Increasing Horsepower in a 1G turbo
So you want more power out of your 1G turbo DSM? Make sure you learn a few things before making some common "noob" mistakes. DSM's have a reputation of going fast for cheap. But they're regularly neglected and have gained an unfair reputation of being unreliable. Most "noobs" want to spend all their money on go-fast parts and put no money or effort into maintenance. Don't be one of those people. Do your maintenance and don't start modding until all the necessary maintenance is done. Otherwise you're just asking for trouble.
The first thing you need to do is a complete tune up. Replace all worn belts, including the timing belt and balance shaft belt. If the timing belt/balance shaft belt haven't been replaced within the last 60k miles, or you're not sure when they were last changed - change them now. If they break, you'll be paying for a cylinder head rebuild (not cheap). You'll also want to change out all filters, fluids, worn hoses, spark plugs/wires, and worn/leaking gaskets. Check the compression, do a leak-down test, check your ignition timing, etc. Basically, do all of the checks that your repair manual tells you to do - you do have a repair manual already, don't you? If not, pick one up now before moving forward with any modifications.
Once you've gotten all of the necessary maintenance out of the way, you can start with the modifications. We've broken it down into two common stages to help you achieve your goals gradually. These formulas have been used by the top DSM tuning shops/racers in the industry. Before you start shopping for big turbos, intakes and headers, read our article on the common mistakes and misconceptions by newbie DSMers, and read the staged upgrade paths to the right.
Stage 0: Free Mods
For the cheap bastards who can't afford the bolt-ons and just want a little more "umph".
Read the list of mods...
Stage 1: 275-300hp
Ready to get your hands dirty? The first steps to making power with the turbocharged DSM is to turn up the boost and open up the air intake and exhaust restrictions.
A typical Stage 1 setup can cost around $2000 for parts and can typically raise power output on a turbocharged 1G DSM to about 300hp at the crank (about 250whp).
Read the list of parts needed...
Stage 2: 350-400hp
Once the basic upgrades have been done, it's time to start looking into larger turbos and intercoolers, as well as learning the basics of fuel tuning - as bolting on parts is only half the battle at this stage.
A Stage 2 setup can cost around $5000 for parts and can raise power output on a 1G DSM to nearly 400hp or more depending on the turbo upgrade and level of tuning (that's around 340whp).
Read the list of parts needed...
A few things to keep in mind when you start modding:
- Set a goal/budget before buying any parts. No plan = more money later.
- Be realistic with those goals and plans. What will your car be used for?
- There is no "best" part when it comes to modding.
- Find out the emissions requirements in your area before choosing parts.
- Do your research before you buy parts - make sure the parts you buy will work together well.
- Usable power under the curve is important, not just big overall horsepower numbers.
- Work within your budget.
Required reading before your start modding:
Want to find members who are making big power or running fast 1/4 mile times to see what mods they have done to their cars? Here are some excellent resources:
DSM Timeslips Database
DSM Dyno Database