The 6 best basic first mods for your car
As soon we all get our dream car or a basic car to start driving our only thought in our heads is to make our car faster than anyone´s car on the city, to hear the turbo whistling furiously as we blow past cops that are left with impotence because they can`t catch up to you, hearing the admiration the crowd throws at your car by the work put into it, normally any teenager or begining enthusiast would think about stuffing the engine bay with Turbos and put N2o bottles on the back like there`s no tomorrow thinking the stock engine will somehow survive that, however tuning is no magic, it`s simple logic about understanding each part and how they work together, however for this blog post I will orient myself towards the Manual gearbox project cars and of course I will mention simple modifications that don`t require any Major engine tunning or readjusting.
Your average commuter car as a Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback or Volvo s40 usually feature a long throw shifter oriented towards your average conmuter driver that needs to easily find the gear they are currently using, altough more easy to find the shifts are slower, although it makes it easier to find the current gear you are on the shifts are more slower than with a short throw shifter, as a basic example think about a Honda civic with a long shifter and a Honda civic of the same characteristics with a short throw shifter with everything including the driver on the same skill, the only difference is the stick they equip, although the driver with the long throw shifter will easily find the gear he is on the driver with the short throw shifter should win the race easily since it takes less to shift with a short throw shifter (as long you memorized your gearbox) although the difference in time is not much like 0,08 seconds or even less it also gives your car that satisfying “Clunk” noise whenever you fiddle with the gearbox giving you the sensation of driving a expensive track car.
Racing steering wheels are often found on track oriented sports cars or modified cars meant to beat times around tracks or show cars on car meets.
this modification doesn`t mean much for the actual performance of your car but actually… it pretty much does since stock steering wheels are heavy and bulky since they pack a lot of functions inside of them as the radio controls, the horn or the airbag device, if we compare a stock steering wheel against a racing steering wheel in racing circumstances we can see that it`s harder to grip it when going around a corner at racing speeds, when you come out of the corner fast you`ll easily notice that your hand hurts due to the bumps on the inner part of the steering wheel, in comparison a racing steering wheel will be better in terms of keeping control and save that little amount of weight that can result in a slightly better fuel economy (although we all know racecars aren`t meant to save fuel but rather burn it) also you`ll be able to tell your steering angle more easily thanks to the yellow lines on top of the racing steering wheel (most of them) they also look pretty good.
Let`s put it this way, you use your nose to take air, and since the mouth is bigger you will use it to let out air, take 02 in and expel Co2 your car works that way too, however let`s imagine that case when it comes to running, you can take all the air you want but you can`t expel the dirty air quickly because you have a cloth over your mouth keeping you from expelling that dirty air from your body, and eventually you feel clogged and your rhythm goes down right? Well, a stock exhaust is like that, it features a muffler, a cathalyzer and the exhaust tail (usually hidden from view under the rear bumper) and all of that are layers of “cloth” that keep the engine from expelling the exhaust gases out.
However a performance exhaust is like taking away 1-3 of these cloths allowing the engine to expel the gases more efficiently gaining in performance, Depending on your car you can find avaible aftermarket exhaust (not round fart cans with an exhaust tip) but rather full performance exhausts that go from the exhaust header to the tip all the way back in the rear, they also can make it sound better than the original exhaust (although your car will become a cop magnet on that point)
Performance exhausts like flowmaster or HKS can be good and they usually do a great job with their products, however the price of it depends on the car and the engine, a new exhaust will cost more on a lengthy engine than on a short engine since there is more piping to do, however if you feel confident and want to experiment yourself you can try and build your own custom exhaust and experiment with different pipe lengths, holes… the possibilities and sounds can be endless (but for your first experiment don`t try a straight pipe please)
Tires are the only contact surface your car has with the asphalt, they are THE MOST vital part of the vehicle since it affects how the car will perform on diferent circumstances and road conditions.
If you use flip flops to go to the beach since they don`t get stuck to the sand, would you use them to run a marathon? well your stock tires aren`t a "all round" use tire, specially for things like performance driving, it isn`t that simple as going to a random tire store and say to the clerk “Hey buddy pick me up some racing slicks for my V6 Camry!” the characteristics of a tire can make a lot of difference, in aspects like the radious and width as the thread, as a simple example a wide performance tire it`s likely tohit your fender if you go around a turn and either blow up or take out your fenders like a grinder, and if you decide to go the skinny tire way you will suffer a lot when it comes to traction or get laughed at with the classic tuner joke of "Hey the pizzeria called! They want their pizza cutters back!” so it is good to find a balance and research a bit for what we need, what we will use the tire for and what model fits our car and adapts to the requirements of our build.
also a proper performance tire can also decrease the car`s weight and improve the other characteristics like handling or acceleration resulting in better times and overall performance, all it takes is a good tire for our build to perform better.
If you Wish to know more about Tires and how they work Check this blogpost below
As another modification to have in mind when doing your first modifications to your car is… coilovers, taking out a wheel and fiting new shock isn`t by no means a extremely hard job but it requires a bit of thinking, Coilovers can greatly improve the way your car behaves around corners, they have the posibility of being adjusted in ride height, Spring Length or rate so your project car can be adjusted for anything you want, drifting, rally, track, show… the possibilities are endless., more than the extremely dangerous modification of cut springs or "Bags" Coilovers can also improve clearance (altough that depends of the original spring configuration)
Altough it may look a Esthetical-only modification a lower and stiffer suspension can help you get EVERY and I mean EVERY bit of power from your car to the wheels and keep it on the ground, a lower ride heigh also makes the center of gravity go lower resulting in higher cornering speed and less body roll around corners, however this modification requires a bit of experimentation before the Ideal setting can be found.
The last two modifications are pretty simple for any enthusiast and they don`t exactly require a Bachelor`s degree on engineering.
Beginning withcold air intakes I have to say that they are a fairly inexpensive modification and easy to install, they won`t add 100 horsepower or 50 as expected (5-20 at most) by a young teenager but it can help your engine in some other ways, what if your nose was clogged and you couldn`t breathe through your mouth? Well a cold air intake would remove that clogging and help you take air quicker for you to breathe better.
In short terms, cold air intakes move the air filter "outside" of the engine compartment (usually for it to work they have to be mounted next to the intake headers and not next to the exhaust headers since the air around the exhaust headers is hot making the cold air intake useless) That cooler air can be sucked into the engine for combustion, this brings a slight increase on horsepower and a airflow improvement too since air isn`t very interrupted, you`ll also enjoy a slightly louder engine too along a better engine response.
and finally weight reduction, cars Like the lotus elise 111R may not reach 300mph like a Koenisegg or accelerate incredibly fast like a Tesla out of the line, but if we were to put these two cars in a slalom course against the Elise who would win? well a lighter car means less Kilos the engine has to take care of moving forward, it can result on improved acceleration,braking, cornering... it doesn`t matter if you're running a track day beast, a budget racing car or if you need to save fuel weight reduction is a must when it comes to modifications, you can remove or swap out heavy electric components like the A/C or power steering, strip out the interior like back seats or spare tire you don`t use (altough you should get ready to use a flat tire kit) fit lighter body panels like GRP (Glass fibre reinforced plastic) the hood, bumpers, trunk , doors and even the roof can be swapped for GRP (altough they must be homologated since it`s a important modification) also you can loose weight too, since a fat driver means also morekilograms your car has to pull too, it can also benefit your health and reflexes.