performance upgrade tips?
since igot a sky red line recently, was thinnking iwould like to up grade, maybe exhaust high flow cat, and maybe intake? would it be worth it? which one would be best? or what if change the whole exhaust sytem? or increase diameter of exhaust? im some wat familiar with what parts to change out to increase hp, but ihave yet to experience installing it and/or to knotice first hand its harmful effects.
im pretty sure there are no emisson requrements here in alamo tx, but i wouldnt wana go catless.
ithink ill keep my stock turbo, ilike its quick response it makes,
and iguess my last question is, can i install a waste gate to make it sound cool
itried looking up youtube but some are crazy modded, thats a lot of crazy money, not looking to spend 3g's on mods, iwant to start off slowly into modding
im already looking into getting a aftermarket spoiler for my sky...
maybe idk lol
I picked up my 2008 Solstice GXP a couple of months ago and have purchased products from DDMWorks (full brace kit/charge tubes/CAI) - Perfermance Autowerks (Werks IC/engine bay dress up) - Solo-Performance (Hi-flow cat/Mach Shorty cat-back) - Trifecta Performance (switchable tune). Also check out RPM-Motorsports for turbo upgrades and parts.
If you chance the intake to a CAI, the Turbo will make a louder turkey kind of... I like it! I think a few people have done blow-off's but I can't recall exactly, but they may not be the best option on these cars for X reason...
Anyways, I think your first thing to do would be to look up Trifecta and have one of their tunes done. That'll do the most for you. DDM works sells some great stuff to stiff up the body as well. Good luck with the fun!
Charge Pipes, Trifecta Tune - Maybe High Flow Cat if you want and intake if you want. There you go, all done. DDM calls it the power pack (i think), and RPM calls it their stage 2 kit. About 1,000 bucks, adds about 100hp.
If you dont want to spend 1,000, just charge pipes and the tune will get you most of that power (60-80hp maybe?) for about 600 bucks.
Full exhaust gives you no gains really, it will be just for sound. Same with the intake, its more dressy under the hood. The "stage 2" really just makes it an all around great car. To get more out of it will start draining the bank account pretty fast. Most seem happy at this stage, im one of them and my focus has gone to radio, suspension, brakes, wheels, etc.
But mostly, read/search the forum. Theres countless threads just like this. Without a tune any mod will produce 0 hp. The car is choked by the computer, and the tune is needed to eliminate this.
This is what many people refer to as the "learn down" feature of the ECM which makes doing any power adding mods moot until you address the tune in the ECM.
Now, that doesn't mean the additional parts are worthless...just means you won't get out of them what you want UNTIL you do a tune...but if you do a tune first then add parts or add parts and then do a tune is up to you. When I say "add parts", we're talking simple bolt on things like exhausts, intakes and charge tubes. generally speaking if you go beyond those things, you'll want a tune that takes other improvements like downpipes, larger turbos, intercoolers, etc into consideration for the tuner.
So the FIRST thing you do before buying parts is plan what you want out of upgrading. You may stop at the basics. You may want a simple K04 big wheel turbo and nothing bigger. Maybe you have a whp goal. Whatever your goal is, you need to define that first.
High Flow Cat: This is a good upgrade that most folks agree frees up some whp on the turbo cars. In TX, you may even be able to get away with a catless downpipe. However, power gains between a high flow and a catless downpipe are minimal (<5whp).
Intake: I don't believe we have yet to find an intake that has a measurable performance improvement on this platform. It will, however, increase the sound of your bypass valve (more on this later). I have a stock K04 bypass valve on my 2.4 turbo setup but with the CAI I have on the car, you'd swear I have a vent to atmosphere BOV.
