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Forza Motorsport: 10 Quick and Easy Steps to Tuning Your Ride
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posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Microsoft
developer: Microsoft Game Studios
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Jul 20th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Jul 20th, 2005

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Earlier in the year we published our review of Forza Motorsport, Microsoft's answer to Gran Turismo.  We've received numerous emails about tuning and how, exactly, you go about doing it.  Well, for all you out there who are looking for an answer, something to get you into the rules of car tuning, here's our guide.

10 Quick and Easy Steps to Tuning Your Ride

Microsoft's Forza Motorsport has one of the most soffisticated physics engines of any racing game. It is so accurate that in order to tune my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRS STI Spec-C (J) I had to look at real life Subaru STI settings. This is an extreme example of tuning addiction. There are over 240 cars in Forza Motorsport and so tuning each car is a great serving of trial and error. But if you're having trouble with that specific car, it is possible to minimize the trial and error. Here are 10 quick steps that will help get your car back on the track or quicker off the line.

1. Get a Feel for Your Car

Knowing your car is the first step to quickly assessing how to tune it. Is your car Front Wheel Drive? Rear Wheel? Is the engine located at the front or back? To locate this information go to "The Garage" menu and then into "My Cars." Each car has its stats represented above it.3,3);if(!z336){var zIsb=gEI("adsb");if(zIsb){zIsb.style.display="inline";zIsb.style.height="0px";zIsb.style.width="0px";}var zIss=gEI("adss");if(zIss){zIss.style.display="inline";zIss.style.height="0px";zIss.style.width="0px";}} For instance, the 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS is a front wheel drive car with the engine located at the front. What this means is the car has all its pull from the front and could suffer from understeer (it becomes difficult to turn while at high speeds and braking: a common attribute of front wheel cars).

To truly know your car, take it for a test drive without any upgrades or special parts. Select the car and go into the "Tune Car Setup" menu, then choose "Test Drive." I use the Blue Mountains Raceway because it has a nice balance of curves and straights. Feel how the car corners, or how it doesn't. Knowing how an unmodified version of the car handles will make it easier to feel the difference of power and control when it is modified and tuned.

2. Choose a Class

It's simple to plop down $50,000 or more to make your car a supercar, but it is something else entirely to find the perfect upgrades for the class you want the car to compete in. The classes are as follows: D, C, B, A, S, R (which is split into subclasses GT, GTS, and P1). You cannot upgrade into the R class as they're all real-life supercars. First, you have to ask yourself what class you want to be in. It's just as important what class you need as is what upgrades you choose. And actually, the former will inform the latter.

Choose a class based on what races you are attempting to win. For instance, our Eclipse might be able to do fine in a C class race (as a C1 car), but if you get into the A classes as an A4, you might be in completely over your head.

3. Buy Upgrades.

Buy Upgrades starting with the weight reduction and tires. It's much easier to decide what kind of tires you want and then buy engine upgrades than to be stuck with crappy tires and a beast of an engine. Buy tires and weight reduction first in order to save on selling and re-buying.

Next, buy upgrades until you get up to your intended class. If you want that really great supercharger or turbocharger, you'll have to compromise with the rest of the parts (Intake/Exhaust and fuel/ignition systems).

4. Test Drive Your Car Again

Test driving is the most important part of figuring out your car's strengths and weaknesses. Essentially you'll probably be spending 80% of the time on the track and 20% of the time tuning your car. While you're driving your line, pay attention to things like Brake Distance, acceleration, and oversteer versus understeer.

Terms to remember:

Understeer: When the nose of your car turns too little into a corner. This can cause the whole car to lose its path.
Oversteer: When the nose of your car turns too much into a corner. This can cause the rear of the car to spin out.
Brake Distance: How quickly your brakes slow you down - this is relative to the weight of the car and the effectiveness of the tires.
Acceleration: How quickly the car gets off the starting line and out of corners. This is also relative and can be affected by the quality of the tires, the gear ratio, and the weight of the car. 5. Familiarize Yourself With The "Tune Car Setup" Menu

The car tune-up section (accessed by going into the "Tune Car Setup" menu and then to "Change Setup") is broken into 9 different sections of tuning, each of which becomes modifiable as you buy better parts:

