Last post on Nov 01, 2007 at 8:33 PM
You are in the Speed Shop Tuning and Modification
What is this discussion about?
#3 of 32 I agree, to a certain extent -
Mar 24, 2005 (3:51 pm)
many folks attempt modifications, even well-intentioned, well-budgeted mods, but don't understand why a certain spring rate doesn't work with a certain shock/strut, or why that Mustang 90 mm MAF won't work with stock injectors.
It's not for lack of trying, it's just that folks tend to trust their buddies a little too much, and their buddies are passing on 10 year old info that was faulty to begin with....and you see the potential for problems.
I applaud Edmunds for opening a group of topics like this - we can put out heads together and give people the straight scoop before they spend the money and make the changes...
After you've spent crazy money and spent all weekend making changes isn't the time to find out that you should have done things differently.
Mar 24, 2005 (7:44 pm)
I defintely agree with the point of urging caution and looking through the hype, but I strongly disagree with the conclusion. In fact, the whole thing reads like .. well, a classic pundit editorial.
Perhaps he needs a chance in a well-built/tuned car instead. Just like there are lots of badly tuned or aftermarket built vehicles out there, there are lots of good ones as well. But the problem is that most of what goes on in the aftermarket don't make it into mainstream news. Very rarely do they--or a single individual--invite journalists to test drive their cars or have big press releases. Most of the time, the journalists in the aftermarket rags have to go out looking for them.
Although I don't have any first hand experience with the following, two examples (out of much more) of exemplary work are:
- Mark Stielow's (who's a GM engineer by day) cars has been prominently feature in Popular Hotrodding and other GM specific magazines, and even earning him a place in BFG's magazine ads.
- Jay Leno's cars built by his own Big Dog shop in Burbank, CA. A recent one that was displayed at SEMA and which got the attention of GM as well as used aftermarket GMPP parts is his sleeper-of-a-Toronado. Looks exactly like a Toronado right down to the tires, but sports a modified C5 chassis, rear transaxle, and 1070 hp and similarly torque (Mark Stielow's recent 64 Malibu also makes 1000+ hp with just 10 psi, btw)
I know that simply throwing out numbers does not a reliable car make, but one would assume these have to be as they are used a daily drivers by their builders, not to mentioned the fact that some have been worked on for years.
In fact, if anything, doesn't Edmunds' own feature article of the 690 hp SVT/Ford Racing-aftermarket parts Mustang at http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Features/articleId=104572
contradict such statements as "if you don't like your car and want to make it better, buy something else"?
The only time I would agree with that statement is IF the features you want are already available. i.e. don't buy a car with a lower output base engine then modify it later to produce more power when you could've had the optional higher output engine instead. (caveat being unless there's a huge price difference)
Mar 25, 2005 (12:16 pm)
The problem is that most modified cars are "one-offs" and therefore need all the bugs shaken out. Depending on your budget, patience and skill, this could take a month, a year, or eternity.
So I think the article is valid if it presumes that any freshly built tuner car is subject to problems. If Jay Leno has been de-bugging his car for a year, sure, it's going to run a lot better after 12 months than it did the day they first built it.
#6 of 32 My first suggestion
Mar 25, 2005 (1:23 pm)
is to stick with a known, common vehicle - Honda Civic, for example. The cars are available, the aftermarket support AND tech support is HUGE, and most simple mods are easily done and fairly expensive.
It's cheaper in the long run, and much less stressful, to build on a common platform, than to be a total adventurer so you can have the world's only Northstar-powered 1996 Neon...
Bear in mind, I'm talking about average guys and girls modifying their street cars/daily drivers, and not building one-offs with Jay Leno's budget.
#7 of 32 Re: link to entire article [Mr_Shiftright]
Mar 26, 2005 (4:02 pm)
I think the basis of the advice is very good. With the average US citizen saving 2 % of after tax income, most can not afford to spend money on frivolous things and possibly invalidate the vehicle warranty. Additionally, the tuner market appeals to "individuality". Most individuality consists of simply buying an after-market part and putting it in or on your car. There's no individuality in that other than the individual Ben Franklins going to the aftermarket manufacturers.
Conversely, I have done quite a few modifications on cars in the past. Changing the car can be quite fun and rewarding. So I guess my opinion boils down to, if you can afford it and you are not an addict to speed or alterations, have fun.
Mar 28, 2005 (5:36 pm)
The only way I would let any modifications be done to my vehicle is either by a factory trained tech using factory-recomended upgrades, or (less likely) by a thoroughly reputable aftermarket provider whose products have been evaluated by reputable industry publications.
And aren't most of the "upgrades" in the bling-bling catagory anyway?
Mar 28, 2005 (9:12 pm)
Sure, some are automotive "jewelry" like most of the spoilers and wings. But I think most of the problem is that the car owners don't map out an integrated plan.
