A Comprehensive Guide to Tuning a Car

Tuning a vehicle is a good way to improve its appearance as well as enhance its performance and abilities. There are many different ways you can tune a car, and many can be done from home. Whether you want an upgraded engine, better fuel economy, or just a better-looking car, tuning may be the right step for you.

Why Should You Tune Your Car?

Whether your car is a classic or modern model, the motive for tuning the engine is usually the same. Modifications and adjustments of the engine and control settings are mainly made to make the machine more durable, increase fuel efficiency and increase the car's power.

Improves Torque and Power

A popular reason for car tuning is to improve the power and torque of an engine. The stock settings are usually set based on the regular driver's needs, which is usually an elementary level. The engine's control unit (ECU) is improved through a reprogram using performance chips to improve these settings. If you leave these settings the way they are when you get the vehicle, you might never know your car's capabilities.

If you want to update your car to have higher speed levels, remapping your ECU can improve torque. Your car may gain up to an additional 50 horsepower after tuning. If your car is often pulling extra weight, eliminating limitations on the torque can increase its pulling force. Keep in mind that power and torque enhancement solely depends on your car's engine.

Enhances Drivability and Performance

Car tuning isn’t limited to powerful cars; it can be affordable for any driver who wants to enhance their car’s performance. Remapping the car’s ECU can also make your vehicle more reactive and improve the throttles response while under acceleration. This makes it safer while overtaking and generally enhances its performance. In short, tuning can make your car drive smoother and easier.

Fuel Economy

Enhancing fuel economy is another popular reason why car owners go for engine tuning. Though performance chips or other modifications might cost you on the front end, you might want to think of them as an investment that will help save you fuel in the long run.


Types of Tunes

Rims and Tires

No matter how much you put into suspension tuning, having poor tires will have a huge impact on your car’s performance. First, you should always make sure your current tires have plenty of tread. Otherwise, hydroplaning and skidding are much more likely to occur. If you choose to buy new tires, the type will depend on your preferences. Larger wheels tend to wear out slower and have better traction, so they are best for dependability. Smaller wheels, on the other hand, are lighter and accelerate faster, making them a better choice for higher performance.

Choosing rims will depend on the wheels that you have. Larger rims are necessary if you have large wheels, but they generally cost more and may negatively affect the suspension. Smaller rims allow for better handling, turning, and a smoother ride.

Brakes

Improving a car's braking system is just as important as improving its acceleration, and it’s now even easier and cheaper to do so. First, use rotors that are in good shape and well vented. After that, consider investing in a high performing street pad and refreshing your brake fluid. However, it is important to note that swapping for the extra bite when stopping will mean more brake dust will have to be cleaned off, and you might experience some extra noise when braking. If you want to use full race pads, keep in mind that they are made to warm up and thus work effectively at a higher temperature than the brakes you might encounter in day to day traffic.

Suspension

Once your car has a better grip and can slow down faster, you can now embark on improving your car's suspension. Essentially the springs in the suspension absorb bumps and control the body roll, and dampers help run the speed at which springs can move either up or down.

To get the right suspension on a car, you must do your homework in terms of finding a kit that has a custom-made tune just for the make and model of the vehicle you are using. Many suspension companies have variations that balance levels between comfort and performance, depending on your preference.

Before lowering the car, you should check to see if you require extra hardware to make the vehicle align correctly after the tuning is done. If you change the suspension at any time, then you should have your car's alignment checked and adjusted consequently.

Once this is done, consider adding sway bars or an adjustable coilover suspension:

  • Sway Bars
  • These are also known as anti-roll bars. They are bars on the suspension system that join the two moving sides as one. This comes in handy during cornering because forces on one wheel are shared by the other so that the car's body rolls less through corners. Factory-made vehicles often create their models to be as secure as possible when it comes to understeer and oversteer. With sway bars, you have a protected way of changing the car's elements to suit your driving style. Changing the sway bar does not take a lot of time; adjusting just a millimetre in terms of additional thickness can bring about the desired result you are looking for.

