What are auto-tuning settings

Whether aluminum rims, lowering or sports exhaust. Tuning is as diverse and popular as ever. However, if you want to convert your vehicle, you have to take strict guidelines into account. This is the only way to ensure the road safety of the vehicles. And then nothing stands in the way of customization.

In Germany, enthusiasm for individual cars is particularly high: According to the Association of Automobile Tuners (VDAT), up to 1.7 billion euros are invested annually in components that the association describes as "sporty automotive accessories". "Tuners are people who are enthusiastic about cars and want to customize their cars," says Harald Schmidtke, VDAT managing director.

safety first

But you have to be careful when choosing components, because not everything that looks good is allowed. "All safety-relevant changes and changes relating to exhaust gas or noise require approval," warns Schmidtke. Otherwise there is a risk of trouble with registration and insurance. The police can shut down the car and impose fines and driving bans. And with good reason: Otherwise illegally converted vehicles will quickly become a rolling risk.

"Down from the gas" is dedicated to the five most popular conversions and upgrades and highlights the dangers and the legal framework.

Tires: Get rolling with the right combination

For a few years now, there has been no tire binding for cars in the European Union. The vehicle manufacturer can no longer stipulate which tires are fitted. Instead, he has to guarantee that all approved tires can be fitted. As a result, demand is booming and wide tires and shiny alloy wheels make tuning hearts beat faster. "Upgrading the wheel-tire combination is becoming increasingly popular," says Schmidtke. "Tire tuning is relatively inexpensive and the car becomes a real eye-catcher."

For many drivers, wider tires are not only a visual highlight, they also have advantages: handling and grip are improved on dry roads, i.e. the braking distance is shorter. However, comfort suffers, tire damping decreases and rolling resistance increases. When it is wet, there is a faster risk of aquaplaning. But here too, the legislature defines the scope. Because tires may only be so wide that the treads are covered by the fenders (§ 36 StVZO).

Light: LEDs on the advance

The lighting of the vehicles plays an important role for tuning fans. Xenon and LED technology dominate when retrofitting headlights. When converting from halogen to xenon light, however, you cannot and must not simply replace the light sources. Modifying individual components of a headlight system is not permitted. However, there are complete xenon or LED retrofit kits for some vehicles. You also have to think about the mandatory headlight cleaning system and automatic headlight range control. When converting, you must pay attention to the necessary documents and an e-test number. The installation of the lamp units should be carried out by a specialist workshop, since the headlights can also be correctly adjusted there and, if necessary, the programming of the vehicle electronics can be adjusted.

Lowering: always up to date

Dynamic optics and a supposedly sportier seating position: lowering the car is one of the most popular types of chassis tuning. But how deep can a vehicle lie? The StVZO (§30) gives a clear recommendation here. As a result, vehicles must be designed in such a way that traffic facilities (e.g. curbs) are not damaged when they are driven over. So, in principle, drivers have a lot of leeway. However, the TÜV is often based on the requirement that an obstacle of 11 cm can be driven over without contact.

The VDAT also confirms that lowering the car is not child's play: "It is a safety-relevant intervention on the chassis," says Schmidtke. Therefore, the conversion is not for hobbyists and should be carried out in a specialist workshop. The entry of the modifications in the vehicle documents is mandatory.

Exhaust system: With a lot of hum and din

Powerful sound and a striking design at the rear: Many tuning fans get a sporty look on the road with a new exhaust. If it is only a matter of appearance, inexpensive tailpipe trims can be used without hesitation. For a good sports exhaust system, however, retrofit silencers, sports catalytic converters and exhaust manifolds are necessary. Also here you have to pay attention to the E-marking when buying.

The removal of series components in the exhaust, for example the front or center silencer or the catalytic converter, is prohibited. The installation of a custom-made exhaust system is possible, but always associated with an expensive noise and exhaust gas measurement.

Tuning is the desire for individuality.

Tuning isn't just for car enthusiasts who want to brag about upgraded vehicles. Conversion work can also help to increase safety in the car and improve driving behavior. If you tune correctly, you optimize. And: "Of course, a tuned car does not release the driver from being considerate in traffic," says Schmidtke. If you stick to the defined limits, you can give free rein to the desire for individuality of the car.

Tune it! Safe!

Cheap plagiarism or unauthorized parts: The “Tune it! Safe! "Warns against being blinded by supposed bargains. Since 2005, the campaign by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the Association of Automobile Tuners has been raising awareness for more safety in car tuning. The campaign gives tuning tips, provides information about permitted products and explains how to tune safely and in compliance with regulations.

Images: iStock

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