Getting your car ready for Drivers Education

With the 2009 track season underway, people are starting to pull the cars out of winter storage and getting them ready for the street and track.  What are some things you need to pay attention to when heading to the track?  Well there are a lot, all of which are covered on your tech inspection form for your event.  Having a qualified shop check the car over and give their signature of approval before an event is a very good idea.  While all aspects of the car need to be safe, I am going to hit on some that I think are very important.

Brake Fluid Flush:

Having fresh brake fluid (less than 6 months old) is very important at the track.  Under hard braking, fluid will heat up significantly.  If you do not have fresh fluid in the system that can handle that heat, you will find yourself with a brake pedal that goes to the floor after a few hard laps.  Not a good feeling when you are coming into a turn!  Some people flush once or twice a year, keeping on that 6 month schedule.  I stress bleeding the brakes with new fluid before EVERY track event.  The fluid is cheap insurance against brake failure which can end with very bad results.

What are some of the top brands of fluid out there?

ATE Super Blue/Super Gold:  Dry boiling point of 280 degrees C (572F), and a wet boiling point of 198 C (392F).  Retails for $24 a quart.

Motul RBF 600:  Dry boiling point of 593F and wet boiling point of 420F.  Retails at about $40 quart or $20 a pint.

Castrol SRF:  Dry boiling point of 590F and wet boiling point of 518F.  Roughly $80 a quart

For reference, dry boiling point refers to the boiling point of the brake fluid in a non contaminated state, IE fresh and new.  Wet boiling point refers to the boiling point of the brake fluid after it has mixed with moisture from condensation that will find it’s way into your brake system over time.

Brake Pads:

Having plenty of material left on your pads is extremely important when hitting the track.  Typically if you have 50% of the original pad material left, you will have plenty of brakes left for the event.  If you are below that, you had better swap the pads out with new to ensure you don’t find yourself metal on metal coming into a braking zone.  Also, make sure your rotor thickness is within it’s tolerance range, and that there is no cracking of the rotors.  Crossdrilled rotors are going to show some signs of heat cracking around the holes, which is acceptable until the cracks go from one hole to another.   If you are driving hours to an event, and think your brake pads are questionable, it is a good idea to carry a spare set of brake pads with you, in case you need to have them changed at the track.  Everyone has their favorite brake pads dependant on their style of driving.  OEM pads work just fine for basic DE events.  Once you start advancing and want better stopping power because your lap times are getting faster, then you an upgrade your pads.  Just remember, that going to a pad that increases stopping power will also lead to a lot more cold brake squeeling.

Oil Change:

Also very important is to have fresh oil in the engine before an event.  Since you are pushing the car harder and longer on the track than you will on the street, the oil temps are going to climb higher than normal.  It is very important to run fresh, non contaminated oil in the engine on the track.  You don’t want to be running oil that is in the process of breaking down when you are pushing the car hard.  An oil that contains ZDDP’s is the best, as it contains the anti wear additives necessary to ensure engine longevity.

Tires:

Make absolutely sure you have plenty of tread throughout the entire tire before heading to the track.  Remember, some cars will wear the inside edges of the tires which are no visible from just looking from the outside.  Inspect the entire tire to ensure you don’t cord the tire on the track and lose control at speed!

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