    Making the rear sway bar more rigid on a front-wheel-drive car helps eliminate the possibility of understeer. A stiffer front sway bar can help decrease oversteer on a rear-wheel-drive car, but if it understeers, then a rear bar will make handling the car neutral. On an all-wheel-drive vehicle, it is a bit more complex. However, a more rigid rear bar will help decrease understeer while a front bar helps decrease oversteer.

  • Adjustable Coilover Suspension
  • On a majority of most production cars, the suspension dampers and springs are independent units of each other. A coilover, however, is a single unit with the spring wound around the damper. A standard adjustable coilover gives you a chance to manage the spring's preloading using adjuster nuts to compress or decompress the unit. Many coilovers will have the dampers fixed to what the manufacturer has in mind. However, some give space to allow tuning of the valves to change how a damper can control a spring. If you do not have the necessary tools and equipment to measure and make changes, consider visiting a specialist shop to help you fit and fix your adjustable coil-overs for you.

    Strut Tower Braces

    This bar joins the left and right strut tower at either the car's rear or front. By connecting them, you can reinforce the vehicle's frame and reduce flex in the chassis which affects the car's transitional handling and the speed it takes when the vehicle changes direction. If your car is a factory performance version, your car might already have one or two installed. It is essential to remember whatever you do on one end of the tower brace will change the car's general handling.

    Engines

    Though there might be multiple ways to improve and make your car meet your performance needs, the engine is one of the most important. Modifications and adjustments of the engine and control settings can make the engine more durable, increase power outputs, and increase fuel efficiency.

    There are several different options when it comes to tuning your engine. Superchargers are a great option if you are looking for more horsepower. They force more air into the combustion chamber, thus allowing more fuel to combust and provide more power to the engine. You can also tune your engine control unit (ECU) to boost engine performance, though you should consult a professional as making adjustments can be tricky.

    If you are simply wanting a more efficient engine, replacing the spark plugs or updating the exhaust system can help you achieve that goal. Also, switching out heavier parts with lighter ones can reduce the load your car is carrying, making it drive more efficiently.

    Things To Consider When Tuning Your Car

    Cost

    Making improvements to your car is likely to cost you some cash - and some modifications are more expensive than others. If you do not want to make your car look worse after making some adjustments, avoid cheap equipment, accessories, or unprofessional methods. Be ready to pick top-notch quality. To stay within your budget, make a proper evaluation of the costs before tuning your car. Ensure you have included all the services, accessories, and equipment you will need in your budget.

    Plan

    If you plan to resell the car later, you might want to reconsider making irreversible changes to the car. Tuned cars are harder to sell, and almost impossible to trade in at a dealership. Simple changes such as better spark plugs or updating the exhaust system may not affect the ability to resell as much, but adding superchargers or a lift kit can dramatically decrease your chances of finding a buyer.

    Functionality

    Ask yourself who is going to use the car? What will the car be for? Will it be a family car? Is it a car to go to work? Some adjustments like adding bright yellow flames might look cool, but may not be appropriate when showing up for work or a family event. Certain tuning options may also affect the safety of your car, so you should carefully consider making changes to a family car. Also consider whether you can reverse the changes if need be, and that the changes you make do not cause the car's function ability to be altered in any way.

    Will It Affect My Warranty?

    In general, adding aftermarket parts or updating old parts will not affect your warranty. Permanent modifications and some more intense tuning processes, however, may cause your warranty to be voided, especially if it causes a stock part to break. You should do plenty of research ahead of time and contact the manufacturer if you have any questions. When in doubt, assume it will affect your warranty and decide if the end result will be worth it.

    Final Thoughts

    Before tuning your car, it’s vital to do your research. Plan a budget that includes parts, service fees, and any new equipment or tools you’ll need to purchase. Also remember that once you tune your car, you might have increased speed, power, and efficiency, but some adjustments (especially those that are permanent) might make it hard to resell or could void your warranty. Once you decide on the types of tuning your car is ready for, consult a professional with any questions and most importantly, enjoy the process!