Nitrous in all it’s glory

Nitrous Bottle

Nitrous oxide, a tool famous in the drags for it’s extra boost, used on the streets thanks to Fast & the Furious and affordable thanks to the USA. Now Nitrous oxide, if Google’d will show up with all kinds of “sciency-stuff”. Well guess what fellas? It is! Most of the technology we use in cars are created & engineered by those geeks we bully in high school, who never get the girl (there are exceptions of course). It was first used for Air Crafts back in WWII.



Now, what is NOS? Most non-American people might never even see it (other than in the movies), NOS is basically a way to force the engine to allow a better air/fuel mixture into each cylinder, there are many kinds of Nitrous Oxide (n2o) systems but we’ll get into that later. If you would like to get scientific even Wikipedia is enough to help you out.


Here’s what a 3200 shot of nitrous oxide (from NX – Nitrous Express) looks like!


Now let’s clear up some myths.

  • Does NOS create flames out of your exhaust?
    In rare cases, and maybe if you aren’t using a WOT switch with your nitrous systems yes it could probably cause backfire, but not what you see in Need For Speed or Fast & the Furious etc..
  • Is it bad for my engine?
    In reality most high performance motors are designed to take a hit from time-to-time and not constantly (let’s exclude Rotaries for now). In reality, anything that makes your car faster causes damage but if you mean will NOS blow my engine, you will need to review and get some more information as this is a very sensitive topic, If you have a Honda n/a, get yourself a 50 shot and you’ll be fine, anything above gets you into the “risky zone”.(We at Scream Garage have tested a 100 Shot on the CRX Del Sol and it was quite fine, didn’t take any damage – but keeping in mind that we tested this on a car that had just been completely rebuilt). – After a year and once a week hitting it hard, it blew the gearbox and that wasn’t because of the NOS.
  • How much is this going to set me back? Is it worth it?
    This really depends on your country, if you’re in America it’s roughly $500 – 2,000. Just do it, it’s cheaper than a Turbo and easier to remove. If you’re in Australia, unless it’s a drag car, it’s completely useless and not worth the cash – you’re looking at $1,500 – 2,500 (based on online research), and it’s quite hard to find a refill, most of the performance workshops aren’t actually allowed to sell it and install it for street use. As for people in the United Kingdom, luckily you guys have a very strong currency (March, 2014), as a result turbo and supercharger kits are actually worth saving up for as it’s much less and cost just a little over Nitrous Oxide systems.


Before buying Nitrous Oxide you really need to consider many things, is your car stock? Do you need a wet or dry shot? Do you want to go fast or do you want to fly? Here are basics simplified and summed up for everyone to understand.

  • Dry shot – when nitrous is injected through the air intake (sometimes the tube, and in some cases through the intake manifold). It often gives the least power and is the most dangerous, but of course is the cheapest. – Low-end kits usually don’t need any kind of modules to function, but high-end kits often come with piggybacks etc.
  • Wet shot – when both fuel and air are injected into the engine simultaneously, this often requires some kind of piggyback (ECU component) which is usually included in the kit. This is the safest and most common setup (We have personally tested this “NOS” branded system and it was perfect and really did include everything, for both safety and maximum power).
  • 50 shot, 70 shot etc. What are these? Nitrous is basically calculated using horsepower, a 50 shot kit will give you up to 50 more horsepower, a 70 shot will give you seventy more horsepower etc.


Here’s a good video, quickly explaining (with animation) how direct port injection works.


Overall Nitrous Oxide is great! It’s cheap and gives you quite a bang for your buck! – It’s not too hard to install and certainly not a “bitch” to remove. It’s fun and is quite universal (so quite good if you switch rides quite often). If you live in a European country, in all honesty it isn’t really worth it (on a count of it’s price), It is the same in Australia & NZ, unless you have some kind of connection for a refill it’s better to just save for something else. They seem to have a much better effect on motors with a lot of displacement (3.0L V6 and above are much more suitable), hence why most V8 muscle cars use them. Before getting this you must keep in mind, this doesn’t really help your launch, it is injected as you go, and bouncing off a 2-step can cause several issues, so if you have 2-step be sure to tell your installer to set it up right (this will require a WOT switch).


VTEC works fine with Nitrous, but aim low as they have high compression and are temperamental from stock. I wouldn’t exceed a 70 shot to be honest, depending on the state of the engine, however we did test a 100 shot with a B16A2 and it was running fine, but of course it is somewhat a matter of luck.


Here’s a B16 going crazy with (apparently) a few bolt-ons and a 75 shot of nitrous.


If you have a carburetor (carby) motor, I don’t recommend it as you can’t really tune much there and it’s very sluggish, you get a fair share of pops and shots, it’s also a pain to get working right. However (not speaking from experience) big block carby motors do seem to really show results, if you look on the forums many people are quite happy with the results but there are those few who have complained.