is similar to a supercharger in that it forcefully injects air into the engine to boost horsepower. However, turbos increase gas mileage slightly since they do not run using direct power from the engine. Instead, turbos use the force of the exhaust to power the unit. Squires Turbo Systems (STS) makes several turbocharger kits, some of which fit any vehicle—including the Chevy suburban. Installing a turbo requires expertise but can increase horsepower up to 50 percent.

Headers and Exhaust

When the engine expels the exhaust gases, back pressure occurs when the exhaust requires energy to expel. This pressure reduces the energy the engine can deliver to power the vehicle. Headers mount to the top of the engine and increase the diameter of the exhaust pipes, making it easier for the Suburban's engine to remove exhaust, which increases horsepower and fuel economy. Performance exhaust systems increase the flow of exhaust from the vehicle. PaceSetter makes a series of headers for Chevy vehicles. Gibson makes a complete exhaust system with twin pipes (model 65572) that can, according to its site, increase fuel economy and add up to 20 horsepower.

 Performance Upgrades for a 2003 Chevy 3.8 Litre V6

Chevy Impala

The Impala, named after the South African Impala antelope, was introduced in 1958. It has become Chevrolet's best selling full-sized sedan with a 3.8 litre V-6 engine. In 2000 the Impala came in two trim levels, the LS and a base model. Both trims housed 3.4 liter V-8 engines with a three gauge instrument cluster. By 2003 the LS had been upgraded to a 3.8 liter V-6 with 200 horsepower. In 2004 Chevy offered a new version of this 3.8 liter V-6 which ramped up the horsepower to 240. This supercharged model became the SS trim. Some die hard Impala enthusiasts converted the 2003 Impala to the SS trim, with aftermarket additions, which included spoiler, mirrors and HID foglights.

Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo has always been about performance, and the 2003 edition was not a disappointment. In fact, the 2003 Monte Carlo SS was the subject of a custom upgrade by Rytek. It upgraded the 2003 Monte Carlo dubbing it "The Full Monte." The engineers at Rytek went to great lengths to upgrade the car's performance, look and handling, calling their concept, "Total Performance Tuning." Performance upgrades included 14-inch, six-piston caliper brakes, an aerodynamic body kit, a set of blacked-out center 20-inch wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes 245/35 rubber. Added to the package were headers, a free-flowing catalytic converter, cold air intake package and a dual outlet stainless steel exhaust system. Internal engine upgrades included rocker arms and pushrods for better maneuverability.

Camaro

Chevrolet's 2003 RS 3.8L V-6 automatic Camaro was a three-door coupe with an automatic four-speed transmission and 204 horsepower. A popular upgrade for the 2003 Camaro is a replacement air filter, designed to increase horsepower and acceleration while providing top-notch air filtration. Some air filters have a drop-in design, which easily fits into the Camaro's exsiting factory installed air box.

 Performance Upgrades for the Ford Escort GT

Performance Wheels and Tires

One modification that the GT benefits from is the addition of larger wheels and performance tires. Lighter wheels reduce the car’s unsprung weight (the weight that the suspension carries around), which makes it feel more responsive in cornering. Performance tires made of softer rubber will heat up quickly and provide more grip during cornering. Check an online source (see Resources 1) or local auto parts store for wheels and tires that fit the Escort GT.

Suspension and Brake Upgrades

To enhance a stock Escort GT’s cornering ability, replace stock springs with stiffer, lower springs from a company such as Eibach (see Resources 2). These lower the car’s center of gravity and reduce body roll. Pair the springs with a set of performance Koni or KYB shock absorbers. Also, install a set of cross-drilled brake rotors and performance pads for better stopping power. Install braided steel brake lines for a firmer pedal feel that allow the brakes to be modulated more precisely. These items are available from most auto parts stores.

Engine Upgrades

Don't neglect the engine (see Resources 3). Start with a cold air intake for an increase in power. By delivering dense, cold air to the engine, a cold air intake allows the motor to run more efficiently and make more horsepower. On the exhaust end, replace the restrictive stock exhaust with a larger-diameter exhaust system and tubular headers to make more power. You can also upgrade the ignition system with a high-performance coil, better spark plugs and larger spark plug wires. For the ultimate in performance, install a supercharger or turbocharger for a dramatic increase in horsepower.

