You don’t need a Formula One pit crew to get better car performance – in fact there are some simple upgrades you can make with basic mechanic skills and a relatively tight budget.
Here are five simple upgrades for better car performance, which won’t bust your budget and could also help to make your car safer and more reliable too.
1. New tyres
Your tyres are where your car makes contact with the road, and where your engine power really transforms into acceleration – so fitting new tyres with good grip can help your performance in all weather conditions, on all road surfaces, and from accelerating faster, to cornering and braking more safely.
Autumn is a good time to do this, as you’ll get the best grip from your new tyres over the coming winter, but if your current tyres are bald, better to replace them sooner rather than later, as your car might not even be road legal right now.
2. Better bushings
If you don’t know what bushings are, it’s always a good time to find out. They’re the shock absorbers that help to dampen vibrations between different parts of your car’s bodywork, or around the engine compartment, and over time they can start to stiffen and crack, especially if they’re made of rubber.
Alternative materials like polyurethane can be more effective and last longer, helping to give you a smoother ride by eliminating some of those pesky vibrations you get at certain speeds.
3. Sparky spark plugs
Spark plugs don’t need a lot of attention – in fact you can get some that are rated for up to 100,000 miles without maintenance – but it can be worth checking them well before that and replacing them with ‘sparkier’ new plugs if necessary.
Why? There are lots of reasons. Spark plugs affect the voltage needed to start the car, so if yours has problems, it might be the plugs rather than the battery. Poorly functioning spark plugs can increase engine emissions and reduce your fuel economy and, in some cases, damage your catalytic converter – all for the sake of a few quid to replace them.
4. Anti-roll bars
If you struggle with your car’s jelly suspension, fitting new anti-roll bars can help. They link the tyres on each side of the vehicle for improved stability, so it feels less like you might roll over as you round each bend.
The stiffer suspension means a bumpier drive, so it’s a matter of personal taste whether you want your next road trip to be rougher but roll-free, and benefit from more contact between the tyres and the road for better all-around performance.
5. ECU flash/remap
The ECU – which is the Electronic Control Unit or more specifically the Engine Control Unit – puts safety and performance limits on all sorts of your car’s capabilities, but flashing or remapping it can raise these limits to eke out those extra horsepower of performance.
Remember though, altering the ECU in any way is very likely to void your warranty and could leave you uninsured too, so as with any modifications to your car, make sure of the legal implications before you start changing the vehicle’s spec, and maybe consult your insurer too.