When you decide you want to upgrade your vehicle it can be all too easy to jump right into. Both first-time upgraders and veterans suffer from this.
Today, we’re going to share some hard-earned wisdom with you: the trick to successfully upgrading your car is to plan in advance.
By this we mean, some upgrades make others redundant. By researching and planning out your upgrades in advance you will not only be able to save yourself some time, but also a lot of money. And still have an awesomely upgraded car at the end of the process.
Here are our 7 tips you should consider before upgrading your vehicle:
1. Start with your tires
Sometimes all you need to make your car feel brand new is a fresh set of tires. We know that that is a slight exaggeration, but it does make a big difference. Especially, if you’re tuning your car up for racing or off-roading. The right style of tires will make all the difference.
Another reason why you should start by upgrading your tires is so you have a level base to work from. Bad tires can hide a lot of sins. What you might have mistaken for a tire problem, might actually be a brake issue. Or vice versa. By upgrading your tires you will cut out all of this confusion.
A new set of tires will improve the reliability and overall performance of your car. It will steer better, it will break better, and it will have a better fuel economy. As far as investments go, this is a very cost-effective one.
Remember that no matter what you do to your car during your upgrading process – your tires will be the only part of your car touching the road. They are your car’s foundations. If your tires aren’t good then no one of your hard work will reach its potential.
You want to make sure that your new tires have visible treads, wide bases, and have no visible wearing. When you are purchasing your tires make sure that they are compatible with the rest of the upgrades you are planning to make to your car. And buy a spare one!
2. Shave those door handles
If you have an older car then you will probably be painfully aware of how far car technology has come in the last 2 decades. Car’s have been no exception to this.
We can probably all remember a time when if you wanted to lower your window you literally had to wind it down. These days all you have to do is push a button. All new cars have this feature as standard now.
The same goes for automatic door handles, rather than manual ones. Not only are they easier to use, but they’re safer too. When upgrading your car, you should invest in new, automatic door handles. This will help you keep your newly upgraded car safe.
If you do own an older car, you might be wishing that you could install something this modern in your car. But how do you do it? Completely replace the door? Rewrite everything to divert power to the handles? Where will you find all the parts you need to do the job?
Don’t worry we have a solution. The easiest way to do this is with a shaved door handle kit.
3. Tune it up (ECU)
Tuning up your car has become a general term that encompasses all the tiny improvements one makes to one’s vehicle. In this case, however, we are talking about the act of tuning up your car’s computer system.
Doing this can make your car run better, run faster, and even make it more fuel-efficient. And the good news is that you don’t have to understand computers to do this. Although, if you do you’ll be able to save a lot of money for this part of the job.
What do we mean by tuning up? Well, this involves getting an ECU (also known as a flash or a map) program to help you reprogram the computers within your car. These systems can help you to make a small series of tweaks to your car that will improve multiple aspects of its performance and live up to its true potential.
Before you do this, you will want to make sure that your engine and brake systems are in good shape. Like the changes, ECUs can make pre-existing problems worse.
If you’re not an expert in car computers then you may want to consider buying a pre-programmed tuner. This is the safer choice as it won’t let you do anything that will damage your car. As with most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to tuners. An expensive one will make the job a lot easier and drastically improve the lifespan of your car.
4. Get those sway bars swaying
Our next suggestion is that you look into purchasing or upgrading your sway bar.
You may know sway bars from their other name – anti-roll bars. They are spring-loaded, shock-absorbing bars that help to stabilize your car during turns. These bars make your car less likely to roll and support your car’s suspension.
A good sway bar helps to distribute force and support the engine. A well-designed sway bar can actually increase traction. As most cars have their engine at the front, they also have their sway bar at the front.
We think you should consider installing a new sway bar in the back of your car, as well as upgrading the one at the front of your car.
A lot of front-wheel drive cars have problems with understeering because they are so front heavy. Installing a sway bar at the back of your car could help neutralize this issue. There are some drawbacks to this, however. You will lose traction in your back tires, but you will gain more reliable steering and the ability to turn tighter corners. Seems more than worth it to us.
5. Upgrade your air intake
Everyone knows that engines need fuel to work. Most people forget that they also need air. An easy way to improve your engine’s performance is to upgrade your air intake systems.
Now, your ECU tune-up (see tip 3) will have got the ball rolling on this one. It will have improved the efficiency of your air intake system. But there is only so much a tune-up can do if it doesn’t have quality systems to work with.
An upgraded air intake system in combination with an ECU tune-up could make you feel like you’re driving a different car.
You should see upgrading your air intake system as a cheaper alternative to upgrading your fuel injectors. You will get very similar results but the air intake system requires a lot less effort and a lot less cash.
You will need to do some research into the type of engine you have, as not every air intake filter is suitable for every engine. There will be a wide range of upgrades that you can choose from. You should take some time to think about what your skill level is, how much money you have in your budget, and how much of an improvement you want to see.
After you have upgraded your system you should get your tuner back out and make some adjustments that suit your new setup.
6. New rear diffusers
As a first time upgrader, it can be very tempting to bolt an enormous spoiler on the back of your car and call it a day. Yes, spoilers create more traction and drag. Yes, you may think that they look cool. But you may be surprised to learn that most spoilers increase drag so dramatically that they actually make your driving experience worse.
The good news for you is that we have an alternative for you – that will increase your drag (in an effective way) without looking ridiculous. No, it’s not witchcraft, it’s a rear diffuser!
Rear diffusers can be installed below the rear bumper, and while they have a similar effect to spoilers, they do it a little differently. Instead of physically dragging the back of your car down as a spoiler will. Rear diffusers create air patterns that in turn produce downforce that directs the back of your car.
This is kinder on your car’s suspension and is much more effective at creating useful drag and traction. They are also less likely to get torn off or damaged if you drive over a high speed bump. Unless someone is having a peep under your bumper, no one will even notice it’s there.
7. upgrades you should avoid making
Before we leave you, here is a whistle-stop tour of the 7 upgrades you should avoid, no matter how tempting they may seem.
- Fake headlights – recently we have seen a trend of people installing Fake Halogen, LED, And Xenon Headlights. This is generally done to mimic high-end vehicles. However, these fake headlights provide poor visibility and can lead to accidents
- Soilers – we’ve covered this, they’re expensive, don’t do your car any good, and are easily damaged. They’re an all round waste of money.
- ‘Underglow’ light strips – this is another rollover from the world of high-end vehicles. These light strips do make your car look pretty swish while they’re parked. But they often confuse other drivers and can cause more crashes.
- Big rims – this is another huge waste of money that can actually make your car worse to drive. Not only will they make your rider bumpier, but they will also decrease lateral traction. The combination of both of these will make driving in your car a lot more dangerous.
- Flaring fenders – our head is in our hands at this point. These will scrape against the walls of your wheels wherever you go over a speed bump, whenever you change elevation, and whenever you make a turn. Soon you won’t have many tires left for these to rub against.
- Lowering springs – this is one item on this list that we’re not completely against. If installed correctly then can lower your car by an inch or two and improve your suspension. However, we very, very rarely see them done correctly.
- Embarrassingly large gear stick knobs – we’re not sure that we need to explain this one. While there are big benefits for these longer knobs in rally driving – for the rest of us, they’re just a waste of money. Apart from slowing down your gear changes, they are technically harmless, but nevertheless very embarrassing.