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Hi everyone, I recently became the owner of a 2002 Suzuki Esteem GL with the 1.8 I4 5 speed manual. I was wondering what are some modifications that add a decent amount of power? I've already got a 2.5" exhaust on the shopping list, as well as a k&n panel filter to start with. I feel as though these cars have a ton of potential seeing as they are so light, and I want to see if I can reach some of that potential.
 

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If you do a search in this forum you will find a thread where someone installed an engine from an Aerio for increased power.
There are little mods discussed here, it is mainly about repairs and troubleshooting.
Welcome to the forum and good luck with your pursuits.
 

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Try searching for information on the 1.8 Baleno - the Esteem was the name of the car in North America where it was not really considered as a "performance" car.

Be aware however, that there will be differences between the 1.8 Baleno & the 1.8 Esteem as the Esteem would have had to meet North American emission regulations, and the Baleno would not.
 

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In all the years that I have been on this forum I've never really heard of anyone trying to do any serious upgrades to the engine to give it more horse power, personally I think the 122 stock horse power that it came with is more than enough for the weight of the car.

I think no one is really doing anything because in most places the car still has to pass DEQ requirements to remain on the road, and the engine computer will only let you get away with so much before the Check Engine light comes on.

And the 1.8 isn't like a Chevy Small Block where there are a million options for whatever you want to bolt onto it.

One of the first things that I usually mention when someone thinks that their car is under powered is what do you normally carry in the back seat and in the trunk? Do you have an extra 400-600 pounds of crap in the car that you never use but don't know what to do with?

Get it out of there and then go for a drive again, you might be really surprised.

With all of that being said...

The first place that I would start is with the exhaust system, its kind of noticeable that the size of the intake hole on the front of the throttle body and the size of the exhaust pipe coming out of the muffler are nowhere near the same size, I'd go maybe a 1/4 inch bigger and see where you end up power wise, a better flowing muffler will help as well.

One thing that you have going in your favor is that the 1.8 is a flow though engine so the gases in the /intake/cylinder/exhaust ports/ is always going in the same direction and not getting backed up trying to make a U-turn and polluting the next intake charge.

There really isn't a lot that you can do to the intake manifold aside from maybe polish and match up the ports for a smoother air flow transition from the intake manifold into the head, same with the intake side of the head smooth things out and try to make them match up better.

The head is pretty crowded and the valves are really close to the edge of the pocket that they are in, I doubt you could put bigger valves in but one age old trick for getting a little more compression is putting on a thinner head gasket, although you need to be careful about not banging the valves and pistons together.

If you did away with the catalytic converter you might be able to put some headers on the exhaust side of it, although technically that is illegal.

The air cleaner is really the only thing left which there are plenty of after market options for that.
 

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In all the years that I have been on this forum I've never really heard of anyone trying to do any serious upgrades to the engine to give it more horse power, personally I think the 122 stock horse power that it came with is more than enough for the weight of the car.

I think no one is really doing anything because in most places the car still has to pass DEQ requirements to remain on the road, and the engine computer will only let you get away with so much before the Check Engine light comes on.

And the 1.8 isn't like a Chevy Small Block where there are a million options for whatever you want to bolt onto it.

One of the first things that I usually mention when someone thinks that their car is under powered is what do you normally carry in the back seat and in the trunk? Do you have an extra 400-600 pounds of crap in the car that you never use but don't know what to do with?

Get it out of there and then go for a drive again, you might be really surprised.

With all of that being said...

The first place that I would start is with the exhaust system, its kind of noticeable that the size of the intake hole on the front of the throttle body and the size of the exhaust pipe coming out of the muffler are nowhere near the same size, I'd go maybe a 1/4 inch bigger and see where you end up power wise, a better flowing muffler will help as well.

One thing that you have going in your favor is that the 1.8 is a flow though engine so the gases in the /intake/cylinder/exhaust ports/ is always going in the same direction and not getting backed up trying to make a U-turn and polluting the next intake charge.

