Doing Nitrous

If you like fast cars you undoubtedly have heard about Nitrous Oxide. Nitrous systems are a way to dramatically boost the horsepower of engines.  They are not for standard street cars, however, because they can be dangerous. That being said, enthusiasts still install them on all sorts of cars and if you’ve wondered what they are all about, the service guys at Suburban Chrysler of Garden City, MI, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, told us the whole story.

The old way

Let’s start with traditional methods to increase an engine’s horsepower.  Standard methods usually high performance hardware: things like high compression pistons and modified camshafts. This sort of hardware modification works well but is difficult and expensive.  An alternative method is to install a nitrous oxide system.

How gas engines work

To understand how nitrous systems work, let's quickly review how a gas engine works. To run requires three factors: fuel, air and spark. The engine mixes the air and fuel and ignites it with a spark. This creates an explosion that pushes pistons down their cylinders, turning the crankshaft rapidly and then transferring power downstream to the vehicle wheels.

How Nitrous works

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is what is known as an oxidizer. An oxidizer is a chemical that supplies additional oxygen to a chemical reaction, which is what basically is what engine combustion is all about.  When nitrous oxide is added to the airflow into an engine, an enhanced combustion process occurs which generates considerably more horsepower.

“Wet” and “Dry”

There are two main types of nitrous systems for automotive performance use – “Wet” and “Dry” systems. Wet nitrous systems come with their own special fuel system hardware which allow you to introduce more fuel to your intake charge and increase horsepower. Wet nitrous systems are generally expensive.  Dry nitrous systems, on the other hand, don’t come with special hardware and use your existing fuel system. Dry nitrous systems are generally easier to set up between the two simply because you don’t have the added fuel components to install. Most do-it-yourselfers prefer dry systems because of that feature, and the fact that they are cheaper.


Safety is one concern that should be addressed whenever discussing nitrous systems.  Nitrous systems really aren’t for anything but specialty vehicles. And, as you might imagine, installing a nitrous system will immediately void the manufacturer’s warranty on your car. Another issue is legality. Check your local laws because in some states it is illegal to have nitrous in a street vehicle, in others it’s legal with certain rules. By all means look to see what regulations apply to you before you start ordering  a kit. 

Source: Suburban Chrysler of Garden City, MI