Racing 101: How to Prep Your Car for the Track
January 15, 2019
How do you prepare your car for track driving?
- Top up the Fluids
- Inspect the Tires
- Check the Brakes
- Examine the Suspension
- Upgrade the Intake and Exhaust
In general, you can take almost any car to the track as long as you ensure that every part is in good running condition and is nowhere close to being replaced. You can also choose to make some upgrades to squeeze a little more from your vehicle. Coilovers, brakes, tires, and mufflers for sale in the Philippines are basic parts that can be changed to decrease lap times and increase overall performance. Here are a few more things you need to know before you hit the track:
Top up the Fluids
Before you start setting out on track and putting your foot down with the pedal on the metal, you better have your car thoroughly inspected. What’s equally important as setting down blistering lap times is having a reliable car. You’ll be driving hard and putting an exponential amount of stress on the entirety of your car. You need to be sure that your car can handle the extra loads.
Inspect all your fluids: oil, water, brake fluid, clutch fluid (for manual transmission), and coolant. Make sure that they’re all at the recommended fluid levels indicated at the reservoir. Check for any leaks, if ever you find any, get them fixed right away. Top up the necessary fluids if needed and change them if you haven’t replaced any of the fluids in a while.
Inspect the Tires
Your tires will be your first line of defense when it comes to safety in the track. Next to your suspension components, your tires will be taking most of the abuse since they are responsible for making your car stick to the pavement. Make sure that they’re in good condition before you start driving around the track. If you’re using standard passenger car tires, then chances are, you haven’t worn them down to dangerous levels yet. Everyday road tires are made to last for around 5 years. But to be sure, check if the tread levels are still acceptable.
The art of getting the right tire pressure is considered a secret in the realm of motorsports. Tire pressure can massively affect how your car handles. The higher your tire pressure is, the sharper your car can turn, but at the cost of snappier handling. Lower tire pressure can induce understeer but makes the car more predictable, which is what most drivers want.
Keep in mind that tire pressure increases as the temperature rises. So if you want your optimum tire pressure to be at 32psi, depending on the track and how you drive, you can lower pressures down to 26psi. After 2-3 hot laps, stop and check if you have reached your desired pressure. You can then add or decrease the pressure to adjust accordingly. So before you set off, reduce your tire pressure. It takes a lot of trial and error to get this right, but when you do, your car will handle like a dream.
Check the Brakes
When you’re out on the track, it’s not all about speed. You’re going to need enough stopping power as well. This is all managed by the brake system, so make sure that every component in the brake system works properly. Have your brake pads and brake rotors inspected for any excessive wear.
Never run with worn out brakes. Usually, your brakes will have telltale signs that they need to be replaced. If you hear a screeching noise, every time you step on the brakes when driving in Philippine traffic then it’s time to have your brake pads or brake rotors replaced.
What most track drivers do is they bring their own track spec brake pads for the track. Having separate brake pads for daily driving and for the track is a good way to save on brake pads. This is also a good idea because brake pads designed for racing is made to withstand extremely high temperatures while maintaining consistent stopping power.
Examine the Suspension
Your suspension will take a huge amount of beating with the g-forces you’ll be pulling at the racetrack. Energy from your tires will be absorbed and dampened by your suspension. Most of the weight of the car will be managed by your shock absorbers. You can run with your stock suspension, as long as it’s in good condition, but don’t expect sharp turn ins and quick responses with stock shock absorbers.
You can upgrade to coilovers, which are basically an upgraded version of shock absorbers made to withstand extreme loads. With coilovers, you can adjust your ride height, preload, and damping — all of which are necessary for optimizing your car’s handling. You can even swap out the springs with softer or stiffer ones.
Upgrade the Intake and Exhaust
You’ll never run out of aftermarket intake systems and mufflers for sale in the Philippines. You can purchase branded aftermarket intakes and exhausts or have them fabricated. You can run with completely stock intake and exhaust parts — that’s no problem. But at high speeds, you would want to hear when you’re supposed to shift. As a safety precaution for other drivers on track, your car’s sound should also let them know if there’s someone nearby.
If you plan on changing your intake and exhaust, make sure that you get the right dimensions to get the most out of your engine’s performance. You won’t notice the subtle performance improvements from these parts in Philippine traffic, but out on the track, even the slightest performance upgrades can make a huge difference.
These are all basic preparation that you need to ensure that your time on the track is both quick and safe. Remember that you don’t really need to equip yourself with professional spec parts or gargantuan power. Always have reliability as your top priority. It’s much easier to put down some laps and enjoy when your car is all set!