car tuning

8 Aug 2008

TorqueCars in the press.

TorqueCars are proud to be featured as the website of the month in the September issue of Performance BMW Magazine.

We have been recognized as a very useful resource for those looking for an introduction into the often mystifying world of car tuning and car styling.

The articles on TorqueCars have been written with the intention of making complex tuning principles easily understood.

The world of car tuning certainly moves quickly with new developments that continually push the envelope further. Sadly though the number of innovations is matched by the new scams and downright over optimistic claims about car modification parts.

There are new articles appearing on the site and the latest ones cover electric water pumps, exhaust wraps and we examine cryogenic engine treatments in detail.

The forum has seen a dramatic explosion of new registrations and there are many new active topics and threads starting all the time.

8 Apr 2008

Tuning the Toyota Supra

The Toyota Supra is one of the most impressive production cars in terms of its tuning capabilities. It would appear that the engineers created an engine that were suitable of handling 600 BHP. The final power output of the engine know was reduced to around 350 breach BHP due to pressure from executives who didn't want to be accused of releasing an uneconomical and dangerously powerful car.

Quite simply with a minimal outlay you can produce one of the fastest cars on the road. The first thing you should look at is a the turbo, many Supra owners opted for a larger turbo which increases the mid and high range output of the engine. Select a turbo with a ball bearing rather than a thrust appearing as the spool up quicker, and last longer.

The next step of the tuning project involves the sports computer which manages all aspects of engine timing and boost. With the simple modifications you could be looking at power gains of double your starting baseline. See torquecars for more index tuning advice on the Toyota Supra and the benefits and drawbacks of the many different types of modification on offer.

25 Mar 2008

Biofuels good bad or ugly?

Biofuel has been hailed by many as the answer to our dependence on oil. A bio fuel is one which can be produced from biological matter. The theory is that the fuel crop grows and absorbs Co2 and then it is processed, turned into fuel and burnt in our engines.

Biodiesel is popular with some people starting to produce their own bio-diesel at home with kits. The nearest you can get to petrol is ethanol which is a form of alcohol but a petrol engine needs extensive modification to reliably use ethanol. The latest thinking is that a small percentage of our petrol can harmlessly contain ethanol and this will reduce oil dependence by 10-20% a year for the average motorist.

The downsides though which are some what ignored.

  1. Damage to engines. Ethanol engines are different to petrol one due in part to the corrosive nature of ethanol within an engine. Even a watered down mix will potentially cause damage to an engine, research is currently being conducted into this assertion but the early indicators are not good. Ethanol is also hydroscopic meaning it absorbs water easily so it will mean the average driver without a permenantly full tank will have fuel and water pumping into his engine.
  2. Ethanol is difficult to produce and requires a great deal of energy for the distillation/filtration and processing. We seem to be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
  3. Ethanol produces less energy per equivalent volume of petrol. This means that our fuel consumption/gas mileage is reduced and we end up burning a greater volume of fuel.
  4. Modern diesel engines are not happy to run on unprocessed vegetable oil and again there is an energy overhead in the conversion/manufacturing process.
  5. Crop space is taken up producing fuel crops instead of food crops. This could impact on farming and food production. Where new land is ploughed and used the trapped Co2 in that virgin land is now released into the enviroment.

We clearly need more research into bio-fuels and their future impact before we start switching over to use them. Bio Fuel can only ever be a partial solution to the problem. Our consumer led lifestyles have more impact on Co2 than even a high mileage drivers car emissions. The UK are potential going to introduce compulsory introduction of bio/mineral fuel blends at all pumps. This has already been a policy in the USA and already lobbyists are calling for a reversal of this misguided attempt to save the environment.

14 Mar 2008

The future of tuning?

The new Nissan GTR is certainly turning some heads. It would appear that the gadgets and wizardry that make the car work can perform magic.

We are talking supreme levels of traction and power throughout the rev range. Despite it gargantuan size it handles like a car half its weight. The Nissan R&D boys have turned out something special. The car at is stands is a very complete package. However there is a down side for the car tuner.

To produce such amazing power levels the car has been hardwired to resist tuning. The GTR contains one of the most anti tuning and aftermarket modification defence array we have ever seen. This step was taken to placate the Japanese authorities that the car would not become a 1000bhp monster like the previous incarnations of the Skyline in the hands of Japans premier tuners.

The main ECU is pretty damn hard to open and reprogram due to encryption. Further to this the car has accelerometers and GPS receivers and it is able to work out if the car is faster than it was designed to be. So too much acceleration, faster cornering or sharper braking all trigger the "anti mod" warning, invalidating your warranty at best and at worst the car will start to protest.

