Under The Hood
Extra horsepower, improved fuel efficiency, increased travel comfort- there are several reasons to replace original equipment with after-market models. While there are no right or wrong modifications, some investments are undeniably more worthwhile than others. Eager to shell out some money on improving your ride? Take two to scroll down our Top-ten list of Swap’s select pick of after market modifications.
It does not matter if the goal is to enhance aesthetics or performance, the right pair of wheels is the wisest investment of them all.
There are several makes and models of high-quality tires available in the after-market to boost your vehicle’s performance.
For starters, a set of high-quality performance tires will help you get the most out of your vehicle’s horsepower. Good tires provide a stronger grip on wet tracks and lend greater stability and control to the driver. They can really elevate the on-road performance of the car by enhancing acceleration, cornering and braking functions.
After-market performance tires costs anywhere between $150 and $300 per tire. It is advisable to refer to The National Department of Transportation (NHTSA) guidelines when choosing your tires for comprehensive information on speed and wear rating, traction control, and heat resistance. The Uniform Tire Quality Guide (UTGQ) is another resource to search for appropriate tire specifications for targeted performance boosts.
Markers of a good quality tire vary. Standard specifications include a rating over 200 for tread wear and Grade A certification for traction and temperature. A tire’s certified speed rating is marked by a letter from A-Z, with Z-speed tires capable of going above 200 mph. While these tires are comparatively more expensive than standard tires, they last longer, improve vehicle performance and increase travel comfort.
Additionally, if you are living in an area with moderate/heavy snowfall or with a prolonged winter, it is prudent to get at least two sets of tires; each optimized for the climate. Performance tires can easily lose their traction control as the temperature drops below 40°, while snow tires offer guaranteed performance on sleet-covered roads. High-grade all-weather tires usually have AA traction rating and wear rating above 300.
Well, tires are not wheels.
While it is a common mistake to use these terms interchangeably, the wheeling system of the car is more elaborate. It includes the rim, mounting surface, and the barrel.
There are several reasons for car-lovers to shell out cash on some premium wheels.
First off, the aesthetics. Original Equipment is often lackluster in appearance and suffers from painfully standard designs and sizes. Adding aftermarket wheels can change the look of the vehicle dramatically. Want to make your vehicle look feisty on the road? Pair it with some big, wide wheels!
Switching up the manufacturer’s wheeling system can also impact the ease of handling the car. For instance, installing after-market tires that are lighter than stock tires reduces the rotational mass of the vehicle making it more agile.
Interestingly, one of the most overlooked components of the car is the wheel bearing hub. Wheeling hub made of low-quality materials tend to wear and break with limited use. Defective or low-end wheel bearing assembly also impacts the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.
Replacing the wheeling hub can significantly reduce fuel consumption- as much as by four to six gallons. Hence, replacing the entire assembly with a new pre-built hub is a worthwhile modification to consider to improve fuel efficiency and engine life. As for the enthusiast, rebuilding an existing one with the appropriate tweaks would be the go-to plan.
3. ENGINE CARE AND TUNING
In term of performance, investing in routine engine care and tuning is bound to produce the best and most tangible pay-offs.
The factory settings on your engine control unit are primed to increase fuel efficiency and improve reliability.
Engine tuning is, hence, the process of increasing the power of the engine by improving the boost pressure. Tuning does not require additional hardware modifications and could be completed in a matter of hours. Generally, there are two ways to tune your engine.
Piggyback tuning – it involves using a small handheld device which plugs into a sensor in the vehicle’s engine bay. Once plugged in, the sensor can intercept signals to the car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU), misinforming it that there isn’t sufficient boost pressure for fuel injection. This process deceives the ECU into generating additional boost pressure which allows the driver to manipulate engine power.
Piggyback tuning is popular because it allows them to modify stock fuel injection without replacing the entire ECU.
Flash tuning – it is undertaken by plugging a computer into the OBDII sensor of the vehicle and manually loading a different set of parameters into the original ECU. Flash tuning is versatile and can be used to manipulate the ignition timing, boost engine pressure and alter other parameters to improve engine power and performance.
4. BRAKE KITS
If you are investing to make your car go faster, it is only due diligence to upgrade the vehicle’s braking kit. The importance of an adequate braking system cannot be overstated, especially on modified vehicles.
All cars arrive on the market with the appropriate braking system as part of their safety standard requirements. However, stock brake systems are only adequate for normal driving and tend to fade quickly with fast driving. Switching worn-out brake pads and discs is often not enough, and one should not make compromises when it comes to road safety.
Conventional braking systems have limited heat dispersion capacity and get overheated quickly. This causes the braking fluid to boil reducing its ability to apply pressure on the calipers. Hence, it is highly recommended to invest in Carbon-fiber pads and switch to a slotted disc from conventional brake discs.
