Great! You bought a Regal GS, GSE, or GSX! Good Choice. Let's talk now about a few of the basics. We have a couple of major things that we need to go fast, we need fuel, and we need air, and we DON'T need heat. That is Modding for speed in a nutshell. What we will talk about will get us better fuel usage, more air, and less heat. With that said we will see major gains in HP at the wheels.
Let's Start with Air. For GM HP is not the main concern on our cars. They are designed to be quiet, and efficient with no real emphasis on sound or performance. That is a problem for us though because as we mod we need to get this car as much fresh, cool air as possible. Colder Air is denser Air. Denser Air = more Horsepower. We have a few options to consider when making a change to our car's air intake setup. They really depend on how handy you are, and how much cash you want to fork out! Before you jump into this next mod, a thing to note is that your car will no longer sound like a pussy grandpa car, it will have a distinct "whine" that will be quite a bit louder on the outside, and noticeable on the inside cabin.
Here are some options:
1.) Gut the standard Air box and use a drop in K&N Panel Filter
This is the cheapest and easiest thing to do. I will not go into nauseating details here, that is what the “SEARCH” button is for on the National Site. Total cost breaks down like this:
Labor—FREE You do it yourself
Filter— $35.00 K&N Panel
Difficulty—3/10 (In my opinion)
2.) Go with an aftermarket setup.
This is probably the most expensive, but also the most “stock looking” fit. Personally I think that the "do it yourself" mods are much more satisfying, and unless you have a pretty thick wallet are a better choice.
Labor — Free You do it yourself
Hardware, which includes the box, the clamps, and a K&N Cone filter will run between $199.00 and $250.00. Yikes in my book….
3.) Create your own FWI / CAI
This is BY-FAR the best alternative. Although it may take a couple of tries to get it perfect, this is the best way to make a CAI or FWI for the least amount of cash, with the most amount of satisfaction and performance.
Labor—FREE You do it yourself
Parts—Depends on FWI or CAI. Roughly $50.00 either way
Here are some “Pre-Searched” links for you to start with:
OK...enough to get you started on the Airbox.
Lets move on to fuel consumption and heat. Although the Air Intake mode also addresses heat, this portion will attack it as well.
Plugs & Wires
Because of the heat generated by the air being compressed by the supercharger, we are very prone to KR. 99% of us actually spend more on combating KR than on implementing new go fast parts and modifications. Part of reducing KR is to reduce heat. Platinum and Iridium plugs look cool, and cost WAY too much, and on top of that they do not dissipate heat at any rate that could be considered “fast”. Copper on the other hand does. That is the Upside of copper. The DOWNside of copper is that it does not last very long, and the plugs will need to be changed more rapidly. Most of the 3800 series owners will recommend the Autolite 104 model plugs. They are less than a buck each, and provide 2 ranges colder than stock rating. Your brand is your decision, personally I like NGK, but many do not. Consensus wise, the Autolite 104’s are the best bang for the buck.
Changing the front three plugs is a breeze! 5 minutes with a minimum of tools and you are all done right? NOPE. The next most asked question by Newbies is “How the hell do I change the back plugs?” Well, it is very easy actually, just a bit intimidating at first.
There are two motor mounts in the front of the car which are called Dog-Bones. Remove them and then follow any of the methods below:
1.) Use a ratchet strap (I call it a come-a-long) and attach one end in the back motor bracket, the other to the frame of the car in front by the Airbox and simply ratchet it down until you can reach the plugs.
2.) Have some one in the drivers seat. Push the car forward and back while in park and when the motor comes forward enough, yell at them to hit the E-Brake.
3.) Go to an APS and buy the designed tool for $50.00. <—— Not me man…
Almost EVERYONE will tell you that if you are going to change the wires, get GM OEM Replacements!!! Do NOT get any aftermarket brand, as again in the majority of cases they are not as good and will fail much earlier. I personally use Taylor Spiro Pro 8mm and have had two sets go bad in 1 year...at 100 per set, I am not happy.
