If you’re looking to get the maximum performance out of your car, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, some performance modifications will end up costing you serious money. So before you start looking at new engines or turbo chargers, why not have a think about some of the quick and easy mods you can make to improve performance and handling without the five-figure price tag.
- Brake Upgrade
There are plenty of ways to make a car go faster, but it’s important to remember that that bit of extra performance will affect your braking. If you’re planning on upping your car’s performance, you should look to also proportionally upgrade your brakes to compensate for the additional power. A good brake setup will improve handling, reduce stopping distance, eliminate fade in hard-braking situations and perform better in the wet.
Whether that means upgrading from drum to disc brakes, splurging for a complete high-performance brake kit, or simply upgrading the stock brake pads, a brake upgrade is one of the simplest things you can do to improve performance.
- Performance Tyres
Your tyres are important for a range of obvious reasons. Not only are they essential for stopping and road holding, but they also affect ride comfort, acceleration, steering, cornering, safety and fuel consumption. Upgrading your tyres is a simple way to significantly and immediately improve safety and performance with the added bonus of improving the look of your car.
It’s important to choose tyres that are not only specifically suited to your vehicle, but also to your style of driving and the type of roads you generally drive on. You should also bear in mind that there may be trade offs when changing up your tyres. Some performance tyres are made from softer compounds than standard daily driving tyres. While these types of tyres can improve performance and handling, the softer compound means the tyres will deteriorate faster and can reduce fuel efficiency. Do some research or talk to your local performance tyre shop to work out what type of tyres will suit your car best.
To maximise the effect you get from upgrading your tyres, it’s important to have them professionally fitted, balanced and aligned.
- Electronic Control Unit
Nearly all new model vehicles include multiple electronic control units (ECU). They are computer systems responsible for controlling a range of functions throughout the vehicle from the engine to airbags to the HVAC system, safety features, braking and more. Each ECU typically contains a dedicated chip that runs its own software or firmware, and requires power and data connections to operate.
Stock ECU systems are implemented and programmed by the vehicle manufacturer, with pre-programmed parameters usually set far below what the vehicle is actually capable of for safety reasons. This conservative programming means that in many cases performance can actually be improved by either upgrading the ECU or reprogramming for higher performance.
Replacing ECUs can be costly and complicated so it’s usually recommended that you look into ECU tuning or remapping before trying to replace the unit. With professional ECU tuning, you may be able to get significant improvements in power, torque and fuel consumption. It’s worth talking to your mechanic to determine whether ECU tuning is right for your car.
- Suspension Upgrades
Stock suspension systems are designed to handle a wide range of driving conditions without specifically catering to any of them. So depending on how and where you drive, and what other mods you’ve done to your car, there is plenty of room to improve performance by upgrading the suspension system. A stiffer suspension system can improve handling but it will generally make for a rougher ride, while a soft, comfortable ride will usually come at the expense of handling.
Understanding how and where you drive will go a long way to determining the kind of suspension system that’s right for your car. However, with the wide range of systems, kits and mods available, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to work out what’s right for your car. While a set of coil overs should be fine for DIY installation, completely upgrading, installing and calibrating an independent system should be left to the professionals.