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INTRODUCTION

REDUNDANCY

TRANSMISSIONS

STEERING

WEIGHT

MISCELLANEOUS

SUV STABILITY

DIALOG

FEEDBACK

WEIGHT PROBLEMS

Anything that moves benefits by adding lightness. You may think that a heavier car holds the road better. It does not. Weight cancels out in all dynamic vehicle performance calculations. But common sense will illustrate this fact:

  • More weight means more inertia to control

  • There is more frictional force available at the tire contact points with increasing weight

  • But, there is more inertia to control during braking and during cornering

  • Therefore, higher inertia cancels out the higher available friction and the net gain or loss is zero

For similar reasons, weight does not equate to safety either because there is just that much more weight (usually dead weight) to carry undesirable energy during a sudden stop; that is, a crash.

It is easy to demonstrate that 600 pounds extra weight does have a detrimental effect on vehicle performance. Just load your car with four people and drive it. Enough said. Take away 600 pounds of fat and you car would seem like it was on steroids.

Unnecessary weight results in almost directly proportional loss to vehicle performance, especially maximum acceleration, particularly at lower speeds up to 45 mph or so. Above that speed, streamlining takes effect, a topic to be covered later. Less weight means less power to accelerate and maintain cruise speed. It means faster hill climbing with less power and fuel consumed.

Where is this unnecessary weight? Well, cars have been gaining weight all along despite stated efforts of the manufacturers. Weight reduction can be expensive. Steel is cheap and aluminum is expensive. Without getting too technical it is sufficient that there is a lot of steel and iron that needs to be replaced with light weight non-ferrous alloy. A reduction of 500 to 600 pounds is feasible, especially for high end models.

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