If you can find the apex of every wide left turn you make or can eye the best line to weave through traffic from four cars back, it’s time to take your skills to the track. Now that we’ve established you’ve got the driving chops to take on an autocross or road course, your trusty stead just needs a little tweaking to make sure it’s up to the task. Take advantage of these helpful autocross tips to make sure your ride passes tech without a problem.
Preparing your tires for an event is simple. Do a thorough visual inspection to make sure there are no cuts, cracks or checking, no cord showing or about to show, and a sufficient amount of tread. Ensure all of your lug nuts are in place and properly torqued, and remove any wheel center caps or trim rings that could come loose while racing. Some tire accessories like portable air compressors can come in handy.
Pro Tip: you can help minimize wear on your edges by raising your tire pressure 5-10 psi, but keep in mind this might not provide optimum grip.
When it coming to checking proper brake function – beyond making sure you’ve topped off or replaced all your fluids – ensure your brake lines are in good shape, most noticeably, free from cracks. Don’t forget to take a good look at your brake pads & rotors to verify they’re in good condition.
If you’re serious about passing tech, jack up your ride a few inches and check for play. If you grab hold of your front wheel from top to bottom and feel too much play when you shake, it’s time for some new wheel bearings. Too much play when you shake them side to side might mean you’re in the market for new tie rods or steering components.
One of the most important elements to passing tech is your vehicle’s seat belt or harness. Both your seat belt and your seats must be in excellent condition and bolted tight to your frame. If you’re running a multi-point harness, you need to make sure you’ve made the appropriate adjustments for the specific harness and understand how the securing and releasing mechanism works.
Battery safety is also extremely important. Your battery’s terminals must be covered – even duct tape will do for most events – to prevent arcing in the event your battery comes loose during a roll-over.
Make sure to check with the specific race’s helmet requirements to ensure your head protection is up-to-date (check the tag under the padding inside your helmet).
Autocross racing is all about the details. Give all your mechanical elements, from the throttle return spring and radiator hoses to the gas cap, a good once-over because everything must be in good condition and proper working order. Next, address any potential fluid leaks (oil, fuel, water, etc.) and do a final battery check to ensure it’s securely held in place – no bungee cords will do here.
Have Fun & Race Safe!
To finish up our helpful autocross inspection tips, we’ll focus on your vehicle’s interior. Depending on the race, officials may require an entirely empty driver and passenger area. At least, you’ll be required to remove your floor mats and any component that may come loose and wedge beneath your pedals or even cause you physical harm. Empty out all the contents of your trunk – no jacks or spares – for safety purposes of course, but why not lighten your load while you’re at it. Last but not least, don’t forget your roll of painter’s tape to mark your ride with any numbers or classes you’re assigned come race time.
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