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What's the best way to increase horsepower?

        Auto | Engine Performance

Other Horsepower Increasing Methods
The Lamborghini Murcielago LP 640 has outstanding horsepower.
The Lamborghini Murcielago LP 640 has outstanding horsepower.
Guang Niu/Getty Images
  • Stuff more into each cylinder - If you can cram more air (and therefore fuel) into a cylinder of a given size, you can get more power from the cylinder (in the same way that you would by increasing the size of the cylinder). Turbo chargers and super chargers pressurize the incoming air to effectively cram more air into a cylinder. Many manufacturers make aftermarket turbos and super chargers for many different cars.
  • Cool the incoming air - Compressing air raises its temperature. You would like to have the coolest air possible in the cylinder because the hotter the air is the less it will expand when combustion takes place. Therefore many turbo charged and super charged cars have an intercooler. An intercooler is a special radiator through which the compressed air passes to cool it off before it enters the cylinder.
  • Make everything lighter - Lightweight parts help the engine perform better. Each time a piston changes direction it uses up energy to stop the travel in one direction and start it in another. The lighter the piston, the less energy it takes. Lighter parts also allow the engine to rev faster, giving it more horsepower.
  • Increase the compression ratio - Higher compression ratios produce more power, up to a point. The more you compress the air/fuel mixture, however, the more likely it is to spontaneously burst into flame (prior to the spark plug igniting it). Higher octane gasolines prevent this sort of early combustion. That is why high-performance cars generally need high octane gasoline - their engines are using higher compression ratios to get more power.
  • Increase displacement - More displacement means more power because you can burn more gas during each revolution of the engine. You can increase displacement by making the cylinders bigger.

As soon as you start to try increasing displacement, you might consider the economics of buying a new high-performance engine and trying to fit it into your car -- it may be easier and cheaper!