The Best DIY Tools and Techniques

Posted on March 31st, 2009 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Economy,Mufflers,Opinion,pedal power,testing by Julian Edgar

This week in AutoSpeed we start a new series that I’ve immodestly called the ‘Ultimate DIY Automotive Modification Kit’.

It’s not the sort of material that you’d find anywhere else but at AutoSpeed – and, perhaps for that reason, longstanding readers will have seen much of the content before.

What the series does is integrate the testing and modification techniques that over the years I’ve discovered  to work for all cars.

Yes, all cars.

In fact, to go further than that, all vehicles.

What sort of techniques, then?

Finding the restrictions in intake systems, assessing the flow of exhausts (and exhaust components), measuring aerodynamic pressures, making visible the airflow over the surface of the vehicle, measuring on-road performance, evaluating gains and losses.

Said quickly, it all glibly rolls off the tongue.

But if instead I say: building your own huge capacity flow bench, having access to a full-size wind tunnel, and owning a dyno – well, that puts it all into a different category, doesn’t it?

People way underestimate how effective and valid simple, DIY testing on public roads can be. But all you really need is a good assistant, your car and a driving license.

Add about a hundred dollars of equipment (and you can start with literally two or three dollars of equipment!) and you can immediately be ahead of pretty well everyone else modifying cars on less than a mega dollar budget.

When I was assembling the series it occurred to me that I’ve been using many of the techniques for close on 20 years.

On cars with single turbos, two turbos, superchargers, hybrid petrol/electric drivelines, 3 cylinders, 4 cylinders, 5 cylinders, 6 cylinders and 8 cylinders. Petrol and diesel. Even on vehicles powered only by human legs.

If I am confronted with a new vehicle to modify (or develop), they’re the ideas and equipment I routinely dig out – I simply know that they’ll be effective, whatever the machine I am working on.

Yes, I think that makes them an ‘ultimate DIY modification tool kit’ for cars…

4 Responses to 'The Best DIY Tools and Techniques'

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  1. Michael said,

    on April 3rd, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I liked your test on the honda city, it was tough, but fair and no punches spared, the way it should be!
    Why no ‘post a comment’ under the road tests?

  2. Bill said,

    on April 16th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    How about a Wiki for this stuff?

    We could post the mods and results obtained for each model. Probably need some sort of bullshit filter (sorry, moderator) though!

  3. Toby said,

    on April 27th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Julian — I’ve recently learned that the current iPhone and iPod Touch have a built-in accelerometer. For the cost of a $2 app, the potential is there for people to use what is now an “every day tool” as a mini-correvit to graph acceleration. I don’t have either myself, but it could be interesting to see what this technology could do for “backyard” car modification.

  4. Julian Edgar said,

    on April 27th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Yes, I have using some apps for a few months. Very useful sometimes, less useful others. Definitely worth looking in the I-tunes shop if you have an I-phone or I-touch.