Exhaust: On the turbo car there isn't a whole lot to be gained by an exhaust...MAYBE 7 whp. It's not much. The stock exhaust on our cars are 2.5" with very few bends...and the bends we do have are smooth bends so the piping flows really good as is. The muffler is a bit restrictive but not horribly so. Most folks then do an exhaust mod to change the sound of the car and in this case, it's all about what you like it to sound like. I LOVE my Magnaflows (I've had all three of their Sky exhausts at one point or another) and love the sound they get. A catless downpipe will increase the volume of any exhaust as well. As for size, 2.5" is fine for a turbo car and there is not gains to be had by going 3" until you reach the 400whp level. If you're going for that kind of power eventually (like I am...450-500 whp) then you can bolt on a 3" now in preparation for that. If not though, save your money and go with a 2.5" aftermarket exhaust OR just keep the OEM pipe and swap your muffler. For our cars, the 2002 F-body generation (I think that was from 1997-2002 Camaros and Firebird/Trans-Ams) mufflers work. That's the muffler Magnaflow uses in their Kappa exhausts.
As far as what to change out and what possible harmful effects, the answer to both is everything. You can sleeve the block, port and polish the heads, go with larger valves, heavier valve springs, titanium retainers, larger throttle body, upgraded charge tubes, larger intercooler, forged pistons, better forged rods, larger turbo, aftermarket exhaust manifold, external waste gate, blow off valve, heavier clutch, lighter flywheel (if you're not an automatic), Quaife differential and make the thing a rocketship...or swap the whole damn engine out for a LS V8 or 2JZ (with a 1JZ bell housing and the right clutch/flywheel combo they bolt right up to our transmissions) and really make some stupid power.
Of course the most reliable modifications are none at all and going down the modification path can lead to some serious headaches if you're not prepared for them. If this is your only car and/or your daily, don't plan on going too wild if you've never done this before. If you can't wrench on your own car this is especially true. A tune, charge pipes, intercooler, intake, exhaust, downpipe, and a big wheel K04 turbo is the absolute limit I'd place on modifications if the above is true for you. Even with that, if your mechanic isn't familiar with THIS platform, there may be issues. Mind you with those modifications this car can still make over 300-330 whp and be pretty reliable.
Beyond that though, and you better be prepared for issues that you'll need to deal with.
There are drawbacks to these kinds of waste gates though. Internal waste gates tend to be less precise and can often leak boost over the RPM range of the turbo. Also, if something happens to the waste gate itself, generally the entire turbine side of the turbo must be replaced. However, except for the waste gate actuator (the thing that makes the waste gate open and close when needed) very little "goes wrong" with an internal waste gate. The main issues is with holding boost to redline.
Unless you go with an aftermarket turbo you will be stuck with the OEM internal waste gate. Even a big wheel K04 (this is the stock turbo with a larger impeller wheel put on the compressor side...turbine side wheel stays stock size) you will have the same waste gate.
Now, you may be confusing the waste gate with the Blow Off or Bypass valve. This is the device that, when a turbo car lets off the gas, gives a PPHHSSSSSSSSTT kind of sound. That sound, generally, is a Blow Off Valve (BOV). The difference between a BOV and a Bypass Valve (BV) is in what they do with the air between the turbo's output and the throttle body of the engine. (This is the area of the charge tubes and intercooler.) Under wide open throttle, the turbo is producing a lot of boost and the entire intake track from the turbo to the intake valves and combustion chamber is full of air under full boost pressure. When the throttle body closes when the driver lets off the gas, the part of the intake behind the throttle body (cylinder, head, and intake manifold) is now under vacuum but the area before the throttle body (charge pipes, intercooler, and turbo compressor) is still under boost. With the throttle body closed, this air has no where to go and if not dealt with, can reverse up to the compressor and stall the compressor of the turbo...which can damage the compressor. To prevent this, the BOV or BV allows this pressurized air to escape. This is where they differ. A BV takes this pressurized air and feeds it back into the intake before the turbo to be recycled into the engine. A BOV just lets this pressurized air escape to the atmosphere and hence why you hear the PPHHSSSSSSSSTT sound.
The issue with the Redline is a sensor called the Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF). The MAF measures how much air is coming into the engine and gives this info to the ECM to calculate fueling. Once this is calculated, the amount of air registered by the MAF MUST enter the engine or the fueling calculations of the ECM will be off. In the Redline, the BV is built into the turbo and comes after the MAF which is located in the intake going to the turbo. This way, the now measured air recirculates into the turbo and is still used by the engine and allows the ECM to properly calculate fuel requirements like it is supposed to. On my 2.4 build, my MAF is in the cold side pipe over by the throttle body so my MAF isn't taking a reading until the air has left the intercooler. Thus I could put in a BOV so long as I did it somewhere before the MAF.
