So you’ve finally decided to give autocross a try, and you’re wondering what you need to do to prepare your car, huh? Well, relax. You really don’t need to do much, but here are some tips:
First, have a look at our Safety Inspection Checklist. If you pre-inspect your car based on that checklist, you will have no problems passing your Safety Inspection at an event.
Make sure all of your regular maintenance is done, all the fluids are full, good brakes and tires, all the usual stuff you’d do before going on a road-trip. Check for excessive leaks, we don’t like slick stuff on our autocross courses!
Look over the car and make sure that nothing is loose. The older your car is, the more likely that you’ll find something that needs to be secured. Everything from seat mounting bolts to battery tie-downs to wheel lugs has been found loose (or missing) at autocross tech inspection. Your first autocross morning will go smoother if you catch that sort of thing before you get there.
Loose items will need to be removed from the car before you run, so it’s a good idea to empty all but the bare necessities at home so you won’t have to pile them in a parking lot. In general, anything that isn’t bolted down should be removed. This includes things like floor mats, dangly things on your mirror, the pile of CDs in the back seat, the McDonald’s bag in the passenger’s footwell, snap-on hub caps, and ALL of the loose crap in your trunk. If you want to remove things like your spare tire and jack to save a little weight, you can do that, too.
Tire pressure is very important! DO NOT run your tires at a lower than normal pressure! This is extremely dangerous. With the hard cornering involved in an autocross, you’ll get better traction running somewhat higher pressures. A good starting point is usually 40-42 psi. If you have a FWD car, add 3-4 more psi to the front tires. For a RWD car, try about 2 psi LESS in the rear tires. You need enough air pressure to keep the tires from rolling over onto the sidewalls. Better to start a little high and work your way down. If you start out too low, you’ll scuff up your sidewalls and you don’t want to do that. For a better idea of what pressures to run, try to find someone that has a car similar to yours. They will probably give you more tips than you ever wanted to know! We’re a great bunch of people and everybody there will help you in any way they can.