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The golden era of the American muscle car created some truly legendary
names in automotive history. Among them were two names that remain famous
even today: the Pontiac GTO and the Dodge Challenger. On this blog, we’ll
take a look at these two famous muscle machines and compare them head-to-head.
Pontiac was always renowned as a company that wasn’t afraid to try
things. Founded by General Motors back in 1926, it eventually took over
and supplanted the company’s Oakland brand name. While Pontiac was
known for engineering feats and distinctive styling choices, the car they
truly became known for didn’t come around until several years had passed.
The GTO actually got its start as an option package for the Pontiac Tempest,
but by 1966 the GTO became its own standalone model. In 1972 and 73, it
once again went back to becoming an option package for the Le Mans and
then in 1974 for the compact-sized Pontiac Ventura. So in reality, the
GTO in its heyday was only produced from the years 1966 to 1971, making
them one of the rarest classic muscle cars still on the market. Pontiac
gave the GTO another limited run in the mid-2000s, but the vehicles disappeared
with the Pontiac brand after General Motors declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy
and was forced to reorganize.
Dodge, on the other hand, is a brand that’s still going strong today,
and the Challenger is the name that put them on the map in terms of muscle
cars. First introduced in 1969, the original Challenger was intended to
be Dodge’s entry into the exploding “pony car” market
started by, you guessed it, the Ford Mustang. Despite the fact that it
was popular with consumers for its immense number of options, its late
arrival coupled with the declining pony car market meant a fairly short
lifespan for the first generation, ending production in just 1974.
Dodge revived the Challenger name just four years later for the 1978 market,
but they were far from the muscle car classics that built it. It wasn’t
until the 2008 model year that the Challenger came back to life in the
modern adaptation of the original classic that we’ve come to know today.
When you think of muscle cars, you think of a big-block V8 engine, and
these two were no exceptions. The Pontiac GTO’s first generation
came with two different engines: a 389 cubic-inch, 6.4 liter V8, and then
a 400 cubic-inch 6.6 liter V8 starting in 1967. The second-generation
saw an even bigger 7.5 liter 455 cubic-inch model hit the market, creating
360 horsepower with 500 foot-pounds of torque at 2,700 RPMs—numbers
that many vehicles still can’t match today!
The mid-2000s GTOs were produced by Holden in Australia, another subsidiary
of GM, and contained one of two LS engines: a 5.7 liter V8 that produced
350 horsepower and a 6.0 liter V8 that produced 400 horsepower.
The Dodge Challenger’s engine options were extremely numerous. Even
though the first generation only lasted five model years, the car came with
eight different engine models, ranging from a 198 cubic inch slant-six to a
440 cubic inch, 7.2 liter V8. These options included a 426 cubic-inch
Hemi V8, a name which Chrysler and Dodge have long been synonymous with.
The 1970 Hemi engine produced an incredible 425 horsepower, one of the
highest power outputs of the day. However, these engines are tough to
find today as very few of them sold due to the extra $1,228 it added to
the sticker cost.
Today’s Dodge Challengers also has an abundance of engine choices,
ranging from a 3.5 liter V6 (now a 3.6L in today’s models) all the
way up to a 6.4L Hemi V8. However, Dodge and Chrysler are continuing to
push this model to even greater extremes. In 2015, Dodge introduced the
Challenger SRT Hellcat, an ultra-high-performance model which sports a
6.2 liter V8 that produces 707 horsepower and has a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds.
The top speed? 202 miles per hour. And it’s street legal.
Finally, Dodge has gone a step further still, producing an extremely limited
run of SRT Demon models, which feature an all-new 6.2-liter V8, complete
with a 2.7 liter supercharger. Using regular premium fuel from your local
gas station, it can output 808 horsepower, but with 100 octane or higher
fuel, it can produce 840. Dodge has announced they’ll only produce
3,300 of these vehicles.
If you own a Pontiac GTO or a Dodge Challenger and want help turning it
into the speed machine of your dreams, turn to the experts at HP Motorsports!
Call us at (281) 231-9950 to learn more today.
Movies have engrained actors, characters, stories, and events into iconic
parts of our culture. They’ve also done this for cars—as such
a critical part of American culture, cars have played heavy and prominent
roles in movies, television shows, and so much more. Many of these cars
have become so famous that they’ve continued to influence the automotive
industry even today and encouraged imitations and recreations alike.