 Performance Upgrades For a Jeep 2.4L

Aircharger

The Jeep 2.4L Compass's performance can be improved by upgrading the cold air intake. This allows the engine to pull in more air, which increases cylinder compression and improves horsepower. Cold air intakes, or airchargers, also improve gas mileage since they do not require extra fuel in the engine. K&N model 63-1552 fits the Jeep 2.4L Compass and can add almost 8 horsepower. Airchargers are usually easy to install, but are not legal in all 50 states. Check with your state's emission laws to see if they are legal where you live.

Oil Filter

Improved oil filters for Jeep Cherokees, including the 2.4L, come from aFe Power. The filters are designed for rough conditions and can take 600 pounds of force before breaking. According to aFe Power, the 44-LF006 model oil filters have the best filtration of any oil filter on the market, but still allow for great oil flow. This improves engine life and helps the engine run smoother.

Performance Exhaust Systems

The exhaust system is an important performance aspect of the vehicle. Allowing the exhaust to exit more easily increases the vehicle's performance by reducing back pressure on the engine. There are a number of improved exhaust systems for Jeep 2.4L vehicles. Magnaflow offers model 16777 for the 2.4L Compass. As of 2010, the exhaust system runs about $700.

 Performance Upgrades for a Jeep 4.0

Air Intake Conversion

The Jeep's air intake port is located beneath the headlamp on the driver's side. If you take your Jeep off-roading in deep water, it is possible that water can get into the engine. You can help alleviate this problem by using a PVC pipe and high quality air filter to make a different air intake port.

Heavy Flywheel

When the Jeep's engine is under stress, such as when you climb a steep incline, the clutch disk can shatter or the engine may shut off suddenly. This can be fixed by adding weighted inertia rings to the back of the flywheel. This does make the engine work harder to accelerate, but makes it easier to operate on inclines.

Supercharger

You can add a supercharger to the Jeep 4.0-liter engine. A supercharger is an air compressor that will use forced induction to get more air into the engine. This will greatly increase the amount of work that the engine is capable of doing, which increases the power. Many different superchargers are available for purchase and they can be expensive, costing between $2,500 and $7,000 or more.

Increase the Stroke

Another way to increase the amount of air into the engine is to increase the stroke. The more air that goes into an engine in one complete cycle, the more work the engine is capable of performing. The total air in one cycle is referred to as displacement. When you increase the stroke, you increase the displacement. This can add a significant power upgrade to the engine.

 How to Upgrade the Performance of a Subaru Forester

Clean out your car to get rid of any excess weight -- even the spare tire if you can do without it. Removing unneeded items decreases the weight of your car, which increases your gas mileage.

Get regular oil changes and when you do, use synthetic oil. Synthetic oil lubricates the engine better, allowing for better wear protection and friction reduction on the vehicle engine. Use a high-performance oil filter to allow for a higher oil pressure rate.

Use additives in your vehicle's coolant reservoir that keep the coolant cooler. A product called Water Wetter, for example, reduces the temperature of the coolant by 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows for better heat transfer and optimum engine efficiency. A coolant additive also helps prevent engine corrosion and rust.

Change your spark plugs to performance spark plugs. Upgraded spark plugs usually have a platinum tip that allows for a better spark. Switch to high-performance spark plug wires also for a stronger signal to your spark plugs. These changes will improve gas mileage by allowing your engine to create better combustion.

Install a cold-air intake kit and a high-flow air filter. Installing a cold air intake allows for smoother air flow into the engine, which increases engine power. Connect flexible intake tubing from the cold-air intake filter to an area behind your front headlight or below your vehicle's grille, where there is an opening that the tubing can be connected to. Install a mesh screen into the tubing to prevent particles from being sucked through while you are driving. Install a turbine into the air tubing between the intake tube and air filter. The turbine sucks air into the intake tube in a twirling forced motion, giving your vehicle added horsepower.

