5 Cheap Mods that Make a Big Difference
Slideshow: If you're looking for ways to get faster, but don't want to break the bank, check out these easy and affordable mods.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can literally align your car in your garage with strings. You might laugh, but I have friends who have won national championships against some of the biggest names in racing using nothing but a level and yarn. Understanding how your tires are coming in contact with the ground does require a probe-type pyrometer for pinpoint true accuracy, but aligning a car in and of itself is pretty inexpensive if you know what you’re trying to accomplish.
PRO TIP: if you’re going to take tire temps, make sure you use a probe type pyrometer. Lasers aren’t used by any professional racers who take the sport seriously.
Weight Reduction (Maintain Weight Distribution)
Chucking out your radio and passenger seat is all well and good as long as you take care to preserve weight distribution. Stripping things out of your vehicle is probably the single best modification you can make and is a favorite of many because it’s free. Cornering weighting the car ensures that the cross weights are on the money as well, which will give the car equal turning power in both left and right-hand corners.
PRO TIP: Nothing can replace low weight. Simply gutting a Porsche and knowing how to drive it is a weapon all in itself. Make sure you preserve weight distribution during the process.
Correctly Sized Sway Bars and End Links
Sway bars contribute to big improvements in handling for cheap. But here's a tip, if you’re going to get them, make sure you use adjustable end links. Many sway bars experience uneven loading from left to right, which can cause minor fluctuations in the handling balance. Neither of these parts is ludicrously expensive which is why they make the list. Properly sized bars work in tandem with each other to create a neutral balance when you start to push the car. Many aftermarket bars are adjustable and allow for further fine-tuning if necessary.
PRO TIP: Depending on your setup, you may find it beneficial to run without a rear bar. Consulting with a specialized racing shop is one of the fastest ways to figure it out quickly.
image courtesy of maximum motorsports
One of the cheapest modifications you can buy is also one of the most important: brake pads. It can also be one of the most confusing with pad compounds that vary from front to rear and internet searches that yield more headaches than real-world answers. Realistically, for most people, a matched set from Hawk or Porterfield will be more than enough and can be found for a few hundred dollars. If you step up to a racing oriented pad, you can expect a bit more. But remember that we are still talking about a car part that is under $500 to $600 and will net seconds on the right race track.
PRO TIP: Brake pads that are meant strictly as race pads should not be used on the street “because race car.” They take excessive heat to get up to temperature and can be sketchy on the street. Know what your car does and buy the appropriate equipment for the environment you drive it in.
You hear it often, tires make all the difference. And the importance of tires simply cannot be overstated. The quality and the compound of the tires you run can make or break the performance of any track car. Heck, switching between compounds in Formula 1 cars can shave a full few of seconds off of their blistering sub-2-minute laps. Take advantage of this affordable modification to get the best out of your car.
Helpful Tip: Get Instruction
As a private driving coach I get the opportunity to spend time in cars with people of varying degrees of skill and ability. One thing that is common across all racers is that the proper instruction can be worth much more than any part. Many drivers are shocked to find their vehicle can go 1 or 2 seconds faster than they thought without touching a thing. Good instruction can be expensive, but compared to a turbocharger or Hoosiers it’s cheap.
PRO TIP: You can’t buy raw talent, but you can buy a lot of time from having the right person work with you on your technique and lines.
A driver that has taken time to get instruction on track, practices good technique in the car and follows all of these mods can have a track day weapon that will post some of the quickest times at any HPDE event for a fraction of the cost you might think. Porsches are incredibly capable cars that don’t need a lot of mods to be taken seriously. Utilizing these as an early foundation can be the best way to learn this truly rewarding platform. Hope you enjoyed reading and hit the track soon.
And, for information on maintenance and repairs for your Mustang, head on over to our How-Tos at MustangForums.com!