Improving the Handling of Your Ride (Part II)
In the second part of our guide to handling upgrades for your ride, we turn the spotlight onto strengthening the chassis of your vehicle through the use of various purpose-made bars.
A typical car chassis is supported by four wheels and four shock absorbers. These shock absorbers serve to ensure the comfort of the passengers by absorbing the imperfections and bumps found on most roads. However, certain chassis, due to either design or age, may not be structurally sound enough to support the shock absorbers. This would result in the impact of the bumps being partially absorbed by the chassis instead. Likewise, when navigating a high speed bend, the centrifugal force which causes the car to lean towards the outside of a curve will cause flex in the chassis due to the load transfer.
In theory, such lack of rigidity should not exist as it is a sign of structural weakness and hampers the efficiency of the vehicle's suspension. Such chassis flex will, over time, result in fatigue and eventually failure. In addition, such flexing will result in inconsistent handling characteristics from the vehicle.
A basic solution to correct such chassis flex is to install strut bars which tie the two parallel strut towers together. Such strut bars can be installed on both the front and the rear strut towers and they serve to provide extra stiffness between them. When taking a corner, the shock absorber may not fully absorb the impact of the load transfer. This would result in the shock tower, which forms part of the chassis, having to absorb part of the impact as well. By tying the two strut towers together, it reduces the flexing by distributing the impact to both towers instead of just merely one.
Undercarriage braces also serve to reduce chassis flex when your vehicle travels over uneven and bumpy roads. On such roads, the center section of the vehicle's chassis will experience different levels of flex caused by the weight transfer between the front and rear wheels. Such undercarriage braces are often attached to multiple points and serve a similar purpose of reducing chassis flex.
With coilovers, anti-roll bars, strut bars as well as undercarriage braces in place, you will instantly feel a huge improvement in how your vehicle handles. Steering response will be sharper and turn in more stable. Body roll will also be greatly reduced and you can also expect higher stability and grip in corners.
More often than not, the handling department often gets overlooked during the pursuit of raw power. But what good is 600Nm of torque when you eventually end up sliding all over the place due to extreme oversteer?
Missed the previous issue on our handling technique? Click here to review them again. You may like tof ind out how Mobil 1™ benefits taxi drivers in Las Vegas despite the desert heat. Find out how Mobil 1™ protects your car in extreme temperature and high mileage.
This article is written by Leow Julen, contributing writer for Top Gear Singapore, and Samuel Kang, editor for Rev magazine.