Using a stainless-steel set can also increase the rigidity of the brake walls and shorten the communication time between stepping and braking.
A clogged filter is like a clogged artery. It’s a ticking time bomb and can cause real havoc on your engine.
Switching the regular air filter for an aftermarket model is a trick up every enthusiast’s sleeve. It’s an easy one-man job to switch from conventional air filters to a high-performance filter like K&N filters. These filters increase air-intake into the engine for improved air-to-fuel combination. This process, in turn, increases the engine’s horsepower and boost performance.
There is a large market for after-market filters with both washable/reusable and throwaway varieties. They can be easily installed by placing them carefully within the engine’s airbox.
Installing an air intake system can further increase direct airflow into the engine producing, on average, a 5-8 bhp increase in power. Further, a cold air intake system is another popular after-market modification. It directs cold air into the combustion system- which is denser and has a higher volume of oxygen- for dynamic combustion.
Adding a new exhaust system is as much about improving performance as it is about hearing your vehicle BREATHE! Truth be told, the auditory feedback is captivating.
After-market exhaust allows for more easy flow of air than restrictive factory models - you can hear the engine come alive and rev up as you step on the gas.
There are a plethora of after-market varieties for the petrol-heads to indulge in. Most often they are differentiated based on how much of the exhaust system is being replaced and enhanced.
For instance, one can opt to replace the full exhaust system with after-market products; this involves replacing all pipes and screws in the system to generate aggressive auditory feedback.
Opting for an after-market full exhaust also means removing the catalytic converter which helps the vehicle adhere to emission standards. Since removing the catalytic converter is illegal in many states, the most popular exhaust modification to date remains the cat-back exhaust.
A cat-back exhaust replaces everything else except the converter and guarantees significant bump in engine power.
Another simple alternative is the axle-back exhaust which replaces everything except the rear axle/muffler of the vehicle. This tiny tweaking can increase the volume of the sound but offers only a little increase in power.
Upgrading the suspension components on your vehicle can be incredibly rewarding since they add to its agility and stability while minimizing unnecessary movements and halts. Worn-out suspension creates tire and braking issues and leads to faster wearing off of wheel bearings and discs.
The suspension system consists of several shocks and springs. Replacing the shocks can help control the car’s bounce and improve body stability while accelerating. Further, pairing new shocks with coil-over springs can be a true game-changer. While coilover spills are comparatively expensive to normal springs, they have the added advantage of being easily customizable for stiffness.
simply upgrading the springs alone will improve the body roll of the car. A stiffer and lower set of springs can produce a marked difference in travel comfort.
Another common modification is the addition of an adjustable anti-roll bar. The anti-roll bar is used to connect both the sides of the vehicle’s suspension system. Further, It helps to distribute the weight of the vehicle equally to increase the ease of cornering and curb rolling.
Suspension bushing is also found in the braking system of the vehicle. They are usually made of rubber and designed to absorb impact from the road. Switching from rubber to polyurethane bushings can help eliminate suspension movements and tighten the braking system.
8. FUEL PUMPS AND INJECTORS
Investing in a fuel pump and injector is a rewarding investment If your car is failing to satisfy your horsepower needs. While stock fuel pumps and injectors are adequate for the stock engine, adding a fuel pump and injector can increase the horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency of your vehicle.
It is important to match the injector to the engine type. These days fuel injectors have replaced carburetors in most vehicles, though they undertake the same function of delivering fuel to the engine
Stock variety pumps are programmed to regulate fuel flow at 80% capacity. Adding after-market fuel injectors will allow users to exploit the maximum capacity of the injector. Efficient fuel delivery by the upgraded system will also reduce the likelihood of misfires and power fluctuation.
9. CAR SEATS
Quality race seats and harnesses are a must-have for a fast driver. Custom seats provide superior support to the driver and situate the body for quick steering, braking, and acceleration. With racing seats, the driver can operate all performance controls quickly with ease and comfort. They are adjustable and can recline to a greater degree to cradle the occupant’s posture for protection.
Also, investing in quality seat covers can provide the vehicle with fresh ambiance and help protect the original upholstery from damage.
10. PERFORMANCE CHIPS
Performance chips are a worthwhile investment if fast driving is your passion. After-market chips called super chips can be used to replace the factory chip of the vehicle to modify engine power and torque.
Super chips can increase the horsepower of the vehicle by between 35-100 horsepower. They manipulate the “lookup table” of the factory chip to adjust parameters to boost performance without due regard to other factors such as fuel economy and emissions.
Super chips are commonly used with diesel engines and can push the vehicle to its full potential. Popular manufacturers include Unitronic, REVO, GIAC, and APR, and the price varies between $400- $800.