Pads & rotors wear the most. Grommets---that protect pistons from dust and moisture---wear from heat and age. A worn grommet exposes the brake caliper's piston allowing it to wear via rust. A rusted piston's performance degrades over time with the end result, in the worst case, being the piston seizing to the caliper---a potentially desperate condition for any sports car that's driven aggressively. This begs a recommendation: when assuming driver authority for a Porsche you're unfamiliar with, DO NOT assume the brakes are in proper working form. It's smart thinking to always check unfamiliar brakes before driving aggressively. This should be done with increasing levels of speed and braking loads applied for each tested level.
Will old brake fluid serve to stop your Porsche? It will. It's possible to go for years without replacing brake fluid---but that's not advised for anyone that cares about maintaining their car's optimal braking capacity. In a nutshell, brake fluid degrades from heat, age, and moisture-gain. In turn, this degrades the "stiffness" brake fluid has. And it's this stiffness that translates into braking clarity a driver feels when brakes are applied. In contrast, old brake fluid lacks braking clarity. Because braking clarity degrades slowly over time, this condition generally goes un-noticed by the same driver of the same car.
Best-practice: Flushing a brake system and replacing old hydraulic fluid with new should be accomplished every 15,000 - 25,000 miles as a best-practice procedure / or every 2 years. The earlier target being for Porsches driven under high performance braking loads. The latter for casual performance braking loads. This servicing of your Porsche will maintain a clean brake system, optimal braking clarity, and prevent internal corrosion of the brake system as a whole. As things go, slowing down or stopping is more important than how fast a Porsche can go.
The most common of all handling related adjustment is wheel alignment---the pointing of tires relative to each other and the center line of the car. There are three control aspects to alignment: toe, camber, caster.
Front and rear toe is typically set slightly inwards. This means tires do not run parrallel to the center line of your car---a tire's front is closer to the center line of the car than is the rear of the same tire. Reason for this setting is to compensate for the natural tendency tires have to turn outward from a car's center line when being driven.
Camber is the angle of the tire relative to a perpendicular line of your Porsche's chassis. "Negative" camber is when tires have their tops leaning into the car. "Positive" camber is when tire tops lean outwards.
Caster is the angle between the vertical steering line and the center point of a tire's ground contact. Caster is typically set positive. This helps a car self-steer based on the front tires ground contact being behind the steering axis.
Porsche front tires wearing on inside. Improper toe and/or camber setting is cause. Without correct wheel alignment, money on tires is wasted.
Stance encompasses ride height, body rake, and wheel spread.
Regarding ride height, the lower the center of gravity, the better a Porsche handles. In simple physics: lower means there's less vertical mass/weight above a car's bottom plane for inertia to force straight when the car turns. As a Porsche's stance height is lowered, suspension travel is reduced. This tightens suspension creating a more stable, but harder feeling ride. This is optimal for competitive / high performance driving. For the street, it's a matter of handling preference. Apart from a tighter ride, less below-car clearance translates into the need for driving with increased road surface awareness for the pavement ahead. This is a constant focus when driving unfamiliar roads.
Rake refers to the pitch of your Porsche front-to-back. Ideally, the setting is a 2 degree nose-down incline. The purpose in this setting is to improve front wheel breaking. Given a Porsche's heavy weighting on the rear wheels, the front wheels are at an immediate disadvantage in terms of frictional contact force against the pavement when brakes are applied. Rake improves frictional contact of the front tires through the pre-angulation of the chassis. In simple terms, rake partially eliminates the nose down travel the chassis of a car goes through when braking. While this is not a tremendous stopping advancement, any performance gain when braking should be considered beneficial.
Wheel spread is the distance between the outer contact points of the tires to the pavement measured side-to-side. Generally speaking, the greater the distance, the more stable a car's handling is. As spread increases, so too do wheel & tire widths.
If you have a professional 4-wheel alignment with proper air pressure in all 4 tires and your car pulls to one side, there's a very high probability your Porsche's not properly corner balanced. Not only does this condition adversely effect steering in a straight line but also when cornering and braking. In a nutshell, the more unbalanced a Porsche's corner weighting is, the more poorly that car will handle.
