car dashboard meters. automotive concept.

How does gasoline make a car go? How does the energy created in the engine make the wheels move? Why are some vehicles faster than others? If you’ve ever wondered about these things, South Orem car repair team members have the answers.

Converting Energy

Movement is about converting and transferring energy. Whether it’s a human, a car, or just a rock rolling down a hill, many of the same concepts are at work.

For a vehicle, an internal combustion engine is used to generate heat. That heat energy is converted into mechanical energy, also known as torque. Torque turns the wheels of a vehicle, creating motion.

What Makes a Car go Fast

A combination of components dictates whether a car is built for speed or not. So what is behind the science and mechanics of speed?


The engine is responsible for generating power for a vehicle. An engine with efficient fuel intake, more cylinders, or a larger size often has the ability to go faster. 

Power Train

The power train transfers energy from the engine to the axle that turns the wheels. The more efficiently the power train can reduce friction, the more power will be transferred to the wheels, allowing them to rotate faster and propel the vehicle with greater speed.


The lighter a car, the more potential it has to go faster.


In addition to the weight of the car affecting its speed, the shape also plays a part. Vehicle bodies are designed to decrease drag in order to increase speed.

If all cars are manufactured with these elements in mind, what makes some cars faster than others?

What Slows Down a Car

No, we’re not talking about the braking system. If you’re wondering why some cars are more sluggish than others, there’s probably a scientific or mechanical reason for that.

Number of Engine Cylinders

A small engine doesn’t always mean a less powerful one. The power an engine generates is related to how many cylinders it has. The fewer cylinders, the slower the car may drive. Cylinder placement can also be a factor, with some in-line in the engine while others are V-shaped.

Engine Timing

All the moving parts of an engine must be perfectly timed for optimal performance. When pistons, valves, and vents are synchronized, torque and horsepower can be maximized.

Clogged Fuel Filter

You might have the best car there is, but if you’re not taking care of it your speed suffers. A clogged fuel filter can no longer prevent particles from getting into the vehicle’s fuel system; as a result, the fuel pump is overworked because it’s unable to get intake fuel without obstructions.

Worn Clutch

Whether you drive an automatic or manual transmission, if the clutch is wearing out, it’s harder for your vehicle to change gears and stay in them. With that hindrance, your engine can’t maintain speed as efficiently, slowing you down.

Exhaust Problems

Any problems in the exhaust system can slow down a vehicle. If fumes and gases aren’t being properly vented from the engine, it can’t work as efficiently. A leak in the exhaust lines or a clog in the catalytic converter can negatively affect speed potential.

Master Muffler can help with aftermarket customizations that can increase speed, including superchargers, electronic fuel injectors, and better tires.

After Market Upgrades

Want a way to increase speed without a complete engine overhaul or replacement? 


Also known as superchargers or turbochargers, blowers help increase the amount of air in the combustion process. More air and fuel means stronger combustion, and more power generated in the engine. If a new, bigger engine isn’t in the budget, installing a blower is a budget-friendly alternative for getting more speed out of your vehicle.

Fuel Injector

In addition to increasing how much air is used in combustion, a more efficient fuel injector can also satisfy your need for speed. Electronic fuel injectors can precisely regulate the amount of fuel used in combustion, improving engine performance.


Have you heard of sticky tires? This type of performance tire has been proven to help race cars improve their speed around the track. With sticky tires, you’ll not only increase speed but your car’s handling as well.

Fast Cars with Small Engines

In our South Orem car repair shop, we see a lot of little cars that pack a punch. Prior to a 2021 survey, the Honda Civic was the most popular vehicle in the state of Utah. Depending on the model, you can enjoy anywhere from 158 to 306 horsepower and 138 to 295 lb-feet of torque in a Civic. 

Other small cars known for being fast:

  • 2021 Volkswagen GLI (Jetta sport)
  • 2021 Mini Cooper JCW
  • 2021 Subaru WRX
  • 2021 Hyundai Veloster N
  • 2021 Kia Stinger GT
  • 2021 BMW 230i

Automotive technology allows us to alter the size of car engines without compromising performance. Plus, a smaller engine contributes less weight to the car, giving it another boost when it comes to speed potential.

Whatever you’re driving, let our South Orem car repair team know how we can help keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. Contact us HERE today.

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