5 ways to increase horsepower for under $100


Being in the automotive performance business, we see some pretty cool aftermarket and performance modifications that people do to their cars and trucks. While some parts, modifications and labor can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, there are ways that you can increase horsepower on a budget. Below, we highlight some modifications that you can do to your car to improve power for under $100! Not a bad way to spend an afternoon than to wrench on your car. If you know of other modifications that you can do, please share it with us in the comments below.

Drop In Air Filter

A drop in air filter, such as a K&N air filter is a simple and easy way to improve power without much work. You can typically install this modification within 15-30 minutes and most air filters cost under $50. The nice thing about a drop in air filter, is that you don’t need to replace the entire intake system such as with a cold air intake or a short ram intake to improve horsepower. You are also able to keep the factory air box, so the the engine bay looks completely stock.

Aftermarket Exhaust Muffler

Some mufflers can be pretty pricey, while others are way under $100. An example would be Megan Racing Mufflers, which sound great and help to improve exhaust flow by replacing that stock restrictive muffler. A good muffler not only improves horsepower, but it also adds aesthetics to your car and gives your car a modified look. Great alternative to buying an exhaust system, and much less expensive. With a muffler you are essentially replacing one of the most restrictive areas of your exhaust for a fraction of the cost.

High Flow Catalytic Converters

We just talked about mufflers, which are one of the most restrictive parts of your exhaust. However, usually a factory catalytic converter is THE most restrictive part of your exhaust. If it’s legal in your state, you can replace your factory catalytic converter with a high flow catalytic converter and feel an immediate increase in power. The good thing about a quality high flow catalytic converter is that they are generally safe for the environment, and can be had for under $100.

Aftermarket Exhaust Headers

You might be thinking that headers are over $100, but not all of them are. Depending on your application, you can find headers for way under $100. Check out some examples such as the DNA Motoring Headers. The factory header is generally not designed for power, so replacing it can improve horsepower and torque while still not breaking the bank.

High Performance Engine Oil

We’ve seen tests where a high quality performance engine oil such as Royal Purple has improved horsepower and torque significantly. A performance synthetic oil reduces friction and heat in your engine which can rob it of power. Using a quality oil can help you gain some power while being way under $100. And the best part is… you need to do an oil change every 5,000 miles or so, why not use a performance synthetic oil?


So here are 5 easy ways for under $100 each to improve horsepower on a budget. This is a great way to start when modifying your car or truck. With the headers, muffler and high flow catalytic converter, you replaced every restriction section of your exhaust except for the piping. Usually the piping isn’t the most restrictive part, so bang for the buck, these three components are worth the upgrade. Once you have the exhaust done, you can improve your air flow with a high quality air filter to improve airflow coming into the engine, since now the airflow is improved going out of the engine. Finish it off with a performance synthetic engine oil, and you have a performance upgrade that didn’t break the bank.

Got any more tips? Share them with us below!

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  1. Thanks for the informative article. May I ask, what is an intercooler?

    1. an intercooler is pretty much a radiator for your intake only used on turbo and supercharged vehicles it cools down the incoming air and cooler air makes better power in your engine because when it is cooler the outside air has more oxygen particles therefore your engine will combust better and cleaner

  2. Wtf….no, who the hell wrote this.
    Changing to synthetic results in “significant” lower gain, GTFO. Drop in air filters do no nothing for horsepower or torque since you aren’t actually going more air Into the combustion chamber. Also changing you muffler will not result in a power gain you can feel, the author really needs to edit this OR actually work on a car.

    1. You are completely and utterly wrong in all of your narcicistic comments. Synthetic improves your torque and HP simply because less friction means it is easier for the cylinders to go up and down. Also less heat is created and what is created gets diminished much faster which extends the life of the engine. Drop in filters, while not exactly crazy power adders, do contribute to HP and torque gains by allowing more air(no matter how little) to flow through. They also help keep the dust particles out which can contaminate oil, clog sensors, and score cylinder walls. Also,

      1. Replacing mufflers can actually net you, in some cases, up to fifty horsepower(can definitely be felt, and also seen on track slips). The author was correct in saying that many stock mufflers are designed to be quiet, not high flowing. By replacing them with a more high flowing muffler(albeit sometimes louder), you decrease unnecessary back pressure in the exhaust system, which, as you seem to know sooooo much and should easily know this, can actually block the exhaust coming out of the exhaust ports and keeping much of it in the combustion chamber(burnt exhaust does not burn well, so this is probably a bad thing) and in some cases, even slow the piston down while on the exhaust stroke, simply because the back pressure is combating the pistons stroke up through the cylinder. I’d say that before you start insulting someone’s knowledge of vehicle mechanics, maybe you should check your own facts, lest you be seen as a fool. I highly doubt this guy got a job as a journalist for a vehicle website by winning a prize in his cereal box.

      2. Hi Cody. Auick question if you change out the stock muffler will that also reduce exhaust smells?

      3. Hey there Kevin. Just to answer your question: changing out the stock exhaust for a more flowing muffler will not make a difference in regards to the smell of the fuel you use. The catalytic converters do that job. If you were to delete the cats or even put high flow cats, you would be able to smell how each octane level of gas smells. Typically 87(lowest in Texas) smells really bad when you downshift or rev up your car. 89 and 93 usually have a more pleasant odor.

      4. No way replacing a muffler will net you 50 hp. Replacing one might get you a little in conjunction with other mods like a cai and hi flow cats or removal. But no way your getting 50 out of just the muffler alone.

    2. Getting my pipes at the right length was important for me feeling horse power from my new exhaust system, probably a 10 to 15 increase in power in the lower to mid range.

  3. G’day

    I owned a 2015 Mazda CX 5 2.0L FWD with power of 114KW & torque 200Nm. I wad advised by installing K&N Air Filter 33-2480 will boost horsepower & rate of acceleration – am pleased to know if it. What would be increase of the Kw & Nm to my SUV? I hopeful it will go up to 120Kw & torque to 210Nm. Please advise.
    Thanks & cheers

  4. Lol fucken tuners

  5. Jahan why would you make comments on somthing you obviously know nothing about. All of his statements are correct. They have been tried and tested on several vehicles and proven correct.

  6. Has anyone heard of and tried the actual eletric turbo fans … they are small fans that go into the intake pipe and spinning at 3.000rpms or however fast.the air is sucked ..

  7. Higher octane can help improve performance – eg going from 91 octane to 98 octane. Results will vary depending on the car – basically the higher the octane rating, the better the combustion process, resulting in quieter, smoother running w/- improved acceleration. With EFI engines, the oxygen (o2) sensor in the exhaust system will advance the/retart the timing as needed depending on the octane level

    Upgrade the earthing wires. Long story sort, the thinker your earthing cables, the less resistance there is in the cable, which allows for easier flowing power. This can allow the spark plugs & car electric’s in general to perform better.

    On both accounts, your looking at about a 5% (or so) increase in performance. But it all can add up.

    PS If you want to increase your tyre life, traction & general performance, use nitrogen, again, your looking at about 5-10% increase

  8. Lots of ricer math in these comments.
    ROFLMFAO @ ricers.

  9. Nitrogen had no effect on rolling resistance. Inflation to proper pressure does.

  10. Are you those metal inserts for your air intake they seem to add power

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