Getting the Most Engine Power From Your Vehicle

An Isolated View of a Car Engine

An Engine’s Crankshaft Generates Torque, Which Partly Determines the Vehicle’s Horsepower.

What does reduced engine power mean? When your fast and furious friends start throwing around terms like horsepower and torque, do you start to get nervous? You probably know that it’s great to optimize these factors in your vehicle, but nobody has told you what any of it means! Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out.

Today, we’re going to break down some of this common terminology. Then, we’ll show you some tools you can use to upgrade your own ride. By the end, you should have the insight you’ll need to hop into your greasemonkey friends’ conversation and start holding your own.

What is Engine Power and Torque?

Let’s start with the basics: torque and horsepower. Many people mistake one for the other, which isn’t surprising, seeing how the two are linked. Torque is the kind of force your engine generates in the crankshaft as it turns. Think of torque as the ability to get “stuff” done inside your car. It’s not a very science-y way of explaining it, but it helps.

Horsepower (also known as engine power) describes how quickly “stuff” gets done after applying torque. When you multiply torque by RPM (the crankshaft’s revolutions per minute) and divide by 5252 (trust us), you get an engine’s horsepower. In other words: the more torque, the higher the engine power output.

With these definitions in mind, we’ll go over a couple frequently asked questions our professionals here regarding engine power and performance.

What Causes Loss of Engine Power? (partial)

Your engine has a built in control system that monitors functional performance. It knows very quickly whether certain fluid is low or if part of the system is out of alignment. Some of problems can cause your engine to heat up to dangerous temperatures. Your ECU (engine control unit) will stop this by reducing engine performance until the issue is corrected. Some modern vehicles have a “Reduced Power” light which turns on when this automatic check system kicks in.

Potential causes include:

  • Battery trouble
  • Partial engine failure
  • Transmission malfunction

You can safely operate your vehicle in this state, but you likely won’t be able to access higher gears. Stay off the highway and slowly make your way to a mechanic or home. There’s a chance that your vehicle may experience complete power loss, so don’t try to go too far with the warning light on.

What Can Cause a Vehicle to Lose Power? (complete)

An Engine is Spewing Out White Smoke

Complete Power Loss Often Occurs When an Engine Overheats for Too Long.

An engine losing power is serious business, especially if you’re on the highway when the vehicle suddenly dies. For an engine to shut off completely however, the problem is usually pretty serious. There are a variety of reasons for this to happen. Your car could be long overdue for an oil change, cause your engine to rapidly overheat. A sustained fluid leak in your radiator can produce the same effect.

It’s possible that a cylinder head gasket has been damaged by extreme heat. If you’ve started to notice white smoke spewing out of the engine, this is very likely the case. No matter what the cause of the shut down is, you’ll need to take the vehicle to a mechanic.

3 Ways to Get More Power

There are many ways to give your engine a little more juice, but some of them are considerably more accessible than others. If you are searching for starter upgrades, these three are great options.

  • Install a Cold Air Intake
  • Install a Performance Chip
  • Upgrade to a Cat-Back Exhaust System

Air Intake

Switching to a Cold Air Intake

This is one of the most commonly recommended updates car enthusiasts suggest to those just starting out on the vehicle upgrades. That’s because a cold air intake provides a significant boost to horsepower without breaking the bank. It’s also a relatively easy installation. Your engine takes in air, mixes it with fuel, and burns the combination to produce power. A cold air intake draws in much denser air, greatly improving engine power output.

Performance Chip

Installing a Performance Chip

The ECU organizes the functions of various parts in your vehicle. Factory settings will limit your vehicle’s performance capabilities, but a performance chip can greatly expand your ride’s torque and horsepower. You’ll need to be careful if you’ve made any prior modifications to your vehicle, but this one’s an easy boost. You may even find your vehicle starts getting better miles to the gallon.

Exhaust System

Upgrade Your Vehicle Exhaust System

The name is pretty on-the-nose; your vehicle exhaust system controls the outflow of exhaust from your engine. A cat-back exhaust system accelerates this outflow, providing more space for air and fuel to enter. You should start seeing a notable change in engine power efficiency.

Schedule Your Engine Service Today!

What causes poor engine performance? Accumulated wear and tear, plus low vehicle fluids. Our team at Saline Automotive Service would love to help tune up your car and restore it to optimum performance. If you’d like to schedule general maintenance or engine service for your vehicle, give our team a call today at 734-429-2886!