Monday, July 5, 2010

Automotive Modifications for Drifting - Continued

In our last article, we discussed the first four typical modifications for drift cars: drive train, tires, interior and exterior. This article will focus on the final three customization areas (engine, steering and suspension), and will touch base on some of the less well known mods that drifters often seek for their car. When thinking about drifting, whether professionally or otherwise, it is imperative that drivers know the ins and outs. Some may learn techniques easily, and others may have more funding for modifications, but it is important to understand balance, and further, that one without the other useless.

Before understanding engine modifications, one must understand braking horsepower. Braking horsepower is defined as the quantity of a motor's horsepower without the decline in force caused by the gearbox, generator, differential, water pump and other supportive parts. In other words, real horsepower that is rendered to the driving wheels is less than what the vehicle is actually rated for. The differences in horsepower and braking horsepower are crucial for a drifter to understand in order for him or her to accurately modify their car for drifting.

When a driver is considering engine mods for a drift car, it is imperative that they monitor the bhp that they will be achieving with such modifications. Too much braking horsepower in a drift car makes it extremely difficult to control, even for the most advanced drifter, but bhp is still a preference, not something that is written in stone. Most drifters like to achieve a braking horsepower somewhere between 100 and 1000. However, bhp is less important than engine customizations, such as, cooling systems.

A good cooling system for a drift car is critical because these engines are pushed so hard and thus, are easily overheated. Additionally, because the car is driven in at a linear angle, the air flow to the radiator is restricted, so drivers must balance these issues with an upgraded cooling system. Manufacturers, like MimoUSA, Greddy and Fujita, all make racing radiators and cold air intake systems that are designed to cool engines that are expected to perform at higher temperatures than normal. Another technique that is commonly applied is to V-mount the radiator and intercooler, thus improving the flow of air into these areas. For those that are contemplating even minimal amounts of drifting, these cooling modifications are a must. Without them, one risks serious damage to major components under the hood.

The goal in drifting is simple...get your car sideways and keep it going sideways as long as possible. One type of modification that can help to achieve this is steering mods. Not only do steering customizations help to achieve one's angle goals, but they can also aid in spin recovery. Typical steering mods include, spacers on the steering rack, tailor-made steering racks, custom tie rod ends and machining the spindles. Steering modifications coupled with an extraordinary suspension system will make any car a much better drifter, assuming that the driver knows what they are doing.

When most people think about modifying their suspension system, they are contemplating adjusting the height of their ride, all over. In other words, they may want to lower their car by three inches, but when they lower it, the effect will be all over the car. Drifters are a little different. While they do typically adjust the height of their drift car, it is simply a personal preference, not something that is written in stone. Additionally, the front of the car is typically higher than the rear of the car. Rear sway bars are typically upgraded, and available from a variety of manufacturers. One new appeal to drifters is manufacturers that are producing specially tuned drift suspension systems. These systems are fairly new and very expensive, so it is likely that drifters will not be utilizing these until they become more affordable. Other suspension mods include increasing spring and damper rates.

As stated in our last article, drift modifications present a kind of catch twenty-two. They are expensive to do without backing from sponsors, but the only way to get sponsors is to have a good drift game. In other words, you have to put the money into the modifications first and then hope for sponsors later. Drifters often look for parts on auction sites, because the prices appear to be lower than those on sites that are specifically designed for performance and aftermarket parts and accessories. However, one must remember that many sellers on auction sites are not selling genuine parts, and they often jack up the cost of shipping to increase their profit margin.

One must carefully choose who they will deal with when buying their parts and accessories. One real benefit is that often times, most of the parts that drifters buy for their vehicles are easily installed without the aid of a mechanic or body shop.

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