ATVs are most commonly known for their ability to climb over rocks and other rugged landscapes, making it possible for people to explore territory that would have previously been impossible to reach or which would have taken days to conquer on foot. However, while your ATV can climb over objects impressively, when you hit the accelerator, it can take a bit to get going fast if you don’t find a way to increase your torque.
How do you give an ATV more torque and horsepower? The best way to give your ATV more torque and horsepower is to turbocharge or supercharge the engine, which means that you are creating a path for more pressurized air to enter the engine. More air means more fuel is getting burned, so your ATV will be more powerful in a turbocharged state.
While a turbocharged engine will provide more torque and increased power, it will also decrease the efficiency of your ATV, meaning that more fuel will be required to make the engine operate. If you are willing to spend a little more on fuel in exchange for more engine power, then turbocharging your ATV might be a good idea.
Torque vs. Horsepower in Your ATV’s Engine
Torque and horsepower are two common measures of engine performance that most people do not understand and often confuse. While they are closely related, they have some important differences that can be critical in helping owners decide how to care for and upgrade their ATV engine.
Torque is a measure of an engine’s ability to do work.
Most engines have to spin faster in order to increase torque. This explains why your vehicle’s RPMs increase when you go up a hill and decrease when you go down a hill: You require your vehicle to do more work when climbing, while you require it to do essentially no work when going downhill.
Vehicles that have a lot of torque will be able to perform this work at lower RPMs because high-torque engines will apply more twisting force to the crankshaft. This is why some heavy-duty trucks are advertised as having “low-end torque”: They are capable of doing a lot of work, such as pulling heavy trailers, without substantially revving the engine.
If you choose to increase the torque of your ATV’s engine, you can expect the following improvements:
- The ability to pull heavier loads
- Quicker acceleration, especially when going up a hill or other steep incline
- A decreased likelihood of getting stuck in particularly treacherous terrain
Horsepower is a measure of how rapidly an engine can perform work.
Lightweight sports cars that operate at high RPMs will have high horsepower but low torque because they are doing little work at a fast rate.
The main advantage of increasing the horsepower of an engine is simple: you will be able to go faster!
Turbocharging Your ATV to Increase Torque
Some may argue that turbocharging your ATV engine will do more for increasing horsepower than torque. While they are correct in the sense that turbocharged engines will go considerably faster than non-turbocharged engines, they ignore the fact that torque is a component of horsepower:
(Torque x RPMs)/Constant = Horsepower
Because there is an upper limit to how fast an engine can spin, more torque means more horsepower at lower RPMs, which leads to faster speeds when the engine is spinning slower.
The best way to increase both torque and horsepower of your ATV is to turbocharge the engine.
Turbocharging means that more pressurized air is forced into the engine, which also means that more fuel is being burned. Putting in more air and fuel means that more power is being produced, which leads to the increased torque and horsepower of your ATV.
There are various ways that you can turbocharge your ATV’s engine, some of which are very simple, others that require the assistance of a professional mechanic to install a specialized turbocharging part.
Free the Air Intake
The first step to moderately turbocharge your ATV engine and give it more torque is to check the air intake system. This starts with the air filter.
The airflow on a lot of small engines can be highly restrictive, and as air is necessary for engine combustion, reduced or restricted airflow can limit the amount of your ATV’s torque.
A dirty air filter on your ATV, combined with an already restrictive air intake system, may be preventing your engine from functioning at 100 percent capacity.
Therefore, the most basic step in turbocharging your engine is to thoroughly clean your air filter.
When cleaning your air filter, if you notice that it is unusually thick, you may want to consider modifying it or exchanging it for a model that allows air to move more freely. However, note the risk that accompanies this step, as an air filter that does not properly catch debris and allows foreign particulars to enter the engine’s combustion chamber could cause serious damage.
Clean the Carburetor on Older ATVs
While basically all modern ATVs have fuel-injected engines, meaning that fuel is introduced directly to the engine’s combustion chamber, there is a chance that your older ATVs still use a carburetor.
The carburetor is the device that mixes air with fuel at the proper ratio and introduces it to the engine for combustion. If the carburetor is soiled or not functioning properly, the engine may be misfiring due to poor fuel quality, which will lead to decreased torque.
If your ATV uses a carburetor, drain the carburetor of all fuel and thoroughly clean the part. If you are not mechanically inclined, you may need to have a mechanic perform this step and/or replace the carburetor altogether.
Add an ATV Turbocharger
While cleaning the air intake system may lead to only modest increases in torque, and your ATV is unlikely to use a carburetor, there is one surefire way to ensure that your engine gets supercharged: Add an ATV turbocharger.
A turbocharger is a specialized part designed for fuel injected engines that ensures that air is utilized most efficiently. It will more than likely require the assistance of a professional mechanic to add this part to your ATV’s engine block unless you know what you are doing.
If you can handle it yourself, you may get lucky and find a decent-priced turbo kit on Amazon.
In addition to adding pressurized air to the intake system, turbochargers also redirect exhaust gases, preventing the loss of power from air escaping through the exhaust pipe.
Turbochargers work by using small fans to redirect wasted heat and air back toward the engine. This increased air requires the introduction of more fuel to the engine, which allows the engine to operate more powerfully, leading to an increase in torque and horsepower.
This is an especially beneficial process because it allows for more torque to your ATV without having to upgrade the engine. This means the ATV will be the same weight as before, making the increase in power all the more noticeable.
A turbocharger for your ATV will likely cost about $200, unless you can find a good deal. While the cost of having a mechanic install this part will seem high initially, it will be much more cost-effective than having a high-torque engine installed.
Other Ways to Give an ATV More Torque
While improving the air intake on your ATV is the most surefire way of gaining torque, there are a couple of other ideas that may help increase engine power if you have already explored the above options or do not have the budget to get your ATV supercharged:
- Flush the fuel tank – this may be an especially helpful hint in older ATVs, as rust, water, or other debris may have built up over time and made for inefficient fuel flow to the engine
- Use smaller tires – smaller tires can keep the weight of your ATV down, which may lead to modest increases in torque and horsepower
- Replace the exhaust pipe – as mentioned in the turbocharging section, the inefficient release of gases can lower engine performance