The Ultimate Car Modification Guide

"Modify your car with the correct parts"

Whatever car you have you'll find each requires a similar approach when modifying it for performance gains.

Getting the right mods and applying them in the right order can maximise your power gains and keep your investment outlay as low as possible.

Read our Top Ten car performance modifications and explore our tips and 'how to' articles.

Here are our top 10 Performance Modifications and links to articles that cover them in more detail. Each tuner has their own preferred modifications and on different engines you'll need to employ a slightly different approach.

Popular mods do not necessarily mean they are effective, or that they are truly a performance modification, so we are sticking to the tried and tested power gain methods.

Please browse our many articles for our unbiased opinions and tips on all aspects of car tuning and car modification. Feel free to join our forum to discuss tuning mods in more detail.

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Guide to the Best Tuning Mods & Upgrades

  1. Mods that Remove a Restriction

    A restricted intake or exhaust will have an impact on your car's performance, so use an induction kit/filter upgrade and better flowing exhaust whenever your tuning creates a flow restriction.

  2. Mods that Improve Handling

    Braking, Suspension and general alignment of the suspension components is vital for any tuning project even before you start increasing power.

  3. Fit Stronger Parts

    Tuned cars will show up weaknesses, typically in the turbochargers, clutch and internal engine components. Whilst most engines can cope with mild tuning mods, TorqueCars recommend that you upgrade the internal components before these weak spots manifest themselves.

  4. ECU Tunes & Remapping

    While some cars can be easily remapped, others may require piggyback ECU's or aftermarket ECU's but this is the most vital step of your tuning project as it fully releases the power from all of your mods and upgrades. Expect 10-20% on NASP engines and 30-40% on turbocharged units.

  5. More Power Needs More Fuel & Air

    Every tuning project will aim to increase the air supply, but fuel supply is just as vital and will need to match the air the engine can utilise. Fuel to Air ratio is vital so upgrade the fuel pump & injectors. Also you can look to perform head mods (flowing and porting), bigger valves, fast road cams and forced induction upgrades to improve fuel.

1) Turbo upgrades. Adding a larger capacity turbo or adding forced induction to a NASP engine provide the largest power gains.

Adding a turbo to a NASP engine is a major engineering feat and will cost a small fortune. Read our guide for more information on this. Twincharging is also becoming popular (the addition of supercharger and turbo).

Upgrading an existing turbo is relatively easy and there are bolt on direct replacements around. For larger gains you could go with a big turbo conversion but this will require a lot of work.

2) Remaps and Chip tuning. Changing the timing parameters of the engine and altering the fuelling and boost bring large power gains. On turbo engines in particular you can see power gains of around 30-40% without compromising reliability.

NASP engines do not respond as well to new engine maps and will usually only gain around 10% more power. Read our guides to chip tuning and remaps

3) Fast road cams. A new camshaft will dramatically alter the intake and exhaust durations and can also make a large difference to your engine power. There are some catches though, as this mod will typically push the power up into the top end of the RPM band.

Choosing the right cam is an art and should ideally take into account any other mods you have performed.

4) Intake and Exhaust upgrades. Improving the airflow through the engine will usually result in a power gain. The larger the engine and the higher it's RPM range the more dramatic the power increase will be.

Large capacity engines and turbo engines will respond well to induction kits, performance air filters and performance sports exhausts but there are many pitfalls and things to note with this mod.

Exhausts are fitted with catalysts or particulate filters which usually degrade performance. Looking for performance alternatives to these can often free up some of this lost power but most drivers will need to keep their car street legal.

5) Porting, polishing and valve seat angles. Getting as much air into the engine and doing this efficiently by Porting & Polishing will generally allow the engine to burn fuel more efficiently. If you are, in fact, running rich (lower than 14.7:1 A/F ratio), then you ideally want as much turbulence as possible. Turbulence aids in atomized fuel dispersion into the A/F mixture while entering the combustion chamber during the intake stroke. Turbulence is so sought after, that automotive manufacturers are engineering the engine blocks now to encompass a turbulent phenomenon known as squish.

DIY porting, polishing and grinding rarely offers any gains. This is an operation best performed by a professional with a flow bench and computerised tools.

This is a complex area and depends much on the engines characteristics and whether you are dealing with a NASP or Turbocharged engine.

6) Fuel upgrades. Larger injectors and performance fuel pumps are useful modifications, if you have done other mods and fuel starvation is proving to be an issue.

Additionally, a fuel pump with a faster flow rate will change very little, if anything at all. A beneficial alteration to a fuel delivery system that can correct a lean condition is by increasing the fuel pressure (By changing your fuel pressure regulator AND check valve), THEN attempt to feed more fuel to the engine. Just Installing a fuel pump with a flow rate of 100 liters/seconds by itself would never help considering that your fuel pressure regulator will only ever allow a predetermined amount of fuel to flow at any given time.

More fuel requires more air to maintain the essential ratio of fuel to oxygen so it is vital to get the fuelling right.

7) Major engine upgrades. These would including balancing, reboring, cryo treating and a crank grind and polish.

As this requires a strip down and rebuild of the engine it is not a mod for the faint hearted. Although power gains through internal engine mods are relatively modest you have a more reliable engine and can exploit much higher RPM levels.

8) Handling Modifications. Uprating the suspension and getting it correctly aligned/adjusted can totally transform a car's handling.

Avoid the common cliche that a lower and harder ride is better because in reality, performance suspension modifications are a lot more subtle than that.

A lower centre of gravity can improve cornering. Going too low limits the suspension travel requiring stiffer suspension and if the suspension is too stiff the wheels will skip over the road rather than bedding in and gripping the road surface.

9) Brake Upgrades. Being able to stop the car more quickly makes sense. Too many people overlook the importance of braking.

Bigger brake discs are more efficient at dissipating the heat generated and will not only stop the car more effectively, the brakes will last longer before heat related brake fade kicks in. A cheaper option to increasing your braking includes high friction performance brake pads or replacing the standard discs with vented and grooved ones.

10) Transmission modifications. Power comes from the engine and arrives at the wheels after travelling through the transmission.

Power losses arise through the clutch and within theĀ  Standard gearboxes are designed for comfort (low noise) and fuel economy.

Going with different ratios can improve your acceleration and going with a dog box (straight cut) you avoid many transmission losses at the expense of a notchy gear change and more gear noise.

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