Lou's Forza Upgrading & Tuning Q & A
Updated: 29-FEB-2016It's been a while since the last time I put one of these posts together. Since I am doing the FM5 (and soon to be FH2) Leader-board Challenge, which is setting a decent & clean time on every track in every class, I've been doing a lot of builds/tunes. A lot of those have been retunes and/or rebuilds of cars I previously built/tuned. I had to rebuild and/or retune them because they were too much one way or another. By that, I mean they were either too fast and did not handle, or they were on rails but cannot get out of it's own way.
Quick Q&AWhat class do you normally build cars to?
I build cars for all classes, but my favorite classes are C, B, A, S, and R. P is also quite a bit of fun in race cars, but I really don't care for X except when running the Lotus F1 car. D-Class can be and is a BLAST on the right track in the right car.
For most modern performance cars, I typically won't go much higher that ~150 to ~200 PI points above stock PI. Some of my best builds are within the same class as the stock form of the car only using 20-50 PI points for the build. Really this all comes down to personal preference, but more often than not, once a build goes more than 2 classes over stock, the car is no longer competitive and can become more than a handful on a good day. That is a general rule, and there are most definitely exceptions.
Do you pick the cars you build/tune off of the top 100 leader-boards for each track to try and break into the top LB spots?
I NEVER do it intentionally, and I find it more challenging building and tuning cars that are NOT LB cars. I honestly do not care about my global LB rank. I love breaking into the to 1% with non-leaderboard cars, and it feels great to be in the top 1000; however, if I know I drove the wheels off the car and had a great run, then I'm ultimately satisfied with that time in that car. My philosophy is "build it, tune it, test it, paint it, race it, and if it's good then share it!" Most of all I have FUN. If I am not having fun, then why do it? It's a game right!
What is your philosophy to building and tuning cars in Forza?
In Forza Motorsport, I work to three different types of builds (Grip, All Around, or Speed). There are subcategories for each of the three, and I've outlined those in my FM6 Charts & Lists Google Spreadsheetbased on Raceboy77's Choosing a Car for a Track video. The link to his video is in the the spreadsheet.
In Forza Horizon, I relax and have fun building/tuning cars. I see Horizon as me versus the game, so I have fun with it.
What order should you install parts?
That all depends on the car and how many PI points I have to play with.
I always throw on a Race Diff 1st. It's 0 PI and I do it first so I don't forget. If I only have 20 PI points to play with, I go with Race Brakes, Shocks, and ARB. I also go with at least a Sport Flywheel (engine revs faster) and then look at some weight reduction. Drive-shaft, rims, and/or actual weight reduction. I could also go with an exhaust upgrade if I need a little bit more top end. Remember that handling, acceleration, braking and launch (most of the time) increase when weight is reduced. The only thing not increased with weight reduction is Top Speed. Only Transmission tuning, HP and/or reduced drag can do that. I will break down my parts order in another section on this page.
What tire compound & sizes should I use?
Fist and foremost: are the stock tires adequate for the stock power and have I upgraded the tire compound already? This information is important because, it is very easy to oversize the tires for the power and performance of the vehicle. Since I've been building and tuning in FM for quite some time, I'm pretty good at choosing the right combo for the build. There is no easy formula that I know of for determining the optimal tire size/compound for a car based on power, torque and weight. Experience is the best teacher here.
With all of this said about tires, I follow a very simple method (once I know what type of build I am aiming for):
- Adjust Tire Width first to what makes sense. There are times that too much width will hurt.
- Install Lighter Rims - This helps but there is no difference between sprung and unsprung weight in Forza.
- Rim Diameter - There are times this is needed - I like to keep my tires at a 35-45 aspect ration. Why? Because that's what I like
- Tire Compound - usually last because of the impact. In lower classes (E, D, C and B) Race tires are overkill and aren't really needed. In R, P & X they are needed more often than not. In A & S it all depends on the target handling rating and the car itself.
Simple answer is sort of. But it could be a negative difference. Race cars do not run low profile tires (typical race slicks sport a 55-45 ratio). Race compound tires have much stiffer side-walls when compared to street tires. While the build might work fine running 245-25/R20 Street compound tires, it might be a completely different story with Race Compound tires. I typically adjust my rim sizes so the tire side-wall ratio is no smaller than 35 at width. I say at width because the 35 number is a the ratio of side-wall to overall tread width. The wider the tire, the smaller that number will become. Lower profile tires also contain less air volume, which means they will heat up faster. It also means they can overheat easier, but will dissipate heat faster. I've had the best results setting rim size to gain a side-wall ratio of between 40-55 regardless of the PI change (positive or negative).
