Saving weight is a very effective way to improve the cars driving and drifting abilities. It improves just about everything a car has to offer: Acceleration, braking, handling and fuel economy are all improved.
Weigh The Car
Before you start with your weight saving program the first step is to weigh the car as-is. Don't be surprised if the total weight is different from what the the specifications sheet is telling you. Factory spec. sheets don't include the liters of fluids, oil and gas.
You can also find out how much weight rests on each tire. This is important information to find out the factory stock weight distribution. There are special weight scales to corner weight an object, found at any professional tuning workshop.
WEIGH ALL FOUR CORNERS INDIVIDUALLY
Grip is a function of weight so an important aspect of tuning is the amount of weight pushing each tire on the road. And since your only contact patch with the road are the tires it's really important that you take weight distribution into account.
Weigh the car first to verify the total amount of weight you've stripped out. Then corner weigh your car to get valuable information for later in the tuning process.
Strip Your Car
The cheapest way to tune a car is simply to strip it. Take out anything you dont need. All the parts added up together will bring down the weight significantly.
If a car weighs 1500 kilograms and has 200 HP the power-to-weight ratio is 7,5. So for every 7,5 kg removed you should gain about the same as adding 1 HP. The same formula applies to torque, but saving weight is more than just more power. It really improves everything in terms of performance.
Don't just take out random parts. Investigate and plan ahead on the things you would like to remove and consider if they are worth removing.
There's plenty of stuff you can take out.
Saving Weight Simple:
- Stereo / Speakers
- Tire Floor Cover
- Spare Wheel and Jack
- Front & Rear Floor Mats
- Rear Seat
- Rear Hatch Cover
- Passenger Seat
- Door Panels
- Sound Deadening
Saving Weight Advanced:
- Air Conditioning
- Passenger Airbag
- Most Electric Options
- Excess wiring
All of this can easily add up to 100+ kilograms. At 7,5 kg/HP power-to-weight ratio that's about 13 HP power gain. And the improved handling, braking and fuel economy.
The rear seat, stereo, spare tire, AC, etc, its totally up to you how much you want to strip out. Just remember that if you would also like to use your car as a daily driver I suggest you leave the interior intact as much as possible. Because you really do sacrifice comfort and practicality for performance.
Saving Weight & Lightweight Material
If you think that stripping the car is not enough than you're going to have to buy aftermarket lightweight parts. The most popular material used in car tuning is carbon. It is very lightweight and super strong. And even though it's very expensive this material is in shortage all over the world. Alternative options are kevlar and fiberglass, but these aren't cheap either.
It's true that every bit of weight counts but with such expensive materials you should carefully think it over. While a carbon hood looks great and improves performance by reducing the overall weight, buying one sets you back around $1000 to $2000.
If we go back to our above example of the 7,5 power-to-weight ratio, at 25 kg of weight reduction you should have the same as a 3 1/3 HP increase. At $1300 paid for the hood that is $390 per HP!
Because a carbon hood saves a lot of weight and has quite a high center-of-gravity, a carbon hood or trunk lid might help a little, but if you aren't in a fortunate financial position you start to wonder if there aren't cheaper ways to gain extra performance.
But with enough money to spend, why not? Because still every bit of saving weight helps, even those $1800 racing seats. Carbon just happens to be very expensive so if you don't have the money you should really consider to go after another upgrade first.
CARBON HELPS REDUCING THE WEIGHT SIGNIFICANTLY
For some cars there are even full carbon bodykits available. Listed below are more examples of carbon parts.
- Carbon Front Hood
- Carbon Trunk Lid
- Carbon Racing Seats
- Carbon Side Mirrors
- Carbon Doors
- Carbon Interior Panels
- Carbon Diffuser
There are also other parts available made from other lightweight materials, much lighter than their stock counterpart.
- Steering Wheel (without airbag)
- Lightweight Aluminum Racing Wheels
- Aluminum Racing Exhaust
- Aluminum Fuel Cell
- Lexan/Acrylic Windows
There's not much more that you can do about the weight, saving weight is no magic formula. Just remember that for tuning your car to race or drift on the track weight distribution is much more important than the total weight.