Stage 3 tuning

"All you need to know about taking your car to stage

What is a stage 3 tune?

When a car is tuned to stage 3, most people think about a  track day car. You'll find that most cars in this category are not road legal.

Often catalysts/DPF Filters and other pollution controls are removed. This is most areas will fail a car inspection and can result in a ticket/citation or even confiscation of your vehicle in some regions.

Further reading: To clarify what we and most people mean by tuning stages, then read about stage 1 mods in detail and stage 2 tuning options.

Stage 3 engine mods

Typically a car setup for stage 3 will be optimized to live in the upper third of the RPM range, where most of the power is.

This can lead to the car needing a very high tick over to avoid stalling.

Flywheels are usually replaced with lighter units, this means the car engine RPM's will change much more quickly, allowing rev-matching through gear changes, and better acceleration.

Engines will be stripped down and rebuilt with stronger components and tolerances will be tightened up. Taking F1 cars as an example, you'll see that engines need to be prewarmed to expand the metals and unseize the engine due to the very tight tolerances.

Balancing the engine components and altering the crank, rods and pistons can help raise the RPM limits helping you to make more power at the top end.

Turbo upgrades are quite popular thanks to the massive power gains on offer. With a road car you need the turbo to flow well at low RPM's which reduces it's top end potential, so when looking for a stage 3 setup you can go with a larger turbo.

The low RPM lag will not be an issue as the car will rarely be in this part of the rev-range, and you can make a lot more top end power.

Because you will be burning more fuel it is quite common to see raised emission levels on a stage 3 tuned car. This would be a problem on a road car, but is not usually a consideration for a track car in most regions.

You also have access to track-only components, like slick tires, to give you the maximum cornering grip.

Sound levels are often much higher, although many tracks have limits in place so you'll need to check these. Straight through exhaust pipes can be used in some areas, but there are many exhaust upgrades around that will help your stage 3 tune to shine.

A stage 3 race modified car will also need to be regularly overhauled and serviced. It also makes sense to specify a very high-quality synthetic oil as cheaper and low-quality oils will start to shear, and fail to protect the engine when it is working hard.

We have heard of fuel pumps failing to grab fuel on heavy cornering, or oil flow problems due to the G forces a car experiences on a track. Thankfully there are solutions to these problems, which are relatively easy to install.

Stage 3 handling modifications

Because most track surfaces are quite well maintained and you need to maximize your cornering speeds you will typically drop the car more than you would for a road setup, and using firmer springs and anti roll bars will reduce body roll.

Read more about suspension setup and suspension mods.

Brakes will run extremely hot and must be upgraded as part of your stage 3 tune. We would recommend race pads, designed to operate at higher temperatures than OEM or road pads.

Brake operation will often be much more heavy and can seem almost on or off in some cases.

Likewise the clutch will be a heavy duty clutch and will require a much firmer push to engage it.

Some controls will also be relocated, a handbrake is usually replaced with a lever and will often have a locking button attached to it for a quick set and forget operation.

Stage 3 weight reduction.

Weight reduction can be quite extreme in stage 3, with body panels being replaced with carbon fibre or fibreglass.

As the car is set up for racing it will often be stripped out. Comfy seats will be replaced with racing seats and harnesses. Carpets/dashboard radio and other unnecessary parts are removed to maximize the weight reduction.

Even the glass in windows can be quite heavy, not to mention dangerous if it gets broken, so often drivers will choose, even in they are not required, to replace the glass with a heavy-duty plastic alternative, such as polycarbonate units like Lexan. But avoid flammable options, such as plexiglass as these present an obvious hazard.

To read more about this see our article on weight reduction.

You won't need many of the lights, and indicators in some motorsports, so in this case, they will be removed.

Most tracks will also require a roll cage and fire extinguisher set up before you begin. Although you want the peak performance from your car it really pays to ensure the car is safe for yourself and those around you.

The extra strain put on the car's engine will result in premature engine wear and if a car is used on a daily basis it will become very unreliable. So to summarize stage 3 mods are the most aggressive and not the sort of thing you want to do on a road car



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