Tires: increase or decrease tire pressure in the front and back tires. Increasing and decreasing tire pressure in the front will increase and decrease responsiveness of the car's turning respectively, but as you increase responsiveness you lose grip and vise versa.
Gearing: modify the individual gears and the final gear ratio.  A higher gear ratio (gears are closer together) means more acceleration while a lower gear ratio (gears are farther apart) means more top speed.
Alignment: The Camber, Toe, and Caster of your car can be adjusted ){var zIsb=gEI("adsb");if(zIsb){zIsb.style.display="inline";zIsb.style.height="0px";zIsb.style.width="0px";}var zIss=gEI("adss");if(zIss){zIss.style.display="inline";zIss.style.height="0px";zIss.style.width="0pxhere. This is the degree of tilt (vertical and horizontal) placed on your wheels.
Anti-Roll Bar: The simplest way to compensate for understeer and oversteer. Increasing the front stiffness increases understeer, while increasing the back stiffness increases oversteer.
Springs: The Springs and Ride Height can be adjusted here. Go as low as possible without causing your car to bottom out. Make the rear ride height slightly higher than the front - this causes a natural air foil effect.
Damping: Damping is the resistance to suspension movement. Bump Damping is how easily the suspension goes up into the wheel well. Rebound Damping is how easily the suspension returns to normal.
Aero: Adjust the Aeros. The front and rear spoilers. More downforce equals more cornering, while less equals more speed.
Braking: Braking is more complicated than it seems, but to simplify - more pressure does not always mean faster braking. Finding the balance for each car is important.
Differential: The Differential is the single-most complicated part to adjust. It regulates how quickly the wheels lock up under acceleration and braking

6. Get Ready to Tune!

One of the most handy options in Forza Motorsport is the ability to tune your car on the fly while test driving it. Select "Test Drive" once again from the "Tune Car Setup" menu. Choose your favorite track and start driving. When you feel safe with your car, press the Start button and then select "Tune". You can adjust parts of your car and then jump back to the track to see how the changes affect your ride.

7. Beginning to Tune

Begin tuning by adjusting the stiffness of your ride. Start with the front and adjust until your car feels a little stiffer than it should be - at this moment you'll probably be having trouble turning. That's okay. Next, adjust the rear stiffness. Adjust the rear until you can noticably feel the car's turning ability increasing. Stop tuning when you have the turning slightly quicker than would be ideal - this leaves room for future tuning.

Be aware of having your anti-roll bar too stiff. If this happens it is possible for bumps to cause the whole car to lift off the ground and lose traction.

8. Tires, Aeros, and Alignment

Adjust your tires in order to achieve maximum grip and still allow for responsiveness. In rear wheel drive cars, I've found that having the rear tires softer than the front is preferable. In front wheel drive cars, the front tires need to be more balanced so as to avoid understeer. In all wheel drive cars, the tires need to be adjusted according to the car's need. An all wheel drive car can imitate a front wheel or rear wheel drive car.

Aeros are simple. Adjust for turning or for speed. Having a modest balance of turning and speed is what I've found works best. In this way, you won't have to re-tune your car for a race where speed is important.

Alignment is difficult to learn, but is one of the most important categories. Simply, Caster, Camber, and Toe are all ways to adjust how the wheels point or slant. Smithees Race Car Technologies has a guide from Grassroots Magazine about Caster, Camber, and Toe, what they mean and how to adjust them.  If you feel like you need a little more explaination of Caster, Toe, and Camber, I recommend this site.

9. Use the Benchmark Tool

The Benchmark is a very useful tool. It shows Acceleration, Braking Distance, and Lateral Gs. Use this data together with the Final Gear Ratio to get your car's acceleration higher (0-60, 0-100 time lower) or it's top speed higher (which will lower acceleration). The benchmark is also good for tuning your Braking. Try to tune your baking so that the 60-0 and 100-0 distance is as small as possible.

The Lateral Gs tell how your car is holding steady at given speeds. Don't worry too much about this. The lateral Gs will be obvious while you're test driving your car.

10. Take your car on the track!

Take your tuned car on the track and see if you like the changes. Tuning your car is a progressive job: it gets harder as it goes. zSB(3,3);if(!z336){var zIsb=gEI("adsb");if(zIsb){zIsb.style.display="inline";zIsb.style.height="0px";zIsb.style.width="0px";}var zIss=gEI("adss");if(zIss){zIss.style.display="inline";zIss.style.height="0px";zIss.style.width="0px";}} If you feel your ride is not performing correctly, that's okay, you can always readjust. Save often! It is possible to save multiple settings for your car so you can test out many options. This also allows you to "undo" or backtrack to the last configuration if a change makes the car unstable.

Taking these steps will help you get your car up and running. Of course, getting to know the ins and outs of the car can take time. While there are some other options available for tuning your car, they are often best left alone. Some such as the differential) are very difficult to adjust properly. In the end, it's the tuner who takes the time to tune who will end up ahead.