KA tuning

"Thanks for reading my KA tuning guide"

The Ford Ka is the baby of the Ford range but should not be overlooked. It is actually quite a good chassis design and because it's small and light even small power increases make a big difference.

With a wheel placed in each far corner the KA enjoys great handling in standard form. It really is a bit of a go kart and just begs to be pushed harder.

The main drawbacks in the KA is the lack of engine power and the soft suspension. Both of which can be easily addressed enabling the KA owner to have a cheap and fun track day car.

See our video which provides a complete introduction to Ford Tuning, it contains some tips on performance and handling modifications.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

The smallest engined Ka is a bit frustrating when it comes to tuning as the cost is quite high and the return in power is relatively low but the light chassis means you need less of a power hike to feel a difference, compared with a larger car.

With a fast road cam, gas flowed head and performance exhaust with a sports catalyst you'll only make another 15% or so of power taking it from 60ps to 73ps. Doing the same mods on the 1.5l engine with 80ps and you'll be looking at hitting around 98ps nearer to a 22% power hike and an extra 18ps which you'll feel at the wheels.

Engine Tuning.

These are the performance mods are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the best uprated upgrades for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 motor sport parts just won't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your KA

  1. Intake Upgrades and Sports Exhausts - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD HP in most applications, but they will enable you to release power after other modifications by losing a restriction.
  2. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  3. KA Suspension Upgrades - Replacing worn bushings and shocks dramatically improves KA handling Coilovers and Bushings are the usual go to mods
  4. Lighter flywheels - a lower weight flywheel will improve the engines free revving nature. Not always not a great upgrade for all KA engines.
  5. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but should always be fitted by someone competent and some cams are hard to find but there might be a local firm to regrind a stock cam .
  6. Tunes - A Remapped KA ECU provides the most advantage compared to your outlay, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  7. Turbo upgrades - forced induction is the most dramatic method to increase your intakes air supply, which permits you to utilize more fuel and make more power. Although one of the most complex mods you'll see massive gains.
  8. Brake Upgrades - Improve your KA's stopping power needs to be listed in your priority list.

KA Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Sports exhaust, Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Alloy wheels, Remap.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: high flow fuel injector, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, Power/Sport clutch.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves).

You really need to keep as much low end power as you can and aim to achieve a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power hike.

The whole point of our pointers is to give a brief overview of modifying upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is the place to go for detailed advice and tips on your customized car project, the best performance mods and all aspects of modding cars.One of the most cost effective mechanical parts you can do to your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road cam .

It improves the intake and exhaust flow and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a remap. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a motor sports profile cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

Don't forget to pay attention to the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

If you find you get flat spots and surges after your modified kits you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. To get sufficient fuel you may need to increase the injectors on your engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

You might look to the other Fiesta engine options to source a suitable donor and do a 1.6 conversion. Alternatively take the 1.3 engine and get the head ported and flowed. Then add a fast road cam and hopefully some larger valves and you already have a nippy rev happy car.

An engine swap with a newer Fiesta ST would certainly be an interesting proposition but as yet we've not seen one done.

The KA has a go kart like chassis and with a few power mods can actually be a good basis for a track day car.

A sports exhaust with a sports catalyst will also free up the engine and if you replaced the paper filter with a better flowing sports panel air filter you have a nicely balanced flow through the engine.

If you wanted to go a bit bonkers then you could look into forced induction with a supercharger being easier to add than a turbo. For best results you will need to lower the compression ratio or use water injection to avoid issues with detonation.

KA Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are high on most peoples lists for the Ka.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of you Ka substantially enhancing your drive.

If you set the toe out to degrees on the front, and add a little negative camber then cornering will often improve.

We would go to a maximum drop of 23mm - 38 mm on most models. You risk handling compromises if you go lower than this.

Upgrading your Bushes

Bushing upgrades are needed so what's involved?

The suspension components of the KA may be fixed to the car's chassis through bushings, which are rotatable rubber mounts. These rubber ones will lose their shape with time.

By replacing new OEM rubber bushings, you may greatly improve your vehicle's performance.

Because the polyurethane bushes are firmer, the ride may be a bit firmer, but they will last longer and maintain the handling.

Increased vibration and play may also lead to an increase in the decay in other suspension components.

A new set of poly bushes will assist in mitigate the excessive play associated with rubber bushes.

Some poly bushings are hard to locate, but most will find the primary mounts readily available in their local stores Often, custom KA poly bushings may be manufactured to your requirements.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the Ka with a nice fat peak torque band.

Following our guidance for modding your Ka you will make a practical but sporty car that will out perform bigger cars.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

There are not a great deal of body styling options around but it is possible to find a nice KA bodykit. Personally we prefer the smoothed "Euro" look on the Ka but there are quite a few nice examples out there of decent styling.

Ford KA Wheel modifications.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones.

The downside to large alloy wheels on your KA is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and increase the unsprung weight, and this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration and performance.

For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 16 inches. Some of our members who own the KA have added slightly larger alloy wheels but for the best performance stick with the standard size wheel or get a larger alloy and fit ultra low profile tyres to it.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss KA options in more detail with our KA owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Ford tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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One Response to “KA tuning”

  1. Keith Longley says:

    Hi all, my misses LOVES the mk1 ka, but tbey are all petrol & want a diesel one (I make biodiesel).So my question is-is there a diesel lump that will fit?
    Thanks, keith.

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