This is only the surface, try fitting larger wheels and you again hit the anti tuning defense grid. The speed is also restricted unless the GPS pinpoints your location to a Nissan Recognised track so the car will actually police your speed limit depending on where you are.

I'm sure that many tuners will find ways around all of this and I can't wait to see what extra power and performance can be extracted from this monster. I know the guys at TorqueCars are keenly watching and waiting for updates. This does show the car makers attitude to car customisation and personalisation and it is certainly a worrying trend in automotive design.

6 Mar 2008

Hitting a pheasant - not very pleasant.

Driving along the motorway the other day I noticed an abnormally large number of pheasant corpses lining the road side. To be honest I didn't really pay too much attention - its just one of those things you notice when something happens.

At cruising speed there is not a lot you can do when something decides to take a Kamikaze run at you. I saw a Pheasant sitting in the central reservation, he seemed to have happily negotiated a busy carriageway of oncoming cars and I imagine his Pheasant friends were egging him on to go the whole way.

It then looked up at me and when it decided was the most optimum moment for a Lemming like run it went for it. Although I jammed on the brakes I sadly hit the bird killing it outright.

Then you start to analyse what happened after the event. It was a bird that I hit. Hang on a minute birds are meant to fly? What was up with this pheasant and I assume all of the other pheasants lining the roadside? Was it some kind of suicide pact? Was it a lemming copycat flock of pheasants? I guess I will never know but I have a cracked number plate and small dent to remind me of this brave little bird that went for it.

25 Feb 2008

The ricer or Racer test.

Ricers are those kids who know little about style and subscribe to the "if it makes more noise it must be faster" philospophy. Although Typically aimed at Japansese cars the word has evolved to apply to any kind of tastlessly modified car.

The racer is the ultimate car enthusiast who drives with skill on our roads and only goes fast and pushes the limits on a race track. There are of course many categories in between but this survey will help to identify which classificiation you fall into.

Here is what I got - do let me know what your results are using the feedback section.

The Track day Racer
Congratulations you are officially a Track Day Racer. You shun all things glossy and shiny. You know a lot about tuning and performance cars. You would rather have a standard looking car with a highly tuned engine than drive anything that shouts "look at me!" You accept breakdowns and component failures as the price of trailblazing the cutting edge of car ownership.
Your average weekend will be spend underneath the car tweaking the suspension and tuning up the engine. Alternatively you will always attempt to be the first away at the lights, but only if you are up against something that looks it might be a challenge!

You have the reflexes and driving skills of a pro driver.

Because of your responses to the survey we can make the following, more detailed comments.

You are welcome to join TorqueCars as you enjoy many aspects of cars and driving. You can join here We feel that you would have a lot to contribute to our tuning forums and will certainly learn a lot. You do not enjoy general chat forums so our car specific topics are where you will spend most of your time.

We are sure you will appreciate our mpg calculator so you can now quote your exact fuel consumption and see how much you can save in fuel prices! You will also appreciate the fuel saving tuning and driving tips we have in our main articles section. You are the type of person who expects to get what they pay for. Quality over quanity is your mantra so have a read in our styling section and see which mods would be the most worthwhile. Our articles will help you to avoid making mistakes and purchasing the wrong modifications.

This personality profile report for you demonstrates that your main focus is on speed and performance. There is a lot more to driving than going fast in a straight line. When you learn to take the corners you will achieve a higher place of driving Zen. Perhaps you should look into drifting or track day driving rather than the drag strip.

19 Feb 2008

The pitfalls of car tuning.

Car tuning has become more than a popular hobby it has become a multi $1,000,000 industry. There is no shortage of parts available for every conceivable make and model of car. Sadly though many of the manufacturers' claims are far from the truth. A common ruse used by the car manufacturers is to show the performance gains of their products fitted to a high performance engine. On a 300 BHP car the parts may well deliver a power increase of 30 BHP but on a much smaller engine car producing just 76 BHP you would not be able to see a power gain in excess of a few BHP.

The problem there is more serious than this as some performance parts can actually reduce the performance of a car. At the very least the car ceases to become usable into normal everyday driving conditions. Tuning a car for the use on track is very different to tune in a car that is going to be a daily run around.

In everyday use you need a good balance of economy and reliability along with the performance gain. Four track use, reliability is not so much of an issue, as the car will typically be stripped down and rebuilt after each race, or a few times in each race season. The track car will also spend most of its life in the upper Rev band where most of the power gains are. An everyday car will spend most of its time in the low power band and will be moving slowly so heat buildup is to be avoided.