Here are ten of the most famous cars in film and television history.
Everyone has their own opinions about musicals, but nearly everyone agrees
about one thing: Greased Lightning is arguably the most famous car in
movie history. Heck they even wrote a whole song about it. To be more
specific, the white Greased Lightning that John Travolta’s character
drove in the movie
Grease was a 1948 Ford Deluxe, and thanks to its appearance in this film, a large
number of these vehicles still survive today and are a popular restoration project.
The 1980s were all about cool action-packed shows like Magnum P.I. and
MacGyver. Among that lineup is a show that few people remember for its
substance, but everyone remembers for the car—Knight Rider. KITT (short for Knight Industries Two Thousand) was a car packed with
all of the coolest gadgets and artificial intelligence as well as one
of the strangest-looking steering wheels ever seen.
At the height of the golden era of the muscle car, there was one that stood
out above the rest: the General Lee. The iconic burnt-orange 1969 Dodge
Challenger was as big of a star of
The Dukes of Hazzard as the rest of the cast was. Sporting a beefy engine measuring either 318,
383, or 440 cubic inches in size, this car had the power to pull off the
massive number of stunts the show put it through.
When it comes to iconic superheroes, Batman is arguably the king. First
debuting in Detective Comics #27 in 1939, the character has exploded into
an intellectual property mega-giant with multiple movies, a television
series, video games, and so much more. His car is nearly as famous as
he is—the Batmobile has been played by a number of classic cars.
Arguably the most famous is the one from the TV series, which was a modified
Lincoln Futura concept.
Great Scott! There’s one car whose image has long withstood the test
of time—mainly because of its ability to
literally travel through time. The AMC DeLorean was the signature car-turned-time-machine in the
Back to the Future series, making an important appearance in all three movies. To date, it’s
estimated that no more than a few hundred still exist, and those kept
in showroom condition are considered treasures by film fanatics.
These clunky German imports were made famous not only by the fact that
they were so inexpensive and easy to work on that they were
everywhere in their heyday, but they’ve also been immortalized in film as well.
Most famously as Herbie, the car with quite a personality under the hood.
Aston Martin DBS V12
James Bond is known for being a debonair, suave, and larger-than-life spy
in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and his job puts him behind the
wheel of some truly iconic cars. While we could pick just about anything
for this list, it’s hard not to pick the modern classic that is
the Aston Martin DBS V12, which made its first ever public appearance in
Casino Royale. However, the car was not actually completed at the time of the filming,
and the car destroyed in the horrendous crash scene was actually a modified
DB9, made to look like its counterpart.
Shelby Cobra Daytona
Steve McQueen was as famous for the cars he drove in movies as he was for
collecting some of the world’s most rare and expensive vehicles.
The 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona that he drove in
7000 is one of those cars. While the model was famous for being the first and
only American car to beat Ferrari in a race, the specific car he drove in the
film was auctioned off for a mind-blowing $7.25 million.
Long adored for their compact size that makes even small individuals seem
comically large, these little British boxes have seen quite a bit of famous
screen time. They played a central role in the famous car chase scene
through the streets of Rome in
The Italian Job, served as transportation for another famous British spy in
Austin Powers: Goldmember, and were even a source of comedy for some of the most memorable sketches
by Rowan Atkinson’s famous character
Ferrari 250 GT California
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off may be more of a cult classic than an icon in cinema history, but the
car that played such a prominent role in the film certainly isn’t.
The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California that Cameron’s father was so
over-the-top obsessed with is one of the rarest and most treasured models
Ferrari has ever produced. And don’t worry—the filmmakers
didn’t actually destroy one of these exceedingly rare cars for the
movie—an MGB roadster with a dummy fiberglass body served as the
stand-in for the famous shot in the film.
Let us help you turn your car into a famous ride of your own.
Call HP Motorsports today at (281) 231-9950 today.
Have you ever seen a car rolling down the road with its wheels flared out
to the sides,
sort of like this? What you’re looking at isn’t someone with extremely loose
wheel lug nuts—they’ve modified their car to drive like this.
This is known as “stancing” your vehicle, and it’s rapidly
becoming a popular modification, particularly with younger drivers in
modern sports cars and coupes.
