How a grounding kit can make more power!
Making more horsepower just by adding some ground wires? How can wires make power?? Simple! All modern cars run off of electronics – and electronics run everything, so having a poor quality electrical system can be detrimental to the system in a number of ways, but here are the top 3.
The first thing is the ECU. The ECU is what runs the show. It determines everything from ignition timing, to how much fuel gets injected, to where the engine should stop revving and so much more. But, it can’t do any of that work without input from a multitude of sensors. How the ECU gets information from the sensors is via electrical signals, or in other words, voltage. When you have a poor electrical system, sensors may not be able to output the correct voltages based on what it should be seeing and reporting to the ECU. If the ECU has bad inputs, it can’t make the correct decisions on the outputs.
This is a chart that Injector Dynamics put out that shows how the flow rate changes based on system voltage.
As you can see, the flow rate suffers on the ID1000 when the voltage is low and they flow better when the voltage is higher. Without the proper fuel flow, you can’t hit the target AFRs and that means you can’t get the full potential of your setup and you may have problems that caused damage as a result.
The graph should tell you more than enough to convince you, but let’s dive deeper. Fuel injectors are essentially solenoids that open and close when voltage is applied and removed respectively. The injectors have a minimum time from when the pulse is sent to when the solenoid starts to open. This is called the “Dead time”. Different injectors will have different timings, but system voltage can impact the dead time, causing it take longer to start to open and reach minimum flow.
The time it takes from when it starts to open to when it’s fully open is also impacted by system voltage. If the injector is designed to open within 2ms, but your electrical system causes it to fully open in 4ms, you’re missing out on 2ms of spray time. Now, tuners might be able to compensate for this, but they might be confused why the injectors aren’t performing as expected based on their data sheets and you’re still missing out on flow.
No point in having the correct amount of fuel if it can’t be ignited properly. We’re focusing on coil packs specifically in this article, but info will apply to other ignition types as well. Coil packs produce high voltage from a low voltage supply, usually generating 40,000 volts or more. This voltage is what travels through the spark plug and causes the spark that ignites the air/fuel mixture in the cylinders.
As with the fuel injector, there are things that need to happen with the coil in a certain amount of time. The most important is the dwell. The coil pack has to charge up its energy and that can take some time. System voltage can impact the dwell time and if it takes too long, the coil will release its energy before it has reached its maximum strength. Depending on how long it had to charge up, it can shorten the duration of the spark, or worse yet may not be enough to cause a spark across the spark plug gap at all. Plugs with a wider gap will more often foul and misfire from lack of enough energy to cause an arc across the tip and ground strap. Lower energy bursts will result in shorter spark durations which means a less efficient burns which means less power.
You might be thinking that 2 and 3 milliseconds are such small amounts of time that it’s not a big deal if it takes an extra millisecond to charge up the coil or open the fuel injector, but think about how fast your engine is spinning at redline. Let’s take a 7200 RPM (Revolutions per minute) redline. This means that the engine has just 8.3ms (60 / 7200 = 0.0083) to suck in air, compress the air, add enough fuel to hit the target mixture, and then ignite that mixture and evacuate the spent gases before doing it all over again. Not to mention all the calculations the ECU has to do to make decisions on how to handle things during each part of the cycle.
A millisecond is 1 thousandth of a second (1/1000). If we go back to the fuel injectors, it has to open and spray the correct amount of fuel within that 8.3ms, and actually, it doesn’t even get that full 8.3ms because it only sprays at a certain time during the cycle. So you can see how crucial having the ability to do the necessary work within a very small fraction of time.
Path of least resistance
One of the biggest arguments against the “big 3” ground upgrade is that electricity will travel the path of least resistance, so adding more ground connections won’t help if it doesn’t actually offer an easier way back to the battery. Well, while this is technically not wrong, it doesn’t account for so many things that occur.
- The path of least resistance for a ground point on the engine block won’t be the same as a ground point for the fuse block on furthest away from the battery.
- As the electrical system heats up, resistance increases and what was the path of least resistance when the car was cold, may not be once things get warmed up.
- Adding additional grounds may offer new paths to for electricity to travel when things get hot, and can eliminate a bottleneck caused by too few ground connections and the load grows. The easier electricity can get back to the battery, the faster everything can happen and that means everything that relies on the electrical system will be better off.
- By reducing the load caused by poor ground connections, electrical components can actually run cooler and will live longer in addition to functioning better.
The most common ground upgrade is usually referred to as the “big 3” which is because you get 3 larger wires that connect from the battery to certain points on the car. Usually they’re sold to help keep your head lights from dimming when the bass hits on your sound system, but adding additional grounding can provide better cold and hot starts and improved engine performance too. Adding additional grounding is a quick and cheap way to ensure your car is running as optimal as possible.