5 Cheap Ways to Increase Horsepower

The Buick Regal's 2.0-liter direct injection fuel system including fuel rail and injectors, high pressure cam-driven fuel pump and the important E39 engine control module (cover removed) containing the "Viper" 32 bit microprocessor. (© General Motors)

Reflash! Ah-aaaah! Savior of the universe! Reflashing your car's computer merely changes its programming regarding timing, fuel-air mixture and other horsepower-upping inputs. The benefit of a reflash, besides the added power, is that it can be undone if you need warranty work done or have to have your car inspected by the state environmental department. The downside is that it really only works if your car is turbocharged or supercharged; reflashing a normally aspirated engine will only get you an extra half a horsepower, Zurschmeide says. And as with some of the others on this list, it only nets a big power boost if the factory programming is the limiting factor for your engine. Swapping out the stock computer for an entirely new module could help -- but that, Zurschmeide says, "has a very high price of entry."

Author's Note: 5 Cheap Ways to Increase Horsepower

Back when I was looking for a Subaru Baja to buy for myself, I consulted a Subaru PR person I know and like very much about my impending purchase. "Don't get the turbo," was her only piece of advice. "It sucks up gas." So I got a normally aspirated engine, and I love my car.

Except ...

I'd really like it to go faster. I've thought about an aftermarket turbocharger, and I know the people who could do it. But -- and this may shock you -- being a writer does not make me a very wealthy woman. So I, like you, dear reader, am always on the lookout for a cheap way to make the Baja a little more bitchin'. I believe I have now found five ways to do it, and so have you.

Related Articles


  • Aptuned High Performance. "Increase Horsepower on a Budget - 4 Easy Ways." Aptuned.com. March 9, 2011. (April 30, 2013) http://www.aptuned.com/blog/increase-horsepower-on-a-budget-4-easy-ways.html
  • Cars Direct. "Four Fast and Cheap Ways to Add Performance to Your Car." CarsDirect.com. July 8, 2010. (April 30, 2013) http://www.carsdirect.com/car-maintenance/four-fast-and-cheap-ways-to-add-horsepower-to-your-car
  • Zurschmeide, Jeffrey. Author of "The New Mini Performance Handbook." Personal interview, conducted on May 3, 2013.


Will new motor mounts increase engine response?

Will new motor mounts increase engine response?

Is it possible for something as simple as new motor mounts to increase engine response in your car or truck? Find out at HowStuffWorks.

More to Explore