Three Performance Mods That Are Mostly Useless

Three Performance Mods That Are Mostly Useless

Looking to make your car a mean, performance-tuned machine? If you’re just starting out and on a limited budget, you may be tempted to look in the direction of some of the cheaper modifications that advertise big horsepower gains for a very low cost. However, what you may soon find out is the money you spent on that mod would have treated you better if you had saved it for a high-quality upgrade specially designed for your specific car. That’s because there’s a shocking number of mods and “upgrade” parts out there that are essentially useless when it comes to actually increasing your car’s horsepower. So before you make a mistake and invest in something that won’t help your performance at all, check out this list of three modifications that are essentially useless and avoid them at all costs.

Test Pipes

For many of these people, one of the first modifications they get and install is known as a “test pipe,” or as it’s more commonly referred to, a catalytic converter delete. Your catalytic converter is designed to help control emissions by essentially burning off harmful gasses through a chemical reaction in a chamber, kind of like a filter. The emissions that came out the other end are considerably safer to breathe than exhaust straight from the engine.

For old supercharged and turbocharged cars, this actually had some benefit: the extremely restrictive exhaust systems on these cars made exhaust flow difficult, meaning less clean air could get into the cylinders for each stroke, thus reducing horsepower. However, today’s cars have far better-designed exhausts, allowing more than enough airflow for the exhaust to exit while allowing clean air into the cylinder, thus negating the issue. Today, a test pipe is technically legal for off road use only, and there’s not much of a point in putting one on your daily driver since you’ll only be spitting out higher exhaust levels without any horsepower benefit. If you are concerned about exhaust flow (like if you have one of these old supercharged or turbocharged cars), you should consider picking up a high-flow catalytic converter instead: combined with a proper engine tune these actually do increase your power output without the headaches of failing emissions tests.

Race Fuel

Make no mistake: race fuel is not snake oil. It can make your car substantially more powerful and faster. However, the thing that most people don’t realize is that your car has to be built to handle it. For the average car driving on the roads, race fuel won’t do a thing to actually improve your power, and in fact you could be ruining your car for it. Most race fuels are leaded, which is unlike the unleaded fuel you purchase at the pump. Leaded fuel is incompatible with your catalytic converter, and will quickly clog it up, requiring an expensive repair and leaving you with all sorts of headaches.

When does racing fuel make sense? When your car is built for it. Race fuel does provide a substantial horsepower kick for vehicles with specially-designed superchargers, turbochargers, nitrous systems, or refined timing modifications, but these vehicles are often decked out with modifications that restrict them to track use only. In other words, a car that can handle and make the most out of race fuel is more than likely no longer street legal. If you’re planning on taking your street-legal daily driver to a track day, buy premium unleaded gas from your local fuel station—race fuel isn’t going to do a thing.

Universal Lowering Springs

Your car’s suspension is one of the most important factors in its ability to throw down good lap times. Just like your engine, your suspension needs to be tuned to handle what you want your car to do. If you’re owning the off-road world and climbing over rocks taller than a small child, you’re going to want extremely soft suspension with a lot of give and travel. If you’re tackling tight corners at your local track in an autocross race, you’ll want tighter, lower suspension that’s going to make you feel every bump in the road you drive over.

Because a lower car on stiffer suspension has a lower center of gravity, which allows it to handle sharper corners at higher speeds, lowering springs are an extremely popular modification. However, this is one instance where you without question need to find a high-quality option from a reputable manufacturer who designed the system specifically to your car. Universal lowering kits exist and are designed to help lower ride height on a wide range of makes and models in a single kit. However, they’re anything but the same thing and are actually far more likely to mess up both your car’s handling capabilities and even cause it to break entirely.

When you lower your car, the struts and shock absorbers need to be able to handle the added stress that is placed on them when you install stiffer, lower springs. In most cases, these stiffer springs will just lower your ride height but your shocks will still be tuned to your old spring rates, meaning you’ll lose ground clearance and your car will still wobble like crazy around corners. This leads to an even worse ride than you had before.

Whether it’s a tailor-made adjustable coilover system, or just a good set of struts and lowered springs, they need to be designed to your car’s exact specifications. Talk to a Katy high performance automotive expert about your car and they can help you choose a setup from a reputable aftermarket manufacturer that will actually improve your performance, not make you immediately regret your purchase.

To speak with our experienced team of automotive performance experts, call HP Motorsports now at 281.231.9950 for a free estimate!
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