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Discussion Starter #1
I am pretty new when it comes to cars and I am not that learned on Mechanics 101, but I do know enough of the basics from a bunch of tuner friends.

I have the 4cyl LS, which is a very nice engine, but on the interstate where I live I encounter some very high grades, and the little engine, if allowed to slow down too far (such as if semis grab both lanes) gets weak and struggles to get back up to speed. I really do not want to rev my engine that high, and few options.

I hear a lot of talk about turbochargers and superchargers, but I know they will eventually kill your engine and also hog a bit of gas. I am not looking to lose my economy advantage, though I can settle for a very small decrease. Any suggestions from those seasoned in the auto world?

Thanks a lot ahead of time.
 

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There are tons of ways to grab more horsepower while still keeping your engine naturally aspirated. Decreasing weight would help in your situation and many body pieces such as your hood ect can be replaced with carbon fiber parts that hold up just as well and give your car a more exotic sporty look. Also small changes like switching out your OEM airfilter with an aftermarket model like a K&N can improve airflow to the intake and generate more horsepower. I've worked on many cars before but never specifically the 2008 Malibu. I currently drive a 2002 Malibu and have put a few improvements on the car like carbon fiber body parts, a light weight pulley system, K&N Airfilter, and i'm looking to get into an engine swap. If your car is new however be very careful what ever modification you do doesn't void your warentee.
 

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Haha... Turbo or S/C will not be the way to go... At all.
First, to build a custom kit, you would need to get a turbo, BUILD a custom exhaust manifold, get a wastegate, a BOV, an Intercooler, Charge piping, intake piping, new injectors for the extra fuel needed, new plugs, new filters for intake, a new exhaust would be necessary, otherwise that air that you are "freeing" for better gas mileage would just be getting scavenged out of the tiny stock exhaust, rather than pushed, limiting your boost and hurting mileage.

A S/C would be extremely difficult as well. Not only would you need a blower, but you would need a new belt, a tensioner, an intake mani that would actually fit on (custom Im sure), new plugs, new injectors, some kind of cooling mod (like methanol, a H/E, etc).

Overall, you would spend about $3000 on a Turbo or S/C kit build by yourself. That does not include what custom parts would need to be built, which.. From experience I have found to be quite expensive.

And.. Lol.. Sorry with even more bad news.. But... either of these would at least TRIPLE the stress on the engine. Your rings, pistons... they would all go... Quick with that extra boost. And.. Yea... They would both require tuning... :( Which.. If you have never done before... stinks to learn. Lol

Best way would be a change in your driving style, new GOOD plugs, a new intake, exhaust... etc... Things that dont change the fuel ratio on the car.

Good luck.. I hope this helped.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, I know turbochargers and superchargers are not the way to go (as I mentioned, I want this car to last and not be worn out or a gas hog), and I was wondering of other mods...

Carbon-fiber parts seem very steep in pricing, and I do not want the "sporty" look; it already has it and does not need any more. I am sure I could get a carbon-fiber hood painted my car's color, but it will rarely match and may be not even worth the twenty or so pounds it knocks off. I'm better off going on a diet.
 

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try look into engine mods if you want more giddy-up on the interstate.
Intake and exhaust are major components, but headers are a weaste of time unless you plan on adding a power booster. I superchips custom tuned chip can advance your timing a few degrees, turn off sensors (emissions stuff maily). Underdrive pulleys can remove wasted pull from your rotating assembly and give you HP back to your engine. Accessories on a vehcile can sap 50% of your available HP.
**** This next part is only from experience****
2001 Mustang Stock HP 193 Start Mods:
I swapped out a underdrive pulley on a 2001 V6 Mustang, with some motoblue 42% UDP's, they netted 15 HP on the dyno along with 23ft/lbs Torque. Custom fabircated Ram Air Cold Air Intake with custom Mass air Housing and Sensor mount 24hp / 31ft/lbs torque. 1 5/8th Primary Headers with 2.25" header back exhaust dumped pre axle 26hp 23ft/lbs torque. Superchips custom chip that shut off rear O2 sensors, removed the speed limiter, rev limiter and advanced the timing 10 degrees, 13hp / 10ft/lbs torque.
Starting Gas Mileage : 22 highway 17 city
Ending Gas Mileage : 26 Highway (finding 5th gear more) 14 city
HP Increase : 76hp
Torque Increase: 87 ft/lbs

Notice that all the parts were just bolt on, no power adder (supercharger or turbocharger)

All this out of a little essex 3.8L V6 mustang. I had some suspension mods, and weight deletion as well, this would have helped with gas mileage (and 1/4 time!!!)