When you bolt something onto a car for one purpose, it affects any number of other things, sometimes not in a good way. You want stiffer springs, fine, you got 'em, and your car is lower and stiffer and feels good on the straight and smooth--- but then you hit a bump and pogo-stick across the road or you break your stock shocks in half. You didn't want that.
#10 of 32 Re: aftermarket [kurtamaxxguy]
Mar 29, 2005 (11:58 am)
There's a WHOLE big difference in the things you could do to modify a Chevrolet Malibu Maxx and say, a Subaru WRX.
The Malibu is limited to "bling-bling", and for the record, I won't ever be referring to anything like that in any of my posts in here...
From mild to wild, you can take a stock WRX or WRX STi and make crazy power - same with many import and domestic vehicles, like my Ion Redline - several aftermarket companies are begging for owners to lend them their vehicles so they can trial fit intake and exhaust systems, and run computer programs.
I'm afraid, and no offense meant, but when you have a very efficient (to begin with) grocery-getter, rental car fleet type vehicle, about the only things out there are floor mats, door edge guards, and fuzzy dice.
Chevrolet has done an incredible job of wringing power out of the car while maintaining fuel economy - that mid size car market is a pretty hostile and competitive marketplace - there's little or no room for improvement on "efficiency" and very little power upgrade potential, short of a roots-type supercharger.
#11 of 32 I'll do it (when I have money =p)
Mar 30, 2005 (12:30 am)
I don't want a car that looks like the next guy's. I could end up spending 10% of my waking life in it... you bet I'm going to make it my own.
I don't think there'll ever be a perfect car for anyone that cares enough to notice details. Also, I won't be able to afford a great car when I buy one, but a year or two later I'll have the means for more... so I can make my car be like the more expensive one I could've bought then.
Yeah, big wheels can mean slower acceleration - if they have a greater rotational inertia. They don't always. But they do give you more grip, and some of us like that.
In any case, lots of people know that lowering springs need shocks designed for those spring rates, that overly large exhaust pipes are bad unless you're turbo'd, and that air intakes are only good for a couple of hp, up high in the rev range.
We have a ton of easy-to-get information from reputable magazines (well, some of them) and online forums where people share what's worked and what hasn't, for specific cars.
And while I haven't done it, I'd get brake upgrades if I could afford it. I drive up and downhill a lot, and I've experienced brake fade before. Soon I'll get new pads and fluid probably, but I weren't a student I might upgrade the front brakes from the base Sentra's to an SE-R's.
Then there are examples like a WRX wagon given the STi treatment, and a 3-series wagon turned into an M3. I like that.
Apr 17, 2005 (2:06 pm)
It depends on the car and the mods. Putting sway bars on a Corolla does a lot to make it not feel like a Vanagon in a crosswind. That relates to carlisimo's point of updating and backdating between trim levels. If you get the high end Corolla it comes with sway bars. At some point, it is cheaper to buy the higher trim level then modify the lesser car to match its performance (changing the driveline from a 90s Eclipse to a 90s Eclipse Turbo AWD). Even then, due to availability, sometimes thats the only way to go (SR20DET in a 240SX so the US can have a Silvia...).
These are still in what I consider the envelope of stock though, the modifications are largely factory parts.
Even with aftermarket parts, there is an envelope of modification, usually I find an intake, an exhaust, and a chip calibrated to work with those modifications seems to have very little effect on the car or any of its systems reliability. I also generally change the brake pads to something that doesn't fade on a track day. I think a plus-one or plus-zero fitment on the tires or wheels helps alot. The track tires are 225/50 while the street tires are 205/60. Given all of these things, I would still consider this car to be stock. These minor modifications shaved time from my lap times, and I still get the same gas mileage (unless I am running the R compound tires, which i wouldn't do).
Cars have gotten so bland and so designed for the least common multiple, personalization is pretty easy. Going from those 205/65 15s to 225/50 17s will wake up the handling, and the incremental increase in wheel weight is low when going with a lightweight alloy. Adding a sway bar may get rid of some of the engineered in understeer and make the car actually fun to drive. Slamming the thing to the ground though is detrimental, especially on cars like the classic SE-Rs that had limited suspension travel from the start.
Once you start to make really dramatic modifications to a car, you are essentially creating a new car. Fieros being used as kit cars are really no longer Fieros, and no one would say a Lotus is a Toyota even though it has a Toyota motor (or an Isuzu one). Additionally, sloppy, poorly planed or engineered changes by a tuner doesn't mean an idea isn't sound, just poorly executed.
Today's cars offer a great deal of performance, but they are designed to appeal to too many different people. A series of well proven, well designed, and well implemented upgrades or modifications take a car from something that is okay to drive to something that is actually enjoyable or fun to drive.