For performance enthusiasts factory specs just aren’t enough, necessitating aftermarket automotive accessories to coax superior power from their vehicles. For many of these enthusiasts, half the fun of owning a high-performance vehicle is finding the right equipment to squeeze just a little more power from their automobile.
Right now, the auto industry is booming. Sales have increased each year for the past seven years, and, in 2016, U.S. automakers sold more than 17.55 million vehicles. The aftermarket industry hasn’t been left behind. Sales of aftermarket products, including regular repair and maintenance parts and performance gear, have also been strong. According to The NPD Group, aftermarket sales hit $7.5 billion in 2016.
Performance parts have always been an important part of the aftermarket segment and continue to help push sales among more affluent consumers. As designers make ever-improving products, performance enthusiasts obsessed with taking their vehicle one notch higher will continue to buy the latest aftermarket accessories to boost performance.
Some of the common varieties of performance automotive accessories include:
Superchargers – Much of the secret of improving engine performance involves getting more and better quality air to the engine. A better supply of air to the engine allows more fuel to be added, improving combustion and generating more power.
Superchargers are devices that pressurize the air being sucked into the engine. Superchargers compress the air entering the engine above atmospheric pressure, thus forcing more air into the engine, allowing more fuel to be added, resulting in stronger combustion. The ideal fuel-to-air ratio is 1 part fuel to 14 parts air.
There are two types of superchargers used in automobiles: centrifugal superchargers powered by the engine by way of a belt-drive and positive displacement pumps. Centrifugal superchargers tend to be more efficient than positive displacement pumps.
Compressing air increases its temperature, so it is common for many automobiles equipped with superchargers to also use a small radiator known as an intercooler between the pump and engine to reduce the temperature of air flowing into the engine.
Cold air intakes – Cold air intakes are one of the more inexpensive automotive accessories that can improve your automobile’s performance. They typically only cost a few hundred dollars and can provide a significant boost to your engine.
Cold air intakes suck cooler air into your vehicle’s engine for combustion. Cooler air typically is denser and contains more oxygen than hot air, thus improving combustion and producing more power. Cold air intakes provide cooler air to the engine by reducing obstruction to airflow into the engine, shortening the length of the intake, and configuring the intake duct to take advantage of the ram-air effect to improve airflow. Cold air intake systems can be made of a wide variety of materials, including plastic, metal, rubber, fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber and more.
One of the key benefits of a cold air intake is that it won’t increase fuel consumption like some other options. In some cases, a newly installed cold intake system will actually increase fuel efficiency. A side benefit of installing a cold air intake in your vehicle is the sound it makes. Adding a cold air intake will make your engine roar when you step on the accelerator. Performance enthusiasts love the sound that a powerful engine makes, so adding a cold air intake is a great way to make your vehicle thunder.
Fuel injectors – High-performance fuel injectors used in conjunction with a turbo or supercharger can dramatically improve your vehicle’s performance but can be finicky. Lots of support modifications are required to get them to deliver optimal performance, but it’s worth all the trouble when you hear your engine roar when you press the accelerator.
Fuel injectors deliver precise amounts of fuel to your engine’s combustion chamber, optimizing combustion for performance and fuel economy. When you install modifications that increase airflow to your engine, you need performance fuel injectors to ensure that your engine gets the right mix of fuel and air to provide optimal combustion.
Factory-installed fuel injectors typically operate at an 80 percent load. With aftermarket fuel injectors and parts, this figure can be increased quite a bit. Fuel injectors need to be carefully paired with the engine and aftermarket parts you’re using to boost your vehicle’s performance. You also need to take care to ensure that your fuel injector is matched to the type of fuel your vehicle uses. A fuel injector designed for unleaded fuel won’t work well with an engine that runs on diesel.
Exhaust – While modifications that increase the amount of air taken in by your automobile can increase performance, so can upgrades that more rapidly allow exhaust gases to escape. Automakers typically don’t put a lot of effort into the standard exhaust systems for their vehicles, viewing it as one area of design where they can skimp a little to reduce costs.
A standard exhaust system can cost you in performance, however. The exhaust system’s job is to move gases produced by combustion out of the engine so that more air and fuel can enter the engine and be combusted. Moving spent air and fuel out of the engine more quickly will improve performance.
There are several ways that aftermarket parts companies employ to manufacture improved exhaust systems. They can use better quality materials to prevent deterioration. They can make pipes larger or design bends in the pipe for optimal airflow.
The benefit of aftermarket exhaust systems to your vehicle isn’t just practical; they can also give your vehicle a sportier, more athletic look.
Performance brakes – If you’re making modifications that deliver more power to your vehicle, you also need to think about beefing up its ability to brake. Strong brakes are needed to counteract the increased acceleration that performance upgrades to your vehicle will provide.
Performance brakes are made of more robust materials than standard brakes and are better able to withstand the heat and friction caused when a driver tries to stop a high-speed vehicle. If you’re using standard brakes with a vehicle equipped with performance modifications, your brake may lose their effectiveness if you need to suddenly stop. This is called brake fade, and it occurs when brakes are subjected to higher levels of heat and friction than they’re designed to handle.
Makers of performance brakes use a variety of design features to handle the problem of increased heat and friction. Tougher materials used in brake pads, calipers, and rotors help, as do designs that supply more air flow to and away from the air disk to aid in heat dispersal.
Different vehicle types will have different performance brake needs. If you mostly use your vehicle for street driving and occasionally take it up a notch on the highway, a smooth or slotted rotor paired with performance pads should suffice. Tougher options are typically required for racing vehicles.
Team C Performance Center has served the Greater Los Angeles area for nearly 40 years, providing the very best automotive accessories and auto parts for performance enthusiasts. Team C Performance Center carries products from more than 150 manufacturers and if the part you need isn’t in the store, Team C Performance Center can quickly obtain it. In addition to providing access to the best performance parts, Team C Performance Center also offers machine shop services including engine block work, rod resizing, valve work, and much more. Getting the best performance from your vehicle isn’t best left to guesswork; visit Team C Performance Center today for the precision you need to get the most from your automobile.