MAINTENANCE AND PLANNING
These cars are not getting any newer, and as much as we hate to admit it, most of our base model cars lived tough lives of neglect. On the fortunate side of this, this is one of the cheapest mod cars you can get into. Parts are available for replacing these old bits and pieces with new, or improved mods that will make the car perform better than it did from the factory. Without boost, these little engines are typically stout. We have seen many with very high mileage still running great. Treat your engine and drivetrain well, and it will do the same for you. We always recommend modding a car that is in fully working condition. No little issues, clunks, or poor running conditions. Start with a clean slate and you will not have any regrets. Now let us get into those mods.
Let us start out with some bad news. 05 and 06 2.2 guys do not have any tuning support. HPTuners never supported them, and at this point, it is safe to say that that will not. If you unfortunately ended up with one of these years 2.2 liters, you can only do mods that do not require any tuning. Plan your mods accordingly or see if you can find a 07+ or any of the 2.4 cars. HPTuners has support for all those models, so you are good to get a ZZP tune anytime.
Do it once and do it right. As car enthusiasts, we have all heard this saying by now. The beauty of a simple naturally aspirated car like a 2.2 Cobalt is that you do not need a very complex build list or set up. So do yourself a favor and DO NOT overcomplicate it. Plan out your mods ahead of time. Ask yourself what you really want to do with the car, and how far “racecar” you really want to do. Keep in mind your budget, power goals, handling, and maintenance. Doing these modifications one time the right way is much cheaper than cutting corners and having to re-do it, or wishing you set it up differently and changing it twice later.
Just because you can’t go fast doesn’t mean you can’t still turn your car into a sports car. Here at ZZP we love turning corners just as much, if not more than going fast in a straight line. You may have a base model car, but thankfully your suspension set up is more or less the same as even the top tier SS lineup of Cobalts. Starting our we recommend looking at your front Lower Control Arms. These have two connections to the frame, and one ball joint out towards the knuckle. This is a common wear item for these chassis, and nice, new, stiff ones feel awesome and planted around corners. Having all these bushings in good condition will also help your launches. Have a look at our LE5 CONTROL ARMS or our custom ZZP TUBULAR CONTROL ARMS if your car allows for them. You can usually feel a bit of play in driving or some clunking / unpleasant noises when they wear out. You can also visually look under your car with the wheel turned to lock to see how the ball joint boot looks, and how the inner bushings are holding up.
Next up is your Sway Bars. This is a fun one. Sway bars are very affordable, you can choose from a few options to cater to your driving style / build set up, and will instantly transform the feeling of driving your car. For the 2.2 and 2.4 cars, we HIGHLY recommend starting out by adding a rear sway bar to the car. This actually goes for any of the Delta chassis cars. Because of the rear beam design, you can add a ton of stiffness in the back with any bar to lessen the FWD car feeling and get some oversteer dialed into your chassis. For a typical street car we recommend our ZZP REAR SWAY BAR. The front will also get a better turn in feel, such as the ZZP ECOTEC FRONT SWAY BAR, but most cars do not need it. You can browse the BRAKES AND SUSPENSION category on our website for some even more aggressive bar options.
SHOCKS AND SPRINGS
One of the curses of the 2.2 and 2.4 cars is the massive ride height. This is perfect for those of you trying to crawl up rocks in the moab mountains, but not preferable for most of us racers that want to look cool, and keep the maximum possible speed in cornering. This also falls into more maintenance, as most of these cars we see have blown or nearly blown struts. Some even have the springs rusted and cracked. Luckily, these replacements are also very affordable, and are a perfect excuse to throw in some upgraded performance parts. We recommend KYB FRONT STRUTS and BILSTEIN REAR SHOCKS. For springs your best bang for buck will be the ZZP COBALT LOWERING SPRINGS for the perfect drop, handling, and comfort. If you’re still hungry for more handling, consider swapping to a true adjustable coil-over set up. We offer KSPORT or BC RACING systems for the delta cars. Coilovers are built with performance in mind first, so you’ll have plenty of dampening and ride height that is fully adjustable, and springs and struts spec’d perfectly for handling corners at 10/10ths.
You’ve got the throttle pinned while watching that RPM needle slowly climb it’s way to 7k so you get another chance to Fast-and-Furious style bang into the next gear, you might as well listen to the throaty noises of your 2.2 or 2.4L exhaust note. There are many options we offer here, so you can find any level of volume or power you want to get out of your car. With a Naturally aspirated set up, you really don’t need anything more than a 2.5” exhaust system, and it will actually sound better with the smaller piping, without creating any drone. However, if you want to be loud and proud, we’ve got 3” options for you. We don’t recommend a 3” exhaust unless you’re close to or over 400whp. Too large of an exhaust or a longer header will make you lose a touch of power, and change your power band to have more higher in the HP instead of lower, so keep that in mind when you are selecting. Check out our exhaust options for yourself here: ZZP DELTA CHASSIS EXHAUST PARTS Feel free to piece together the perfect sound for your preference.
Surprisingly, the 2.2/2.4 intake box design is very good. It does not have any restriction and flows quite well. Instead of making an intake, we have designed a better HIGH FLOW INTAKE TUBE for you to swap in. This keeps the cost down, while still giving you all the performance. Pair that with a K&N DROP IN FILTER to replace your old (and probably worn out) filter, and you’ll be on your way with more flow, and a nice grunty intake sound on throttle. Another good mod is the 2.4 Intake Manifold. (For you 2.2 guys). The 2.4 manifold flows better, giving you a tiny bit more hp, and shifting the power band up higher in the RPM.
The magic word. If you want to make real power, you want boost. We offer a 2.2/2.4 SUPERCHARGER KIT as well as a 2.2/2.4 TURBO KIT. Our Supercharger kit uses the M62 roots-style blower from the LSJ Cobalts/Ions (factory SC cars). This kit gives you a significant jump in power, all depending on what supporting mods you have with it. Usually you can see a 40-60whp increase in power with the kit right out of the box. The turbo kit as well is a fully inclusive kit that will bolt-on convert your car from N/A to turbocharged. The base K04 will result in a nearly instant spool and loads of torque. With the K04 turbo, cars make around 60whp gains. And 100-140tq gains. 2.4 Cars make much more torque, considering the higher displacement.
This is a great place to start planning your mods out. You can do all the suspension, intake, and exhaust mods you want without a tune, but you will get the most out of them if you do decide to tune with us. Even a bone stock car will get more power out of a PCM TUNE, so it’s never a bad time. However, because these cars are so simple, we recommend getting all of your bolt ons installed, and then get a tune for the most efficient and cost effective route. You won’t be breaking any HP records with your 2.2 or 2.4 N/A, but the tune will change everything about the way the car feels while you drive it. Especially with the auto transmissions, we can play with the line pressures and shift points for a much sportier drive. Manual cars have the advantage of making more power, as the autos suck more power out. If you do go through and swap to a Supercharger or Turbocharger, you HAVE TO GET A TUNE. Your car will not run healthy without it. Again, this is something that 05-06 2.2 cars do not have the option for.
While these cars do prove to be very reliable, they aren’t big fans of power going through them. Torque is what bends the rods, so be especially careful on the k04 turbo set ups, as the small turbo spools so fast that it is extremely hard on the internals.
Tyler breaks down the Top 5 Mods for your N/A 2.2/2.4 Cobalt on our Youtube to save you some reading. Check it out!