How to Get More Power From Your V4 Engine

Like if this guide is helpful
How to Get More Power From Your V4 Engine

A V4 engine features four cylinders in a V-type engine block. Two sets of pistons are attached to a single crankshaft and fire on opposing cylinder banks. These engines are more compact than straight-four designs, which are those typically found in small to mid-sized cars. V4 engines were mostly used in cars manufactured between approximately 1920 and 1960. Today, they are fairly common in motorcycles and outboard motors. Since the engine works in the same way when fitted to a car as it does when fitted to a motorcycle, performance is affected by the same factors.

The internal combustion engine relies on several factors to perform. To increase power, increase the volume of raw materials, ensure combustion is efficient and delivered at the right time, and remove exhaust or waste as quickly and efficiently as possible. The simplest and most cost-effective options for increasing engine power are improving induction, modifying or upgrading the exhaust system, and upgrading or remapping the electronic control unit (ECU). Components and kits for increasing engine power are available from garages, car part suppliers, and online from eBay.

Increase Airflow

The engine's air induction system controls the amount of air that goes into the engine as well as the quality of the air. Standard air filters, which are fitted during production, rarely yield the best possible performance. Upgrading the air filter is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get more power.

Change the Air Filter

An air filter can be changed by most people with basic technical skills and knowledge. These devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are fitted to prevent debris and dust entering and damaging the engine. While smaller air filter holes mean better protection, they restrict airflow. Look for an air filter that improves airflow without compromising engine safety. If buying disposable air filters, purchase more than one. If the air filter requires occasional cleaning, then perform this task as required.

Fit an Induction Kit

An induction kit takes airflow into the engine one step further. Fuel flow can be improved when specially designed pipes are used. However, changing the pipes is complex and best left to professionals. An induction kit allows for the fitting of new inlet pipes without the problem of trying to work out the physics behind the change. Ensure that the kit is designed to fit the type of engine. An air filter is usually included in the kit, along with the fittings required to install it.

Consider Forced Induction

A turbocharger, or turbo, can be used to force air into the engine. More air improves combustion, which increases engine power. The turbo is simply a high-pressure pump, made up of a spinning fan powered by exhaust gas. If the engine is fitted with a turbo it may simply require a few tweaks. If the engine is not fitted with one, talk to a professional about having one installed. Not all engines can withstand the increased pressure and getting settings wrong can result in a power loss. Kits are available for some engines, but buyers may need help with the settings.

It is strongly advised to fit an intercooler, which cools the exhaust gas before pushing it back into the engine. Cold air is more efficient for combustion than hot air. The secret to effective boost lies in the air-fuel ratio. If more air is added, more fuel is required to keep combustion efficient.

Fit a Performance Exhaust System

The exhaust system leads exhaust gases produced by combustion away from the engine. Standard systems tend to restrict the flow of the gases, decreasing power and fuel economy. Performance or aftermarket exhaust systems provide improved flow rates and are usually straighter than standard versions. Bear in mind that engines need a certain amount of back pressure to work, so strike a balance between the size of the exhaust pipe and back pressure. In addition, consider replacing the standard exhaust manifold with a performance version.

Remember that the standard exhaust system is designed to decrease noise and pollution. Performance exhaust systems can be fairly noisy, so be prepared for a louder car or bike. Although old cars with V4 engines are not fitted with catalytic converters, most contemporary motorcycles are. Removing this component increases performance, but also increases emissions. Choose a performance exhaust with a catalytic converter included.

Upgrade or Modify the ECU

Contemporary cars and motorcycles tend to have computerised control of most engine functions. This is controlled through chips or ECUs. These units are set with predefined parameters that are programmed in the factory. These settings usually offer a balance between economy, emissions, and performance. The ECU chip can be reprogrammed or replaced for better performance. This affects factors such as spark timing relative to piston position, the valve timing, idle speed, and throttle progression. It is important to research individual chips before buying one. Check customer and expert reviews and evaluate the amount of power that can be gained by upgrading this component. If the cost does not justify the benefit, choose remapping rather than replacement.

Replace the Heads or Use a Performance Camshaft

Replacing the heads and using a performance camshaft can increase engine power. The heads are the passageway for the air moving from the manifold to the combustion chamber. The camshaft allows the passage of this air, and for the spark provided by the spark plugs to ignite the air and fuel mixture at the best possible moment.

Choose Lightweight Engine Parts

Choose lightweight engine parts as these are said to improve performance. When the piston changes direction, energy is spent stopping movement in one direction and starting it again in another. Lighter pistons require less energy to stop and start. Lighter parts also allow the engine to rev faster, providing more horsepower.

A number of garages deal specifically with performance issues and improvements. If buyers are not confident making changes, they should ask a mechanic for advice and assistance. Ensure that the engine is designed and constructed to handle changes, such as increased boost, without suffering damage or decreasing power.

Buying Parts to Get More Power from Your V4 Engine on eBay

Whether you are looking for more power from a car or new motorcycle, eBay sellers have everything that you need. To find the right parts, type a phrase, such as "Yamaha V-Max exhaust", into the search field, which can be found on every page, to see items available from eBay sellers. Narrow your search results by choosing the most appropriate category and item specifications. For more control over your search, use the advanced search feature.

Before Buying on eBay

Before buying on eBay, take a moment to evaluate the item and the seller. Click on a listing to view the item listing page where you can find information such as the full item description, buying choices, payment options, postage and packaging costs, and the seller's feedback details. Take the time to read the full item description, taking note of the item condition and any images included. Add the postage and packaging costs to the item's final selling price to work out the total cost of the item. If you are buying a particularly bulky or heavy item, look for local sellers who allow collection to save on postage costs.

Once you know all you need to know about the item, learn about the seller by viewing his or her feedback information. To access this, click on the number next to the seller's username on the item listing page. This shows you what other buyers think of the seller's products and customer service.


V4 engines were used in cars manufactured between 1920 and 1960 and you are more likely to find this type of engine in a modern motorcycle. Whether you are working on a car or looking for more power from your bike, the principles of increasing engine power are the same. More power depends on airflow, into and out of the engine, and optimising combustion.

The easiest and cheapest way to increase power is to change the air filter or to install an air intake kit. If the engine is fitted with a turbo, adjust the settings to optimise the air-fuel ratio. If not, consider fitting one. Bear in mind that increased pressure is more demanding and not all engines are strong enough to withstand this pressure. Always research the specific type of engine before fitting or adjusting the turbo. Fit a performance exhaust manifold and exhaust system for improved exhaust flow.

Although cars from the 1960s are not fitted with ECU chips, many contemporary motorcycles are. Consider having the chip reprogrammed or buying a performance chip for greater engine power. Research different chip types carefully and whether upgrading or reprogramming is required. Some chips are not as effective as others.

Consider replacing the heads and camshaft and use lightweight engine parts. If you are not confident with your own mechanical abilities, leave modifications to the professionals. eBay sellers offer a wide range of performance car and motorcycle parts at competitive prices.

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides