If you’ve owned a car for a significant amount of time, you have probably wondered about this at one point: is it worth upgrading the car? Of course, you may opt to get some cosmetic upgrades like improving your car hood and body kit. Then again, have you ever thought about getting the essential upgrades that could actually help your driving? Here are three of the most important and most cost-effective upgrades that you might consider, and why they are the best ones out there:
Strut Tower Braces (Strut Bars)
To improve the handling of your car as you enter turns, you might want to install a strut tower brace, which is located at the top of your front shocks. This upgrade might cost you around USD 100 – 300, but they could be worth every dime.
Strut tower braces work wonders by maintaining the center of gravity relative to the forces that are placed on one side of your car, which in turn needs to be distributed to the other side. A strut bar is a simple metal bar that connects the left and right strut tower. The idea is that by tying them together, you reinforce the frame of the car; therefore, you reduce chassis flex. It’s the same idea as adding a cross beam stud to a wall in your house. Simply put, it can maintain balance for the parts of the car (and even some of the complex engine parts), reducing the risks of potential damages.
In extreme situations, this essential upgrade can keep your tires on the ground through a high-speed turn that would normally make the other tire unstable. In essence, this modification is can highly improve the stability of your car when rolling over bumps and making turns.
Furthermore, you can lean on these bars when you are under the hood of your car. You can also install strut bars for the rear suspension, and this is something that racing enthusiasts can always depend on. If your car is a old model, you might want to spring for polyurethane (“poly”) bushings for added strength and absorption of energy transfer in your control arms and anti-sway bars in your suspension. Likewise, if you need to replace motor mounts, switch to polyurethane for added longevity and performance.
To cap it all off, if you find that you need to go over speed bumps frequently, enter frequent high-speed turns and want to improve the under-hood aesthetics, a strut brace is definitely a good investment.
High Performance Tires
They might cost a bunch, but high-quality tires are guaranteed to be an extremely useful upgrade for your car. For around USD 500 – 900, you can actually attain improved fuel economy and way better handling. The right tire combined with weather-appropriate driving behavior can significantly increase driving safety.
It’s always better to get in the habit of checking your tires at least once a week or so. Doing so can help you catch problems before they become disastrous. Another rule of thumb to follow is that improving fuel economy and handling can be increased by investing in a good set of tires. For example, a good set of lower-resistance “Summer Tires” could be a good start so you don’t needlessly add more rolling resistance to your car.
Safety is also particularly tricky during winter when colder weather means that driving conditions worsen, and the risk of road accidents is increases. Winter tires are especially designed to provide optimum performance when cornering, braking and driving uphill or downhill in snowy and icy winter conditions, as well as at low temperature. They use special compounds, blade and swipe technologies together with distinctive tread designs which give the tires a high grip on wet, snow and ice. This significantly reduces braking distances in winter weather. Winter tires are not only useful in snow conditions. It also provides improved performance over summer tires on dry roads when temperatures are lower than 7ºC.
Now, if you drive more in the city and away from water, ice, snow or mud, you still get a crucial benefit from these higher-performance tires. They are made with different rubber compounds that are “harder” so they don’t erode as quickly as other tires. They also have specialized tread patterns that reduce its “bite” onto the road. A good place to start is to assess your driving behavior and situations to decide if these are appropriate: case in point, if you typically experience all four seasons, stick with an all-season/terrain tire.
Some bodybuilders and certain martial artists (and most professional athletes) take extra supplements so that they can increase the amount of gain that they can get from their training. Even known bodybuilders might have tried drinking steroids – the best legal steroids for 2017 are actually out there, allowing for more growth for athletes. The point is, no matter how physical and personal athleticism could be, having access to any allowed supplements could really be a big difference in terms of performance in people.
The same idea goes with cars, like the considerations of mixing the digital advents of technology with the manual-mechanical wonders of cars. Computers in the cars today control all aspects of its performance and emissions. Newer cars today can be tuned to improve certain aspects of the engine to unlock more horsepower throughout the entire power band. After making modifications like an intake and exhaust, you might want to explore if your car is eligible for a tune. Not all cars are designed for this modification, but many allow aftermarket settings to be written to the computer.
There are two primary types of ‘tunes’ for your car: a self-service or pre-made tune, and a custom-built or Dyno tune by a performance auto shop.
A self-service tune often requires a handheld device that you would load a ready-made tune file provided by a distributor that would backup your computer’s settings and overwriting the stock settings. These are easy and straightforward to use, as they are usually available in many forms including the standardized ones. Many years ago, these have been referred to as “chipped” vehicles, when you would just plug-and-play with the modifications.
A Dyno tune, on the other hand, requires the use of a dynamometer operated by a trained professional. A dynamometer consists of a set of rollers that acts like a treadmill for your car that is strapped down securely to objectively measure horsepower and torque.
Here’s what operators do: they start with a template for your car and hook up additional sensors into your car’s computer. When the car is operated at maximum power, the programmer would update your air-fuel ratios among other settings to safely unlock more power. If you don’t want to change your tunes frequently, it’s worth opting for a Dyno tune because it is be based on your actual vehicle and not a cookie-cutter template. Discuss how the tune can be changed or restored with the shop so you know what you’re getting into.
The bottom line is that when you have a number of upgrades, or you wish to maximize the power your car currently offers, a tune gets you far along. Do your research to see what the typical gains are for your vehicle. With an investment of USD 400 to 700, you’re guaranteed for a much better car performance.