OK, there is Plugs and Wires! You are well on the way.
Moving on now, lets talk about the temperature of your coolant… Chances are that you have a standard 195* thermostat right? Yep, thought so. Get rid of it. This mod is SUPER easy and just as inexpensive. Hit one of the links on the vendor page, and get yourself a 180* thermostat. Drill a single 1/8” hole in the outer ring and replace the 195 in the car. DONE!! This mod is a very cheap and easy mods that can kill some KR. This not only keeps the car running cooler, but because it is drilled, coolant is always flowing. Here on the east coast I worry about the motor heating up to 195* and all of a sudden hot coolant being dumped into a cold motor when the thermostat opens up. This addresses that problem.
Lets talk exhaust for a minute now. We know that we now have made it easier for the engine to breath and have added plugs and wires to make it fire more efficiently right? So what now happened is that we need to get the exhaust out just as fast with as little restriction as possible.
U-bend / Down Pipe and Resonator
The idiots at GM decided that to make the O2 sensor safer, they would put a “Ubend” in the exhaust. Climb under your car, and find the cat. See that ugly “U” shaped piece? It HAS TO GO! Along with it is the long tube shaped resonator, which when removed will add a VERY LITTLE more sound to the car. The DP must also be replaced, as the U-bend and the DP are the two major constrictions in the exhaust flow. Unless you have a welder and some cutting equipment, this will need to be done at any local exhaust shop. Explain to them that you want the U-bend removed and replaced with a standard pipe, and make sure that the measure the distance of the O2 so that they can weld in the bung for it into the new pipe in the right spot. If it is off, you may get an ses. The DP is an entirely different animal. You will need to purchase on from someone on the vendor page and then have it installed. I have not seen any local shops who are willing to fabricate one for you. The Dp is upwards of $100.00 and the U-bend replacement averages $70.00— $100.00 as well. These mods are VERY IMPORTANT—don’t put them at the end of the list of to-do’s! Without making these modifications, don't bother going any further.
There are many different "retail" setups that can be purchased for around 600.00 plus install, or you can visit a local muffler shop and have one built for somewhat less. By the time this is coming up, you have already opened up the front of the exhaust, and now it is time for the rest. The pipe from the cat to the "S" pipe is pretty small, and most people replace this with a 2.5" or 3" setup.
Depending on the intent of your mods, this is definitely one you need to consider. When I dropped the stock muffler, I gained 2 tenths instantly. There are many different mufflers out there in a variety of configurations that are from very loud drone to very acceptable, and it is all personal preference.
O2 Sensor Simulator
Now that you have removed the U-bend and DP many of our cars will throw an SES code for the Rear O2 sensor...Don't panic. Go to the vendor pages and get an O2 Simulator. It is a pretty cheap part and will plug in where the rear O2 sensor does. If you are running OK with no SES for more than a couple of weeks without it, Good for you, you can skip this one.
Scanner / Tuner
We will again touch on this later in the guide, but by now you have all of the basic mods you need to get some decent power from your Regal. You have to make a choice now. Either you are done modding, or you are not. If you are not then you need to make another major purchase. There are many scanners out there, and a couple of tuners too. Scanners like the LS1M and the Autotap are VERY good and highly regarded. The scanner is the cheaper of the two options but is limited in what it can really do for you. If you want to "see" what is going on, and capture data as well as reset SES's and your intention is to do just a couple more mods, then this is the option for you. If you plan on going further and getting serious, please take the time to research both of the tuner options out there. There is a DHP Power Tuner, and the HP Tuners Tuner. Both have their fans and critics, and that is important to keep in mind as many of the forums we visit are sponsored by either company! With a tuner you can not only "see" and capture the data as well as clear an SES you can actually make programming changes to the PCM. It is a bit of a challenge at first, but the satisfaction of seeing 18 - 20* of timing with NO KR is worth the learning curve!
