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The Most Fundamental New Car Mod Is More About What You Remove Than What You Add

Gif: Team O’Neil Rally School (YouTube)

There’s a whole world out there dedicated to car modifications and aftermarket parts designed to improve your vehicle’s performance. You could probably wax poetic about which mod is the best for days—but Wyatt Knox from Team O’Neil Rally School has a pretty hot take for y’all: it’s not about what you add. It’s about what you take away.

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That’s right, people. Before you go drop thousands on fancy tires, spoilers, and a stiffer roll bar, try turning off some of the driver-assist features that your car inevitably comes with if it’s been manufactured any time in the recent past. Then make the big money decisions.

If you really want to know what your car is like to drive, you’ll figure that out after turning off your traction control, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. If it impacts braking, accelerating, or cornering, Knox says you should turn it off and see what happens. If you want to figure out how to turn off all that excess shit, you can learn about it here.

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He notes that it’s a lot like taking the training wheels off your bike: awkward at first, but then you get the hang of it. I mean, I grew up driving a car without power steering or ABS. I had the opposite problem, where climbing behind the wheel of something with all those fancy tech features that make driving easier was like trying to swim on land. Holy shit this is weird. It’s way too easy!

When you take away all those things that make driving easier, it forces you to perfect your driving skills while also actually, y’know, figuring out how your car behaves. You’re driving your own car as opposed to the car doing the heavy lifting. Chances are, if you’ve never driven anything that didn’t have those little electronic nannies, you’re going to realize you might suck a little more than you thought.

The sooner you turn off all that extraneous shit, the sooner you’ll actually see improvements in your driving. Which is great.

At that point, you can decide if you need any other mods or upgrades. But, seriously. Don’t even bother spending money on something until you’ve figured out how to drive your car without any extra electronic assistance.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

There’s a reason this stuff comes standard on cars now. Sure, I understand if you want to track your car or do some sweet drifts, but don’t turn this stuff off. They have an intended purpose.