How tracking days affect your car’s maintenance schedule

Paying attention to your car’s service intervals is an integral part of car ownership that becomes even more important for people who like to push their cars. When it comes to performance driving activities such as track days, it’s important to not only know these intervals, but to shorten them, as top form fluids ensure your car can withstand the heat of added, friction and other causes of wear. driving forces on the track. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the overall health of the vehicle with frequent thorough inspections.

I did some research and spoke to a few professionals in the motorsports industry for their thoughts on performance-oriented service intervals, and asked if they had any inspection tips for anyone keen to track their own cars. I got a lot of great insights and the universal truth is that shorter service intervals are better.

More frequent is better

The DRS/Garagistic team bleeding the brakes of the BMW M24iR Cup during a SRO TC America race weekend.

No matter where you look for your interval shortening advice, whether it’s forums, Facebook groups, or various informative blogs, everyone has their own personalized schedules in mind. But then, not everyone drives the same way or takes the same amount of weekend trips per year.

Although tracking a properly lubricated and cooled engine, transmission, and differential does not cause any major wear, increased heat, friction, manifold pressure, and inflation will deteriorate the fluids’ lubricating and protective properties more quickly. Oil tracking that is no longer doing what it was designed to do is just going to be an all-around bad situation and lead to big problems sooner rather than later. No one wants to spin a rod bearing while having fun on the track.

When it comes to engine and gear oil, automatic transmission fluid, differential oil, coolant and brake fluid, find out what other car enthusiasts like yours are doing and consider following suit. Heck, some enthusiasts say that shortening automakers’ service intervals regardless of track work is a good idea.

Some companies offer advice on the subject, such as recommended Anti-Space Garage intervals for Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 tracking. Alternatively, there are two universal truths that can help you determine your schedule of car maintenance: consider doing is shorter than the factory recommends and consider getting your oil analyzed to see what’s going on with your oil.

Companies like Zengine and Blackstone Laboratories offer services in analyzing your vehicle’s oil after a change and give you a solid look at your engine’s health. Not only will these alert you to anything concerning, but they can also help you determine if you should change your oil every day, every other day, or more frequently.

However, it is up to the owners to determine what is best for their car, the amount of tracking they do and what they want to budget for. Fluids, especially fluids that are designed to handle the extremes of track driving, are expensive and many performance cars require them at high capacities. If you’re tracking a Porsche, they historically have higher oil capacities than say a Subaru or Toyota.

What runners say: Preparation is everything

Taking a page from those who drive on the track for a living in both club and professional motorsports, it’s a good idea to do shorter service intervals and also use a thorough prep regimen. Of course, race and track days are not the same thing, but it does involve putting the cars under added stress. Chris Taylor, owner of Chris Taylor Racing Services, races and manages a handful of SCCA B-Spec race cars, so his experience with track vehicle care is extensive.

“I have a maintenance checklist that we go through after every weekend,” he said. “Its content isn’t super secret, but it’s also the reason we have very few DNFs.”

He does a pre- and post-track inspection on each of his cars, and depending on how vigilant you are, even if you don’t go wheel-to-wheel, it might be worth your while to do the same. Honda Performance Development (HPD) had similar information to share.

“Creating a simple checklist to complete before each track session is an easy way to stay on top of normal maintenance and can keep you on track instead of trying to repair something in the pits, ” Janeen Farias, Head of Marketing, Commercial Motorsports. in HPD, said. “What must remain constant is the inspection of the car before and after each track session.”

Marking the bolts after you’ve torqued them is an easy way to keep track of them.

She then said that sample safety checklists through reputable track organizations and motorsports sanctioning bodies are a great resource and that adding specific areas of concern for a particular car and its use is a good move. . This is a great method because not all cars have the same problem areas. In my BMW 128i, I keep an eye out for oil leaks in certain areas, while someone tracking a Lexus IS F might keep an eye out for coolant leaks.

Fortunately, inspections are often easy to perform and only require a nest and a few nests to be able to crawl down and get a good basic idea of ​​what’s going on. A few daily company technology inspection checklists can show you where to start, as well as help avoid forgetting a step.

Some things to consider beyond checking fluid levels before, after and during track day include turning the bolts and marking them with a paint pen, checking alignment with some basic tools, keeping the air filter as clean as possible if possible, checking the thickness of the brake pad and rotor. , and more. Next, keeping the engine, transmission, differential, and general underbody as clean as possible helps spot leaks that may develop over time.

Intervals of shortening the intake of runners

Regarding track-focused service intervals, Taylor says that every track or race car should change its engine oil at least every weekend event or two. Air filters should be cleaned every weekend of the event, plus every little detail on his written checklist.

However, the main thing here is that many professional racing teams, whether factory or private, have sponsorship deals with major oil and automotive fluid companies, such as Castrol, Mobil, Liqui Moly, Idemitsu and others. Many teams will change all the fluids after each race weekend because, why not? For those who get them for free through their sponsorship deals, they’d be foolish not to.

This goes back to the notion that you should consider shortening the fluid change intervals for all the components that apply to your car, but it’s up to you to find the ideal balance between track days and money spent on this increased interval schedule. . Or, some people even recommend factoring in hours instead of days – figure out how many hours you’re on track per day and use that as a marker for when to change some fluids.

Peace of mind will translate to faster lap times

Regardless of what you think of in your budget, or the recommendations you find, nothing can be a little more comfortable when it comes to maintaining the health of your car. Or, spending a little more time under a car safely propped up with a flashlight and a notepad. Not only will more service lead to fewer mechanical hazards, but this will most likely translate to faster lap times, as you’ll have more confidence in your car to put those extra legs into the a braking zone, keep that gear slightly near redline. longer, or give one session everything.

Do you track your car in any capacity? Share your strategies for keeping your vehicle healthy!

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