Truck owners now have more performance options than ever thanks to the aftermarket. To sort through all the new truck performance gadgets and products, though, can be a little challenging. The type of truck you have and the purpose for which you use it will determine what you need for its particular performance.

Performance is essentially the term used to describe speed, fuel consumption, and towing capacity. The main metrics used to assess performance are horsepower (HP) and torque.

By definition, horsepower, or HP, is the power of an engine in relation to horses. For instance, a truck with 100 horsepower moves as quickly as 100 horses combined. An indication of a truck’s top speed is frequently its horsepower. Horsepower is frequently a good indicator of the speed that a particular truck is capable of, rather than whether it is fast from a standing start (see torque). As a result, additional variables like weight and grade will affect the actual speed attained. The standard method for determining an engine’s power rating is HP, or horsepower in more technical terms. 500 ft-lbs are a unit of horsepower. per second, which is basically the power needed to lift 550 pounds one foot off the ground in exactly one second or the power needed to lift 33,000 pounds one foot off the ground in exactly one minute.

An automobile’s capacity to produce pick-up is referred to as torque. One of the most crucial elements in any non-rolling start is torque. The ability of the truck to transmit power to the wheels and turn them is what propels the entire truck forward. The dictionary defines it as: “The tendency of a force to cause torsion and rotation about an axis is measured by the moment of that force…”. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that torque is crucial for towing because it is what gets the truck moving.

Of course, your engine is at the heart of performance fundamentals. Imagine your engine as a large air pump. It inhales through the air intake and exhales through the exhaust. Your engine will perform better the easier it can breathe. The factory-installed air induction and exhaust are included with the stock engine you bought. It is relatively simple to modify these two components and can result in significant increases in horsepower and torque. The engine’s computer is another important factor that has an impact on your performance. The stock OEM computer your truck came with is set to a “safe mode” to protect the truck against virtually any driver error…e.g., redlining. The truck is protected by these settings, but they can seriously impair performance. You can significantly boost horsepower and torque while maintaining engine safety by adjusting the truck’s computer. Below, we’ll examine each of these three performance improvements.

Air Intake

Your car’s air filter is what makes up most of the air intake. Paper pleats make up stock air filters. Pleated paper has the drawback that it frequently develops clogs, significantly reducing airflow. Paper fragments that are swallowed or drawn into the intake system leave a hole for grit to enter the engine. To keep performance at a minimal level, these filters must also be frequently replaced. Cotton swabs or engineered foam are used to make aftermarket filters. These filters, available from manufacturers like K&N, Airaid, Green Filter, and True Flow, significantly increase the amount of air that passes through the filter. These filters also protect against dirt at a rate that is twice as high or higher than their paper counterparts, and the majority of them have lifetime warranties…that’s one filter for the life of your vehicle. These filters are incredibly simple to install…just replace your existing factory air filter.

The temperature of the air entering the engine has an impact on air intake as a second factor. Your truck operates more efficiently on cold days, as you may have noticed. The reason for this is that the air is denser, and denser air, when combined with fuel and ignited, allows for greater combustion. More power is required to move your piston in the cylinder when combustion is stronger. aftermarket firms…many of the same mentioned above…have developed systems called “Cold Air Intakes”, that move the point of air intake from the top of your engine, which is normally very hot, to a point outside the engine. As a result, your engine is receiving much cooler air than it would have if the air filter had been installed in its usual location. A little more handyman know-how is needed for cold air intakes than simply changing a filter. Anybody with some simple tools, though, can install them without much difficulty.

Exhaust Systems

Exhaust is the “exhale” to your engines lungs. Your car can breathe easier to a lesser extent the more turns there are in the exhaust. Three main components make up exhaust systems…the muffler, exhaust pipes and muffler tips. The first two components primarily influence HP and torque. OEM factory exhausts are excellently constructed but not optimized for performance. To get the most out of your vehicle, aftermarket systems are available from businesses like Magnaflow, Banks, and Gibson. These systems are engineered specifically for each truck. In addition to more power, these systems also deliver an enviable “roar” that will let others know you have tricked out your truck. If you are not a true gearhead and are not ready to do some cutting and welding, I do not advise installing an exhaust system. Although the majority of muffler shops do not stock these items, they will be happy to install them for you.

Computer Chips and Programmers

Technically speaking, gearheads refer to the computer in your truck as the Engine Control Unit (ECU). The engine’s control ECU is a very intricate device. OEMs program them to meet EPA fuel economy standards, satisfy emissions regulations, and safeguard the engine from misuse. The ignition, fuel injection, and spark timing are the main performance factors that the computer primarily controls, but it also affects other aspects of the car’s operation. As mentioned above, the OEM’s set the default value of the ECU to an “ultra-safe” mode to insure adherence to government guidelines and to protect the engine from abusive driving. Manufacturers of aftermarket chips and programmers include Hypertech, Edge, Unichip, and Superchips. These companies produce chips and programmers that can be plugged into your ECU or that can change the factory settings. The default performance setting is applied by chip manufacturers to their products for each unique vehicle. In that they permit individualized modifications to account for other performance add-ons like cold air kits and exhaust systems, programmer manufacturers offer greater adaptability. Anyone with a basic understanding of mechanics can fairly easily install these systems.

In conclusion, by simply making these simple modifications to your truck, you can significantly increase your HP and Speed. Some all-in-one kits can increase overall performance by up to 40%. Finally, despite popular belief, none of these items will void the warranty on your truck. There is a federal law called the “Magnuson Moss Warranty Act” that prevents automobile manufacturers from voiding warranties from the addition of aftermarket products. These are only a few of the numerous aftermarket performance products that are offered. In a follow-up article, I’ll discuss performance goods with higher levels of technology, like superchargers.

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