Engine & Exhaust / Q&A / Tech

Mailbag: Engine Prep Tips for Nitrous Oxide

You’ve got questions. We’ve got the answers—the Summit Racing tech department tackles your automotive-related conundrums. This week, we’re providing some basic nitrous system guidelines.

J.H. Huntsville, TX

Q: My 1998 3.8L Camaro is pretty fast, but not fast enough! I’ve already added a high lift cam, pistons, and new injectors, plus I plan on getting some cylinder heads and an intake. But before I do these mods, I’d like to know what type of parts I need to run nitrous. What do you suggest? Also, do I need to change my timing?

A: Planning ahead is always the safest bet before stepping up to nitrous. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • +125 horsepower or less: stock, cast, or hypereutectic pistons are safe to run
  • +125-150 horsepower: fuel psi and timing must be adjusted to the specific nitrous kit
  • +150 horsepower or more: forged or hypereutectic pistons are required and the ring end gap must be set to the specific nitrous kit (also adjust fuel psi and timing).

We’ve got a whole library of nitrous tech, including more in-depth tuning recommendations for specific kits. Nitrous is an affordable way to add a lot of power, but it’s very demanding on an engine, so it’s important to run the right parts and make the proper adjustments.


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  1. Steve L Reid says:

    I have a 2012 350 SBC stock crate engine in a 2012 airboat with 123 hours on it. It has a 650 carb.Can I safely do 125 hp shot for about 2 seconds for breaking lose on dry ground on take off? I have talked to some guys and they tell me I could do only about 50 with stock parts. Thanks Steve

    • Generally speaking, stock motors are good up to about 100hp shot intermittently. You say it is a crate motor; which one? Some crate motors are built with stronger internal parts than others depending on the rated horsepower. If it were simply a replacement motor, it should be considered stock and good to about 100 additional horsepower. Remember to pull out 3-4 degrees of total timing and go to a one range colder spark plug so as not to detonate during the nitrous activation.

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