Author: Jason / Date: August 8, 2022 / Tags: classic cars
(RareCarMarket.com) – When car enthusiasts want better performance, they often go for modifications to increase power output and improve handling and braking. Of course, not all mods are created equal. A Nitrous Oxide System (NOS) is a relatively common street-racer upgrade. But is it as dangerous and deadly as some people say? Here’s what you need to know about it before you add it to your classic.
As the name suggests, a NOS supplies the engine with nitrous oxide (N2O). The oxygen (O2) to nitrogen (N2) ratio in normal air is 1 to 4, or about 20% of the total volume. At 570 ºF, the nitrogen splits from the oxygen in the NOS, providing an O2 to N2 ratio of 1 to 2, or 33% of the total volume — significantly increasing oxygen levels resulting in higher cylinder pressures and a performance boost. NOS, stored as a pressurized liquid, also cools the air intake as it expands to a gas, increasing its density and providing even more O2.
But engines need three things to perform; air, fuel, and a spark. For a car to benefit from NOS, the driver needs to ensure each cylinder also receives a surge of fuel when activated, and the timing of the ignition must be optimal. If not, the air-to-fuel ratio will be off, and the resulting combustion could result in catastrophic damage to the engine, which theoretically could also result in the driver’s death.
NOS has a reputation as one of the most dangerous modifications a person can add to their ride, and movies have played a significant role in adding to that bad rep. But movie magic can be deceiving. The gas itself is non-flammable and won’t ignite on its own, but the pressurized N2O canister could explode if the car is already on fire.
So, is using NOS deadly? The simple answer is yes; it can be. However, it’s typically only dangerous when not properly installed and tuned on a vehicle. Even then, the damage is usually to the car itself, not the driver. The damage to their bank account for a new engine is a different story.
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