I am not trying to brag, but just saying that you can take a stock car and turn it into something if you are looking for that.

On an added note, an electric leaf blower in the intake will give you 10hp (twice the hp of the leaf blower) ... ummm dont try that at home.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A leaf blower, eh? I may have to try that on my next project :D

Well, I am looking to increase its performance mostly on the interstate (end effect: possibly in the city as well) due to its small pulling power compared to its weight. I really don't want to be ripping parts off of it, so I have little options aside from modification of the engine.

So these intake and exhaust systems, what exactly are their running price, and how much experience is needed to install them? I also do not want to void any warranties...

Any suggestions that are specific for the 08 Malibu, though?

What exactly do these performance chips do? I know friends put them on Civics and Eclipses, but what their worth on the Malibu?
 

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A good option to go for with exhaust is just swap out the Muffler. Might I suggest a Borla muffler... It might be a tad more expensive, but... I wont sound ridiculous, like many 4-cylinders do. That can be cheap.. Around $70-80 after install. That would be using the stock piping, which would be sufficient for your plans.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I do not want to have that "riceburner" buzzing noise...if anything a loud rumble would be nice (similar to larger engine vehicles)...but I like the sounds it gives now.

How well would changing the muffler affect the performance? I was also told by someone that it creates back pressure and if you release it, it frees the engine from doing its job.
 

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You don't really want a lot of back pressure coming from your exhaust. In fact its quite the opposite which is why on track cars people take of the cat. converter and put in a test pipe. Its not legal on the streets and you won't pass inspection but allowing the engine to breathe easier actually adds no only horses but can add to your overall fuel economy...just hurts mother earth :p . I'm gonna agree with most of the guys on this and say your exhaust is the way to go. If you wanna drop some big money $700+ you can get a fi-flow cat. converter put on along with a new exhaust, heck at that point you could pay the shop to put on some new racer headers too, all that exhaust work should net you in the neighborhood of around 25+ WHP. Just let a shop do that work tho espically newer cars, they have O2 sensors everywhere on the exhaust system that take modifications to the cars computer to make some of the parts (hi-flow cat, headers) work properly with the engine. The new exhaust shouldn't hurt anything tho.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How much would a high-flow catalytic converter cost? Would there be any amount of compensation if I was to sell my stock one, as well? I know street value for those things are going up, but I want legit sales.

With the high-flow cat., will I also have to purchase larger pipes, a different muffler, and a whole exhaust system to boot?
 

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It depends on if they make a high flow cat for your specific car. Either way a good muffler shop should be able to point you in the right direction. As far as compatibility goes I don't see why the shop couldn't help you out there too. The big concern is of course voiding your warentee, don't want to do that with the dealership. I looked up in a past issue of Modified and they priced a hi flow cat between 1,200 to 1,800 their not cheap due to R&D costs and the price of the platinum in the cat. I've heard from several guys you can sell cats, but i'm not sure exactly where you're supposed to take them to sell.
 

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to make your own "high flow cat" shove a broom stick handle through your cat, it will open it up. No don't try that, that is an old school way.
The sad truth is a 4 cylinder will never sound like a V6 or a V8, it is impossible. I ran into this all the time in the shop. Be carefull when you start with exhaust, you have to match up exhaust diameters with the engine displacement or you will hurt your engine rather then help it. I would not go any bigger then 2.25" pipes from the cat back. After the muffler you have about 6" of exhaust and it does not matter the tip you put on, hell throw a 10" tip if you want your car to sound like a duck with the runs.
Most cat back systems are direct bolt on for a semi-perm install. I would recommend this becuase you do not want to commit to anything and then change your mind later after it has been all welded up. Adding a bolt on exhaust kit will not void your warranty, only if it from the cat back, once you replace your cat, factory will not cover that part of your warranty.

You will notice that all aftermarket parts have a disclosure that says, "Check with vehicle manufacturer before installation as this product might void your warranty"
it is their way of covering their arse.

You can gain 5-7hp from your stock intake by adding a ram air system (which you can make at home). Ask for details.

check the stock ignition wires for resistance, you could gain some MPG by purchasing a lower resistant wire that would allow for a more powerfull spark.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You can gain 5-7hp from your stock intake by adding a ram air system (which you can make at home). Ask for details.

check the stock ignition wires for resistance, you could gain some MPG by purchasing a lower resistant wire that would allow for a more powerfull spark.
Well, the high-flow cat. idea may be out the window, then. Seems like more hassle than what I am willing to go through at the moment.

What exactly is a ram air system, and how complicated would it be to make/install myself?

