Tuning the Chevrolet Sonic.

"Sonic performance upgrades"

The Sonic is one of my favourite cars to have come from Chevrolet in some time. It has great handling and a good selection of engines and equipment.

If I'm honest though they are crying out for a little more power and here we have a guide to provide tips on how to maximise your enjoyment of your  Sonic which make good project cars. Our members have some interesting projects on the go. Sit down first and research Sonic tuning to avoid making the usual costly mistakes we see.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Handling modifications are usually your first port of call for the Sonic. We would go to a maximum drop of 35mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

Our aim in Sonic engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

Keep the car looking standard and remove the badges creating a sleeper!

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Engine Tuning modifications.

The following modifications are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get going.

Getting the correct grade of mods for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 (competition) mods just won't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm),alloy wheels,Panel air filter,sports exhaust,lighter flywheel,Remap.

    Typical stage 2 mods often include:fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,Ported and polished head,power clutch,Fast road cam,.

    Typical stage 3 mods often include: competition cam,sports gearbox,Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves),adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger),Engine balancing.

    You really need to keep as much low end torque as you can and aim to get a wide power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power spike. The aim of this article is to give a little insight into the world of car tuning upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your project and all aspects of modding cars.The intake and exhaust durations play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic.

    You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a remap to fully realise your gains.Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. If you find you have flat spots and power surges after your modifications you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. Uprating the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel. A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

    Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

    The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Contrary to popular belief there is usually very little power gain to be had by fitting an induction kit, they only work well and are recommended after you increase the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope! Derestricting the airflow into the engine is a primary goal of tuning so get a better flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean. Induction kits can sound great but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not add noticeable power and actually rob you of power.

    Do not go with the widest exhaust you can buy this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

    Head work including a head port and polished and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. When you heavily modify your Sonic you will discover that the standard clutch starts to slip so get an uprated clutch.

    Turbo engines are just begging to be remapped. You will see big power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a remap one of the most cost effective and big modifications for your money.Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. It is generally cheaper to bolt on a supercharger than it is to get a turbo working. With a turbo the boost curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it hard to map. It is easier to map a supercharger because the boost is proportional to engine speed on a linear curve. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

    Alloy wheel upgrades.

    Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones. Large Sonic alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio. For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 17 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss Sonic options in more detail with our Sonic owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Chevrolet tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

    Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these articles which are kept updated and constantly revised.

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