There is so much more to racing down the track than just pressing the accelerator. By their very nature, cars are very heavy and the heavier they are, the more power they require to achieve top speeds. Can you reduce the weight of your car? Of course, but you have to do it the right way to make sure your favorite racer is still safe and functional. We’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to help you out, and outlined a few things not to do too.
Carbon + Fiber = Weight Loss
Your car is made of aluminum, steel, plastic or some combination of the three. While plastic doesn’t weigh much, the aluminum and steel parts add a lot of weight to the car. You don’t want to compromise the structural integrity of the car, but some of the heavier pieces can be replaced without putting the car or yourself at risk in the event of an accident.
A full-sized hood can weigh up to 50 pounds. By replacing it with a 9-pound carbon fiber hood, you can save yourself up to 41 pounds. Trunk lids, fenders and door panels can also be replaced with carbon fiber, removing dozens of pounds from the overall weight of your car.
Carbon fiber rims for your tires are also available, and can reduce the weight of your car dramatically. Unfortunately, carbon fiber rims are also prohibitively expensive, costing $4,000 – $7,000 per rim. Unlike aluminum or steel rims, they don’t bend. When carbon fiber rims fail, they crack or shatter, and cannot be repaired. They have to be replaced, at that same extremely high price.
Strip the Interior
While having somewhere to sit is usually a good thing, if you’re trying to drop as much weight as possible, then you’re probably not going to have passengers either. Therefore, there’s no reason to have any extra seats.
By stripping out the back seats, the passenger seat, the carpeting and any other extraneous interior stuff, you can easily drop more than 200 pounds, making your car move that much faster.
Feel the Breeze
Glass is heavy. While your window glass is helpful for aerodynamics, it’s also a big weight drag if you’re trying to reduce weight.
The windows in your car can add up to 100 pounds to the overall weight of your vehicle.
If windows are key to the aerodynamics of your, car, consider plastic windows that can cut the overall weight down by up to 50 percent. While they’re not perfect, due to their tendency to pick up scratches and haze under UV light, they are great for weight reduction.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Your car can lose quite a bit of weight if you don’t want to be too comfortable. While it might be nice to enjoy some tunes or crank up the air conditioner on a hot day, both of these systems add quite a bit of weight to your car that can be sacrificed in favor of speed. Pulling your air conditioning compressor can save you a few pounds, as can removing the stereo and speakers.
A few pounds here and there might not seem like much, but if you’re scraping for every ounce to make your car as fast as possible, then every extra piece of metal you can shed will help.
What Not to Do
Now that you have a few ideas on how to reduce the weight of your car, here are a few things that you shouldn’t do when putting your car on a diet.
- Don’t remove the seatbelts. Not only is the weight reduction going to be negligible, it puts you at greater risk in the event of a car accident. If you’re planning on racing, consider investing in a good five-point harness rather than a traditional seatbelt.
- Do your research! Some integral components, such as the alternator and battery, can be replaced by smaller and lighter versions designed for racing, but they may not always be compatible with your car. Make sure all your parts work together before you start swapping them out.
- Keep safety in mind. You should always keep a safety kit handy when you’re working on your car, no matter how complicated the job. Even if all you need to treat is the occasional cut or busted knuckle, it should always be part of your tool kit.
- Consider a roll cage. When you’re looking for ways to cut weight, the last thing you might be thinking of is adding more. Carbon fiber body panels are a great way to cut weight, like we mentioned above, but will not stand up to the same impacts as aluminum or steel panels. Adding a roll cage will add a little weight but will keep you safer in the event of an accident.
Cars are a lot heavier than they need to be, especially when it comes to racing. If you need to cut some weight, there are plenty of ways to do that safely and effectively. Be smart about your car’s weight loss and you’ll be racing down the track in no time.