What is a Stage 1 Car?

"All you need to know about building a stage 1 car."

What is a stage 1 car then? It involves the tuning of a car. How? Increase your cars performance in two ways - mechanically and electronically.

But people talk about cars in stages of tune. So what do they mean when say they have a stage 1 car? Let's see what stage 1 cars have mod wise and what makes them go.

What mods are typically done on stage 1 cars? When does a stage 1 car become a stage 2 tuned car?

In most cases of stage 1 cars, the majority of owners will be content to perform the task themselves and have some familiarity with mechanics.

Unfortunately, many of the components marketed as "stage 1 upgrades" actually accomplish very little to boost your vehicle's performance.

My aim here is to shed light on the most prevalent errors and challenges associated with them in this piece and highlight how carefully chosen stage 1 mods can improve your next step in tuning.

All you have to do to make these mods functional is bolt them on. Many of these modifications are rather straightforward to perform yourself.

However they won't significantly improve your car's performance on their own merits.

Take a look at this video for some advice on what modifications will give your car the most performance boost at the Stage 1 level of tuning.

Even though stage one mods are designed to be installed without further modifications to the vehicle, further upgrades are always a possibility.

True stage one mods get fitted in isolation, and need no other upgrades. You can always add more because the performance boosts are cumulative.

That's what we mean when we say that the total power gained exceeds the sum of its parts.

If you add a sports exhaust (2 bhp), an air intake (4 bhp), and a tune/remap (15 bhp), you'll receive 30 bhp instead of the 21 bhp you'd get if you just combined them together.

Some of the most typical changes made at the Stage 1 tuning level
Components for First-Stage Tuning

Many commonplace Stage 1 car parts:

  1. Upgraded suspension
  2. Wheels with aluminium rims
  3. Sports exhaust
  4. Remapped engine control unit
  5. Panel air filter
  6. Lighter flywheel

So, let's talk about how each of these first-stage tuning tweaks performs.

If you need assistance deciding on the finest stage 1 tuning tweaks, we've got you covered there, too.

Aluminum-alloy wheels Upgrades

Alloy wheels, upgrading to a new set of wheels for your automobile is a common initial modification that may completely transform its appearance.

Keep in mind that the handling and performance of your automobile may suffer if you go for larger, heavier wheels.

We recommend reading our articles on wheel improvements to learn more about how making the proper size and weight choices may enhance handling.

Stage 1 intake mods

To begin with, we have the intakes for Stage 1 but are these worth doing in isolation?

Another typical early-stage modification is an induction kit. Install a cone-shaped filter in place of the traditional air box or replace the air box completely.

A panel air filter and new airbox are sufficient for Stage 1 modifications to the intake system.

Is it a good idea to get stage 1 intake modifications by themselves? Not really; the improvements in power are often insignificant, and we frequently hear from individuals who have installed induction kits but now experience a loss of power or a flat spot.

If your vehicle does have an intake restriction, which is rare, an induction kit is an appropriate stage 1 mod otherwise you'll gain little apart from a nice noise.

However, an air intake modification makes a lot of sense if you're also installing other mods, since doing so would create a restriction in the intake and force the engine to demand more air. When it comes to this modification, we have a few articles on induction kits and air intakes to assist you choose wisely.

Learn more about high-performance exhausts here.

Stage 1 Tunes

ECU Adjustments for Stage One Car (Tuning, remaps, remapping, and ECU tuning)

Changing the engine computer settings is the most effective and least invasive update we can perform. Modern engines rely on this to save the fuel and ignition timing map, which is used to optimise the engine's performance by blending fuel and air.

This first-stage tuning modification is highly recommended for all turbo automobiles and the vast majority of NA (naturally aspirated) engines.

Why tune/remap a car?

Most factory settings are conservative, and it is quite simple to unlock 15-40% additional power by having the computer reflashed.

While not all vehicles are suitable for mapping, we provide information on other methods, like piggyback ECU tuning.

A mapper will use the vehicle's OBDII diagnostic connector to link a computer to the engine control unit (ECU). They will get a copy of your present map and settings, then update and alter them.

Once the information has been decoded and validated, it may be rewritten to your vehicle, giving you access to improved speed and power.

Stage 1 tunes or remaps are among the greatest solutions for your automobile because of how simple they are to install and how cheap they are to maintain, but they are most effective on turbocharged vehicles rather than normally aspirated NA (naturally aspirated) engines.

Read more on remapping and it's benefits.

Changes to the suspension on in Stage One

Improving the car's handling might be as simple as dropping it 20 to 40 millimetres. A stage 1 suspension improvement is a sensible investment that will improve your car's handling and cornering.

Do your homework, because making the improper stage 1 suspension adjustments might completely destroy your car's handling.

With adjustable shocks, often a good set of coilovers, you can tailor the ride height and damping to your preferences as a driver and the performance characteristics of your vehicle.

You may find additional information on dealing with suspension modifications here.

Modifications to the brakes on a Stage 1 Car

In accordance with the appropriate approach for Stage 1, we will consider optional braking system enhancements that can be installed with minimal effort. Pads and discs are a good option.

Most automobiles have access to a wide variety of parts and accessories. For stage 1 tuning I recommend this mod.

If you can get some performance pads, you can make a huge improvement in your car's stopping ability.

When shopping for a second hand automobile, you may discover that the previous owner installed the cheapest brake pads they could find, drastically reducing the vehicle's stopping ability.

Cheap Upgrades for Stage 1 car projects

To maintain compatibility with stage 1, discs can swapped out for alternatives of the same size and performance level. For better heat dissipation and pad contact under hard braking, they will often contain holes (drilled discs) and grooves.

For additional information on brake modifications, from basic to advanced for racing, check out our dedicated post on performance brakes.

If you visit a wrecking yard, you might even be able to discover a pair of bigger discs and pads from a performance model. However, once you start bolting on additional components, you've technically moved on to stage 2 alterations, which we'll discuss below.

When does tuning in Stage 1 cars go to Stage 2?

A better goal for individuals desiring to take their car tuning project to the next level is Stage 2. When a single change isn't enough to get the job done and you need more supporting mods you are at stage 2.

These are where mods and parts used REQUIRE additional parts before they will work.

Avoid wasting your money on unnecessary "stage 1" modifications. These often need removal, before we can add more power with stage 2 mods. So it's smart to plan in advance and skip to "stage 2" to get your target power figure.

We are all here to learn from one another, so please share any knowledge you have and any modifications you have made to your car in the comments box below.

Please Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Feedback - What do You Think?

Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article, I really want to improve this article with your help and suggestions.

Please watch this video and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).

BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning
Tips for B58 Tuning

Popular articles

Tuning diesels
ECU Remapping
Double declutch
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Chip tuning
Modded Car insurance
Insuring Track days
Remapping Diesels
Work out your MPG
DPF unblocking tips
Stage 1-3 Tuning

Pistons Crankshafts

Pistons Crankshafts

Silicone Pipe

Silicone hoses

Cool Car Photographs

Cool car photographs

Lambo Doors

Lambo style doors suicide doors and gullwing door conversions.

Modified Car Insurance

Cheap Car insurance quotes for modified cars.

Cylinder Head Tuning

Cylinder Head Tuning in the UK

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG