Tuning guide "Alpha Modifications"

Alpha Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Hyundai Alpha

"Comprehensive guide to performance parts and tuning the Hyundai Alpha engine!"

TorqueCars are always seeing threads asking about how to improve the Alpha from people inquiring about getting more power from the Alpha and wanting to know what are the things tuners recommend when it comes to Alpha modifications. So let us look into Hyundai Alpha upgrades and outline the best upgrades on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

The Hyundai Alpha are good project engines and with the best uprated upgrades like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will really maximize your driving pleasure.

We shall look into Alpha tuning and summarise the optimum modifications.

When talking about the optimum parts for your Alpha engine, we are going to focus on the upgrades that give the biggest return for your cash.

Alpha induction kits

Improving air intake on the Alpha

You need air and fuel for an engine to work. If there is a lack of fuel then it will run lean, if there is not enough air it runs rich sapping power which risks damage to the Alpha. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So the aim to any tuning task to pull air into your Alpha but this has a knock on effect with the air flow sensor.

You'll commonly see there is a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the Alpha when loads more air is being fed into the engine.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped power at a much lower level.

Air Intake manifolds transmit the during the engines suck phase from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the Plenum can make a big difference to to fuel atomisation on the Alpha.

We often see plenum chambers are crying out for a performance upgrade, although some manufacturers provide well optimised plenum chambers.

Larger Alpha valves, doing a bit of port matching and head flowing will also improve bhp and torque, and as an added benefit will allow you to get a greater bhp and torque increase on other tuning parts.

Alpha performance cam tips.

Some Alpha engines respond better to different cam durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuel pump and injectors also have a large bearing on the torque gains you'll make.

A longer valve duration can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

The cam profile plays a big part in the engines power output so cam upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake & exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen cam profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for cam upgrades.

NB: Fast road cams usually bump the performance throughout the rev band, you could sacrifice a little bottom end bhp but your top end will be higher.

Competition cams, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport camshaft will just annoy you whilst driving around busy urban areas.

You should ideally optimize your power band to your preferences so for a car used daily stick with a mild fast road Alpha camshaft

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the Alpha

Stage 1 Alpha parts:

Intake headers, Sports exhaust manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Panel air filters.

Stage 2 Alpha parts:

Fast road cam, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, induction kit, high flow fuel injectors, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head.

Stage 3 Alpha parts:

Engine balancing & blueprinting, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam, Twin charging conversions.

Plan your options and then find your parts and set yourself a power target to avoid costly mistakes.

A remap will help unlock the full potential of all the modifications you've done to your Alpha.

Tuning tips and articles Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

You will typically expect to see gains of approximately 20-30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but the end result usually rely on the modifications you've done and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the Alpha

To get a turbo working on a NASP engine there is a lot involved, from lowering compression ratio to improved fuel supply and mapping, so we have found a great guide to helpavoid the common pitfalls or end up with an unfinished project because you were not told what you were getting into by doing this on the Alpha.

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes major power gains.

If an engine is turbo charged mods are going to make more power and we find turbo engines use stronger components.

There are common areas of failure for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some only just able to handle stock power

We recommend you find these restrictions and install stronger pistons, crank and engine components to handle the power.

It's not unheard of people spending a lot of money on turbo charger upgrades on the Alpha only to suffer the indignity of watching the motor explode on it's first outing after it's used in anger.

Larger upgraded turbos often suffer a bottom end lag, and smaller turbos spool up quickly but don't have the peak end engines power gains.

Thanks to new tech the market of turbos is always evolving and we are seeing variable vane turbos, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust gases into two channels and direct these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo. They also help the scavenging effect of the engine.

Beefing up the air intake by adding a supercharger or additional turbo will help you achieve very large torque gains, although more challenging to configure. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the Alpha

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so should pay attention to the fuelling when you start going beyond 20% of a torque hike. Don't forget to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% when specifying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and allows a little spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

Don't forget that different fuel grades will usually require different settings, a high octane fuel will burn more efficiently than lower octane fuel for example. A car will trim fuel supply to keep within the ideal air fuel mix but at the extreme ends you may need to adjust your injector capacity, or the mapping or you'll get flat spots and potential lean or rich fuel issues..

Recommended Alpha performance exhaust upgrades

We'd only recommend you look to replace your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your exhaust is creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you'll see your flow rate is still ok even on modest power gains, but on a serious tuning project with a big boost in power you will certainly need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Don't go with the biggest exhaust you can get you'll slow the exhaust rate - the best for power gains are usually between one and a half to two and half inches. Your exhaust design, the bend angles and construction are what have more effect on flow rates than your pipe width to a certain extent. So the exhaust design is a big factor.

Typically exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalyst installed, so adding a better flowing performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Decatting (NB:catalysts reduce harmful engine emissions) is illegal in most countries and regions.

Faults issues and things to look out for on the Alpha

Like most engines an Alpha, should have few issues if it gets properly serviced and looked after.

We cannot stress enough the need for oil changes with the correct grade of oil on the Alpha, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned Alpha this is more important than ever and close attention should be paid to your maintenance schedule.

If you are interested in learning more or getting impartial tuning advice for your Alpha why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about Alpha tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their Alpha.

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