OMG… the times I wanted to just shoot myself in the head when I read that question. An engine component will make exactly 0, zero, nada, niet, zilch, zip, nil, nought, nix HP by itself. If you put it on your engine, it may make negative zero HP or you might experience some gains… or it may do nothing at all with regard to HP. The reason for this is pretty simple… the engine makes HP… not the components that are bolted to it. The components may either help or hinder the engine at its task of sucking air in and blowing exhaust out.
Modifications are not cumulative, but they are cooperative
In other words, you may think that installing a cold air intake will give you 10-15 HP because that’s what manufacturer said it would do knowing full well that you are not going to take your car to a dynamometer and measure before and after results. You can bet money that the manufacturer probably didn’t either, so their estimated bump of HP gains is really a number they pulled out of their butts in order to provide you with a reason to drop cold hard cash in their hands. In other words, the reality never really quite meets the expectation.
Does this mean all modifications are BS? The answer is a resounding, “No”. Hyundai built the fine machine you are driving to please the 90% of people out there who want to look good driving a reliable and economical “sports” car. If you are reading this article, you are not one of those people; rather, you probably fit into the 10% category who believe that the car you own can be made into a fine racing machine given the right modifications to meet your expectations, and you would be correct. What you do need to understand is that by modifying your car, you are changing things that Hyundai engineers and Hyundai marketing have tried to achieve with their car, which means that the more you modify, the less appeal your car will have to the other 90% of car owners who want something that is decently fast, comfortable (emphasis on comfort), reliable, and economical to drive.
The one thing you have to remember is that HP gains are not cumulative in nature… in other words, you cannot take the expected bump from one modification and add the expected bump of another modification together to get your new HP reading. It doesn’t work that way.
An engine is a system of parts that, in culmination, produces torque that is used to turn the wheels of the car to make it go. What that means is that changing one part may not be enough to see a difference… but if you change enough parts within the same subsystem, you can see a substantial difference. For instance, say you install the biggest turbo you can find that has the potential of adding thousands of HP to your car… will it? The answer is, no it won’t. There’s a lot of other things that you are going to have to modify to get the full potential of that single modification. In the case of the turbo that is pictured, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness)
High performance is generally the opposite of comfort. When you modify your grocery getter for the masses, you will inevitably increase the noise that it makes, the vibration that will be transmitted to your butt, and the harshness of the ride in general. In other words, the car is not going to behave the same way it did before you modified it… which I suppose is the point of modifying it. A lot of folks who modify their cars think of the NVH as an unforeseen consequence of their modification. “I didn’t think it would be that loud”… “The vibration is annoying”… “The ride is breaking my back”. NVH is not an unforeseen consequence, it is the consequence of modifying your car. If you modify your car, some good things will happen and some not so good things will happen. It’s just a matter of your tolerance level. How much discomfort are you willing to deal with to get what you want?
It’s about that life…
The worse possible thing that you can do when modifying your car is to do so without a plan or a goal. Not knowing what you want to do with the car will inevitably lead to you spending money on modifications that you will later pull off and sell because they didn’t do what you wanted them to do, in spite of the fact that you didn’t know what you wanted at the time you applied the modification.
Does that make any sense? Let’s put this another way… there is a sub-culture within all call groups that believe that looking fast is much better than being fast. They spend most of their time either polishing their car, attaching huge R.I.C.E (race inspired cosmetic enhancements) to their car, and lighting all so that they can park their cars in a parking lot and have other people admire their cars.
Now, this article’s intent is not to put down or try to discredit any automotive sub-culture, so get that out of your head. This is simply what some people do. They don’t necessarily care whether or not their modifications make sense, or whether it makes any additional power, or even makes their car less driveable… it’s all about the look. Now, someone without a plan might look at a car that has been modified to look good in a parking lot and be inspired to make their car look like that too… but deep down inside what they really wanted was a car that not only looked good but was also fast. If you draw your modification cues from the wrong sub-culture, you may be spending money to do something that you really didn’t want in the first place.
Keep in mind that being a car enthusiast/tuner is an expensive hobby and even more so if you keep “changing direction”. Changing direction generally means that you had no direction to start with and figured out that you didn’t like what you did because it did not fit your lifestyle. Knowing where you want to go before you leave will save you a ton of money.
If you don’t know, wait… you’ll figure it out
There is absolutely no shame in owning a beautiful car that has not been modified from stock. The fact is that most enthusiasts (except the douchebags you don’t really care about anyway) are not going to give you a hard time just because you chose not to modify anything.
When you come into the community you are going to realize fairly quickly that the community is really a conglomeration of different sub-cultures with different goals. You have your hard parkers, your high-performance driver education (HPDE) track drivers, your 1320 (1/4 mile) guys, your street racers, your mountain road drivers, and etc, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. What is inevitable is that you will find that you will fit quite nicely into one of these groups. Once you figure out where you belong, then modify accordingly. What you will find is that many of your modifications that are targeted at being good in one group will be almost completely worthless in another.
The bottom line…
Horsepower is a number… if you want to understand that number better, you can read our article about horsepower here. Horsepower is not the end all be all number that defines how good or even how fast a car is in every venue. Not every part you will install on your car will have an effect on horsepower. And lastly, your gains may or may not be the same as someone else’s with exactly the same modifications. Every car is different and unique… that’s what makes them special. The exact same modification done on two cars that are configured the same will have different outcomes. That’s the nature of mass produced cars. Stop worrying about how much HP an individual part will make and plan your execution based on a set of goals that are focused on a specific outcome. That’s where you will make your power 😉