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Nitrous Oxide in Cars: Everything You Need to Know

Nitrous oxide in cars has always been popular as an inexpensive performance booster. Racers have used it for better performance since the early hot-rod days in the 1950s. If you love to speed up on the highway and are a fan of The Fast and Furious movies, you might be thinking of adding some nitrous in your car. Keep reading to know what it is and how it can increase your car’s performance.

Nitrous for Car: What Is It?

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless non-flammable gas. Adding it to your car means injecting oxygen into the engine along with extra fuel. It increases the pressure in the combustion chamber and thereby helps the car to achieve a higher speed. 

Oxygen breaks free at 570 degrees of Fahrenheit and adds to the combustion process. Nitrous oxide systems for cars work by using this principle. Adding this gas to the engine means adding extra oxygen. It breaks free at a high temperature and allows a great amount of fuel to be transformed into energy, leading the engine to yield more power.

nitrous for car
Nitrous oxide boosts a car’s speed.

Due to nitrous oxide’s liquid form in the engine, it evaporates in the intake manifold, which reduces the temperature in the intake charge. This cooling process helps to lower detonation and boost engine power output.

Some of you might have been thinking of adding pure oxygen to the fuel tank. Well, oxygen is highly flammable. Nitrous oxide is a safer option as it’s unlikely to explode at room temperature and under pressure.

Is Nitrous Legal in Cars?

Yes. Some countries may have a few additional rules or declared it illegal in some specific regions, but injecting nitrous oxide in cars is pretty much legal everywhere. For example, it’s illegal in Australia’s New South Wales but legal in the United Kingdom as long as you disclose the modification to the insurance company. Germany also makes it legal, even for street driven vehicles.

Nitrous oxide in cars is legal in the United States too. However, some states, such as California, have unique rules regarding such modifications. This performance booster is allowed in Formula Drift competitions but not in some classes in drag racing.

How Much HP Can Nitrous Add?

If you have decided to add nitrous to your car, you may want to know how much speed it can increase. This gas indeed brings amazing results. For example, you can add 100 to 200 horsepower to your engine by spending less than $500.

However, you have to follow some rules to get the desired result. The key here is to choose the correct horsepower for an engine. For example, a 4-cycle unit can handle another 40 to 60 horsepower, while a 6-cycle unit can take an extra 75 to 200 horsepower. So, every stock engine has a capacity regarding how much extra power it can deliver. You have to add a nitrous oxide kit (NOS kit) that is compatible with your vehicle’s engine.

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How to Use Nitrous Oxide in Cars

The only way to add nitrous oxide in a car is to use a nitrous kit. An average kit has these following parts:

  • A compressed bottle of nitrous
  • Fuel and nitrous jets
  • High-pressure plumbing lines
  • Electrical connectors
  • Solenoids
  • Several switches
  • Wiring
  • Mounting brackets
  • Necessary hardware
  • An instruction manual

It sounds like a complete kit with all the parts, but no aftermarket kit is 100% complete. You have to purchase some extra components for a secure installation. 

There are some complete kits, but they are made for some specific high-performance cars, such as a Mustang GT. However, you still may need to buy some small hardware parts like adaptors or electrical connectors.

Follow the user manual and mount the nitrous bottle securely in its designated place under the boot. Be particularly careful in this step because the bottle can explode if it gets knocked out. 

nitrous oxide systems for cars
Mount the nitrous kit carefully.

Beware of These Warnings

You might have already decided to go for the holy grail to have a sudden burst of speed on the road. Great! But nitrous oxide is not something to mess up with. You have to handle it carefully to avoid any possible accident.

Make sure the engine is compatible. Nitrous oxide can generate a high amount of power that can put a vehicle in under immense stress and strain. The engine has to be strong enough to handle that extra power. 

Don’t go for excessive NOS-ing. Using more nitrous oxide than the engine can handle will cause damaging effects to various components, such as clutch and gearbox. One way to ensure the safety is to spend on a nitrous gauge so you can know how much gas is getting distributed.

Be careful of the tires. Like other engine components, tires and wheels are also rated for certain pressure and speed. If you modify those variables, you should check if the tires are compatible with the new speed.