I received an email this week from a viewer who wanted to get 300 horsepower out of the 135-horsepower Toyota 2004 Matrix of the family. I do not get requests that are ambitious everyday, but it brings the concept of "bolt-on" performance upgrades that any reasonable owner can try. Whether these winnings are worth the cost and effort, however, depends on how much you want a 300-hp matrix, Civic or Rio.
Here are the big four, with ballpark costs and performance gains.
Turbocharger or Compressor: $ 3,000
This is the big one, both in terms of performance and price. Forced induction systems can add up to 100 horsepower to our example matrix from 2004 – and cost you about $ 3,000 for the privilege. That's half or more of the value of the car, but much cheaper than buying a new, more powerful car. This is also the most complex of our "simple" add-ons and can tax the abilities of anyone who has not taken a motor at least half way (and successfully back together) before taxes. Make sure that the kit you have purchased meets your emission regulations and that such a kit may erase part of your factory warranty. But if you really want to put credit on the board, do it.
Now it's 235hp.
Air intake capacity: $ 300
Replacing the ducts and filters that allow air into an engine with a less restrictive design can increase performance by allowing the engine to breathe better at high engine speeds. Some kits also claim to let in some cooler air that is denser with energy-producing oxygen molecules.
That said, there are many arguments for how much difference an air intake can make, especially if you're installing a turbo or supercharger kit. But let's be conservative and say that this add-on can give us another 5hp. Now we're at 240.
Cat-back Exhaust: $ 500
Like a new air intake, a performance exhaust system eliminates exhaust fumes. This allows the engine to breathe more freely and has more sound or tone as it is less of a damper design. The term "Cat-Back" means that you only change the exhaust parts that are behind the catalytic converter so that you can not comply with emission regulations and pass smog tests.
As with a new air intake, performance gains are usually modest, say 5 hp in this case. Now we are at 245.
Chip Tune: $ 400
Modern car engines are managed by an engine control unit (ECU), a small computer that controls and monitors every parameter of the engine. Car manufacturers usually program ECUs to be conservative, so the car will be reliable and smooth, but you can change or program your car's ECU with one that has more aggressive settings for throttle response, shift point RPM, and a range of other attributes. Do you know that such "tunes" can void the warranty, that you can comply with emissions regulations and even damage your engine. Still, they are quite popular and could add another 10 hp to our Matrix 2004 for a grand total of 255. All in all, we've spent about $ 4,200 and gained about 120 horsepower, a typical scenario for a number of modest compact cars. But most drivers will skip the turbo or supercharger and just make the air intake, the exhaust, the chip function and a couple ofstickers and call it a day.