Now so folks have put BOVs on a Redline and I don't know what they do to the programming or MAF location to achieve this but it CAN be done. It will require a new charge pipe to locate the BOV and of course the tune to make it work.
Engine: We've covered a lot of that here so I won't go into that any more. RPM Motorsports (RPM), Performance Auto Werks (PAW), DDM Works (DDM) or Hahn racecraft are the places you can look for a lot of this stuff.
Drivetrain: There are a few clutches available for our cars but it mainly is either the DDM clutch (from DDM, of course) or the Spec clutches which you can get from most of the providers listed above. If your car didn't come equipped with a limited slip differential (which I think all Redlines DID come with it) or if you want a gear based LSD rather than the OEM clutch based LSD, Quaife differentials are still available and last we checked were about $330 for the diff. They use to be around $1500. Our bet is they are trying to get rid of the remaining stock so when they're gone, they're gone.
Suspension: Our cars are meant to be driven...in corners...so suspension is a big thing for us. Tires are the biggest upgrade here so if you have 10 year old original tires, change them ASAP. The better tires the better it handles but it's always a trade-off. Extreme Summer tires are maximum grip tires but can't be used in the snow. All season tires are great in all conditions but give up dry performance. Figure out how you're going to drive the car and this will help narrow your choices. Beyond that, there are sway bars and coil overs for this car from a number of places. Most go with the factory Z0K option sway bars and then their choice of springs or coil overs. I have a set of BC coils and they run just over $1,000 for the single adjustable set (for damping and rebound...you can still adjust ride height and spring preload but those are nearly set and forget adjustments). PAW just released a dual adjustable set of BC coils but they are in the $1500+ range. This is still cheap for dual adjustable coils though. If you don't know what the benefits are from a single adjustable to a dual adjustable then just go single. You would be more apt to mess up your suspension settings with duals if you don't understand how they work in very good detail (I autocross and even I don't know the full idiosyncrasies of dual adjustable coils). The one thing that most folks WILL agree with on here though is chassis bracing. There is a front brace, backbone brace, and rear brace. The front brace is a marginal improvement but the other two are big steps up and most do all three. DDM sells them as a package but I think PAW and RPM offer similar braces. (if not the exact DDM ones)
Body: Look up either RK Saturn Sky (for parts made by RK for our cars) or Norm's Fiberglass. They are the only two companies I can think of currently that make things like body kits, splitters, hoods for our cars. If you want a new hardtop, Norm's or Smoothline would be the go to folks for that but they are well over $1.5K and up for those.
Interior: Other than radio equipment any modifications here will be custom work by local interior shops or OEM options. Our steering wheel is the same as some model Corvettes or you can have a custom one made for you by SoCal Garage Works.
Welcome to the forum and this should get you started in your search. Remember the old saying. How fast do you want to go? How much money do you have to spend? Your pocket book is your only limitation to this platform. So set a goal, figure out how to get there, and then figure out the budget required to get there. Only then can you make the necessary smart decisions to get there in a manner that suits your goal and financial ability to achieve it.
I've attached a few pics of my Turbo 2.4 so you can see where I've gone with my (totally off the rails) build. LOL
ijust gotta say bro... incredble build, how much did u spend on ur sky? im acutally gonna print this post u posted, gotta set goals for my sky build.iwouldnt mind wasting 1g, 2gs, i just wouldnt be able to drop 3gs all at once.
this is really help full info guys, alot to take in but i understand pretty well, yes this is my first build,
the web sites gona go ahead n check them out later today, im always carefull when it i go shopping around for parts, incliding on my work lol. thanks guys is really gona help me alot, and happy new years!! (almost) everyone lol
Are charge pipes really adding any power?
Do the budget tune from Trifecta. You will be amazed at the performance increase. Nothing else you do will make that much difference.
