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Volkswagen is a leading German auto brand which is famous around the world. It has produced many iconic models, such as the Beetle and the Golf. Although not as huge in the US as in Europe, Volkswagen have built up a steady following regardless.

The models that Volkswagen produce are stylish, practical and, in some cases, rather sporty! Of course, looks and practicality aren’t the only things that sell a car to American consumers.

Engine performance is also a top priority, even in today’s eco-friendly age of motoring. Are you the proud owner of a Volkswagen? Do you want to increase its horsepower? Today’s tuning guide will help you to boost its power with some popular modifications! Check them out below:

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Before we begin…

Most articles of this nature will get straight into a list of modifications that you should consider for your car. But with this one, I’d like to take a moment to talk about something else first: the condition of your motor.

It doesn’t matter if you go wild and buy every conceivable modification for your Volkswagen under the sun. If your Volkswagen’s power plant isn’t working as well as it should, you need to fix it first.

Another point to consider is that you should give it a general engine tune-up. Here are some examples of what you should consider doing:

  • Replace ignition leads. Doing so is especially important if the car is ten years old, or has done 100,000 miles;
  • Replace spark plugs. They usually get replaced every 36,000 miles or three years. So change yours if they are overdue for replacement;
  • Get fuel injectors cleaned. Your local auto shop will be able to have them ultrasonically cleaned. The reason is so the fine spray pattern from them is like how they were new;
  • Get an engine flush done. Over a few years, a carbon buildup will develop inside of your engine. The purpose of engine flush is to break down this carbon buildup so that it drains when you change the oil and filter;
  • Replace the air and fuel filters. If either get blocked, they can hinder engine performance.

Exhaust system

The thing about your Volkswagen’s stock exhaust system is that it is restrictive. It is also made from mild steel, which isn’t good if you want a long-lasting, corrosion-free exhaust system!

Your first stop on the journey to car modification success is to replace your stock exhaust system! What most tuning folks recommend is buying a stainless steel exhaust system.

They have many benefits over stock systems. They are durable, and tailpipes can get polished for that perfect mirror reflection! They sound great, regardless of what speed the engine is running at. And most important of all: they offer your motor a performance boost.

You should consider replacing the stock headers for a stainless steel set as well. Some tuners suggest buying custom mandrel-bent ones for even more performance!

Air filter

Every gas motor has a combustion process. To have that process succeed and create a good spark in your cylinders, it needs air. Volkswagen motors, like with all gas motors, suck in air from the front of the car.

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Before that air enters your motor, a filter gets fitted between to stop any debris from entering the intake system. The trouble with stock air filter setups is that they limit the amount of air that can go into the engine.

My buddy Ed from Motorline Direct offers the following suggestions:

  • For a stock-like setup, replace the air filter with a foam one. Foam air filters can get washed and reused. Whereas the stock paper ones must get disposed of at every service. They also allow more air to enter the engine whilst filtering it at the same time;
  • For a custom setup, ditch the entire stock intake system! You can buy custom intake manifolds which allow more air to circulate into the engine. They are also chrome-plated for some extra bling appeal! A cone air filter with cold air feeds going to it will also allow more air to get sucked into the intake.

Forced induction

The term “forced induction” refers to turbochargers and superchargers. Both items force a denser amount of air into the intake, increasing engine performance. Some people opt for one over the other whereas other people fit both!

A turbocharger works by using exhaust gas to spin a turbine. Whereas a supercharger runs off a pulley from the engine. Popular makes for turbochargers include Garrett and KKK. For superchargers, Eaton and Vortech are the best manufacturers in the business.

If your Volkswagen does not use forced induction as standard, you will also need to have some custom parts made for your engine. For example, if you fitted a turbocharger you would need a custom exhaust manifold made for you.

ECU reprogramming

All modern cars have a computer-based “brain” called the ECU. It stands for “electronic control unit.”

ECUs work by receiving information from various sensors in and around the car’s engine. Examples of the information received include engine speed, temperature and oil pressure. They check that data against a list of “good” data values. Tuners refer to this list as a “map.”

The thing about ECU maps is that they are only designed to work with standard engine parts. That means if you make the previous modifications to your motor, your Volkswagen will feel rough and powerless.

The answer to that problem is to reprogram your ECU’s map. These days, tuners use a laptop and a dynamometer to create a map bespoke to your Volkswagen and its modifications. They will spend a day with your car so that they can make sure the engine runs at its best.

One benefit to today’s modern ECUs is that they can get reprogrammed an infinite number of times. So if you want to tweak your Volkswagen’s power at any time, you have the freedom to do so.

Good luck with your tuning efforts, and let us know how your project works out for you!