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Performance basics

I was shocked the other day when I found a site with Dyno data for Probe GTs. The article was comparing data from three different cars with a bunch of expensive modifications. On two cars, they were questioning themselves about a power drop in the 5K- 6K RPM range. They were suspecting high-end misfiring. Why would you spend thousands of dollars on expensive goodies and $60 bucks an hour on a dyno if you haven't took the time to do a tune-up of your car? I'm sure that these guys going head to head to a well prepped car wouldn't do that good!

Here's a few things you should check once in a while and a few tips to get the most out of your car.

Clean your injectors! You may use bottled fuel injector cleaner that will provide good results. The best thing is (at a cost of $25 per injector) is to have them cleaned and calibrated. A slight unbalance between cylinders can cost you many hp! Here's a couple of sources: HTA auto RC Engineering
Is your fuel filter due? The fuel pressure can drop dramatically if your filter is clogged or partially clogged. Change it every 60K miles or if suspect refueling with bad gas.
Have your fuel regulator checked The regulators are usually very reliable items but fuel pressure can vary from one to the other. As you may know the quantity of fuel injected depends on the pulse width sent by the computer AND the fuel pressure.

Check the filter! A dirty filter reduces the airflow. Less air available, less fuel to be injected!
Is your filter inhaling hot air? If you have a K&N Cone or HKS filter, make sure you route fresh (and water free) air to it. For each increase of 7.2deg. F of intake air you loose 1% of power!

Check your plugs! Make sure the gap is correct. A larger gap will produce a stronger spark but the ignition system might not be strong enough to trigger it at high RPM.
Ignition wires The OEM wires usually have short lifes (thats why I use performance ones!). They are the first to be suspected when misfiring occurs.
Distributor cap and rotor Check the contacts for erosion and deposits. Deposits can be removed with a fine grit sandpaper.
The timing! Fill you gas tank with premium and advance it from 8 to 12 degrees.

Use synthetic fluids Less friction equals fewer losses and less heat. Do not forget your tranny!
Tire pressure Make sure the pressure is right. Low pressure is bad on gas mileage and creates friction losses. Those dreaming of 245/40/17 tires know that the increased contact area and rotating weight will increase your E.T.
Engine temperature Use a lower opening point thermostat or Water Wetter to reduce the temperature of your engine. All the plastic and rubber components under the hood will thank you. Furthermore, more output will be available since a cooler mixture is more efficient and is less likely to cause pre-ignition (or detonation).
Give your alternator
a break!
2000 Amps, a kicking stereo, and 3 sets of driving light might sound/look cool but will require extra strain on the alternator. Remember that the alternator "steals" power from the engine. Think about it the next time you race someone...