Items you will need

  • Oil change

  • High-performance oil filter

  • Coolant additive

  • Performance spark plugs

  • Performance spark plug wires

  • Cold-air intake kit

  • High-flow air filter

  • Flexible intake tubing

  • Mesh screen

  • Turbine

 Performance Upgrades for the Chrysler Flathead 6 Engine

Hardened Valve Seats Help with Unleaded Gasoline

Tetraethyl lead, or white lead, used to be added to gasoline in order to reduce temperatures and lubricate the valve seats in the cylinder head. With the advent of unleaded gasoline, many engines that did not have hardened valve seats eventually experienced problems. Having your cylinder head removed and hardened valve seats installed in your Flathead six-cylinder engine can help improve performance as well as longevity with conventional gasoline.

Increase Compression Ratio by Swapping Cylinder Heads

Another performance upgrade that can be completed with the cylinder head out is a slight increase in compression ratio. By researching interchangeability between different years and models of the Flathead six-cylinder engine, you can increase the compression ratio by putting a later model cylinder head on an earlier engine block, and vice versa.

Bore out the Engine for Maximum Displacement

The Chrysler Flathead six-cylinder engine was offered in a number of different displacements, ranging from 230 cubic inches to 250.4 cubic inches and even as high as 264.5 cubic inches of displacement. More displacement transfers into higher horsepower, so by boring out the Chrysler Flathead to one of the higher displacements you can improve performance without a noticeable loss of durability of the engine.

Install a Screw-on Type Oil Filter

Installing a screw-on type oil filter mounted to the engine block can also improve performance. Many of the Flathead engines had either no oil filter at all or a remotely mounted oil filter that caused the oil pump to work excessively hard. Replacing this setup can lead to improved performance and longer life of the vehicle engine.

 Performance Upgrades for a 3.5L Dodge

Performance Chips

There are several different performance chips that are available for the 3.5-liter engine. Performance chips are designed to improve horsepower and torque by maximizing the computerized efficiency of your vehicle. One of the primary benefits of computer chips is that they can improve your vehicle's power without increasing fuel consumption significantly. In some instances, performance chips will actually increase fuel mileage while providing additional horsepower for the vehicle.

Exhaust

Performance automobile exhausts will also improve the performance of your vehicle's engine. By altering the exhaust flow with a performance exhaust system, your vehicle can gain additional horsepower and torque. Performance exhausts allow for better airflow and more controlled exhaust release in the system.

Turbochargers and Superchargers

Turbochargers and superchargers can be added to a Dodge 3.5-liter engine to increase power and performance. Turbochargers and superchargers work by generating extra power for the engine. Superchargers do this by using a pulley system; turbochargers use exhaust gases. Both of these can add a significant amount of power and speed to an engine.

Other Upgrades

A number of different parts are available as higher-quality performance models, such as spark plugs and air filters. By consistently selecting the highest-quality upgrade when you perform routine maintenance, you can add to the overall performance of your 3.5-liter engine every time you tune up your vehicle.

 Performance Upgrades for the 2.2 L Ecotec Saturn Ion

Performance Exhaust

Allowing the waste gasses to exit the engine more easily means less energy is wasted on their expulsion. This improves vehicle gas mileage and power without consuming more fuel. Magnaflow makes a cat-back, high-performance exhaust system for the Saturn Ion. The exhaust system has 2 1/2 inch tubing and adds an aggressive sound to the engine. As of 2010, prices for Magnaflow's exhaust systems run about $900.

Fuel Catalyst

Fuel catalysts improve gas mileage and power by chemically altering the fuel as it flows through the device. Fitch Fuel Catalysts can work on the Saturn Ion 2.2L (model F3824). According to Fitch, the catalyst increases the life of fuel injectors and increases the time between oil changes. Their catalyst attaches directly into the fuel line without the use of special tools or cutting of the fuel line.

Iridium Spark Plugs

One of the simplest ways to boost horsepower and fuel economy in a Saturn Ion 2.2L is to upgrade the spark plugs. High-performance iridium spark plugs last longer and produce a better spark than regular spark plugs. Some examples of high performance spark plugs are the model ILTR5C11 from NGK and the model ITV16 from Denso Iridium. As of 2010, iridium spark plugs can cost about $60 for a set of four.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.