Jmende22, I bought my Sky new and have done all performance/chassis/suspension mods short of turbo change, clutch and LSD mods. The car has been reliable relative to my usage of the car. Stick with our tried and true vendors(we only have a few)and you will not be disappointed. Skip the wing.
skip the wing accross a pond and hope it sinks like whale dodo
Well Robo just literally wrote the book, in the above post.. I'll write the cliff notes.
If you want to stay under 3G's, or another way you don't want to put in a bigger turbo and all the other things that go with it, then there is 1 thing to do increase power the trifecta base tune.
Now the thing with the base tune, if your going to change exhaust / induction etc for the Sound or look, do it first cause the base tune is set for what your induction and exhaust are. Although if you change them later you won't see much difference anyhow.
The wing, I'll just assume your joking. If not, i'll let you in on a secret don't tell anyone here you put the wing on. Not many here are fans of the look. Functionally well pretty sure at high speed we don't need more force on our rear wheels so its just adding drag.
The #2 thing for performance is a backbone.
My advice would be to first spend your money on maintenance...
Tint the windows - in back go with 5%
New headlamps, crowl, OEM driver seatcover (At 10 years old you can't buff like new)
OEM Tune-up: Plugs, thermostat, transmission-fluid, flush power-steering fluid, oil-change
When you change the plugs look for tell-tale signs of too much oil. (Gasket could be bad)
Install the DDMWorks package.
Mike Martin says his best upgrade was installing a new radio-head unit with back and side cameras.
Then focus on goodies and appearance
Paint calipers - install zinc coated rotors
New driver-side seat-cushion cover
Equalize the gaps between the hood and front-facia (if there is more space on one side)
Replace lugs if the ones you have are worn.
Then if you have money left ..
Ceramic coat and racing stripes
Replace Saturn branding with Opel branding (or no branding)
Replace the convertible top with new
2nd key FOB
Replace the Monsoon amplifier and passenger speaker with more powerful better sounding
IMO - if you want a fast car - you're better off starting with a car that has more power from the manufacturer.
A Sky/OpelGT/Solstice is wonderful car because if it's design.
By investing in maintenance you're making it so your car will still be alive even when you're gone: 20 or 30 years from now.
thanks guys! anything helps for sure.
And I've had some unplanned expenses along the way. New trans (broke the case on the original...long story), a new clutch after I had the turbo on the car for about 30K miles, new wheels and tires...twice. LOL (one set are now my race wheels only).
HOWEVER, don't let all that scare you. First, you already have a turbo so a lot of what I paid for starting with a 2.4 NA you already have (fuel system, injectors, turbo, intercooler, etc.). Also, I got this car in 2014 and all these mods have been done over that period of time. The car has about 137K miles on it now and I got it with 44K. Turbo went on around 77k. Before the turbo was on I had the exhaust and all the suspension stuff done. So the big expenses have been done one a year basically. Sometimes two (like brakes and engine this year).
I'll go over some of the options you have now on your upgrade path a bit further down...
As you can see, the Trifecta base tune is very popular for our cars. A lot of people have them and they really like it. Like Davhamm said, if you go with this tune you can do the modifications first then the tune and get a bit more out of it but it's not going to be a huge difference. You can also go with a remote tune from places like RPM, PAW, DDM or Hahn (all of them offer the service) and there are some benefits and drawbacks to these tunes.
First, you have to understand what a tune is and the two different styles of tunes, recalibrations (often referred to as canned or "off the shelf" tunes) versus a true tune. Your ECM has four "parts" to it, the logic, the table values, inputs and outputs. Inputs are sensors that send data to the ECM...like your MAF sensor, your RPMs, your speed, etc. The output are things the ECM controls such as injectors for fuel and coil packs for timing. With a tune, neither the inputs or outputs of the ECM are touched. The next part is the logic and the table data. The logic is the programming that determines how the ECM functions, the calculations it makes, and the instructions it sends out based on those calculations. The information the logic uses in all this comes from the inputs (what the engine is doing) and the table data. With a tune, we are ONLY changing the table data. The logic itself remains untouched.
By changing the table data, we manipulate the output of the ECM. If the ECM is seeing 3.2 volts (on a range of 0-5v) from the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor, it needs to look to a data table to figure out what this reading means. The voltage is translated to Hz by the ECM then it looks up the MAF table and says for 3.2 volts this equals 8K hz and for 8k hz the fuel modifier I will use is 150. That 150 value is what a tune changes. (as well as a whole ton of other data table values) Obviously this is OVERLY simplified but that's the just of it.
