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The Chevy 350 engine is a 350 cubic inch small block V8 with a horsepower range of 145 to 400 or more, depending on the modifications made. It’s a simple engine, and therefore a favorite one to use for project cars and trucks.
If you want to increase the horsepower in your 350 engine then you’ll be happy to know it’s not that difficult or expensive. This engine responds well to basic bolt-on modifications, and aftermarket performance parts are relatively inexpensive.
Upgrading the Air Intake System
Everyone should start with the air intake system, as this will increase horsepower by 8-10% due to the improved air flow. The throttle response will improve dramatically with just a cold air intake system installed, and once you install other performance mods it will only get better. Most people go for the K&N performance air filters when they install a cold air intake, but some CAI kits will come with a generic filter that works just fine.
It’s always best to go with K&N, as you can clean them and they will last a very long time. It’s definitely worth the money to go with a trusted brand when it comes to filtering out junk that can possibly enter your engine.
Cost: You can expect to spend round $150-$400 for a decent cold air intake and filter like this one.
Power Increase: 15-30hp
Installing a Performance Exhaust
It makes sense to modify your exhaust after increasing the air intake, as now you need a place for all that extra air to leave the engine. Modifying your exhaust without upgrading the air intake system isn’t going to give you optimal results.
Performance headers like these ceramic coated ones can get you an extra 25-30 horsepower, as long as you get a tune after the install. Even without a tune, you’ll get a decent performance boost. In fact, some people claim to have an increase of 25hp without getting a tune. So as you can imagine, getting a tune after upgrading your intake and exhaust is crucial for getting the most power out of your engine.
Once you decide on performance headers for your truck, you can look into getting larger piping for the rest of your exhaust. This will make your truck sound a lot meaner as well!
Cost: Expect to spend around $120-$400
Power Increase: 25-45hp
Turbo or Supercharge the Engine
This is an upgrade for the more experienced mechanic, or those willing to pay a good amount of money on increasing horsepower. If you plan on turbo or supercharging your 350 engine, then consider getting the engine taken to a machine shop and properly built to handle the PSI.
Sure, a stock 350 engine can handle lower PSI and see gains of about 30-40% in horsepower without blowing up.. but it’s still a lot more stress on the engine. If you’re working on a daily driver, then we encourage you to stick with simple modifications and a proper tune.
There is good news for those of you who want to pay a shop to turbocharge their 350 engine – it’s a very common engine to work on. Most shops will know exactly what to do in order to get the most power out of it. Call around for quotes, but don’t expect to spend less than $2k on a good turbo system alone.
Power Increase: 6-8% horsepower increase per pound of boost.
Intake and exhaust upgrades are very easy and affordable ways to increase the horsepower in a Chevy 350 engine. You can take it a step further and get a performance electronic throttle body to help increase the air flow even more. Keeping your engine lubricated with good synthetic oil and installing NGK Iridium spark plugs also makes a huge difference in reliability.
What good is a faster vehicle if it’s not reliable? Take care of your vehicle, as increasing performance puts more stress on engine internals. The 350 engine is a tough one, and it’s very reliable when taken care of properly! So now that you know how to increase the horsepower in a Chevy 350 engine, make sure you do your research on the best performance parts. Never settle for cheap Ebay parts when you can buy quality parts for cheap.
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