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Essential Performance Upgrades: Cold Air Intake Systems, Exhaust & Tuning
Essential Performance Upgrades for Any Rig
If you’re heading off-road, you’re going to need more than just an updated suspension and large, aggressive tires. Your engine needs to be in top shape, and there are several high-performance upgrades available that will make your ride not only enjoyable, but exhilarating. There are several cold air intake systemsthat boost power and torque, free-flowing exhaust systems that reduce backpressure and increase fuel economy, and custom-tuning equipment that can dial in all engine performance metrics to optimal levels.
Cold air intake systems offer several high-performance improvements for your engine when installed. The most important thing that a cold air intake does is push cool, dense air into the fuel mixture to provide increased combustion. This increase produces both low-end torque and top-end horsepower. Depending on your engine configuration, the power increase can be spread across the engine’s RPM band, or it can be concentrated at either end. Low-end torque provides great performance for towing, rock-crawling, and other activities where short bursts of immediate acceleration are required. Top-end horsepower is great for highway driving, certain types of off-roading, and most racing applications.
In addition to cold air intake systems, high-performance exhaust systems provide an effective and efficient way to expel spent gasses from the engine. Trapped gasses can inhibit overall engine performance, especially when you have an upgraded intake system that is flowing more air and fuel into the engine. There are two types of available exhaust upgrades: pre-fabricated kits and custom-made systems.
Most pre-fabricated kits for newer vehicles are cat-back systems that offer large, free-flowing tubing from the catalytic converter to the rear of the vehicle. The kits bolt directly into place using OEM hardware, and for many street applications, the efficiency gains are adequate. For higher levels of performance away from the street, a custom exhaust system can expel spent gasses with maximum efficiency and no interference.
Once a cold air intake system is in place, and you have a high-performance exhaust setup, it’s time to tune. An electronic programmer can help fine-tune an engine to achieve a number of results, including better fuel economy, increased torque or horsepower, improved timing, or even a faster idle. With an electronic tuner, you can either manually adjust any of several settings while the engine is running, or you load pre-defined tuner files directly into the vehicle’s computer to achieve a particular result.