Why do people do this? What’s the point of this, aside from wearing
out your tires far faster by ensuring only a small patch of the rubber
is making contact with the road at any given time? On this blog, we’ll
go over what this modification does and why some people choose to undertake it.
What Is Stancing?
When it comes to high performance, one of the biggest influences on cornering is
center of gravity, and the taller your car is, the higher the center of gravity will be.
The higher the center of gravity, the worse the cornering ability a car
has. This is why the majority of high-performance cars, including sports
cars, coupes, performance wagons, and race cars of all different shapes
and sizes are designed to sit as low to the ground as possible.
This is the entire goal of stancing. Stancing your car allows you to bring
the frame of the car down so low it’s almost making contact with
the ground beneath it. This brings the center of gravity as far down as
it can, thus giving a vehicle and its suspension system the best possible
handling capabilities. This is done by using modified parts to make an
adjustment to a wheel’s
camber, or the angle at which it sits on the axle.
But wait, wouldn’t putting smaller wheels on your car lower it? Why
not just do that? It would, but at the sacrifice of speed and handling
ability. Larger wheels will take better advantage of the power your engine
produces, thus allowing you to actually go faster. This is why some vehicle
owners choose to change their stance: to accommodate for bigger wheels
in a wheel well that isn’t designed for them. As a result, you get
bigger, faster wheels and a lower center of gravity.
Disadvantages of Stancing
Of course, most stanced vehicles aren’t done nearly to the degree
of the example we gave up above—that’s a particularly extreme
case. However, that example highlights a major disadvantage of this modification:
you’re reducing the amount of rubber on the road. Now if you’re
into drifting, that’s great. However, if you’re looking for
a car that’s going to really stick to the road and give you the
best possible grip when you go careening through corners, you’re
going to want to do everything you can to keep as much of that rubber
down at all times. An extreme stance is going to do the exact opposite
of that. Having such a limited amount of rubber touching the road is going
to cause you to lose grip extremely quickly, sending you sliding off the track.
Then there’s the added problem of wheel well design. Vehicles are
designed to use the wheel and tire size that come on them in a standard,
zero-degree camber setup. Adjusting that camber even slightly could cause
your tires to start rubbing against the inside of your wheel well, your
suspension, your brake rotors, and so much more. In general, things could
quickly if it’s not properly set up.
And then this brings up the last disadvantage: stancing is not cheap. In
fact, vehicles who have extreme stance setups have likely paid a ton of
money into getting that look. If anyone ever tells you they did it on
the cheap, either run away quickly or stick around and just wait for a
part to fail.
And this brings us to the last aspect of stancing: why do people even bother?
To some people, it looks terrible, it’s a good way to waste money
on tires, completely ruins the engineering functionality of the car, and
even puts them at more of a risk of an accident, especially in wet weather.
And let’s make this extremely clear: the massive cost to your traction
is going to significantly outweigh any cornering benefits in extreme stance
setups. Think about it this way: if stancing helped, racing teams everywhere
would be doing it.
However, to others, the stanced look is what they like and what they’re
going for. If you fall into the latter group, that’s your personal
choice. However, be prepared to pay the cost of doing things right—a
cost which isn’t for the faint of heart.
Like your tires and your battery, your car’s brakes will eventually
wear out and need replaced. While a brake replacement is usually limited
to just your brake pads, your brake rotors will also eventually wear down
and need to be replaced for maximum stopping power and control over your
car. While the type of brake pad is arguably the largest and most important
choice when it comes to your vehicle’s performance, the type of
rotor can influence this as well.
There are four types of brake rotors which you’ll have to choose from:
smooth, drilled, slotted, or
drilled and slotted. Let’s take a closer look at these rotors and investigate what makes
them all different as well as which type is right for you and your vehicle’s needs.
What Do These Features Do?
The four types of brake rotor are pretty easy to distinguish from each other.
Drilled rotors look like they have a bunch of holes drilled in them. Slotted rotors
look like they have small lines etched into the surface of the rotor.
Drilled and slotted combines the two, with holes and lines in the surface
of the rotor. Blank or smooth rotors have none of these features.