It's for these reasons that I started writing car tuning articles and posted them on TorqueCars. Having spent a lot of money tuning up a car I quickly learned that many performance parts were not performance enhancing and actually reduced my enjoyment of the car. TorqueCars take a look at the many advantages, disadvantages and benefits of each type of modification. Before buying a performance parts or modifying your car I would strongly recommend that you read some of the articles on TorqueCars and at least be a well informed purchaser.

7 Feb 2008

What is car tuning?

We often talk about car tuning without really defining what we mean. A few years ago it was little used apart to describe what a garage would do to ensure peak engine efficiency. Usually the car is put on a diagnosis computer which reads engine codes and helps the mechanic set the optimum timing for the engine.

Today car tuning involves much more than just setting the car up to its peak operating efficiency. Tuning will have the aim of maximising the power delivery of the engine far and above what the original manufacturer designed it to be.

This is acheived through the addition of aftermarket parts. Induction kits, performance exhausts, uprated suspension and even modifications like adding on a turbo or supercharger or doing an engine swap can be considered tuning in the purest sense.

Have a look at the tuning articles in the car tuning section of this site to get a deeper understanding of what car tuning involves. The best candidates for power gains are usually turbo charged vehicles which through a new computer timing map will offer power gains to the order of 30% or even more in some cases.

The general rule of thumb remains that the more you start with the bigger your return on ivestment will be. So tuning a small engined car will cost as much as the same modifications to a larger engined car but the power gain will hardly be noticed.

You will also need to keep in mind that performance tuning has hidden costs and shows up weaknesses elsewhere in a car. At the least you will be decreasing your servicing schedule intervals and at the worst you may break down more often.

6 Feb 2008

Car tuning and car styling

Regular readers may have noticed that this blog is no longer called Waynne's world. This seemed a little too vague for a blog which features on the cutting edge of car tuning and car styling trends. This blog is intented to support our main site TorqueCars - car tuning and styling

The title will allow a better and narrower focus for all future posts which will revolve around car tuning and car styling. I have a particular interest in driving from a pure fun point of view and will offer commentry as usual on the following areas of car ownership.

Legislation. Both passed legislation and proposed legislation with a look at the impact this will have on the driver.

Ownership of cars. This will include aspects of car maintainance and car care with tips and observations from my long history of car ownership.

Environmental. The green revolution is very much here and the motorist gets blamed for so many things. We will take a driver friendly view and report on trends and developments in the auto world which affect the environmental impact of cars.

While based in good old Blighty we will cover topics of interest to American, Canadian, Asian and Pan Europeans but will stick to the english language.

5 Feb 2008

Ban all the uneconomical cars?

Yesterday on the radio an ex oil company director was quoted as saying that he couldn't see any point of having a car which did less than 35 MPG. He called for an outright ban on all cars which returned less than 25 MPG across the European community.

On the surface of it it seems a sensible proposition and one of the environmental lobbyists will certainly applaud. However, if people want to buy performance car primarily for use on the track this would not be possible if this law were approved.

Drivers who run high performance cars which return 25 MPG or less typically use the car for leisure purposes at the weekends and infrequently and are not major contributors to carbon dioxide emissions. I really can't imagine a group of Ferrari enthusiasts standing around the bar and talking about the MPG that their car returns.

Legislation is already sufficiently tight and the manufacturers are continually pushing the boundaries of fuel economy trading of as little performance as possible. In fact back in the eighties Daihatsu produced a 1 l engine capable of propelling the car to 60 MPH in just 7.x seconds and was able to return of 30 MPG. The current high cost of fuel will more than regulate demand. To produce economical cars are manufactures often use lighter weight material and produce smaller cars which, TorqueCars, feel will increase the number of injuries sustained in traffic accidents.

4 Feb 2008

Old drivers vs young drivers.

The debate or you might call it the battle between the older and younger drivers continues at TorqueCars. Here are the two sides of the argument.

Young drivers feel that they are invincible take unnecessary risks and should be slowed down or restricted from obtaining a driving licence. Compulsory tests have been suggested as have tougher tests and raising the driving age to 20 years old.

Young drivers often gets tarred with the same brush, whereas in reality only a few drive recklessly and at dangerous speeds. Raising the driving aged 20 will not eradicate the problem just to move it to an older age group. And many young drivers take great care in perfecting the art of driving. Young drivers have generally faster reflexes and older drivers and what they lack experience that make up for with reaction times.

