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20 October 2021
ZHNG MY CAR 1: Basic car modifications

Looking for car modifications that’ll make your ride drive better and stand out in a crowd? You could do worse than to enhance your car with one (or more) of these parts!


When it comes to maintaining a car, people typically fall into one of two camps.

In one camp are the purists, who believe that their cars’ designers and engineers know best. They choose to replace parts with original items, enjoying the car as designed. In the other camp, however, are the enthusiastic modifiers — those that believe that anything and everything can be improved further. Lighter parts, larger wheels, stiffer suspension; the list goes on.

Certainly, car modification isn’t a binary thing. There are some car owners more, uh, enthusiastic than others. If you’re just starting out on the car modification process, you would probably want to take it nice and easy. So, to help you along, we’ve put together this list of what we consider basic car modifications; things that can be done in a few hours, without additional approval from the authorities.

Wheels and tyres

Swapping out your wheels and/or tyres are the most basic of car modifications in Singapore. Whether it’s to make your car look better with larger wheels, or to fit more performance-oriented rubber, new ‘shoes’ are a must for most drivers.

Before going out and buying the largest wheels that’ll fit, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Larger wheels equate to a larger contact patch; while generally a good idea, there are pros and cons to them.

First, the good. With larger & wider wheels, you’ll experience better road-holding and enhanced grip, bringing with it better handling. However, the increased tyre width and wheel weight might negatively impact fuel consumption and ride comfort.

For a comprehensive guide on swapping out your wheels and tyres, check out our Tyre Basics 101 guide!

Suspension

For comparison, here’s a set of factory suspension on the left, and coilovers on the right.

So you’ve fitted sporty performance tyres that offer more grip, but they’re being let down by your car’s roly-poly suspension. Time to get a suspension system that matches your tyres’ performance…

If you’re on a bit of a budget, lowering springs reduce your car’s ride height by a preset amount. As their name suggests, these suspension springs primarily serve to reduce the gap between the tyres and wheel well. However, they reduce your car’s centre of gravity as a nice bonus, which should mitigate the annoying roly-polyness.

Feeling a bit spendy? Replacing your car’s factory suspension with a set of coilovers will do wonders to the way it handles. They’re a customisable (and often adjustable) suspension setup that provides a lower ride height, stiffer damping, and even increased camber.

Waiting to get the most out of your factory suspension before upgrading? Our suspension guide shows you five telltale signs that your suspension components are at the end of their lifespan.

Brakes

Now you’ve gotten the basics sorted, it’s time to look at how efficiently you come to a stop. How fast your car slows down is just as important – if not more important – than how quickly your car accelerates.

There are many components to a brake system, including the calipers, pads, and hoses. Typically, the latter two are where you should start if you’re after better stopping performance and brake feel. Common upgrades include high-performance brake pads with a metallic or ceramic compound, together with stainless-steel brake hoses that minimise expansion under pressure.

What if you want even more braking performance? You’ll need to start looking at aftermarket packages that swap the caliper and discs out for larger units. With larger calipers come more pistons (typically 4 or more), increasing the clamping force of your pads against your discs.

Air Filter / Intake

With your wheels/tyres, suspension, and brakes done, it’s time for a bit of fiddling about in the engine bay. Swapping an air filter or installing an air intake is such a beginner-friendly task, you could simply do it yourself at home!

The simplest way to extract a bit of extra performance is with an aftermarket drop-in air filter. These filters are the exact same dimensions as your factory paper air filter, but are of a different material; typically cotton gauze or stainless steel mesh. As an added benefit, these filters can be washed and reused.

If you’re after a bit more performance, an open pod filter or aftermarket air intake system might be more suitable. Typically eliminating your factory air intake, these aftermarket air intake systems are redesigned. The goal? To draw larger amounts of cool air from outside the engine bay into your combustion chamber.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to avoid purportedly ‘universal’ air filter or intake systems, and instead go for something that’s been specifically designed for your car.


Not ready to zhng your car, and prefer to keep things as-is? Read our other maintenance articles to help keep your car in tip-top shape!