5 Things You Need to Do Before Modifying Your Ride






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    5 Things You Need to Do Before Modifying Your Ride

    5 Things You Need to Do Before Modifying Your Ride

    by Andy Jensen



    Did you pick up a classic project car? Or did you simply decide that itís time to start modifying your current vehicle? Before you kick off the projects, there are a few things you should take care ofóespecially if youíre planning on adding extra power. Whether youíre working on a 1965 Falcon or 2015 F-150, hereís what to do before modifying your ride.

    Donít be Fred Flintstone

    You canít go if you canít stop. Adding more power for a faster ride is a wonderful thing, but having the power to stop all that power is even more important. Most factory braking systems are acceptable with factory power levels but become inadequate after modifications.
    Look into pad and rotor upgrades at a minimum. Ceramic pads are a great all-around street option, and certainly better than those asbestos pads on your í50s Plymouth. Modern vehicles mostly come with organic pads offering less health hazards and a cheap price, but opt for composite pads for the best braking possible on the street. While swapping pads, be sure to flush your brake fluid for easy and cheap insurance. If you want to go the extra mile, drilled and slotted rotors look awesome and provide extra cooling for repeated stops.
    Stay cool

    Speaking of cooling, donít forget that more horsepower almost always means more heat. On a classic, youíll want to upgrade the cooling system. An upgraded radiator isnít cheap, but the price includes peace of mind. Another way to look at it: a better radiator is cheaper than a new engine block.
    If you have a heavy belt-driven engine fan, look into upgrading to electric fans. Theyíre lighter, reducing parasitic power loss, and can increase power and gas mileage. Donít forget to keep the rest of the vehicle cool. If youíre working with an automatic transmission, youíll want to look at a transmission cooler. Itís cheap and helps prevent the number one cause of early transmission failure: heat. You can even run a differential cooler, if you like overkill. If your ride is newer, its cooling capacity is probably improved over a classic, but it may be time to flush the radiator with some fresh coolant.

    Get charged up

    Electrical systems from back in the day just arenít up for modern performance. While performing repairs on a classic, go for upgrades in the electrical system. Swap out the old school points distributor for a higher performance and more reliable HEI unit. Itís the same price, easier to find in stores, and will support your higher horsepower goals. For a classic or modern ride, pick up some thicker spark plug wires with low internal resistance. Theyíll deliver more bang to the spark plug. Also, just about every electrical part can be affordably upgraded here, so go for the best spark plugs, coil, cap, and rotor that your budget allows.
    Tackle those corners

    Ignore the suspension, and your street warrior might be a sudden and unfortunate off-roader. Adding power without suspension improvements makes a 1966 GTO just spin the tires and a 2006 GTO have excessive wheel hop. Either way, you arenít going anywhere quickly.
    Controlling all those forces on curvy roads and under hard throttle takes a good suspension. Upgrade your shocks, struts, and springs with more sport-oriented options. Add sway bars for better cornering, or upsize with thicker diameter bars if your current bars are lacking. If your classic is over 25 years old, look underneath at the suspension bushingsóyouíll want to replace those crumbling rubber things right away. Performance versions are cheap, but even new factory equipment rubber bushings will be a dramatic improvement.
    Under pressure

    Tires have improved more in the last 50 years than perhaps any other area of the automobile. If your Packard project came with tubes and re-treads, or your Mustang is running Gatorbacks, itís time to get some new tires. You can go for a period-correct look, while still increasing grip and hydroplane resistance and decreasing stopping distance. Hagerty recommends new tires if yours reach eight years old, regardless of mileage or tread life. It seems obvious, but these are the only four contact points your vehicle has with the road. Inspect them carefully and budget for a good set of tires.
    While this seems like a large checklist, remember that this isnít a side track distracting from your performance goals. This is about making your ride a better, safer, more reliable, and faster vehicle.
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