This is a difficult debates to pursue objectively, but as with most disagreements the truth generally lies between the two. Young drivers are inexperienced and it is often experience that teaches an older driver the dangers associated with taking risks behind the wheel of a car.
It is fair to say that's driving tests, particularly in the UK, a much tougher than they used to be years ago. There are many drivers in their seventies and eighties who have never taken a driving test and still failed to grasp the theory of how to use a roundabout or other complex junction systems.

Torquecars can certainly see the benefits of retests two rays general driving standards, particularly a theory test to appraise the drivers grasp of current legislation and modern road systems. We certainly see many of our younger drivers taking an interest in the debates on road safety and TorqueCars continues to promote the SAFE enjoyment of the car.

1 Feb 2008

I'm not a brilliant passenger.

I got a lift this morning to work (I know I had determined to walk more but hey it was really cold! Almost 4.5 degrees!) Here are the thoughts that ran through my head.

"Flipping heck the pedal on the right is progressive not just on or off!
Wow that was close, did the driver realise they were so close to that car.
Hmm, oncoming car. Slow down, sloooooooow. There still coming and we're heading straight for them. Phew I wondered what the pavements were for it was a good job they exist.
Whats that noise, oh yes it is the sound of alloy wheels scraping along the kerb. Is the driver deaf? Oh good were moving out a bit.
Ouch, do you have to aim for every single pot hole in the road.
Sit at junction and wait for a gap.
No don't pull out there's a car coming, oh well if you put your foot down it won't be too bad. Ummm accelerate - they are getting closer. Does this thing have an engine.
Ah traffic lights, slow up then its changing to red. No that's the accelerator. Phew that was close"

Then I get out and say, "thank you for the lift. It was much appreciated!" whilst shaking on the inside and vowing to walk next time. (Providing its not too cold or raining, I do have my price!)

Was I really too spineless to speak up? It is just me or do other people find themselves in this situation where out of politeness they have to bite their tongues?

31 Jan 2008

Road deaths - speed or congestion?

When people start moaning about speed enforcement and start to make a case for it they often site road safety as an argument.

These people allege that speed itself is a cause of road traffic accidents. I have no detailed statistics to quote from, but this is a new project of mine so I will report back with my findings soon.

My theory is that congestion and pinch point in traffic are the major causes of traffic accidents.

1) Cars waiting to turn off a main road often cause a tailback. This is a prime opportunity for a driver (at normal road speeds) to come round a blind bend and fail to notice the situation ahead and plough into the car in front.

2) Journey times are longer due to congestion and long journeys are associated with tiredness and reduce driver reactions.

3) Overtaking. This could be put down to speed but generally a driver will miss time an overtake maneuver and hit an on coming car. If our roads flowed well and there were suitable passing places there would be no need for the risky overtake maneuver.

4) Crowded streets lined with parked cars make it hard, or near impossible to spot pedestrians wandering out into the road. Again with less cars on the road we would not have this problem to contend with.

5) Anger and road rage are major causes of bad lapses of judgement resulting in accidents. Stress and tension are greater when the congestion is greater on our roads.

So rather than slowing cars down with speeding fines, which some say is a smokescreen for raising revenue, I would suggest that our road infrastructure is at fault for a major proportion of our road deaths and injuries. If my theory is borne out by the facts I will publish these for all to see.

Oil companies make more money.

We are all pretty depressed at the cost of a tank of fuel. The rising cost of oil is not bad new for everyone. I note this morning that Shell have just posted obscene profits of 18.5 billion euros. With the global demand for oil increasing the price is set to climb even higher. Why though should a company that makes fuel which we all need be posting such high profit annoucements.

To my mind this smacks of a cartel. Competition is supposed to mean lower prices for the consumer but we see that this adage does not seem to apply to the fuel industries (this includes gas and electricity prices as well!)

The profits made come very much from the prices paid by you and I the average consumer. There are some things we can do to encourage more healthy competition in the energy/fuel market.

1) If we shopped around en-mass and boycotted a company it would be forced to lower its prices and then as we start buying from them again another oil company will also drop its prices.

2) We reduce demand for oil. If we agree to walk instead of take the car for every journey we can walk in 20 minutes, we reduce our demand for fuel. We will also be a lot healthier and reduce our cars running costs and maintenance by not using it for short journeys.

This 2 pronged approach requires we all synchronize our habits and mindset. We already have one thing in common - we do not like paying the current high fuel costs and we choke when we see the obscene profits made by the oil industry.

