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Engine Reflash

A few hundred dollars spent on electronic tuning can give the same power that thousands of dollars in engine parts might buy.

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In the old days of automobiles, adding more horsepower to a car meant hours or even days of work under the hood, carefully installing new parts and making sure everything works right. Not anymore! Now, more power and torque can be added to just about any engine by modifying the engine computer, or ECU, in some way.

Electronic engine tuning often involves adjusting factors like the air/fuel ratio, throttle response, RPM redlines, shifting points on automatic transmissions and even boost pressure from turbochargers.

One of the most popular engine tuning companies is APR, which specializes in Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, particularly ones with turbocharged engines. For example, APR says one of their reflashes can add about 20 horsepower and 50 pound-feet of torque to an Audi A4 sedan with the 2.0-liter engine. A few hundred dollars spent on electronic tuning can give the same power that thousands of dollars in engine parts might buy [source: APR].

Many companies offer electronic tunes for different vehicles, so shop around to see what's offered for your guy's ride. Some of them are done at a dealer, while others work through a device that plugs into the engine directly.

In the next section, we'll look at a great and inexpensive way to add streaming video to your TV.

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