5 Ways to Improve Engine Response

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

You know how your car has that central computer tracking everything and keeping your engine running optimally? Do you ever feel like that computer might just be a little evil?

We tend to think people trump computers. Except when it comes to spell check. And doing any sort of math. But when it comes to cars, we really tend to think that the driver knows best. In modern cars, however, that's not always true. The computer that runs your car may be intentionally dampening engine response. That makes autocorrect seem almost benign, doesn't it?

There's actually a good reason your car's computer might be limiting engine response. Fuel economy is the biggest one. Hard acceleration is one of the biggest fuel drains on the road. By dampening engine response, the computer can save fuel. That saves you cash and also gets the car a better fuel economy rating. Since car companies have to hit a certain average fuel economy rate for all their models, limiting engine response benefits them as well. In some cases, however, the electronic throttle control systems on some cars are just not well-engineered, leading to poor engine response and delays between the driver's request for more engine power and the car actually delivering it.

If you want better engine response, having a nannying C3PO on-board is a problem with only one solution: Find an R2 unit that will let you have some fun. Aftermarket plug-and-play units are available for many cars and can improve throttle response. These are little computers that plug into your car, intercept the signal from the throttle and send a more aggressive one to the computer. You can also customize the computers on many cars, setting the engine to respond just as you like it.

Author's Note: 5 Ways to Improve Engine Response

Improving engine response may seem like something that only matters to hot rodders and gear heads; however, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, quick engine response can help keep you safe, too. What was surprising to me as I researched this article is how simple some of the fixes for poor engine response are. Routine maintenance, things like checking your fuel filter, can not only save you from expensive repairs down the line, but can also make your car drive better. Making sure your car performs at its best isn't just about showing off -- it's about taking care of your investment.

Related Articles


  • Bohacz, Ray T. "Eliminate Engine Detonation Without Losing Power and Throttle Response." High Performance Pontiac. April 2009. (May 1, 2012) http://www.highperformancepontiac.com/tech/hppp_0609_automotive_engine_detonation/index.html
  • Carsdirect.com. "How to Tell if You have a Faulty Engine Speed Sensor." Oct. 7, 2009. (May 1, 2012) http://www.carsdirect.com/car-repair/how-to-tell-if-you-have-a-faulty-engine-speed-sensor
  • Carsdirect.com. "Auto Engine Repair Tips." CarsDirect.com. Sept. 29, 2009. (May 1, 2012) http://www.carsdirect.com/car-repair/great-auto-engine-repair-tips
  • Pratte, David. "Driver Disconnect: The Pros and Cons of Drive-By-Wire Technology and Aftermarket approaches to Improving It." Modified Magazine. April 2012. (May 1, 2012) http://www.modified.com/tech/modp-1204-driver-disconnect-tech-talk/viewall.html
  • Toboldt, William K, Larry Johnson and W. Scott Gauthier. "Automotive Encyclopedia." Goodheart-Willcox. 2006.


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.