Performance modifications on modern cars are so different from the cars I played with in the past. You can still improve handling with different springs and sway bars, but engine and transmission tweaks rely more on technology than a turn of the screwdriver. That fact doesn’t make it bad, just different.
Gone are the days when you flipped over the air cleaner lid and changed the jets in the carburetor. Tuning today’s cars require a computer programming degree, or a reputable company that does the work for you.
First Step: Identify the Issue
Since buying my Camaro two months ago, I’ve been getting to know the car and the opportunities for improvement. Overall, I am really pleased with the engine performance and chassis dynamics. Acceleration from a dead stop could be better. Once the car is rolling, the turbo takes over and is rather thrilling to experience.
The initial application of the throttle has a slight lag before engine speed increases. The “gas pedal” in most cars now are electronic throttle controllers, so there is no mechanical linkage from the pedal to the carburetor/throttle body. It is essentially a switch that sends a signal to the ECU (electronic control unit or engine control unit). My guess is the programmed throttle lag is a way for the manufacturers to build in a buffer to protect inexperienced drivers.
Sadly, it gives you the impression that the engine lacks power at low speeds.
Luckily, the aftermarket addresses this performance shortcoming. In fact, there are many companies that offer a product to improve throttle response. The solution is to introduce a module that fits between the gas pedal and the ECU. This module modifies the signal input to the ECU, allowing the user to change the sensitivity of the pedal.
After some research, I found several throttle controllers on the market. They include names like Pedal Commander, Hike It, PedalMonster and Roar Pedal. They range in price from $159 – 300, and offer everything from a rotary tuning dial to a smartphone app to change pedal sensitivity.
Based on a combination of product reviews and price, I chose the Roar Pedal (bluetooth model) for $159. I ordered it directly from the company and it arrived within days. It came with a 30 day full refund option and a 3 year all-inclusive warranty.
Installation could not be easier. You unplug the original cable connection at the accelerator pedal, then plug the Roar Pedal module into the pedal’s connector. The vehicle’s throttle wire is then plugged into the Roar Pedal module, and the wires tuck under the carpet to keep them out of harm’s way.
In the picture above, I removed the pedal assembly to get better access to the connector. It isn’t necessary to do so, but it makes for great pictures! You may be surprised that your accelerator is only secured to the floor with one 10mm bolt and a slot at the base of the assembly.
My thumb is on the connector at the pedal assembly where the Roar Pedal is inserted. My finger is resting against the connector where the vehicle’s original throttle wire is plugged into the Roar Pedal harness.
The Roar Pedal has five modes and nine levels within each mode. The Sport mode is supposed to duplicate the 1:1 pedal feel of the old cable-actuated carbureted cars. At this level, the initial pedal lag is eliminated. My car is a different animal even in this mode. I tried Sport+ and found it was really responsive! Race mode is crazy, and better suited for track days.
Over the course of the past week, I found the Sport mode at level 4 was ideal. If I feel more spirited, I switch to Sport+. Either way, I can change the personality of my car to match mine at the time. The mobile app control is easy to manage and allows great flexibility.
This is one performance modification I recommend for any vehicle. It is truly the best bang for your buck.
Check the Roar Pedal website to see if your car is listed.
Final Thoughts & Questions
The beauty of aftermarket throttle controllers is that no mechanical changes to the engine are made, nor is the ECU reprogrammed to force different fuel and turbo boost. Nothing about the controller will void the vehicle’s warranty, and can be removed if you are paranoid about your dealer finding it during a service visit.
Want to learn more about me? Go to this article: Who’s Your Nanny?