Great, affordable go-faster modifications for your car!
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Great, affordable go-faster modifications for your car!

While you wait at home, you can plan out how to make your pride and joy a little bit faster when the roads open up

Karan Singh, Correspondent, evo India

Karan Singh, Correspondent, evo India

There are very few things petrolheads prefer over online window shopping. Not for clothes or shoes though, I’m talking about parts for your car. The joy of seeing the amount of choices available online can be encouraging — there are turbocharger upgrade kits flying around, engine swaps, suspension kits, the world is your oyster really. Now, the amount of options also depends on the kind of car you have, but for this article we’ll be talking about some good first modifications you can do to your car that won’t break your wallet or blow your pistons.

Tyres

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, one of the best performance tyres on sale
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, one of the best performance tyres on sale

One of, if not the most important modification for any car. You can have all the power in the world but you won’t go anywhere without the right tyres. They are the sole contact between the car and the road and that’s why they need to be a top priority if you ever want to seek the Thrill of Driving in your car. Be it a small hatchback or a powerful sportscar, a good set of rubber can transform how the car behaves completely. Good tyres improve grip so you can corner faster, they improve braking since the tyres run out of grip later and with a higher threshold for heat they will usually last longer at the limit (at a trackday, for example), unlike regular tyres. Some performance tyres also help to reduce road noise. Good tyres are a huge safety benefit too and if we had to recommend just one upgrade out of any of these, it would be tyres.

ECU tune

A Skoda Laura remapped by Pete's
A Skoda Laura remapped by Pete's

This is one of the most basic power upgrades you can do to your car, without the need for any hardware installation. A remap basically alters the stock ‘map’ of your car’s engine, changing how it behaves and delivers power. There are various companies that do this for you — Pete’s, Code6, Wolfmoto, among many many more. Some companies will also slightly customise the map according to how you drive the car.

Remaps can be done on almost all modern cars. However, because of the way they work, for smaller petrol cars the gains will be too low to justify the price. Diesel cars see a decent bump in power after a remap since meddling with the turbochargers play a big part in getting power from the remap. Strangely enough, remaps can also boost your fuel economy at times since they tend to reduce the turbo lag found in most small diesel engines. There is an alternative to remaps known as piggyback ECUs that are just plug and play. They essentially fool your car’s main ECU into giving more fuel per combustion cycle, more fuel = a higher output.

Air filter

K&N Cold air intake system
K&N Cold air intake system

Just like you, your car needs to breathe. In the bustle of our cities and the added strain we give our cars with our spirited driving, the air filters often struggle to keep the engine flowing with cold, clean air. Now there are two main routes you can take when upgrading your air intake — a cold air intake or a replacement filter. A cold air intake sits closer to the front of the engine bay, away from the heat. Cooler air is more dense than hot air, (cue Jesse Pinkman saying, "science b*tch!") and denser air means a bigger explosion, hence more power. Cold air intakes aren’t at the top of the list for most uninformed modders but if you want your car to be fast for longer than a 10 minute drive, this should be a priority. On the other hand, a replacement filter is an even more inexpensive way to improve your car’s performance (very slightly) and reduce the strain on your engine. Companies like K&N and BMC make replacement filters for most of the popular cars in our market (head over to their website to see the model number for your car) and they do not need to be replaced for a long long time if maintained properly, unlike regular air filters that get thrown out every service. Yes both of these may seem expensive upgrades for something with barely any gains on paper, but it is a very important upgrade to keep your car breathing freely. If you do change your intake, you might want to look at an ECU upgrade along with it to allow the fuelling to match the additional air your engine is sucking in.

Suspension

KW Suspension lowering springs and coilovers
KW Suspension lowering springs and coilovers

So if you think your car has adequate power but it doesn’t handle like a precision tool, then a suspension upgrade is what you should go after. No, not lowering springs that will just make the ride harsh and speed breakers and potholes miserable. I’m talking about a proper spring and coilover upgrade, for handling. Again, you should be able to find bolt-on kits for your car from companies like KW and Bilstein, depending on what you drive. A good suspension upgrade will immensely improve handling and braking. Moreover, the newer offerings are adjustable to some extent which means you don’t need to have your chiropractor’s number on speed dial. Suspension upgrades are the most expensive here, but if done right they will transform your car completely.

These are just a few things to get you started down the slippery project car slope. Other easy modifications include brake upgrades, strut bars, shedding excess weight, among others. Do your research and find the modification that is best for you, online forums will allow you to learn from others and there are plenty of videos on YouTube to help you actually do the mods yourself. With some much time on our hands, some spanner time wouldn’t be a bad idea. Like a wise man once said, “Life is too short to drive boring cars.”

Evo India
www.evoindia.com