A good water/methanol injection kit consists of more than just a pump, container and some sort of on/off switch. The method by which the water or methanol is injected will significantly impact engine performance. Snow Performance's Boost Cooler takes this into account. We recently had the opportunity to test Snow's Boost Cooler on two vehicles: Project Integra and a mildly modified EVO VIII. Both vehicles already have AEM EMS systems and near-stock internals. What does this mean? It means both cars have the means to produce some serious power, but with stock internals, neither has any room for error. Snow's Boost Cooler kit is fairly simple. Its major components consist of a 150psi pump, a controller and a reservoir. Various fittings, electrical parts and specially designed nozzles are also packaged in the kit. The nozzles are important and can make or break an otherwise decent injection system as they determine the spray pattern the fluid will take. The nozzles included with the Boost Cooler kit are designed to spin the fluid supersonically and feature a venturi-shaped orifice that improves atomization. A high-flow pump is also important. In order to atomize properly and not puddle up in the intake manifold, the methanol mixture needs to be injected with at least 50psi behind it. Less pressure will result in decreased cooling since the liquid mixture remains confined to smaller areas unlike when it's spread apart through proper atomization. Snow's kit relies on boost pressure to determine the proper amount and when the water/methanol enters the intake stream. The kit's digital variable controller can be programmed to proportionally add fluid according to the rate of boost increase. This ensures the mixture won't be wasted under part-throttle and low boost conditions that don't need these same anti-detonation measures.

On both of our test vehicles we took advantage of the ability to increase ignition timing; that's how we were able to get the power increases we did. Honda's B18C1 already has fairly high base ignition timing and a rather aggressive curve suited for the naturally aspirated mill that it is. Even so, with the Boost Cooler activated we were able to put an additional eight degrees of total ignition timing on top of our previous, more conservative tune and lean out the air/fuel mixture slightly at the same time without any indication of knocking. This translated into seven percent more horsepower and five percent more torque upwards of the 4,000-rpm zone. This newfound torque was especially noticeable. In fact, there wasn't any area inside the Integra's power curve where we didn't see some type of power increase from our methanol mix. The results were slightly more impressive when it came to the EVO. Here we were able to increase total ignition timing by a factor of 12 degrees, which translated into a peak horsepower increase of more than 31 hp and almost 10 lb-ft torque. Like Project Integra, there are gains of at least 5 hp from just after 4,000 rpm onward. Both of these tunes were fairly conservative, suited for the street cars that they are. In either case, timing could have been increased for even more midrange and top-end power.

Water and methanol injection isn't really anything new; its uses date back to World War II. But it's not one of the most common upgrades you'll find on most high-performance engines. It should be though. Look at it this way: a Snow Performance Boost Cooler kit costs less than a typical intercooler setup. For that small investment, we were able to increase our EVO's power output by nearly 10 percent - a pretty remarkable number given the cost and tuning time - yet despite the additional horsepower, we ended up with a safer tune, even more resistant to detonation than what we had before. They say you can't put a price on safety, but you can. It's just under $400.