How would I look at the ignition wires and how would I check them?
 

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A ram air system is just as the name implies. Most car engines stock take air in from a random spot in the engine bay, suck it through a filter and into the intake. A ram air system is designed so that the spot that takes in the air is in or near your front grill. That way while your driving down the road all that air slamming into the front of you car, some will be forced (rammed) into your air intake. This in turn allows for slightly better airflow, better airflow = more air to the engine = more air in combustion = more WHP. Its not a huge amount but it does help some. All you need for a Ram air system is plastic tubing with a large inlet funnel in your grill for the air to go in. AVOID ram air intakes that use chrome or metal tubing, this metal tubing heats up from engine temp and in turn heats the air that travels through it, you do not want that as it can cause knocking or at the very least unnecessary heat. You can build a system yourself but it can be tricky as with all the OBDII car computers you need to make sure you don't mess with any of the sensors in this case the sensor is usually between the airfilter box and the throttle body its called the MAP sensor you want to leave it alone. You can always check online for aftermarket air intakes (also called cold air intakes or ram air intakes) I'm not sure on prices. You can also check out this post http://www.chevymalibuforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=743 for some info on intakes.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've looked into that thread a bit...

Would it be as simple as running a plastic hose from where my engine is currently receiving air to the grilles? The top grille has almost no entrance into the engine, and I was hoping to somehow find a way to allow it some flow since it is a nasty waste.

I've also noticed the middle (larger) grille is in front of the radiator...would it not be counter-productive to take that air to the engine, and let the radiator just overheat?

That pretty much leaves the top grille for the type of intake we're talking about >.>
 

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Check out your fog light locations, if you do not have a fog light installed, you can see that there are grills where there should be. If they are breathable, meaning already slotted, then it would be easy, if not then you would have some trimming to do. First you would have to find, or make a scoop for the ram air system.

This is a foglight from a Cobra, you can remove the bulb and use the housing only, cut out the back so you can add some PVC pipe or plastic flex hose and route it up into your air box where the air inlet is. Once you figure out the route of your ram air, now you have to find out what you are going to do with any moisture that would get into the line, and give the excess air a place to terminate.
Unless you plan on taking your Malibu through a mud hole, the only moisture you would have to worry about would be from rain flying off vehicles infront of you. All you need to do is make an escape for the moisture in your line somewhere, or the lowest part of your airbox.

Foxracer is right, you are trying to use the air already beinge forced against your vehicle and supply it to your intake system so the engine does not have to work as hard to get air. Think of it as a vaccuum, when you turn it on, it starts to suck air. Take a compressor and blow air into the hose, the vaccuum will start to work less becuase it is getting the same, if not more air, then it was beforehand.

Metal intakes are bad only for a few reasons. The heat from the engine bay plays a small part in heating up the intake, the main factor is friction. When air passes by at high velocity it crates some friction which is absorbed by the metal, a good conductor of heat. When the intake would be hot enough, it will start to change the air temperature in your intake to a hotter temp. Plastic is a horrible conductor of heat, therefore it can dissapate heat quicker which will allow more cool air to reach your throttlebody.

The Mass Air Sensor mearsures the amount of air coming into your engine and is the main controlling factor in to how much fuel will be sprayed via fuel injectors into the cylinders to maintain their fuel/air ratio, to much fuel and not enough air mean you are running rich, opposite that, and you are running lean.

If at anytime you are driving and it sounds like you are shaking a spray paint can, STOP this is called detonation and can eat up cylinder heads, pistons, spark plugs, o-rings and a lot more other things.
 

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I would like to clear something up. I have a supercharged Grand Prix (factory), and I DID see MUCH better fuel economy (35+ HWY, 26 City) than the N/A cars do (roughly 28/22? I'm not 100% on those) when it was stock. Granted the mod bug bit, and it took a chunk out of the fuel economy. It has been VERY reliable as well. A turbo isn't the way to go in your case, but they really aren't as harmful as people say (if used PROPERLY). Nitrous can be WAY worse.
 

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true, a supercharger or turbo is not harmful. It s all in the tuning where you can cause damage. A PCM tune itself can release HP..
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I do not have foglights, but I do have the little plastic "chrome" trimming that comes with the LS and non-foglight accessorized Malibus. There is no slitting, though I am sure a small knife could easily rip into the plastic and make slitting just below the chrome, so they are not noticeable.

Will this really make a difference? I can understand the foglight idea and using it to induct more air, but will enough air be funneled by the slits I make and then attached to my air box? I am sure that for moisture, a few slits in the hosing at its lowest point would be sufficient enough, no?
 
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