Maximise your performance gains with strict weight reduction.

"Weight reduction. Putting your car on a diet.."

Lighter cars are quicker and the handling is much better.

Obviously taking out the seats, carpets, radio, seat belts, headlining and air conditioning will turn the family car into a rather impractical daily hack.

But throwing in a few bean bags for the kids to sit on will not add much to the weight (Please note that it would not be legal or safe to sit your children on a bean bag in a car!).

Spare wheels can add weight so ideally removing this will be a fairly easy weight reduction modification with many modern run flat tyres you can limp home without air in your tyres so the spare is going to become obsolete. The addition of a light weight racing seat will further reduce weight.

Making the car lighter will improve handling and performance.

For serious weight reduction removal of the glass windows and replacement with perspex will save  a fair chunk of weight. Replacing the windows with lexan or plexi makes significant weight savings but the main front screen should be left as safety glass for obvious reasons. 

Many companies are offering replacement body panels in aluminum, GRP fiberglass or for the maximum weight reduction and best strength go for carbon fiber body panels. You realize how heavy the panels are in a car when lifting up the bonnet so serious weight can be lost in stripping out as much metal as possible.

Carbon fiber bonnets/hoods still look very cool but make sure you buy a good quality fit as many panels are not very well built - always try the panel/bonnet/hood on the car for size before drilling and adding fasteners etc.

Fitting a roll cage will add a little to the weight you have saved but can really be a lifesaver and also will improve the handling as it maintains the rigidity of the car. With a roll cage fitted you can strip out a lot more metal from the car - side impact beams and cut away inner arches and panels but do not remove any part of the structure of the car.

Many other metal parts can be lightened by drilling holes in them and they should, if you know what you are doing, retain much of the rigidity of the structure. Alloy wheels help further reduce the weight. Because of rotational forces, lighter wheels mean better handling when changing direction. Usually most alloy magnesium wheels improve airflow to the brakes and improve stopping.

Door hinges and locks also add weight so these can be removed if the doors are welded shut, the welding will also help add some more strength to the body shell of the car. When fitting new parts to the car it is worth weighing them and going for the lighter option even things like brake pads, disks.

Many engine components are unnecessarily heavy - alternators, water pumps, fly wheels even pistons and blocks etc so always look for ways to reduce weight - we are starting to seem picky but saving 200g in 5 separate areas cumulatively reduces weight by 1 KG.

Specialist companies offer light weight radiators which are more efficient than the standard factory radiator. More and more traditionally cast iron parts are provided in lighter weight materials.

Don't just stop with the car - go on a diet yourself (have you ever seen a fat guy win a race? I'm expecting floods of correspondence on this one!)

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on weight reduction we suggest you join our forum (have a read of one of our weight reduction threads for some more ideas on this and all other aspects of car modification).

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11 Responses to “Weight reduction and lightening a car to increase performance.”

  1. Ahmed says:

    Dear Sir’
    could you help me for my issue please.
    I have got a 91 Camaro RS with 454 stock engine and I am trying to minimize the weight as much as I can.

  2. Volvo4life says:

    thank your very much for this article, it gave me a few new ideas I hadn’t thought of. However most of the ideas are slightly more advanced, could you maybe add a little more on the “beginner”/basic side or go more into detail on it? (what the average Joe could safely tear out himself) Either way it was much appreciated! 🙂 Cheers!

  3. Alberto says:

    also, prohibit any passengers, run a fuel cell to reduce weight on on all those liters or ga$. cut out circles in the chassis but NOT enough to compromise its integrity, tubular k-members & A arms, water/methanol injection in lieu of a radiator, cutting out your inner fenders 4 ease of spark plug changes & lightening.

  4. Saad says:

    Does reducing the car’s weight increase the acceleration by any means? If yes, then how?

  5. TorqueCars says:

    Yes it does, because there is less inertia to overcome. It requires more effort to push a heavier car than a lighter one and the speed increase is slower on a heavier car. If a car is too light though you might get traction issues where the wheels start to spin.

  6. North Wessex says:

    fiber* carbon fiber … have you never seen fiber one bars, just had to point it out and it’ll be an easy edit, like should’ve spelled checked first, and it annoys me because people don’t spell it right to the point its beginning to annoy me, like everything else could be spelt wrong but that irritates me do to the fact if you try to pronounce fibre it sounds weird, where as fiber sounds correct like read it first

  7. TorqueCars says:

    Thank you for your comment and suggestion, we are based in the Uk where the correct spelling is fibre!

    However we are now trying to reflect UK spellings on our domain name and US spellings on the .com domain name just for you!

  8. Kevin Jackson says:

    Thanks for posting this information. I’m an old guy so nothing new for me but judging by my web search results, not many people are offering this information.

  9. Kevin Jackson says:

    Sorry, didn’t realize how your website works.
    Fortunately, research shows that lighter cars actually have better traction, all other things being equal. This is counterintuitive to most who might assume that the harder you press down the better the traction would be and that is normally true but the extra inertia of a heavy car more than offsets the increased traction making the real world traction less.
    Having an issue with traction because I lightened a car so much is the kind of problem I like.
    Check out an online 1/4 mile calculator, get a simple one that just needs weight and horsepower. You can put in different numbers and see roughly what kind of performance changes you may see. Cutting weight by one half is the same as doubling your horsepower! But cutting your weight is cheaper, improves handling, improves braking, improves acceleration and improves gas mileage. While increasing your horsepower costs a lot and only improves acceleration.

  10. TCJBOLDIE says:

    Some countries don’t allow lightweight bonnets/hoods etc as that changes the cars ability to absorb a crash impact the same as the stock unmodified car

  11. TCJBOLDIE says:

    Changing metal body panels to carbon fibre or fibreglass components that have not undergone crash testing will make the vehicle unroadworthy in many countries so it is prudent to get written approval before making any changes to a registered road car before any mods are carried out BUT if it is a track only car then one needs to comply with the rules governing the particular class you are in .

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