As with anything, there are a lot of variables that go into what a value "should" be and what is acceptable. For instance, you're in an area you are unfamiliar with and need to go from where you are to a grocery store you know is nearby. You ask someone for directions and one person tells you it's "about 2 miles west". Another person says it's "about 2 and a quarter miles west". A third person tells you it's "2.25897 miles west". All the answers are right but you can see the first person is far less accurate than the second who is less accurate than the third.
The stock settings are the first set of directions. They are a conservative set of values that are right, but not perfect. It is going to work in every condition and on every car that comes off the line and every car off the line is going to have that same set of table values. It makes warranty claims fewer and production easier.
A recalibration...or "canned" tune...is basically the second set of directions. It's a better version of the factory tune that gives better performance and will work on probably 99% of the cars out there. However, it still won't give maximum performance...though it gets really close.
A true TUNE is where someone scans one specific car in a particular set of conditions (weather, fuel, elevation, etc), takes the information the sensors are providing in that scan, uses that information to change table data values, upload those new values to the ECM, and repeat until the ECM is operating THAT car as efficiently as possible and getting the most power out of it the tuner feels comfortable with without pushing it too far (which can lead to engine damage). Think of tuning a car like someone tunes a guitar...you pluck a string, listen to the sound, make an adjustment and repeat until that string is in tune.
The Trifecta budget tune is a recalibration. The remote tunes provided by our vendors are true tunes.
The benefit to a tune versus a recalibration is obvious...it's written SPECIFICALLY for YOUR car with YOUR mods. The drawback is that if you add a new engine mod to the car, the tune needs to be tweaked to get it back to being optimized for your car with the new part.
So if you do a Trifecta budget tune, you can have that be the first thing you do. If you add exhaust, a downpipe, an intake, charge tubes, and an intercooler to it...it really isn't going to be much to gain by getting ANOTHER Trifecta budget tune with those options added to it (however, IIRC Trifecta will update your tune if you add mods for either no fee or a very small fee). As others have said, a tune WILL BE the biggest single power change you can make at the most basic level (bigger turbos or engine swaps WILL make more power but those will require a new tune anyway). Intercoolers, down pipes, exhaust, intake and charge pipes even combined won't have as much of a difference power wise as just the tune. Those things all are what most consider basic engine mods and will be covered by a Trifecta budget tune.
But that's just engine mods. We also have suspension mods and brake mods, and body mods and interior mods so if you're not wanting to just focus on engine mods there are these too.
As Davhamm mentioned the DDM backbone brace is a huge improvement to the car and if you do nothing else to the suspension, I highly recommend it. Other suspension pieces may be lowering springs if you want to change the look (please Please PLEASE don't cut stock springs to lower the car). Driving style will dictate if you need to go further.
Another must do upgrade I feel are brake pads. Our stock brakes aren't bad but the pads are crap. I almost went over the side of a mountain on a twisty road because the stock pads overheated and faded out to just about nothing. Get a good set of Hawk pads or other performance street pads on there with a resurfaced stock rotor (or new stock rotor if your originals are worn too to be turned) and you will be far better off. Stainless braided lines and high temp fluid are optional.
A backbone, tune (Trifecta budget or a vendor remote tune) and a full set of Hawk pads would run you less than a grand and have you off to a solid start. You can do swaybars too and be around $1,000 or add a high flow cat downpipe and the front and rear braces and come in under $2k. Then later you could do an intercooler, intake, charge pipes and/or exhaust and depending the routs you go with those be in at under $3K total. If you do it in stages, talk to whoever you decide to get your tune from and see if they offer tweaks to the tune later on as you add parts. This may determine who you go with for your tune or when you do your tune.
Yea, I write a lot...I do like it when I have the time and lately I just haven't had the time but I hope all this helps. There is a lot here when you're just starting out. Remember, all the stuff I wrote here is just an outline...do your own research and build on this stuff so you make a decision that's right for you.
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