Tuning a Daily Driver

Modified Dodge Viper

Making your car an extension of your personality and a reflection of your style is the point of car tuning. Many different ways exist to tune your car. However, what if you are tuning a daily driver? Can you have a well-tuned vehicle that looks great and still use it for your daily commute? The short answer is “yes.” However, you will have to go about the process somewhat differently than those who are tuning a car that is not driven every day.

Your Considerations

Tuning a car is a tradeoff. Vehicles come from the factory with a midrange setup, designed for the average consumer and the average commute. This setup gives the vehicle moderate power, while still attempting to provide fuel economy and ride comfort. Tuning is a process of sacrifice; each item that you change will result in a different ride and a different comfort level. Here are a few of the areas that are most frequently changed by tuners, as well as what they do to your ride:

Oversized Wheels – Adding a set of huge wheels to your ride will help it fit in with your crowd of friends and stand out against the herd of average vehicles on the road. However, these wheels can alter your ride in many other ways. First, oversized wheels will detract from your ride comfort. Second, if you go beyond about 3% of the original setup will put strain on your transmission, which can result in early transmission damage. It also wreaks havoc on your odometer accuracy, as well as your speedometer. For the best benefits, use a larger wheel with a lower profile tire to keep the overall setup the same.

Suspension Tuning – Tuning your suspension is all about gaining better handling through curves. However, the stiff suspension that results is often not what the tuner expected. The ride comfort of your vehicle is dramatically reduced, though handling is increased substantially.

Engine Tuning – The vast range of engine enhancements give your car more power. The trade-off is, of course, that more power means more fuel consumption. In a daily driver, this can be a dramatic difference, especially if you have a “lead foot.” Each aspect of engine tuning will further reduce your fuel economy, as your quest for more speed continues.

As you can see form just these few areas, tuning a daily driver is a series of compromises. You can attain the look and performance that you want, but it will require sacrifice. However, modest modifications will give you many of the benefits that you want and fewer drawbacks.

2 Comments on "Tuning a Daily Driver"

  1. Seems you have taken a very negative note to this – and while there can be a lot of negative connotations to car modifications thanks to the so called 'boy racers'. This is not always the end all of the concept. Fact of the matter is everything in manufacturing is cost and budget based. Even NASA will skimp on some things in their designs so that the project falls into budget. For car manufacturers this also means they can sell uprated "closer-to-the-original-concept" versions of their vehicle as well as their own accessories. Contrary to what most believe – a car is created so that it can be assembled easily. Don't believe me look at a car's intake – it not only has bad airflow but in a lot of instances it is designed so badly that it actually provides LESS economy. I'm not saying "Slap on a bodykit and some NOS stickers to be cool" – but to make blatant claims that someone can not personalize to their own tastes and still have better efficiency than factory is very back dated. This has been done successfully since the dawn of the car (the history of Lamborghini started on this concept). You can do some things, and the only sacrifice will be time and money. Its called IMPROVEMENT, and the car companies themselves even do this.

  2. Yes, I happen to disagree a bit with the author's overall negative viewpoint on these modifications. It's a sacrifice that most people who will be doing these modifications don't mind making. For example, when I add something to my 300ZX that makes it more powerful, the last thing I think about is fuel economy. That's not why I bought that car – I'll save that for the Civic. I don't mind suspension being rough, because it allows me to take corners faster.

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