Drilled rotors are an outstanding choice if you want a little bit of performance
perk to your regular daily driver. The drilled holes are excellent, particularly
because of inclement weather. When brake rotors get wet, the water greatly
reduces the friction between your rotors and pads, thus reducing your
stopping power. However, with drilled rotors, the rain water has somewhere
to escape, which means the water gets out from between the rotor and pad
faster and you have a much quicker and more aggressive stopping power
even during torrential rainstorms.
Likewise, drilled rotors cool down significantly quicker than other types.
Because drilled rotors have more surface area exposed to the air around
them, they tend to cool off much quicker than other types of rotors and
even allow more heat to escape from inside the rotor.
However, drilled holes have a flaw: they’re susceptible to heat.
Drilling holes actually weakens the metal these rotors are constructed
from, and that means that pushing these brakes too hard will cause them
to warp or even crack under stress, particularly that of extensive and
rapid heat-and-cool cycles of aggressive track driving.
Slots are tiny thin lines etched into the surface of a brake rotor. These
allow rain water to have somewhere to escape to, but simultaneously allow
more of the brake pad itself to have a place to grip into. This means
added stopping power when pressing the brake. As you might imagine, this
makes them the ideal choice for high-performance applications like autocross
and track days, but likewise makes them the best choice for towing or
hauling since they add extra power for stopping heavier vehicle weights.
Like the drilled rotors, these rotors have their downsides. For one, they
tend to wear out far faster than other types. Likewise, they tend to make
a ton of noise, especially when coming to a stop from high speeds. If
you value quiet braking, then you may not want to consider these an option.
Drilled & Slotted
So what happens when you combine both drilled and slotted rotors? Exactly
as you might expect: you enjoy the benefits of both. Not only do these
have the added grip and stopping power in inclement weather, but they
offer outstanding performance and grip. However, the combination of drilled
holes and slotted lines make them highly-susceptible to heat warping and
wear under heavy use and likewise makes them quite loud. They’re
not advised for high-speed applications such as racing, but like the slotted
rotors they are good for towing.
It’s a common misconception that blank rotors are “stock”
and therefore not as good as their counterparts. This is far from true—in
fact the majority of people who drive luxury cars, do a lot of towing,
enjoy tearing up the off-road trails, or simply wants the quietest experience
you can get from a brake rotor, a simple blank rotor is probably the best
choice for you.
If you’re looking for new brake rotors that won’t cost you
a fortune, blank rotors are probably going to be your best choice in that
regard too. Simple brake rotors are the easiest to manufacture and that
generally makes them cheaper than other types of rotors.
If you’ve seen any sort of a car movie, especially one of the installments from the
Fast and Furious franchise, you’ve probably seen one of the lead characters jump
into a car and proceed to strap into their five-point safety harness.
What is a five-point harness? It’s the term for a harness that is
attached at five points, and you can usually identify them from the two
belts that latch together in the middle, sort of like a safety vest that’s
bolted to the seat.
These belts are extremely popular: not only do they look awesome because
they’re common found in the highest-performance cars used in racing,
but getting in one and strapping down feels like you’re getting
set to take a ride in a rocket ship.
But if you’ve ever taken a look into upgrading your existing three-point
safety belt to one of the five-point variety, you’ve probably come
across a lot of varying information. On this blog, we’ll attempt
to set the record straight and help you learn whether or not investing
in a five-point harness is all it’s cracked up to be.
Do You Need It?
The first thing that many people want to take into consideration is what
kind of driving they’re going to be doing. The vehicles which
do go through the effort to install a five-point safety harness are usually
operating under the most extreme conditions—triple-digit speeds,
extreme turning angles, dangerous racing conditions, or even crawling
quickly over the biggest boulders and obstacles that could be put in front
of them. In short: if your vehicle is street legal, odds are you more
than likely don’t need one of these harnesses—your regular
three-point safety harness is more than adequate to protect you in the
event of an accident, and switching to a five-point harness is probably
more trouble than it’s worth.
The bottom line is this: whether or not you should install a four or five-point
safety restraint system depends entirely on what you’re doing. If
you’re going to be doing high-performance driving, such as regular
track day racing, or you’re building an out-and-out race car, then
these belts are right for you. If you’re just looking to make your
ride a little cooler, then you would probably be better-served focusing
on a different upgrade.
Whether you’re building a track-day juggernaut, an off-road monster,
or a show car that’s going to light up any meet you bring it to,
you’ve decided that it is worthwhile to install a harness. Then
there’s the next thing you need to consider: the cost to do so.
