Performance Tuning is More than Souping up Your Engine! (Part 1)

We get asked quite a bit, what is the best thing I can do to performance tune my truck. Nine out of ten times, the questioner is asking how can they soup up their engine, but the reality is that performance tuning your engine compartment is only one place you can fix issues with your truck.

Previously, we’ve written about wheels and how finding the right set of wheels can affect your performance. Yes, wheels are not exclusively (or even mostly about performance), wheels are about your style and you want them to pop, but wheels that pop that cause your ride to under-perform is like having the best TV that doesn’t show more than two channels. It’s just not going to get the job done.

truck tire

Wheels and Tires

We covered wheels in our previous blog post, so we won’t revisit that much here, but we do want to have a quick word about tires. Much has been made of the comments about proper air pressure in tires affecting gas/mileage performance and this is actually true. Having tires properly inflated will help your vehicle perform better, but quality tread is also important. No one part or system on your truck works completely independently and tires are one area like this. Good brakes and poor tires is going to make for some bad performance, if not outright accidents. That’s just one example, but consider the type of tire you are using. Are you buying an on-road, or off-road, or hybrid tire?  Because your tire type and use of the tire will have as much to say about how it performs as how you use it. Obvious, right?  You’d be surprised how many times we see people buying off-road tires and yet they think they have a Ferrari that can corner on a rail. Doesn’t work that way, folks!

exhaust manifold

Exhaust Manifolds, Mufflers and Catalytic Converters

When thinking about tuning performance, we get a lot of inquiries about how can I boost power in my engine, but many times, the customer doesn’t consider those ancillary systems that are connected to your engine, but are far less glamorous when it comes to making changes. Exhaust systems, intake systems and catalytic converters are examples of this.

A hi-flow catalytic converter can not only increase your engine performance, but they are good for providing a cleaner air solution, and in today’s driving climate (no pun intended) anything we can do to help with cleaner air is a solid plus. Adding a cat-back exhaust system is specifically useful for truck owners. Cat-back refers to the fact that it is installed behind (after) the catalytic converter. This ensures there is no disruption of exhaust emissions, e.g. factory emission output is not changed here, but increasing the airflow from the engine allows for increased horsepower and engine torque. And these types of exhaust systems increase that throaty engine sound that you really want to hear from your motor much more so than the factory stock systems you might be replacing.

Replacing exhaust manifolds is another area you can focus on to increase your engine performance. New exhaust manifolds can increase the exhaust throughput to your exhaust system and catalytic converter thereby allowing your HP and torque numbers to climb, same principle as adding the Cat-Back system. The upside here, is that header replacements can be some of the easier modifications to make. Most new headers are a mere bolt-on modification and it’s the piping system that is where the upgrade is located, so replacement can be done quite simply.

Next time, we’ll take a look at Suspension systems and Brakes for performance increases, as well as jumping into the engine compartment to review intakes, engine upgrades, carburetors and much more. Till then, Happy Trucking!


Photo credit: Flickr by Luke Lawreszuk
Photo credit: Flickr by smneal

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