Does Your Performance Car Need a Hood Scoop?

hood scoopYou may have seen a hood scoop on some performance car models. They’re especially a common add-on for the Ford Mustang and other pony cars. In case you don’t know, a hood scoop is essentially a hood with an open vent to give the engine a bit more room to “breathe.”

Engine Creates Heat

First, let’s discuss some engine mechanics. An engine burns fuel, and burning fuel requires oxygen. The engine’s performance depends heavily on the amount of available oxygen from the air. Typically, cool air is denser and more oxygen-heavy than warm air.

The engine generates heat as it’s operates, which warms the surrounding air. The engine’s cramped compartment leaves little room for the heat to escape. Continue Reading →

Does Your Four-Wheeler need a Skid Plate?

skid plate

A skid plate may be a necessary add-on if you frequently use your SUV or pickup for off-roading. Some car owners have reservations about adding a skid plate. This is often due to online information containing half-truths. We’ll attempt to clear up any confusion and explain how a skid plate protects your four-wheeler in off-road terrain.

What Is a Skid Plate?

A skid plate is a steel plate that covers the vehicle’s undercarriage. It acts as a shield that protects vital components, such as the suspension, differential, control arm, and the housing containing the engine oil and transmission fluid. Novice off-roaders often end up with hundreds of dollars in auto repairs due to driving through rocky terrain without a skid plate.

Some vehicles come with factory skid plates. However, these may not be sturdy enough for extreme off-roading. Hence some owners upgrade to an aftermarket version. Aside from a skid plate, we also recommend a lift kit to increase the ground clearance as a secondary protective measure.

Common Concerns

Some online forums have raised concerns about skid plates trapping mud, salt water, and other debris, leading to corrosion. This can indeed happen, which is why you need to periodically bring your vehicle to an auto service provider to remove the plate and clean the undercarriage. This may require pressure washing, so this is in no way a DIY job.

Another point to keep in mind is that skid plates are not one-size-fits-all. Some styles provide additional protection for the lower control arm. Others protect the urea injection system in a late-model diesel truck.

We Install Steel-Reinforced Skid Plates

Frequent off-roader? Bring your vehicle to Northwest Performance and Off Road for a skid plate installation. Skid plates protect the vital undercarriage components from bumpy rocks that dot the off-roads of Washington.

Edited by Justin Vorhees

Skid Plate Installation for Off-Road Vehicles

Passionate auto repair, performance enhancement & service in Everett, Edmonds, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe, Mill Creek, Mukilteo & Snohomish

5 Car Modifications for Increasing Horsepower

Upgrades for High HorsepowerMuscle car and hot rod enthusiasts want to pack as much horsepower and torque as possible for their modified street performance vehicle. What is the best way to achieve this short of replacing the engine altogether? We’ll outline the top 5 modifications for increasing horsepower.

Our List of Modifications for Higher Horsepower

1. Cold Air Intake

This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to add horsepower. Cold air intakes have a larger area for pulling air through. This minimizes resistance that may hamper airflow into your engine. Continue Reading →

Make Your Classic Car Road-Ready

classic car road-readySome people dare not to part with their classic car. These motorists take pride in their 1969 Mustang, 1972 Plymouth Barracuda, 1967 Camaro, or some other muscle or street performance vehicle. Cars nearly as old as their owners require upgrades to continue to operate reliably. Here is our list of four essential updates to make a classic car road-ready.

1. Disc Brakes

Older cars use drum brakes. These brakes are susceptible to wear and tear from heat build-up. Stress factors, such as abruptly stopping at a high speed or braking during a steep descent, wear down drum brakes. Replace your drums with the modern disc brake. Our auto service recommends enhancing the conversion with a dual master cylinder brake for added durability. Continue Reading →

Cold Air Intake Vs. Short Ram Intake: What’s the Difference?

Cold Air Intake Vs. Short Ram IntakeMany high-performance car owners eventually replace the factory air intake system with an aftermarket variety. Simply switching your air intake can add an additional five to twenty horsepower to your engine. There are two primary aftermarket intake systems: cold air intake vs. short ram intake. We’ll give a brief overview of these two varieties and how they differ.

Cold Air Intake System

As suggested in its name, a cold air intake is designed to draw in as much cool air as possible. This enhances engine performance since cold air has a richer concentration of oxygen. Cold air intakes are often placed in the fender or to the rear or side of the engine. This prevents it from drawing heat generated by the engine.

Cold air intake systems are not compatible in every car model. An auto service technician can determine if a cold air intake is compatible with your car. Or he might recommend a short ram intake system as more feasible. Continue Reading →

Floodlights Vs. Spotlights: Which Is Best for an Off-Road Vehicle?