Any high-quality five-point harness you purchase is going to be expensive—they
must be manufactured to rigorous FIA or Department of Transportation safety
standards using only premium-grade materials. The belt itself must be
thoroughly inspected through every step of its construction, and all of
that adds quite a bit to its cost.
And then there’s the cost to install it. If your car is not built
to handle a five-point harness, you’ll need to do everything from
installing new anchor points to even installing a new seat where you’re
installing the harness. It’s almost guaranteed that your existing
stock driver’s seat isn’t suited to a five-point harness.
All in all, installing a five-point harness adds a pretty penny to the project.
Are They Actually Safer?
Then there’s the question of whether or not this type of a harness
is actually safer. Make no mistake, a
properly installed five-point safety harness is considerably safer than a traditional three-point
safety belt for the driver involved in a high-speed crash, such as one
you’d find in motorsports. However, for average or everyday driving
at highway or typical road speeds, a five-point harness is no safer than
a three-point setup. In fact, the harness combined with your vehicle’s
airbag system might actually be even
more dangerous than before. Modern vehicles are manufactured with safety systems that
are designed and built to work together seamlessly, and interrupting or
modifying one or more of the pieces of safety equipment could cause the
entire system not to work right.
Logistics & Safety Certifications
Finally, once you get the five-point harness installed, you’ll need
to get your vehicle inspected in order to operate it at
any event. All racing belts must be FIA approved, which is different from
the certification you’d receive from the Department of Transportation.
Not having FIA certification or having an expired certification is a good
way to get sent home from your track day before you ever even take your
The only way to make sure your installation is correct and that you won’t
run into trouble from either tech inspectors or law enforcement is to
have your harness installed by a Houston high-performance auto expert.
If you do decide you want to go this route, we here at HP Motorsports
can help you by installing a high-quality racing restraint that will significantly
improve your safety for the most adventurous types of motorsports.
Have you ever seen a performance car that looks like it has a giant steel
beam running across the back window? Surely that can’t be good for
visibility, so why would that be in a car? What you saw more than likely
wasn’t an aesthetic choice, but more often it’s because they
have a roll cage installed. A roll cage is an extra skeleton of steel
designed to add extra strength to a vehicle as well as provide extra protection
in the event of an accident. In fact, the name “roll cage”
comes from the fact that they were initially designed to help prevent
cars from collapsing and crushing the driver in the event they rolled
over onto the roof. While many stock vehicles now have a ton of strength
in their support pillars to prevent this from happening, roll cages are
still popular upgrades.
Should you invest in one? That depends on a number of different factors.
On this blog, our team of Houston high-performance automotive experts
will go over everything you need to know about roll cages before installing
one in your car.
What Roll Cages Do
As we mentioned earlier, a roll cage is designed to add strength to a vehicle,
providing extra protection in the event of a rollover accident. However,
they have added benefits for the car’s handing as well. Roll cages
are extraordinarily stiff, and as such they keep the body of the car from
torqueing and flexing. This improves handling, especially when going around
corners at higher speeds. When combined with stiff racing suspension,
you have a car that may not necessarily be the most comfortable to ride
in, but will have almost no body roll. For this reason, roll cages are
extraordinarily popular with track day, autocross, and other racing cars.
The type of cage you get is generally described in “points.”
A point is a location where the roll cage is welded into the frame of
the car to add rigidity. Generally, the lowest, base-line level roll cage
is considered a “four-point” roll cage, which has a hoop that
sits above and just behind the driver, plus two more mounting points on
bars that extend back from the top bar of this hoop, generally being welded
on somewhere beneath the rear window.
Should I Get One?
Then there’s the next question: should you get a roll cage? There
are a few things you need to consider in order to answer this question:
Do I need my back seat? Yes, you read this correctly. If you have a four-seater vehicle and you
rely on your back seat to carry anything from passengers to cargo, then
a roll cage is not for you. Roll cages often remove your back seat entirely
in order to pass the support beams through to the correct spots, so odds
are you’ll have to get rid of your passenger capabilities. Likewise,
even if you don’t, it’s illegal for passengers to sit in a
seat which a roll cage beam passes through. Depending on your car,
you may also lose your trunk too.
