Tech Tips: Preparing your Porsche for Autocrossing
by Bob Schoenherr, Membership Director
The Redwood Region wants everyone to enjoy their car and our
autocrosses. I have prepared a list of items to check before you head
off to your first or one of many autocross events.
1. Check the event date, the price of running the car, and the time
that you should arrive at the autocross venue.
2. Bring some lunch and a non-alcoholic beverage. We always provide
water, but it's best to stay hydrated and comfortable.
3. Fluid leaks - Does your car have any fluid leaks that could create
dangerous situations on the track?
4. Battery - Is it properly secured?
5. Belt(s) - Are serpentine or v-belts free from fraying and properly
6. Remove loose junk - You don't want flying objects to hit you or get
under the pedals while you are driving.
7. Engine oil - Has it been changed recently? Know whether to use
synthetic or normal oil in your engine, and the correct way to check
your oil level. Ask me at the track about the old cars.
8. Power steering fluid - Some people like to run a performance fluid,
but from my experience, just check the level to be sure it is up to spec
per the owner's manual. For older cars, check that the wheel is snug and
turns with no clank.
9. Brake inspection - Check your brake pads, rotors, and pedal feel.
Any wobble coming down hills could be a sign you have warping of the
rotors. Your car should stop as it normally does; you may also try an
emergency stop somewhere safe just for fun. If all feels good, you are
ready to go.
10. Brake fluid - If you autocross or track the car, I would recommend
a complete brake system fluid flush at least once a year, and bleeding
at the calipers after every 3-4 autocross days is not a bad idea. Follow
the owner's manual on which fluid to use. There is always a high-end
better temperature fluid you could use, but consult forums and other
sources before changing the brake fluid. Don't screw with it if you
don't know how!
11. Wheel bearings - Check each wheel bearing for play. Jack each wheel
off the ground and check by trying to move the wheel back and forth with
your hands at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions. There should be no free
play on newer Porsches, and movement of 1/16" or less on 356, 914, 912,
and air-cooled 911s.
12. Radiator (for newer Porsches, 924, 944, 968, 928) - Is the coolant
clean and full?
13. Seat belts should be free from obstructions. Make sure the locking
and "cinch" functions work. If you are not confident the belts will hold
you in, then replace them. Also be sure your airbag light is not on.
14. Fire extinguisher - We don't require them in the car, but it isn't
a bad idea to have one. The extinguisher needs to be fully-charged and
15. Lug nuts - Check for even torque. Follow the factory
recommendation. Do not rely upon impact wrenches for torque. Using a
torque wrench makes sure they are equal and greatly reduces the
possibility of rotor or drum warpage.
16. Tires - Tires need to be in good condition, with no cords showing!
Check your cold pressures and set them to the point where they will be
at optimum pressure after heating on the track. If you aren't sure what
starting pressure to run, inflate your street tires to about 4-6 pounds
above recommended street pressure. Take liquid white shoe polish or
chalk with you, and ask an experienced driver to show what pressure to
start with and how to use the polish to check inflation between runs.
17. Transmission and differential - Have fluids been changed and levels
checked as per owner's manual?
18. Helmet - We have loaner helmets, but if you want to buy one look
for SNELL-2010 or 2005. The rating class can be either "M" or "SA." DOT
ratings alone don't count. If you plan to progress to DE or time
trialing, then you need an SA helmet. Helmets are usually allowed for
only a 10-year use in any sport.
19. Alignment - It is up to you to decide how competitive you want your
car to be. Stay with standard settings to get the best tire wear, but
certain tweaks will always help to keep the tires more on the ground. Do
some research, including online forums, to determine the best settings
for your car.
Also consider bringing the following items with you on the day of the
Can of air
Blanket or plastic tablecloth to sit items on
Anything you think you or your car might need (ed. sunscreen)
Come prepared for fun!