What is corner balance? It is the weight of a car as distributed to the pavement through each tire. In a perfect world, (with scales under each tire,) the front left & right side weight of your car would be equal with a driver in the driver's seat. Left & right rear weights would also be equal. Deviations from the perfect world are acceptable to a certain degree. The less deviation the better. Speak with any number of professionals concerning corner balancing tolerances and you'll get different deviation tolerance opinions. GP preference for street driven Porsches is a side-to-side deviation of 15 lbs (or less) in the front. 25 lbs (or less) in the rear. For racing, 10 lbs (or less) front as well as rear for medium competition. Equal side-to-side for serious competition.
The weight of each corner is controlled by adjusting ride height at each corner. This might seem a simple matter but as one corner's weight is adjusted, the other corners weights change. (The higher the chassis' corner is, the greater the weight being placed on that particular corner. Inversely, the lower the chassis' corner is, the less weight there is on that corner.)
Regardless of all other handling considerations, to truly handle as a Porsche is designed to, corner balance is a fundamental requirement.
Driving style has a great deal to do with what type of tires are most appropriate for a car. Hard compound tires are for casual drivers. Soft compound are for the more aggressive.
Tire profile also affects handling. Generally speaking, the lower a tire's profile, the higher the performance. Small profile changes do not require wheel changes. Beyond a certain point, a higher or lower profile will not fit existing wheels correctly. Nor will extremes fit in the space a Porsche's wheel wells allow. Modifications to accommodate tire size preferences can be made to some degree. Flared wheel wells for instance.
Tire width contributes significantly to handling because more width means more contact with the pavement. Wheels, spacers, and fender flaring can come into play when modifying tire widths.
Racing is another dimension entirely. Tire selection can and is elevated to a science. Pavement type, weather including ambient temperature, altitude, a track's composition including number and profile of corners, and driver preferences are all considerations. GP can offer competitive tire advice to help you out-think your competition.
Tuning your Porsche to handle according to your sensibilities. That may be a matter of new struts. Or, perhaps your interest calls for a more intensive approach---Harmonizing most if not all the performance attributes that define your Porsche's control characteristics. Brakes, suspension, wheel dimensions, tire-type, alignment, stance, corner balance, chassis rigidity, and aerodynamics where high speed driving is concerned---all attribute to how your car feels to you. With GT and GTP class winning race experience, GP is intimately familiar with the nuances of how each adjustable dimension of a Porsche needs to be co-operatively set to create the unique street or track feel you're looking for. From struts to comprehensive harmonic tuning, GP offers Master Porsche mechanical capabilities to refine your Porsche's handling to the way you want it.
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Below: Example of Porsche 911 brakes that suffered from a combination of service-repair neglect and not being driven much. Performance of front right caliper (above) borders none existent due to frozen piston. Car pulls noticeably to left under braking---reason this owner's now attending brakes. Piston's grommet... disintegrating from age. Piston... rusting and seized to caliper. Pads removed from this brake assembly are at right above. Pad material is crumbling... one pad fell apart as you see it and did so without instigation. These are low quality / economy brake pads from Mintex.
Left: Replacement parts for brake system above. OEM calipers, vented/drilled rotors (upgrade), and low-dust brakes pads from EBC. While vented rotors were not absolutely necessary for this casually driven Porsche, the added cost is negligible compared to the improved braking power acquired. Customer was given non-vented rotor option and chose these. EBC Red Stuff were installed on basis of their low-dust performance and this car being a street driven Porsche. Is important for brake pads to be bedded properly when installed as I always do.
The tighter your suspension is set up the less your Porsche's chassis rotates on it's axis---the less it has to lean into corners and then has to recover. By minimizing lean, the less mass there is moving about. This reduction of mass in motion translates into a Porsche handling with greater clarity and precision.
Newer cars have suspension systems that can be adjusted on the fly. This provides a refined ride under changing conditions as a Porsche's on board computer is capable of making automatic ride adjustments. Some degree of suspension adjustment is also available through a car's driver preference settings. Classic cars are locked into suspension settings given existing torsion and sway bar types, shock type & configuration, ride height, rake and corner balancing. All these aspects affect how your Porsche handles.
The stiffer a chassis is the less twist there is in when cornering. Chassis twist makes a car feel rubbery in corners---unwanted. Among Porsches, coupes are more rigid than Targas and convertibles given coupe roof structure.