How though can we all shop around with the same buying parameters - here is an idea. Taking the letters that make up the company name we could boycot them if the letters of the current month contain the same letter? Strangely enough it works out that we boycott the main oil companies for 2 months in a row.

11 Jan 2008

Speed cameras that debate continues

Over at TorqueCars the great debate for and against speed cameras continues. Thinking about it there's not many people for speed cameras road safety groups insist that the roads would be safer if the average speed was reduced by one MPH. The fact of the matter though, is the reckless minority in are the ones that cause the accidents therefore rather than targeting all motorists, efforts should be putting to targeting those that insist on exceeding the speed limits by a fair margin.

The most annoying thing about speed cameras, when speaking with our members is the fact that other cars travelling at the correct speed will reduce their speed while passing a camera for fear of being photographed. This causes dangerous bunching of slow moving cars and disrupts the traffic flow. This deceleration and then acceleration causes fuel to be wasted and increases the pollution from cars.

Torquecars certainly do not endorse speeding on the roads, and we actively encourage our members to improve their driving skills, awareness of other drivers, and practice in anticipation of the road ahead. There are surely enough hazards and obstructions for driver to concentrate on without the addition of speed cameras.

The time will come when cars are fitted with a GPS tracking systems which monitor a driver's speed and match this to the driver's location and automatic fines can be sent should the driver exceed the speed limit of the road he is on. This move will be very controversial, but cars are already being fitted with tracking devices for insurance purposes whereby the driver agrees not to use the car during certain hours in return for a lower premium. Luxury cars have essentially what amounts to a black box recorder and police have prosecuted drivers after an accident based on the evidence in a of the black box.

I've never really got the speed cameras as a safety thing. I can't help but think that most people are missing the point of the accident statistics. The fact is that there are so many accidents on a certain road is because there are so many cars on the road. Simple law of averages. If you compared the number of cars and accidents today and obtained a ratio then compared this with to say at 20 years ago I'm sure that the accident rate would be substantially reduced. Our cars today are safer both for the occupants and for pedestrians and due to congestion road speeds are reduced inner urban areas and due to congestion.

10 Jan 2008

Car tire puncture repairs

One of the annoying things about owning a car is the fact that the odds of getting a puncture are so much greater a if you have a new tire. I seem to go a long period of time without getting a puncture or any kind of tire damage, and then, when I purchase a new set of tyres I get a puncture in At least one.

One thing that I did learn was that punctures can be repaired if the puncture is in the central third of the tire. If apparently repairs in the outer third are less reliable due to the flexing of the tire in normal use. It is handy to knows that many punctures can be repaired because many tire fitters will use this opportunity to sell you a new tire. Of repair typically takes 15 to 20 minutes and providing you do not put the repaired tire under any undue stress whilst it is curing the tire will last as long as a normal tire.

In the the years gone by you had the option of adding a new inner tube, unfortunately, this is not possible with modern tyres which are marked tubeless. This tyres have ridges on the inside to add to their rigidity, but these ridges will rub and wear away the inner tube causing a potential blowout at high speed.

There are are a number of new liquids which can be pumped into a tire which automatically sealed the puncture. On bicycles these can be very effective but TorqueCars have yet to see and assess the effectiveness of these liquids in car tyres.

9 Jan 2008

UK law changes and updated proposals

Firstly I must apologise for not making any block entries for the last 30 days. I've been suffering from a condition known as bloggers brain.

A notice a couple of prominent car related news stories have hit the headlines recently firstly a lady has been in stopped and a prosecuted for driving too slowly on a motorway. If she managed to hit to the incredible speed of 20 miles per hour. She proved to be a danger to herself and other motorists and was seen driving erratically swerving in and out of her lane and jabbing her break on and off. Her licence has been removed and she will need two retake her driving test. This case highlights a number of issues but mainly that of drivers who are no longer healthy enough to drive a car safely. These cautious drivers cause a danger to all those around them, Torquecars members have put forward the suggestion of compulsory RE tests every 10 years for those over the age of 16 which will include a full medical.

I also note this morning the UK law relating two deaths from careless driving will probably be amended from a prison sentence to a community related sentence. Sadly if someone did cause of death from driving without due care and attention, a moment's lapse of concentration, they will have this on their conscience for the rest of their lives. A prison sentence it does seem too harsh in this situation but is without doubt the correct sentence for someone engaged in a case of reckless driving. Causing death by using a mobile telephone whilst driving will be regarded as an act of reckless driving.

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