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· '91 239 Base
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may be long, so bear with me here. I've seen quite a lot of posts from various forums about 'does this product work?'

More Power

The easiest way to get horsepower and torque out of the little Dakotas with the V6 motors is to swap
for a 318/360, plain and simple. Dollar per dollar there is more return on the investment by going
with more displacement. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that it's the funnest and most exciting way.

If you haven't the money for an engine swap then purchasing a nitrous kit from either ZEX or NOS would be a quick way to get ~50 more horsepower out of the stock engine with a fogger system. Yes, nitrous overall can be expensive to fill, regulate, and ultimately replace an engine with, but it
certainly can be a bit cheaper than a full on engine swap.

If going to the bottle isn't on your list of things to do your next option for upgrade would be going
forced induction with either a roots/twin screw/centrifugal supercharger or a turbocharger. Highly
expensive done right, but definitely worth it in the end.

What's even more expensive than a FI build? Going naturally aspirated with the same horsepower/torque figures in mind. Looking at much, much more money poured into an engine to produce the same result. Doubling horsepower through machine work, pistons, tuning, fuel, fuel management, and driveability will be time consuming, money draining, and overall a headache.

Cheap and effective: Engine Swap
Boost in power at times you'll want it: Nitrous kit
Long Haul Power: Forced Induction

Plain and simple those are your basic options, sure, there are other ideas out there that can be
accomplished, but to what end?

Simple Upgrades That "Work"

You'll see aftermarket companies advertising +20 horsepower to the wheels!, gain 10 MPG with this easy to install chip! Well, they don't work. Ever. To be blunt, air filters, full exhaust systems, chips, and throttle body spacers (for the fuel injected guys) won't net you what is claimed on the packaging.

Intakes; whether Mopar, K&N, AirAid, etc. may only get you 2, 3 horsepower maximum. Yes, maximum. They may claim an increase in gas mileage, only if you keep your lead foot off of the pedal. It is far cheaper to upgrade the intake pipe, or create an open element housing, only and keep the stock air filter (because it will filter the dir much better than the high flowing K&N and its ilk).

Exhaust: Headers with a full dual exhaust might net 5 to 10. Single outlet pipe may do a bit more. But 20 horsepower? Nope. Not on a V6 stock engine.

Chips: Whether plug-n-play or if you send off your computer to JET, they don't work. Those $20 chips you find on eBay are resistors and do nothing but trick the computer to believe that the IAT/MAP sensor is reading colder than it is so it puts in a slightly more amount of fuel. The ECUs may be EPROM and can be re-writable with different fuel trim and timing maps, but these should be done in house at a reputable tuning shop, not sending your ECU off to some company so they can solder in some resistors.
Example 1
Example 2

Spark Plug Wires: 8MM plug wires are nice, but not really necessary for lower horsepower and daily driven application. OEM wires will do just fine, save your money.
Example 1

Electric Turbocharger: No. None of them do. None of them have. None of them ever will.

Simple Upgrades that Do Work

Thermostat: An older trick for vehicles pre-computer and pre-ODB2 is to change out the thermostat
with one that opens sooner. Most OE temperature thermostats open at 192*/195*, changing out to a 180* thermostat will allow the engine to stay a bit cooler and add some more fuel while still retaining
enough heat for the cabin. This should work just fine for OBD2 and newer vehicles, however, there may be a CEL that will show.

Air Intake Pipe: Your standard paper air filter will work just fine for most applications, but going
to a smooth intake pipe will help more than switching to a gauze/foam element filter. Keeping the
airflow as smooth, short, cold, and direct as possible will help much more than switching to a K&N cone or panel filter.

Headers: Much like the intake, having a smooth, tuned exhaust system (tuned to match the exhaust
pulses so the scavenging effect works properly) with ports that are matched to the head or vice versa
will have better results than slapping on some shoddily made exhaust pipes that are press bent and held together with clamps rather than welded.

Spark Plugs: Most vehicles now come with iridium plugs, and there's really no upgrade from that. But
for the older vehicles upgrading your spark plugs to iridium tipped plugs are best and can improve
horsepower and torque by actual numbers. You won't feel it in the seat of your pants, but the better
the burn the more efficient the engine. Do not gap these plugs. They are copper core and
iridium tipped; if you gap them you'll take off the iridium tip and have an 8 dollar copper spark plug.

Oils: Reducing friction is huge. Using full synthetic oil will help in engine, transmission, transfer
case, differential(s). Not only will it help the engine operate with less friction on the crank and
help unleash more power to the wheels, but it will help everything last longer. Note: Full synthetic
oil isn't so much a cleaner as it is an inhibitor. It won't clean the engine, but it will help protect
it from the oil leaving deposits.

Parasitic Drag: Have an A/C pump that doesn't work but is still hooked up? Put on a bypass pulley.
Heavy crank pulley? Replace with a lightweight underdriven pulley*. Remove any accessories you can. The less the engine has to turn the better. At the very least have your crank, water pump, and
alternator as the bare minimum. This won't add horsepower but will release it from being pent up in
spinning pulleys and accessories.

*Underdriven pulleys do work, but they may help damage the engine by not helping regulate the
balance of the crankshaft. There is a lot of talk about whether this is true or not, so use your own

Engine Management: Piggy back systems will work to tune the computer to increase or decrease fuel
consumption. The more fuel the more power. Unlike the JET chips or other softwire chips that are
crimped into place on the IAT/MAP wires, the piggy back systems read the signal sent from a variety of different sensors and then can be modified by the driver before going to the ECU. It's quick and
simple tuning at its best for a cheaper option than a full standalone computer. For safe tuning you
should have a Wideband Oxygen Sensor with gauge or an Exhaust Gas Temperature Sensor on each bank or one sensor on the Y-Pipe. You need to know what readings you are getting before messing with fuel and timing.

Now that we've got that out of the way for what you will likely see out of your upgrades, combining the Intake/Header/Exhaust, ignition, along with removing of components, and bit of an engine tune, might get you 10-20 HP/TQ to the wheels. But that's at the combination of a healthy engine (no knocking, full synthetic oil, good ignition system, compression within specification) with routine maintenance.
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