So you finally got the time you always claimed you never had to work on that project car in the garage. An excellent platform ready for a decent power upgrade, and your fantasies of weekend track days and being the envy of the local car meet are seemingly within your grasp. But whether you’re looking to go for forced induction, tuning, a built block, or in most cases some combination of the three, there are some important modifications you should highly consider addressing first.
Added horsepower and torque can be just the jolt your car needs to really take it to the next level, but without the proper upgraded equipment to complement and control it, it may be not only a costly mechanical failure but a serious safety hazard. The four most crucial components to consider swapping out for quality alternatives are wheels and tires, suspension, brakes, and intakes, and exhausts.
Wheels and Tires
Just like a quality pair of shoes, tires are essential to maintaining grip, both on the track and in the streets. Quality rubber is equally complimented by quality wheels, and the old saying holds true here; you very much get what you pay for. Oftentimes, factory stock wheels are made from heavier materials and tires are intended for economy driving rather than performance. But by simply upgrading to lightweight, forged wheels, adding some extra width from stock fitment, and wrapping them in a stickier, more aggressive tire, you’ll find your car’s ability to handle increase dramatically and be more prepared to hold tighter to the road once the extra power is introduced.
The next step once your car has some improved traction would be to match it with an upgraded suspension. Handling is arguably just as important as power when it comes to a performance vehicle. Especially for a project build starting out stock with lower power numbers, this modification will really show its worth. The car’s ability to maintain composure in the corners is crucial to serious driving and a new set of aftermarket coilovers, sway bars, and control arms can make any modest build feel like a track-focused machine. By lowering ride height, stiffening damping, and limiting body roll, your power project will keep all four wheels planted when taking those hard turns.
An often overlooked component to compliment your newly boosted ride would be brakes; the antithesis of going fast. However, you will quickly find all that added power rendered both useless and underpants-ruining if your car is not equipped to stop when needed. Braking is essential to performance driving and safety alike; simple upgrades, like better, high-performance pads designed for more aggressive stopping and larger slotted or drilled rotors to disperse heat and increase surface area for the pad, will transform your car’s performance tenfold. Additionally, swapping factory rubber brake lines and fluid to braided steel lines and a performance-oriented fluid can give the driver the additional confidence needed to approach turns at a higher speed on the track as well as peace of mind when trouble arises on the streets.
Intakes and Exhausts
The final upgrade you may consider before boosting your car may seem more on the aesthetic and auditory side of the spectrum, but a proper intake and exhaust have real performance value if you do your research. Aside from the increased engine noise, a proper exhaust can increase the flow of waste gases, which in turn allows your engine to create more power. Complemented by an intake the flow can be increased even more, and depending on the set-up you purchase, can relocate the point of air intake within your engine bay to a location with less heat. Less heat equals more power, and this can prove especially beneficial in the case of adding forced induction.
Adding some extra horses under the hood can take your garage project to the next level, but without the right upgrades around it, you’ll quickly find your new-found power to be all but useless. As with all things, research is key to finding the right part to do exactly what you want it to do. Internet forums are an excellent resource to get in touch with similar people having similar experiences within the community. By taking the time to install these upgrades first, your hard work will be rewarded in the end once it’s finally time to turn the boost up.