I cannot stress enough that this is the point where you need to make this decision. Going on without a scanner or tuner to the more advanced mods will more than likely get you a popped piston or even worse. Heed the warning and do your research! Here are the links for the scanners and tuners.
Autotap Scanner: http://www.autotap.com/
LS1M Scanner: http://ls1m.com/
DHP Power Tuner: http://18.104.22.168/home_index.htm
HP Tuners: http://www.hptuners.com/
DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS NEXT MODIFICATION WITHOUT ALL OF THE ABOVE ONES FIRST
The Supercharger comes stock with a 3.8” pulley. That is the size that was able to pass testing standards at GM. We are going to change that and add between 30 and 40 HP to your car.
Go to any of the sites on the vendor page and get yourself a new pulley. You need a 3.4” pulley—NO SMALLER (at least not with these mods) . If you plan on modding further, than get a MPS. DO NOT get anything smaller with this level of mods or you will , and I mean WILL pop a piston. This is absolutely NO JOKE, and as you read through the site, you will see that others have not heeded the warning and have paid DEARLY!
Along with getting the pulley, you will need to either purchase, rent or borrow a pulley puller. DO NOT even bother trying to use a gear puller, or you will be paying two thousand for a new supercharger. This puller is a specifically designed tool for our cars. Buying it is kind of cool so you always have one, but in my opinion, renting is better, and borrowing is best! Buying a puller will run between $100—$150, renting is $35—$50 and borrowing is FREE!!! Check the board and see if any members are close to you. Get to know them and become friends—they are your best resource to adding new mods for as cheap as possible.
Installing the new pulley requires two people. If you want to waste your time and try it alone, go ahead. You will brake the studs that come with it and have to get more. I recommend getting someone to help you who has already done this before. Install time is < 1 hour if it all goes OK. You will need a large set of wrenches too, as the size is not included in a regular set of tools.
Go for a drive and see what it feels like….you like it don’t you?
OK. Next Mod should be a standard mod, but a lot of the guys still do not see it that way, so this is my opinion only.
PCM / Tuner
The PCM is the brain in your car. However when you start to mod, the brain goes brain – dead! You need to get it "flashed" with a new brain, or replace the brain with settings designed for your mods. What you have done to this point requires ALL of the preceding mods done before it you can go with either a DHP pcm or an Intense Standard pcm.
These are two companies who will sell you a new pre-programmed PCM. The PCM will have different "code" in it to enhance fuel and spark, and hundreds of other options.
With the PCM - there is another option to explore if you are planning on modding more that what we have talked about. That option is to buy a Tuner instead of a new PCM. A tuner will allow you to make changes to your existing PCM at will. The cost is somewhat higher, but if you are going to continue to mod, you may as well go this route.
Installation is super easy and will again take less than 1 hour of your time. Some companies charge a core fee which is returned to you after you install the new PCM and return the old one to them. Pricing will range from $99.00 to $199.99 depending on what you decide.
Still not done?
There are a multitude of Mods that go into what we would describe as "heavily mods". Some of the option are Inter-cooling, Cam upgrades, Porting work on heads and the M90, S/C upgrade to Gen V, and on and on.... With these mods also comes cost and the need for a much higher degree of knowledge about the internal workings of our engines. Also keep in mind, that the heavier mods also produce a lot more stress on the vehicle, in particular the Transmission. That component id the single biggest point of failure to watch for. You should consider upgrading or replacing the transmission and axles to prevent major damage to you and the vehicle. Too often have we seen people doing 360's down the track with a broken axle, or blowing a Tranny because of 10K in mods, except for the trans. Also keep in mind when doing the Tranny work that the torque converter and the differential will need to be upgraded as well to get maximum performance and stability.
Well if you are this far you have more than likely made a lot of progress in learning about your regal, and probably have well over a 100 posts in the forums at RegalGS. These mods are pretty much everything you need to get to the level of "mild" Modded status. There are many many many more mods that you can do depending on your level of expertise and the cash flow. I hope this small guide has been helpful to you. Thanks for taking the time to read it!