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Q: What are Performance Parts?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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Car enthusiasts often replace stock parts on their cars with aftermarket parts, frequently for the purpose of improving the car's performance. The specific type of benefit that performance parts provide can vary considerably since enthusiasts have more than one definition of performance. Performance parts for the latest car models are readily available from a variety of sources. Performance parts typically improve a car's acceleration, braking, or handling.

Many categories of performance cars exist, with each category requiring a different set of performance parts. For example, a hot rod is most likely to require parts that increase the vehicle's straight-line acceleration. Sports car enthusiasts are often interested in parts that improve a car's handling and braking, as well as its acceleration.

The sources of performance parts may be classified into several categories. Brands of luxury cars that receive these parts at the factory include Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche. Vehicle manufacturers may also maintain their own subsidiaries that are dedicated to producing performance parts for that manufacturer's vehicles. Toyota Racing Development, Mercedes-AMG and Ford Racing Performance Parts are well-known examples of these subsidiaries. Aftermarket manufacturers who are independent of the vehicle manufacturer may also produce performance parts.

The installation of performance parts requires the car owner to carefully consider several factors. This is often a matter of comparing the cost of the part against its additional benefit.

A more powerful engine is one of the most expensive parts for improving a car's performance. A new transmission and braking system are also expensive performance options. On the other hand, you may be able to obtain significant performance gains with inexpensive parts. A car's computer chip can often be replaced with a higher-performance version. Free-flow mufflers and improved air filters are also good examples of inexpensive performance parts.

Performance parts may affect a car's trade-in value. These parts can increase the car's value when you are trading it in to a dealer who recognizes the benefit of the performance part. However, a dealer may also lower the trade-in value of the car, especially when the part voids the car's warranty.

Some performance parts may raise a car's performance in some areas, while lowering it in others. For example, tires made of soft rubber provide more traction on a dry surface but their tread will wear out much more quickly. This type of trade off represents one of the greatest challenges of deciding which performance parts to install.

It is important to decide which types of performance you most wish to improve before you begin installing aftermarket parts. You must also decide the point at which you begin diminishing returns when comparing the cost of the part against its performance gain. Performance parts often provide their best benefits when you don't plan to sell the car.

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