What you get out of tuning depends a lot on what car you have in the first place. It’s great if you’ve already got a Nissan GTR, but what if you’re still cruising around in a Ford Fiesta?
The naysayers will say that it’s not worth tuning it up, but are they right? It’s true that the performance you’ll get after any kind of tuning is related to the base performance of the car. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work with what you’ve got. Plus, handling is one of those things that you can improve in any car with a few simple changes. Here’s a rundown.
Manufacturers add a lot of unnecessary weight to cars that affects their handling performance. Sometimes this can be because they use cheaper materials to save on costs. Other times, they’re adding extra components that are purely for comfort or style and have nothing to do with safety or performance. Modifying cars to reduce their weight can be a lot of fun. One of the things you can do is change out the wheels if you don’t already have alloys.
Light wheels are important for two reasons. Obviously, they reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, which means better acceleration. But cutting weight on the wheels can actually help improve acceleration more than weight reduction elsewhere on the car. It’s all to do to with the physics of a rotating mass.
Then, there are some more costly options. You may be able to replace your car’s body panelling with something much lighter like carbon fiber. Make sure you replace the heaviest panels first, like the bonnet and the boot, if you’re on a limited budget.
As we all know, there is a range of different tires to suit different weather conditions. And there is a range of different tire rubber types that will affect just how much grip your car will have. Softer tires will give you more grip, but at the cost that they won’t last as long. If you have a powerful car it’s essential to give it sports tires. The torque load coming from the engine can cause a buildup of pressure on the tire. And this buildup of pressure can lead lesser tires to shred.
Perhaps one of least understood aspects of car handling: suspension. A stiffer suspension setup will absorb fewer bumps in the road, but it will also give the car a lower centre of gravity. Why is that important? It means that the car can withstand more lateral Gs.
You’ll also need to think about the damper on your car’s suspension. You want to get this setting just right. Making the damper too stiff will mean that the suspension won’t react to bumps on the road. It’ll just skip straight over them. Making the damper too soft, on the other hand, will make the car bounce uncontrollably. This can be a real problem at high speed. Having this professionally tuned to complement your driving style can improve your car’s performance on and off the track.
Breaking is all about converting the kinetic energy of the car into heat in the brake pads. If you have drum brakes, you need to make the switch to high-quality discs. Standard brakes can lose performance, especially under sustained heavy use around a track.