Winter, the off season is a great time to complete annual maintenance. Annual maintenance is a good way of finding and reducing failures at the track. Also, off season is a good time to consider some upgrades.
Shock Check or Rebuild
Pressure Wash Frame
Safety Check - Fire Bottle & Seat Belts
Half Shaft Check or Repack
Wheel Bearing Check or Replace
Brake Maintenance – Install new brakes or rebuild old wheel calipers
Change Transaxle Oil
Complete Nut & Bolt
Rod End Check
Check Fluid Lines
Frame Crack Check
Summary of Upgrade Options
New High Capacity Radiator
Upgraded Steering Shaft
New Bead Seat
New Sprung Clutch
New Wilwood Brakes
Shock Check or Rebuild – The shock check is at the top of the list because it can take weeks to have them checked or rebuilt. There are a few options; one is to do nothing, the other is to have them performance tested, and the last is to send them off to be rebuilt. If the shocks or car is new and you were running at the front of the pack at the end of last season then doing nothing is probably OK. If you think the shocks are getting old and your lap time are not where they should be you might consider one of the other options.
Shock testing can be done at most high-end racing shops on a shock dyno. If the shop has the tools, they should be able to check the N2 pressure, this pressure should be from 125 to about 150 psi. If the shop sees N2 pressures well below the limits or the shocks don’t perform on the dyno, the shocks should be sent back to be rebuilt. The recommended shops that can rebuild the shock are on the AccelRaceTek website. We recommend sending them to Penske in Reading Pa. or Performance Shock, Inc. in Sonoma Ca.
Pressure Washing – We recommend removing all of the body covers to allow for a good cleaning and inspection. We warm up the car and with the engine running spray the engine with an engine degreaser. Focus the degreaser on the lower end of the motor (or where the grime is) and not the ignition and exhaust. Spraying the spindle and brake area isn’t a bad idea too. After a few minutes, use a pressure washer or spay nozzle, on a hose, to spray down the car. We restart the engine and then use a leaf blower to blow off most of the water. Let the motor run until most of the water has evaporated or the motor get up to temperature.
Safety Check – Check the fire bottle expiration date and the gauge to be sure it is still full and/or in the green area. Check the dates on the seat belts to be sure they have not expired. Also, check the seat belts for any signs of wear or defects. Replace as necessary.
Half Shaft Check or Repack – Depending on the last time the half shafts were replaced or repacked consider repacking them. At a minimum check the boots for leakage and for any wear or cracking. Replace and repack as necessary.
Wheel Bearing Check or Replace – Depending on the last time the wheel bearings were replaced consider replacing all of the bearings. At a minimum check the bearing slop with a dial indicator to be sure the slop does not exceed +/- .003”. If you don’t replace the bearings at least re-torque the front hub nuts and the rear axle nuts.
Brake Maintenance – Rebuilding the wheel cylinders is a good idea. Remove the wheel cylinders, disassemble them, clean them with brake cleaner, and then inspect them. Replace the Viton O-rings and the rubber dust boots which cover the pistons. To make assembly easier use a little brake fluid to lubricate the pistons, do not use grease. It is a good idea to replace the bleeder valve/screws or at least remove them and check them.
Check the brake pads and rotors and replace as necessary. The rotor thickness should be checked and the lower thickness limit is 13.25mm (0.522 in.). Install the rotors, pads and rebuilt cylinders and torque to specs. Then flush and bleed the lines using a high temperature brake fluid.
Engine Maintenance – It is a good idea to pull the plugs and look at their color and replace if necessary. If the plug color looks different and/or you haven’t had the injectors flow check, sending them off to be flow tested should be considered.
This is a good time to pull and check the alternator belt. Small rock can build up in the grooves and they should be removed before installing the belt. Check the air cleaner and clean it or for a GEN 2 replace it. For a GEN 3 you will have to clean the filter, go the tech section in this website or to the K&F website for instructions.
The last thing is to drain the oil, replace the oil filter, and add new oil.
Transaxle Fluid Change – Drain the transaxle and look at the old oil for fine metallic particles and/or larger pieces of steel. Any of these are an indication the transaxle might have problems in the future. The transaxle has an internal magnet that collects normal levels of particulate.
Coolant Check – Check the level and color of the coolant. If the coolant hasn’t been changed in years and/or it is very rusty looking you might want to consider changing it. For those of you that live in a climate that goes below freezing often it might be a good idea to add anti-freeze during the cold months. It isn’t a good idea to run anti-freeze while racing but it can save a cracked block while in storage.
Complete Nut & Bolt – Check as many nuts and bolts, as feasible, to be sure they are tight and at the same time do a general check.
Rod End Check – Go around the suspension and check the rod ends. It they have any issues replace them. We recommend replacing the rear outer lower rod ends, these have the highest loads and they do break more often than any other rod end.
Hose Check – Go around the car and check the water lines, oil lines, and fuel lines for wear and any leaks. Also check the lines for cracks and hardening. If they have any issues replace them.
Frame Crack Check – Walk around the frame and do a visual check of all of the critical frame rails. Also check the upper and lower steering shafts for cracks, these shafts have been known to break during a race, not good.
Align the Car – It is a good time to put the car on the scales and check the alignment. It is also a good time to check the bump steer on both the front and the rear.
Completing maintenance off season will give you more time to focus on racing next year.
Upgrade Options to Consider
New High Capacity Radiator – A new high capacity radiator designed for the SpecRacer is now available. The radiator is a little higher price but it is higher capacity and form a known source.
Upgraded Steering Shaft – If you have the old shorter steering shaft that has been known to fail and to cause loss of steering, this might be time to upgrade. The cost is minimal for the upgrade.
New Bead Seat – If you don’t like or don’t fit well into one of the current seats a new bead seat is an option.
New Sprung Clutch- If you are talking out the engine for any reason, it is recommended that the clutch disk be replace with either the older non-sprung disk or the new sprung disk clutch. The new clutch is smoother and should give longer clutch and transaxle life like we were accustomed to with the GEN2.
New Wilwood Brakes - This is a good time to consider upgrading your brakes to the new Wilwood brakes. The new brakes have reduced rolling friction that is equivalent to about 1 foot-pound of torque at the motor. If you upgrade to the new brakes it is recommended that new master cylinders are installed.