Floodlights Vs. SpotlightsWe often install vehicle work lights as part of a bigger upgrade for off-road SUVs and pickup trucks. Modifications of this kind usually include floodlights or spotlights, or both. Learn what the difference is and which is best for your type of off-roading adventure.

Floodlights vs. Spotlights Explained

The difference lies in how effectively the light travels. Typically, the narrower the beam the farther the light travels effectively.


A spotlight is a narrow beam that illuminates objects at a farther distance. The beam from a lighthouse is a perfect example of a spotlight. This is also the perfect form of lighting for most driving situations. The light pattern helps you identify road hazards farther out. This gives you more time to react. Most spotlights produce an angle of light of around 30 degrees. Continue Reading →

What Jeep Owners Need to Know About the Death Wobble

Jeep death wobbleWe often repair and modify Jeep SUVs. The Jeep brand, after all, is a staple among off-road performance vehicles. Some Jeep owners, however, have cautioned other owners to be on the lookout for what they term the Jeep Death Wobble. This is an issue our auto repair crew has addressed on many occasions. We’ll discuss the Death Wobble and what to watch out for.

What Is the Jeep Death Wobble?

The Death Wobble occurs when the front part of the vehicle begins to shake due to a violent oscillation in the front axle. This makes the vehicle hard to control. The wobble occurs when the suspension system looses equilibrium and may be due to a number of reasons, such as:

  • Unbalanced tires—out of balance tires can throw the axle around
  • A loose steering stabilizing bar
  • Worn ball joints—damaged ball joints cause the tires to move independently and laterally of the opposite wheel

The Jeep Death Wobble has especially been noted in the Wrangler, Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee. The wobble has also been observed in non-Jeep models, such as older Dodge and Ford trucks. Continue Reading →

Lift Kits Or Leveling Kits: Which Is Best for Your Pickup Truck?

Lift KitsA raised suspension is to off-road trucks what a lowered suspension is to street performance cars. You have several options, though, if you want to raise your truck. You can raise your car via lift kit or leveling kit. Each has its own purpose, and it depends on your specific needs to determine which style is right for you.

Lift Kit

A lift kit raises the entire truck from front to rear. Lift kits are available in two varieties: body lift and suspension lift.

The Body Lift raises the body of the truck using spacers and blockers; it does not alter the suspension itself. The ground clearance also remains the same, but the increased height allows you to switch to larger tires.

With the Suspension Lift every component of the suspension changes, including the shocks, struts, control arms, and leaf springs. This increases suspension articulation and ground clearance. The additional ground clearance creates a more capable off-road vehicle. Because the truck body is higher off the ground the stability might not remain the same. Driving dynamics may change as well. Continue Reading →

Upgrade Your Manual Car with a Short Throw Shifter

short throw shifterManual cars are becoming a dying breed. Some car purists, though, consider the driving experience incomplete if they’re not driving a stick shift. If you’re among the minority which owns a manual car, you may want to modify it by installing a short throw shifter.

What Is a Short Throw Shifter?

In a manual car, the throw refers to the distance the shifter travels between gears. A short throw shifter reduces that length of travel. This provides smoother and quicker shifting, leading to improved acceleration and deceleration times.

A short throw shifter is a common add-on for street-performance cars driven on racetracks. Reduced shift times mean better lap times, even if only by fractions of a second. Many drivers have also reported tighter and more controlled shifting after making the modifications.

While short throw shifters are most common for sports and race cars, several of our clients have also requested a short throw shifter for their off-road vehicle. After the switch, they have reported a less jerky sensation when shifting gears on rough off-road terrain. Continue Reading →

The Advantages of a Customized Car Exhaust System

Customized Car Exhaust SystemModding a high-performance car has just as much to do with horsepower and torque as it does with aesthetics. Even street performance vehicles don’t usually come with an exhaust system optimized to their limits. This is why many muscle car owners come to our auto service and maintenance crew for a customized car exhaust system. How does having this component upgrade benefit your vehicle?

Why Install a Customized Car Exhaust System?

Simply put, an aftermarket exhaust system optimizes engine performance. It provides a quicker exit pathway for the exhaust gases. This gives the engine more “breathing space.” This allows for more fuel and air to be burned in the engine, creating more power.

Most car owners also appreciate the increased volume of the exhaust note. This is essentially the deepening of the “growl” that acceleration makes. The more aggressive growl is a perfect match for the increased performance. Plus, it draws heads and adds to the coolness factor of your car. Continue Reading →