Admit it, everyone would like a little more power from their cars – be it a small petrol hatchback or a large diesel SUV. But no one wants to spend a fortune on performance modifications that will potentially increase performance by up to 20 per cent in most cases, except for extreme modifications.
[Images courtesy QuarterMile]
However, if you don’t have cash to spend and yet want some simple tips to improve performance of your car – especially if you were taking part in an impromptu weekend drag meet – here are some suggestions. Improving performance has to do with improving aerodynamics, reducing friction and reducing weight, besides improving power – which is where the big expenses come in.
Increase tyre pressure, reduce friction
[Image courtesy Dodge]
Tyres are the only point of contact with the ground – and that too only a small portion of the tyre. If you have wide tyres you’ll find that the contact patch is wider. This is great if you want more grip for cornering, better braking and better handling. However, the wider the tyre, the greater the rolling resistance as well, which means increased friction.
For a drag meet (especially for a great 0-100 kmph time in a straight line) you don’t need fat tyres. Stick with your stock size tyres. However, increase the tyre pressure of the driven wheels by 2 psi over normal and the non-driven ones by about 4 psi over normal. These will make them hard – but will also reduce the contact patch and flex, lowering rolling resistance, which will make your car faster. Just remember to reduce the tyre pressures to normal after you are done setting a 0-100 kmph time as they run the risk of a blow out if driven for a longer period of time.
Reduce weight, get rid of clutter
Go from this…
The lighter your car the higher your power-to-weight ratio becomes. If you want to be the one setting a record 0-100 kmph time, go shed some flab. And some from the car too. Reduce as much unnecessary weight as you can in the car. Get rid of any luggage in the boot. Remove the spare wheel, jack and other tools. Unbolt and remove the rear seats if necessary, as well as most of the floor mats. One of the advantages of alloy wheels is that they are lighter than steel wheels, saving a few kilos on the car.
Wash the car down thoroughly – did you know an average car can accumulate up to nearly 15 kg of dirt behind wheel wells, on the suspension arms, inside fenders etc? Since you are not spending on expensive performance modifications that will increase the power output (bhp) of your car, the only other way to boost its performance is by reducing the weight your stock engine power can pull.
Cleaner engines perform better
Want to enhance the performance of you engine? Make sure it’s running as clean as possible. It would be a good idea to clean the air filter thoroughly or install a replacement one (stock, in case you can’t afford a high flow filter). Make sure your oil changes are ahead of schedule. Also make sure the spark plugs (in case of a petrol car), fuel injectors and throttle body are thoroughly serviced and cleaned.
[Image courtesy CargoCollective]
It would also be beneficial to fill in a higher quality of fuel. You can fill 97 octane petrol (just enough for the drag meet – too much would add to weight), to enhance the responsiveness of your petrol car. For diesels, you can add a cetane booster or fill premium diesel to get that added punch from the engine.