Do I have the headroom? Roll cages also involve running steel beams over your door frame, specifically
on your driver side. If you’re pushing it when it comes to head
room, then this option may not be the best for you, specifically if you’re
considering installing it in your daily driver.
Am I unhappy with my car’s handling? Believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of people are actually far
happier by replacing their car’s suspension system and adding in
other stiffening technology like sway bars, strut bars, and stiffer shocks
and springs. This often makes a huge difference in your car’s handling
and usually leads to better satisfaction than the hassle of installing
a roll cage. Likewise, installing a roll cage on stock suspension doesn’t
quite have the same amount of improvement to your car’s handling.
Can I afford it? Roll cages aren’t cheap. Generally, depending on the metal used,
you can expect to pay roughly $200 to $350
per point. That means for a ten-point roll cage, you can expect to pay upwards of
$2,000 to $3,500 to have the upgrade installed.
Heading off the paved road and tackling the backcountry roads and trails
can be some of the most fun you can have on four wheels. However, the
off-road terrain can be packed with hazards that can cause all sorts of
trouble for your vehicle. Mud puddles, tall obstacles, large ruts, and
plenty of other terrain features could put your vehicle in a jam quickly.
Getting stuck can really put a damper on your off-roading day, leaving
you wondering how you got there and what you’re going to do to get
Fortunately, there is a way you can make sure you’ve never permanently
stuck and can get yourself out of nearly any jam: installing a winch on
your vehicle. Winches are extremely popular accessory options for serious
off-roaders because of their sheer versatility and ability to get your
vehicle out of even the toughest spots.
Choosing the Right Winch
Winches are extremely popular because they’re easy to get, can be
installed on almost any vehicle, and have so many uses. However, they’re
also an upgrade where the market has been flooded by sub-par products
that will leave you frustrated after a bad experience. There’s a
pretty easy way to tell what level of quality a winch is: cost. There
are loads of mass-produced Asian-made winches which start as low as around
$200. Generally, these winches are an off-brand and come with a steel
cable. American-made winches from trusted manufacturers usually start
at around $850 and come with a synthetic line.
When it comes to winches,
you get what you pay for. Skimping and saving a few hundred bucks may outfit you with a winch that
fails when you call it into action, and that just means wasted money in
the long run.
Synthetic or Steel Cable?
The next thing to consider is whether you want a steel cable or one made
of modern synthetic materials. Steel is generally popular because it’s
tough, inexpensive, and can winch you out of nearly any situation. But
it has downsides: steel builds up a ton of tension and should that tension
give way if the line were to snap, it could cause some serious damage
or injury, and possibly even kill someone if they’re standing in
the wrong spot. A winch line snapping is exceedingly rare when properly
used, but it can happen.
Synthetic materials are more expensive and do also have tremendous load-pulling
capabilities, but they’re not as well-suited to abrasive situations,
which means they require a little bit more thought. However, on the upside
they’re much lighter, easier to handle, and safer to use.
The next question is how big of a winch you’ll need. A good rule
of thumb to follow: your winch should be able to pull at least one and
a half times your vehicle’s gross weight. While going above that
doesn’t really hurt anything, keep in mind heavier-duty winches
are larger, heavier, and more expensive.
Lastly, there’s the question of mounting the winch. Winches are usually
mounted on the front of a vehicle, and there’s generally three options
for doing so.
Hitch-mounted winch plate: These setups essentially mount the winch on a plate which you then attach
to the front of your vehicle through a tow hitch point that’s welded
into the frame. This gives you the flexibility of being able to remove
the winch when you don’t want it or move it to the back of your vehicle.
Frame-mounted winch plate: Perhaps the cheapest option of the three, this is a fairly clean option
that involves mounting the winch behind your stock bumper or an OEM bumper
with a winch-hook slot built in. However, it may take some doing to install properly.
Winch-compatible metal bumpers: This involves completely replacing the front bumper on your vehicle with
a steel or aluminum replacement that has a winch plate built into it.
This is perhaps the strongest and most reliable option, but adds a lot
of weight as well as cost.
If you want to build a car that shines in off-road applications, you’ll
probably notice that a number of upgrades are things that wouldn’t
necessarily make the car any better for on-road applications, and in fact
many of them actually make its performance far worse. Off-roading is a
completely different world from asphalt driving, and as such the upgrades
may seem a little counter-intuitive at first-glance.