To tighten a Porsche's chassis' rigidity, cross bars can be fitted to the cabin's interior behind the seats as well as in the frunk. Rigidity for racing purposes is accomplished with roll cages and more aggressive cross-bracing front and rear.
The handling difference between a braced Porsche and non-braced is immediately apparent in the feel of it.
Differences in car form can aide or hinder a desired aerodynamic effect. And quite often one effect comes with sacrificing another. The chart (at left on desktop website only) shows aerodynamic effects for various Porsche car configurations. Click chart to enlarge it.
Porsche experience, GT and GTP class racing credentials including crew and Crew Chief leadership translates into GP offering the skilled handling refinement needed to make your Porsche handle as you want it to for street, or competition.
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Following the 356 series, Porsche took a quantum leap forward in the design of their next rear engine sports car initially designated the 901. Peugeot objected to this branding on grounds of having rights in France to model names with three numbers with a zero in the middle. Rather than sell the new model with a different name in France, Porsche changed the zero to a one, and so the 911.
Ferdinand Alexander (Butzi) Porsche, the 911's lead designer, with the first model 911, circa 1964. While much credit is given Butzi Porsche, it should be known that Erwin Komenda also played a key role in the 911's body design---as well as many other Porsche models. Komenda was with the company since it's founding in 1931 serving as head of the company's Bodywork Design Department until his departure from Porsche in 1966 over design disagreements concerning the 911. Komenda was applauded by many for his forward thinking and independent behaviour.
PHOTO CREDIT: PORSCHE AG ARCHIVES
Front wheel camber for racing is often seen clearly negative. This benefits corner handling as the outside tire---during a turn---goes perpendicular thereby providing maximum contact with the pavement (when it's needed most.)
Brake system flush & bleed being performed on a 2003 986 Boxter S. Replacing brake fluid entirely is done every 2 years as standard maintenance. This serves to rid the system of internal moisture---moisture that will rust brake system internals. Also serves to eliminate spongy pedal that results from moisture compressing in system when brakes are applied.
Vented / drilled Porsche brake rotors. Holes prevent hot gasses from building up between brake pad and rotor surfaces. This allows improved contact between these surfaces. Holes also significantly increase total rotor surface area resulting in improved heat shedding.
Stock ride height and rake compared to the same car lowered and raked 2 degrees. All else being equal, the lowered & raked version of this 930 will handle noticeably better than its stock iteration due to a lower center of gravity, tighter suspension, improved aerodynamic ground effects, and 2 degree rake for braking.
Wheel spread here nears the max that's suitable for a 911-type platform. Dimensionally, this mod increases stock spread by more than a foot. Handling, particularly cornering, is tremendously improved given this refinement.
VIDEO BY: PORSCHE®
Porsche® Winter Driving:
Video presentation courtesy of Porsche N.A. Permission on file.
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What's possible in order to improve your ride? Test drive your Porsche with GP beside you. Express the handling issue(s) you sense or how you'd prefer your Porsche to feel. Either way, what you'll get is handling advice that cuts to the chase based on 30+ years of Porsche street & winning-track experience. You'll know what's possible to achieve in regard to the feel your looking for, and how to get there. If there's an issue with your car's handling, that issue will be found and proven to you prior to any repairs. From minor tweeks to improve your ride, to comprehensive car-wide tuning for the feel your want... your car's handling needs are covered with genuine Porsche expertise at GP AutoWerks.
To know more about your Porsche's handling attributes and what options there are to improve your feel for the road, call. Or, visit the desktop site. There's much more Porsche handling info, photos, and a variety of curious Porsche facts waiting for you there. Visit:
Porsche, the Porsche crest and Porsche model names are the property of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft, Porsche AG ("Porsche") and is under licensed use by Porsche Cars North America, PCNA. The PCA logo is the property of the Porsche Club of America. No affiliation with either Porsche or the Porsche Club of America is intended or implied by GP AutoWerks, an independent Porsche service, repair, rebuild & PPI shop located in Miami, FL., U.S.A. Any use of the word "safe" or "safety" in this mobile site holds a car's owner and/or driver ultimately responsible for all matters concerning the operational safety of the car being driven or otherwise used. Please see desktop website for full disclaimer and credits.
relative to Porsche handling, are service marks "SM" used in
connection with the marketing and sales of services offered and provided by GP AutoWerks.
© 2015-2020 GP AutoWerks. All rights reserved.