There really isn't a lot that you can do to the intake manifold aside from maybe polish and match up the ports for a smoother air flow transition from the intake manifold into the head, same with the intake side of the head smooth things out and try to make them match up better.

The head is pretty crowded and the valves are really close to the edge of the pocket that they are in, I doubt you could put bigger valves in but one age old trick for getting a little more compression is putting on a thinner head gasket, although you need to be careful about not banging the valves and pistons together.

If you did away with the catalytic converter you might be able to put some headers on the exhaust side of it, although technically that is illegal.

The air cleaner is really the only thing left which there are plenty of after market options for that.

Luckily I live in a small rural area with lax emission laws (no inspection) so no worries on that end. I only keep a small car air compressor (maybe a pound) and a first aid kit in the back (I'm a neat freak auto detailer). As for the head gasket, it had a new mls gasket installed about 20k miles ago so I don't want to mess with that. Intake was polished and matched last week with minimal results (maybe a 1hp gain). I'm working on getting a 2 1/4 inch manifold back exhaust (going from 1 3/4 inch) in order to install a flowmaster 2 chamber I have sitting around.

Another question would be what all engines have a bolt pattern similar to the J18A? I've searched but haven't really found anything. I've looked into the j20 Vitara engine but that only has an additional 5 hp.
 

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Luckily I live in a small rural area with lax emission laws (no inspection) so no worries on that end. I only keep a small car air compressor (maybe a pound) and a first aid kit in the back (I'm a neat freak auto detailer). As for the head gasket, it had a new mls gasket installed about 20k miles ago so I don't want to mess with that. Intake was polished and matched last week with minimal results (maybe a 1hp gain). I'm working on getting a 2 1/4 inch manifold back exhaust (going from 1 3/4 inch) in order to install a flowmaster 2 chamber I have sitting around.

Another question would be what all engines have a bolt pattern similar to the J18A? I've searched but haven't really found anything. I've looked into the j20 Vitara engine but that only has an additional 5 hp.
Well... if you are not worried about emissions requirements...

The thinner head gasket... probably not really worth anyone's time for the extremely small compression gain, you would have to run the math on it to see where you would even end up, but on an engine as complicated as the 1.8 its not something I would even bother with compared to like an early 1970's Chevy Small Block.

A long time ago I had a '68 Chevy Impala with a 327cid/5.3 liter engine, it STILL had the factory single exhaust on it when I bought it and when you floored the gas pedal it was really obvious that the engine was not happy, it spent all day in the exhaust shop and had 2-1/4" dual exhaust and glass-packs put on it from the exhaust manifolds clear to the back of the car.

Even still up on the lift in the shop it was obvious that the engine was a lot happier and back on the road the V8 engine would push you into your seat now and tore off down the street like a banshee.

The 1.8 engine = about 110cid, and half of a 327 (four cylinders) is about 164cid so there is definitely plenty of flow capacity there for the 1.8 but I'm kind of worried that 2-1/4" might be too big of a pipe and its going to affect the engine's back pressure and give you idle and stalling problems and a 2.0" pipe might be a better option.

I could be wrong and ultimately its up to you though, but I'd talk to a local exhaust shop and get their recommendations before you spend the money on it.

Its also going to need a hole for the first O2 sensor for the engine to run right, but without the cat' you won't need the second sensor, and I would just take the "Check Engine" light bulb on the dash out of its socket so that it isn't on all the time annoying you.

Headers... one trick an old mechanic told me is spray paint them with cheap spray paint and then once its dry install them and then fire up the engine, eventually the heat will burn the paint off the headers and right where the burnt paint ends start wrapping the headers in heat wrap tape back up to the head(s) and it will give you more horse power.

Regarding the "what all engines have a bolt pattern similar to the J18A" question my answer is that I don't know, but unless you are dealing with a Go-Cart or a small motorcycle 5 horse power isn't worth anyone's time.
 
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