One such upgrade is increasing the ride-height of a vehicle, also known
as “lifting.” If you’ve ever seen an SUV or truck rolling
down the road that appears to be significantly taller than most other
vehicles, odds are it’s probably had this lifting service done.
To some people this may look a little absurd, but there’s a good
reason for it, which we’ll discuss on this blog.
What Is Lifting?
What exactly is “lifting” your vehicle? Well there are a few
different things you can do to lift a ride. For starters, the easiest
way to lift a ride is to install a taller suspension system. Taller suspension,
composed of longer shocks and struts, keeps the main body of the vehicle
up higher and puts more space between the body and the wheels. That allows
you to install the second part of a lift system: larger wheels and tires.
These days, most vehicles that are lifted are rolling on larger wheels
than what they rolled off the dealer lot with when they were new.
Why Lift Your Ride?
If you’ve seen commercials on television for “off-road ready”
trucks and SUV’s you’ve probably been somewhat impressed at
watching them roll over bumps and boulders, but the truth of the matter
is these vehicles are usually only equipped to handle mild to moderate
off-road applications. If you truly want to tackle the most brutal terrain
the backcountry hills and trails have to offer, you’re going to
need to specialize your vehicle a little bit.
Lifting your ride has a number of advantages that help you attack this
terrain. For starters, lifting your vehicle up higher gives this larger
suspension a lot more room to flex, which means you can crawl over significantly
larger obstacles without risking your suspension bottoming out and your
wheels rubbing up against your wheel wells. This also makes off-roading
more forgiving on your frame.
Ground clearance is also an extremely important part of off-roading if
you want to avoid damaging your undercarriage. As you’re crawling
over obstacles, rocks and other elevated parts of the terrain could find
their way up between your wheels. If your ground clearance is low, you
could scrape the underside of your vehicle on these obstacles, known as
“A-framing.” Worst case scenario, you could get yourself stuck
on the obstacle, and getting free again when you’ve A-framed isn’t easy.
Then there’s the tires argument. Bigger tires are extremely important
in off-road applications for a number of reasons. For starters, they keep
more rubber on the ground at all times, which improves grip. When grip
is at a premium on dirt, dust, sand, or smooth boulders and rocks, the
more grip you have, the better. Bigger tires also have the ability to
run at lower air pressure levels, which improves grip even further in
Finally, there’s one other advantage that many people don’t
think of: towing. The higher clearance and weight advantage all significantly
increase your ability to tow everything from added cars to junk trailers
to toy haulers. Taller vehicles tend to have better authority over trailers
behind them, so lifting your truck can actually dramatically improve your
stability when carrying a trailer along.
Do you love tackling the off-road terrain? If you own a sport utility vehicle
or truck, odds are you probably enjoy tearing up the trails from time
to time. However, nothing puts a damper on your day off the pavement like
a sharp rock, piece of litter, or unexpected hazard putting a puncture
in your tire, leaving you stuck changing it out or limping your way back
to pavement so you can call a tow truck.
To combat this problem, tire manufacturer Goodyear has developed a brand
new technology which they’ve placed into their Wrangler line of
tires—a layer of Kevlar. Kevlar is a super-strong material that
is used to construct bulletproof vests: it’s lightweight, durable,
flexible, and most importantly, extremely difficult to break through.
Does that mean your tires are bulletproof? No, but it does mean they’re
But how do they stack up? We’ll find out on this blog.
Goodyear’s Kevlar-lined Wrangler tires have been around since 2013,
and the company claims that putting a layer of the ultra-strong synthetic
fiber in their tires has made them lighter, stronger, and more durable
than ever before resulting in a sparkling 60,000 mile tread life warranty.
That’s a pretty appealing selling point for off-road enthusiasts,
who are used to paying a substantial amount of money for a set of tires.
However, does the Kevlar actually make the tires more durable? Well, yes,
it does. Off-road enthusiasts will enjoy being able to have that added
degree of confidence and peace of mind of knowing that their tire likely
won’t go out at the first sign of a sharp rock or unseen hazard
that could be found in the sand and dirt off the paved road. However,
the two layers of Kevlar in these tires only protects the
tread area of the tire. The sidewall is protected by Goodyear’s Durawall™
technology, but these are still substantially more prone to puncture,
and as any off-roader knows it’s not always what goes under your
tires that makes them go flat.
