Reducing the weight and lightening a car.

Fully Explore "Weight reduction"

Losing some weight from your car will help all aspects of performance.

As there is less weight to pull around the acceleration will be quicker. Braking will also be better and general handling will improve.

So what can you do to reduce the weight of your car?

Wheels: fitting alloy wheels will generally help to reduce the weight. As the wheels are unsprung and will hit every road bump and dip you will get much sharper handling.

Lighter wheels are not always as strong so there is a bit of a compromise to be made here. Bodywork can be lightened.

The heaviest panel in any car is generally the bonnet and boot.

Replacing this with a carbon fibre (looks cool) or fibreglass (will look plasticy) will dramatically reduce the weight. The bonnet may well flex at high speed so be sure to fit proper fasteners at each edge.

To save money buy a scratched or imperfect carbon fibre bonnet and then paint it - it will look standard and you will have the benefit of a lighter car.

The front wings can also be easily replaced with most wings bolting on.

Again a carbon fibre or fibreglass option will cut this weight down. Don't worry too much about losing protection - the box section of chassis and the suspension mounts will still be quite protective. Internally you can remove just about everything.

Pull out the sound deadening the carpets, the dashboard the radio and even the seats. Replace the drivers seat with a lightweight drivers seat with fixed height.

In the engine you should use stainless steel exhaust headers which are not only lighter than cast iron ones they will give you a performance benefit.

Air conditioning and even power steering pumps can be quite heavy so remove these and change the gearing of the steering if it is too heavy.

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Glass is another weight causing item. Removing the glass from your vehicle and replacing the windows with perspex will shave off  a few more pounds.

When  you start getting down to the nuts and bolts you really need to be fussy about the additional weight of performance parts and go with the lighter option. Finally throw out all the junk that accumulates in the car.

We've known some people drill holes down the centre of bolts and shaving metal of mounts just to keep the weight down. Every little saving adds up and if you are serious about weight reduction you should stop at nothing to achieve your aim.

The spare wheel is also pretty heavy so ditch the spare, and carry a tyre repair spray can or similar or replace it with a lighter space saving spare. Also a full tank of fuel can weigh a fair bit so I know many drivers that deliberately run round on a half full tank (the pessimists tanks are half empty of course!)

A small turbo charged engine can more than match the power of large heavy NASP engine so doing an engine swap can make big weight reduction without sacrificing your performance.

Downsides to weight reduction

It is worth noting that a lighter car loses some traction. We have noted in track use that lap times have increased on some cars due to weight reduction.

The cornering ability was actually reduced as there was less weight pushing the tyres into the road. It is more noticeable on wet tracks or where there is a loose surface. It is also possible to make the back end so light it starts to break away on cornering.

You might think this is fun and it can be but going sideways will lose precious seconds on a track.

A lighter car will also fare worse in a colission. Less protective mass around you will increase the risk of injury or serious damage. We are pleased that most tracks insist on roll cages and although this adds weight it will help rigidity and cornering.

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Your Constructive comments on this article

5 Responses to “Weight reduction”

  1. Paul says:

    I did have a haircut last week. Does this count?

  2. Jason says:

    will taking a crap before hand work too?

  3. Ryan says:

    New rule: No-one over 100kg can ride with me.

  4. Rubasaur says:

    lighter fly wheel lighter pullys, lighten axle, lightend car frame, shorter exhasut.

  5. ash says:

    all the stickers are coming off the merc straight away!!! lool