Torque Tips | Illegal Engine Modifications

Illegal Engine Modifications

Improvements that may cause you inconvenience

You must have seen (or rather heard) the pops and bangs coming off the racy little hatchback that’s gunning their accelerator at the robot next to you. Many enthusiasts buying cars love the idea that they can modify, enhance, or change up the way their vehicle performs, sounds, and shows off, and with engine modifications a common occurrence in the many clubs and crews in South Africa, it may be worth having a discussion about what kind of ‘improvements’ are actually legal. Things to consider include the effect on your warranty, insurance and service plan, not to mention how it will affect the resale value of your car. Here are some mods that you should know directly impact on these factors mentions above.

Removing the air filter:
This is probably one of the most common engine modifications, and it doesn't cost a penny. Here, the owner will simply remove the air filter of the car to obtain better airflow into the engine, thereby enhancing the everyday performance of the vehicle. Doing this will definitely make your warranty null and void. Your air filter is designed to block contaminants, impurities, dirt, and dust from entering your engine, so when you remove it, you’re opening up the door to added wear and tear, problems with the actual engine, and the potential for having to spend a great deal of money on repairs.

Super chips:
Vehicle technology has improved in leaps and bounds to the extent where most important functions are run by an on-board computer. Many performance fanatics simply remove the factory-fitted chip and put a super chip in its place. These 'aftermarket/performance' or 'hack' chips alter and override your on-boards factory settings to obtain the results they desire, for example, it can make your vehicle use petrol more efficiently or obtain more torque. While having a super chip installed isn’t prohibited by law, doing so without informing your insurer or dealership holding the warranty will result in many problems. Any mechanical failure or accident thereafter may not be covered due to the replacement of an OEM component – always discuss these alterations with your insurance first.

Installing a supercharger:
This is a popular engine modification for those who wish for better performance for their vehicles in terms of speed and torque. A supercharger is an air compressor, it is powered by a belt that is attached to the crankshaft of your vehicle. The purpose of a supercharger is to pressurize your vehicle's air intake to obtain more airflow which it then combines with fuel for more speed and power. This can also be vetoed by your insurance and warranty holder as it can be dangerous for your engine. If you over boost the supercharger, then it will release hot air into your engine combustion chamber, inevitably causing it damage.

Installing a CAI kit:
CAI is the abbreviation for a cold air intake kit. It is exactly what it says - an assembly of aftermarket parts with the purpose of creating an inlet of cooler air into your engine combustion chamber. Cooler air is proven to be denser than warmer air and therefore offers a more dynamic 'oxygen' for higher performance and better engine efficiency.
Every single component in your vehicle's engine influences and impacts another, creating a 'chain-effect'. This means if you alter, replace, or remove one component, it will influence and impact another, in most cases more than one. These alterations and aftermarket parts and kits can negatively impact each other causing malfunctions or breakdown. While we aren’t saying this is always the case, this is something that should be carefully researched and considered, worked through with your dealership and insurance, and only ever done by professionals, if you’ve decided to take the risk.