Toyota performance tips

The first step in better handling and braking is often replacing the stock tires; you can research your current tires and replacements via large tire sellers such as Tire Rack, which have reviews and ratings (local resellers may meet Tire Rack prices, but make sure they’re giving you all the installation/tire disposal costs).


You can also get a high quality performance brake pad for about the same price as a standard OEM replacement. They tend to wear more quickly, though.

TRD, Toyota’s in-house aftermarket performance parts company, tends to charge more, but may be test their parts to closer tolerances.

Exhaust trick

David Fain claimed that “One cheap way to get extra power and fuel economy is to wrap your exhaust manifold/header with heat resistant exhaust wrap/tape. When exhaust gases are pushed out of your cylinders to your exhaust manifold, the air surrounding the manifold begin to cool the gases. This cooling process reduces the velocity of the escaping gases and the engine must 'work' to push the gases through your exhaust system. Wrapping the exhaust headers with exhaust wrap maintains hotter exhaust gases that exit the system faster through decreased density. Increased exhaust scavenging is produced, along with lower underhood and intake temperatures. I would also venture to guess that my catalytic converter operates more efficiently since hotter gases would elevate burning of pollutants.”

Toyota (and other automakers) have, since that was written, been pushing the catalytic converters as close as possible to the engine, and using larger pipes, but it may still provide a small gain — may 3 to 7 horsepower, not necessarily enough to feel.

Cold air intake

David Fain also added a cold air intake to his Corolla. In his words:

I did it by cutting a portion of the air intake hose (two inch diameter intake plastic hose), attached a 90° 2” plastic coupling, cut and attached a plastic pipe and routed to the grill of the car. Since the opening of the pipe is pointing down, I made a 45° angle cut at the bottom of the pipe and faced it towards the grill. In this way, as air speed picks up, the air hits the 45° opening and “rams” the air up the pipe. Since air has to move up the pipe, rain water doesn't seem to work it way up into the filter box.

To do this, you will need (from a hardware store) 2" plastic piping and a rubber 2" 90 degree coupler, with a hose clamp on each end. Use a tape measure and utility knife saber saw with angle cut adjustments.

  1. Remove the Battery.
  2. At the point where the air intake hose bends upward/parallel with the battery, use your utility knife to cut the intake hose.
  3. Attach the 90° coupler to the air intake hose. The coupler should be pointing down towards the ground.
  4. Measure distance from the end of the couple to the engine splash guard ... factor in another 1/2 inch for the piping fitting into the coupler.
  5. Cut the piping to desired length.
  6. Take your saber saw, adjust to highest possible angle, and make an angle cut on one end of the piping. The cut should end as close to the end of the pipe.
  7. Remove the coupler, attached the pipe with the angle cut opening facing towards the front of the car and reattach coupler to the air intake hose.
  8. Check and adjust. You may have to take more material off the pipe so it doesn't touch the splash guard.

Ed Salisbury added, “PVC should not be used in the engine compartment, since it can give off poisonous fumes when heated too much. I've heard that ABS is the plumbing material of choice.”

Other thoughts

For a modern car, the main upgrades are an underdrive pulley, exhaust system upgrade, and a reusable (e.g. K&N) air filter, which is a controversial item. Some claim the K&N increases air flow without loss of protection; others say it is a waste of money, and at worst, that it lets more dirt into the engine. If the K&N does make a difference, it is at the highest rpms when airflow becomes critical; whether it is more or less effective than a paper filter is not a discussion we wish to enter.

Adam Trimble wrote: "A word of advice, the Corolla engine (1ZZ-FE) cannot have "G" series heads put on it. I have talked to both TRD and Toysport who say this is impossible."

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