Hot Rods and Rice Rockets: Go Fast, Stop Faster

by : Matthew Rimcrest

For some people, modifying their car isn't just a hobby, it's a passion. It's an expression of their personality and there is so much you can do, so many details to attend to: speed, style, sound, and comfort are a few of the key areas enthusiasts like focus on. Speed is a particularly popular choice as almost every car on the planet can be made faster.

There are really two different types of performance parts available; fabricated and bolt-on. Fabricated parts are parts that are made, by hand, for you by a mechanic or professional fabricator. These parts are typically expensive, time consuming to make, and again, expensive. Bolt-on performance parts are the most popular choice as the parts are engineered for specific vehicles, they are readily available for purchase, and usually simple to install. Popular bolt-on power modifications include cold air intakes, K&N air filters, lightened pulleys, exhaust systems, hi-flow catalytic converters, and headers. By replacing factory parts with aftermarket parts, you can extract more horsepower from your engine giving you more power on the streets and usually better fuel economy too. The increase in MPG's comes from the engine not having to work as hard to produce the power you need. That may be tough to understand, so try thinking of it like this: if you are running up a steep hill, you have to work harder and go slower than if you were on a flat surface. You also can't run for as long uphill because you'll have to stop and catch your breath more often than if you were running on a flat surface. This is how your car feels with it's stock parts, but you can make it run better and faster than ever by giving it some aftermarket performance love.

I've known a lot of people that spent every spare dime on parts to make their car go faster, but they never put any money into suspension and brakes. Going fast is fun, but being able to stop is even more important. When your car is accelerating and traveling at greater speeds, the suspension and brakes take extra punishment. This is why it's a good idea to at least ensure that your brakes are receiving proper maintenance. If you're a true car-modder like myself, you'll probably want to spend a little time researching parts to find some quality upgrades you can do to ensure you and your car's safety. Some of the things I've looked at doing or have done include DOT 4 rated brake fluid, performance brake pads, oversized brake rotors (or even a Big Brake Kit), a good set of street tires, lowering springs, coilovers, shocks, and even a beefier set of swaybars. Focusing on these parts can make driving your car or truck much more enjoyable and controllable at speed.

As a last word, I want to cover the topic of safety. Modding a vehicle can be exciting, fun, and rewarding, but it is very important to remember that there are other people on the road too. If you are going to work on your car, make sure that you have the time, tools, and knowhow to do the job right. If you fail to properly install aftermarket performance parts, you put yourself and everyone else on the road at risk of injury or death. So stay safe and have fun, if you're worried about installing something correctly, consult a professional mechanic for guidance.

For more information about modifying your engine and brakes, click on the following links: baer brakes, baer decela rotors, and K & N.