Suspension & Brakes

Suspension and brakes are often overlooked in a performance package, with all money going to make the car go faster. Whilst this is probably all right for someone only wanting to do traffic light Grand Prix starts it is not practicable for most users as the extra power given means the speeds of cornering and braking are much quicker. Most people's use of high a performance car involves cross-country roads, where the suspension and brakes are more important to the fastest A to B time, than an extra 20 BHP.

To put this into context you have to understand a racecar going around the track. It is not the maximum speed of the car that dictates the lap time but the maximum speed it can attain around the corners and the minimum times the driver’s foot is on the brakes. If you take an average straight, on road or track, assuming you can negotiate the last bend at 60 mph instead of 50 mph you are doing 10 mph faster all the time you go down the straight. It takes a lot of horsepower to catch a vehicle going 10 mph quicker.

If you are contemplating a performance suspension package and can not afford to fit all the parts at once, call us for advice before ordering, as if it is done in the wrong sequence you could be making the car more dangerous rather than improving it. A typical example is a person buying just a pair of front lowering springs, as these are the cheapest to buy and fit. It may be the cheapest thing you can buy to make the car look different but do not do it.

Another major mistake is the latest fad of slamming the rear suspension down as much as possible to get it to look great, as mentioned before you should increase the tension of the rear suspension before lowering it, for best road holding. The rear suspension should always be set higher than the front so the more you lower it at the back the worse it gets, once you start going lower at the back than the front, you get weight transference. Let me explain, imagine the car as a tank of water, if the car points down to the front due to lowered front springs and the back is not lowered, all the water, e.g. the weight goes on the front and the back is too light. If you lower the back by the same amount, you have weakened the rear so whilst the water is not putting any more weight on it, it is not strong enough to react as it should. Now the worst case scenario, you lower the back more than the front, all the water goes on the back and off the front, on an even weaker rear suspension set up. I do not need to explain more apart from this being one of the reasons cars not being driven particularly over hard, suddenly for no apparent reason loose grip and fall off the road.

Brakes on most standard cars are designed for normal road use with the power of the standard engine. As soon as you give a car more power you are approaching corners at a faster speed and so use more brakes. This needs a little explanation for those not that familiar with the physics of brakes. What they do this to convert the energy of the car going forward into heat energy to slow it down, so the faster you go the more heat energy you have to dissipate. This translates into the standard brakes being overheated often resulting in what is known as brake fade, where the brake material can not work efficiently and so reduces the breaking effort, even resulting sometimes in boiling the brake fluid, which means the brake pedal can often disappear to the floor and so no braking effort at all is applied. If this happens to you then it may be time to upgrade.

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