The Wrangler tires were developed to be a true all-season tire made for
the driver who wants to be able to head off the paved road but still enjoy
strong and safe performance on tarmac. The tread pattern was specifically
designed to encourage better grip, particularly in wet and even snowy
conditions, and the ridges along the edge of the tread are specifically
engineered to help clear mud, water, and even snow slush away from the
tire treads for outstanding traction in nearly any conditions.
However, as a purely off-roading tire, they don’t quite stack up.
Goodyear says the tires are perfectly designed for someone who wants to
do 80 percent of their driving on regular paved roads and another 20%
on dirt and off-road terrain. That’s great for any off-road enthusiast
who also daily-drives their off-road car. However, for those who are looking
specifically for the best off-road performance, these tires may not be enough.
And that brings us to the big question that most drivers have: how much
do these tires run? As you might imagine, lining a tire with even a thin
layer of a specialty material is going to require an entirely-new manufacturing
process and added costs. And that’s certainly reflected in the price
of these tires. Wrangler All-Season tires start as low as $170 per tire
for some of the smallest models, and can run as high as $386
per tire for the largest size available. The average truck or SUV owner on stock
wheels can expect to pay anywhere from $180 to $250 per tire, which can
pretty easily bring the cost of a new set of tires up well over the $1,000
mark. That’s a pretty sticker to stomach for some vehicle owners.
However, for those who want to avoid having to pay out a ton of money when
a sharp rock rips a hole in their tire, the Kevlar-lined Goodyear Wrangler
tires might just be worth the investment.
Texas is known for a lot of things, among them the sweltering, blistering
temperatures that summer brings. In addition to high levels of humidity
and sudden thunderstorms that may include high winds and hail, triple-digit
temperatures are also fairly commonplace. And it’s those blistering
temperatures that are the sworn enemy of your car. Your cooling system
has to work extra hard to keep your engine at a suitable operating temperature
that avoids metal fatigue, warping, and other major types of damage.
However, even with a healthy cooling system, the workload might just be
too much. So to help you avoid having to deal with the consequences of
overheating your engine, here are five things you can do that will help
keep the heat away and keep your car running smoothly this summer.
If your car has serious heating problems, then you want to give it plenty
of time to cool off after it runs. That means parking in the shade if
possible so the air that flows through your engine compartment is the
coolest it can get. This will help bring your engine to the lowest possible
temperature and reduce the amount of time it takes to get there. Furthermore,
you may also want to consider getting a sunshade for your windshield to
help keep the blistering sun from baking your car’s interior.
Use Your A/C Wisely
Your air conditioner is one of the largest loads on your engine, and one
that can greatly increase the amount of heat in your engine bay. While
keeping your A/C off during a Texas heatwave isn’t really an option,
you can do a few things that help keep the strain on your engine low.
First, use the floor vents when you first turn your car on. Your car is
only going to be blowing hot air anyway, so point it down at your feet
helps cycle out the hot air that’s risen to the top of the cabin,
cooling the cabin faster. Likewise, using the “fresh” setting
allows you to cool the cabin faster by pulling in ambient air from outside
rather than circulating hot air that was in the cabin of your car.
Mind the Temperature
Keep an eye on that temperature gauge on your instrument cluster: it will
tell you when your engine temperature is getting dangerously high. Generally,
the temperature will rise to a certain point, and it will stay there for
the duration of your trip when your engine and cooling system are both
working correctly. However, when that gauge continues to climb towards
the red danger area, pull over and let your engine cool off before continuing.
Turn On the Heater
When you’re facing a temperature emergency with your car, pull over,
turn off the engine, but leave the ignition in the “on” position.
Switch your climate control over to the maximum “heat” setting,
and then turn the fan on full blast. This will pull heat from the engine
bay, which will cool your engine and could save it from suffering any
serious damage when the temperature climbs too high.
Upgrade Your Coolant System
In high-temperature climates like Texas, a good coolant system is vital
for keeping your engine running smoothly. If your coolant system isn’t
enough to keep your car running smoothly, or you find that it’s
just getting too old to keep up, replacing it with a high-performance
radiator and cooling system may be the solution you need.