WHAT IS TUNING
You will have heard it on the Radio, read it in the Papers and seen a Range of Magazines devoted to the Subject, "Vehicle Modifications". Right now I would like to take away a few preconceived views on the Subject- No, it will not make your vehicle less reliable, quite contrary it may make it live far longer! It might not make your vehicle Faster. Done moderately, it should make it less thirsty. Done correctly, should make it handle better. The whole Idea is to make your vehicle do the job better, for which you are intending to use it. The Vehicle Manufacturers make their cars for the broadest market (unless they are speciality manufacturers), which means that your 4*4 might be best suited to drive over the pavement while fetching the kids from Ballet, but does not handle van Zyls pass on a Hot day with a load. Lets face it more people use their 4*4 for the first mission and not the 2índ- so the manufacturer has to strike a compromise. If you need your 4*4 for Kaokoland, then you better see a speciality equipment manufacturer to build it for you, or convert a readily manufactured vehicle to best suit those conditions. I for one prefer a Mercedes for high speed cruising to a Porsche, though the Porsche is fun in empty Bends- now where do you find those in Namibia? Hoping to have piqued your interest let me carry on taking items point by point.
Chassis tuning, or suspension as it is popularly called. Does your Road car need firmer handling or 4*4 needs better wheel articulation i.e. Travel? Shocks alone can help the ride but do seldom make radical differences, unless the OE (Original Equipment) Manufacturer slept. Normally spring rates need to be adapted, travel changed and finally the whole example needs to be dampened (shock absorbers). Please note with the upspring of so many so called suspension companies, there are more bad than good- please beware before you lay out moola, get a test drive in a similar vehicle to yours with those mods. So you immediately get to drive yours before and after, maybe all you need is fresh OE components. This applies to all prospective modifications you wish to apply to your vehicle.
Engine Tuning, also very seldom does a hot cam do the job. Does your engine get enough clean air and your combustion chamber the correct mixture, thereafter does the Hot spark occur at the right time and do the gasses exit with the least restriction ? A good tune up can do more than that so called Stage 3 race cam !
Increasing Engine displacement, sounds Brutish and can have the same effect on your wallet and drivetrain components. Sometimes it is a good way out if a vehicle is overenginered in all but the Engine department, this should save you fuel and give you more reliability- saving you money. Land Cruisers with a properly fitted V8 comes to mind or a BMW 3.5 L increased to 4.2 L for constant high speed Autobahn driving (in the days when it was still possible).
Often when we find that we genuinely have to little power, it would have been cheaper to have bought a bigger engined vehicle from the beginning. Or we bought the wrongly suspended vehicle for our application. Or the whole doodad is clapped out and needs a facelift. Maybe your stock components do not take the punch. Or maybe there are not the right components available for your needs from the OE Manufacturer (although most are making an effort to close that niche).
Well thatís when you speak to your modification specialist and not to your Buddy in the pub. Listen to what he says and talk to people that had his treatment done to their vehicle. Also does he or even an OE Manufacturer back his products with a decent Warranty- 30 seconds or 30 meters should make you turn around and flee. 6 months to a year are the norm nowadays.
When you buy mail order- Beware! What works magnificently in Australia can be an absolute flop here. And mail order suppliers seldom know physically how to fit things, rather buy from someone that could ,and has fitted your planned parts. Different countries can produce identically labelled vehicles that are equipped completely different to ours ! Reminds me of the good Gentleman who ordered from an American Toyota specialist parts for his Hilux in an effort to save money and in the hope that the quality must be better. We have solid axle front suspension, they changed plenty of years ago to Independent Front Suspension. The Diff Lock did not fit our rear axle, and his HighZoot engine parts fitted an engine that was never sold here. Although looking at above example he still might have use for his N$ 18000 parts, should an ageing Diplomat choose to sell his imported left Hand Drive Hilux to him!