When do you do an aspiration upgrade?
This one is really builder preference. Some love adding boost to an NA engine early, and some only add it when the desired PI cannot be achieved with a fully upgraded stock NA engine. I am the latter. I usually only apply Forced Induction when I need to to reach a particular PI or I need to add torque to a low TQ high HP engine.
When do you do an engine swap?
When I cannot achieve the desired PI by fully upgrading the stock engine (including boost), or when the swapped engine is far better than stock. Some love to swap the engine out first, and I will do that when I know that I am jumping 2 or more classes above stock. I know from experience that I will need it to get from a stock D-class to A-class or a stock c-class to s-class. That is a general rule and there are some exception. Most of the exceptions are cars that come with engines that are used as FM5 upgrades (like the Subaru 2.5L flat 4 or the Hemi in the cuda). I usually like to keep the stock engine installed and use that to define the class(es) the car will be built to run.
When should I do a drive-train swap?
This is really personal preference. I will convert a FWD car to RWD or AWD for racing in A-Class and up, and those are some really fun cars. I will also take some AWD cars and make them RWD, but that was more an FM4 thing since AWD was so handicapped in FM4. In FM5/6, I find AWD cars are a lot more competitive. I usually leave RWD cars alone unless I am working on a fun builds in FH. One positive to a drive train swap is that the swap installs a very fast dual clutch gearbox in FM5/6.
Build OrderThis is just my default preference for builds (for competitive circuit builds). There are several factors that come into play here. The most restrictive is how many PI points I have to play with. For FH, I am less strict on my builds, since it's FAR less competitive compared to FM. Different tracks in FM6 require different build types. Raceboy77 put together a great video on this in Jan-2016, and I have incorporated that information into my FM6 Charts & Lists Google Spreadsheet. Before I start building, I need to have a target HANDLING rating I want to achieve and whether or not I might want Race Aero (if I'm pretty sure I want race aero on a speed build I install it FIRST).
Once I know what my targets are, I pretty much build in the following order:
- Race Differential Costs ZERO PI and ZERO weight. Why wouldn't I install this part? It's essential to EVERY build!
- Brakes: Essential to faster lap times. Properly tuned brakes are a godsend! Go with Sport if you don't have the PI or if you don't care to mess with balance and pressure adjustments. Go with Race if you have the PI room and you don't mind adjusting the brakes. Race brakes can be worse than Sport brakes if not adjusted properly!
- Race Shocks: This is a must in FM5 in order to get the most out of the car. The right tune can represent 50 additional PI on other builds.
- Race FR/R Anti-Roll Bars: Go along with the Race Shocks, and, like the Shocks, can have a much larger pay-off than the PI cost represents with the right tune!
- Chassis Reinforcement: Essential for some cars. Not needed on others. Most are somewhere in between. Sometimes the Race Roll Cage doesn't benefit until fully upgraded engine, tires, suspension, weight reduction, etc. are present. It can always be added later in the build to reduce PI if needed.
- Weight Reduction: Makes the car stop faster, handle better and accelerate quicker. For ultralight cars with lots of power, removing too much weight can adversely affect performance despite what the PI change states
- Tire Width & Compound: Install depending on need. The widest tire is not always the best choice. Sometimes keeping the stock compound (or only going up one) and increasing the width is the way to go. It really depends on the target handling you want for the car, but always adjust compound AFTER width!
- Rims: BLING! Actually they make a huge difference. Reducing unsprung mass (Brakes, Wheels & Tires) makes huge improvements in handling and overall vehicle dynamics.
- Rim Size: I like to have the side-wall ratio at 35 to 45 for Sport and Race compound tires. For street and stock tires, I usually keep the rims stock as well.
- Transmission: While on most cars, upgrading the transmission cost a lot of PI points, and those PI points are usually better spent on power or handling parts. That said, ALWAYS check the PI cost for transmission upgrades. On some cars, there is little to no PI cost to install the Sport and/or race transmission (on some there is a PI gain going to Sport). On older cars, installing the Street transmission parts is HIGHLY recommended because it usually unlocks quite a bit of top end and an extra gear or two. I will spend PI on the transmission (if I am upgrading it) BEFORE installing engine parts.
- Cam Shaft: This is the best way to add top end to a car. Some like to use forced induction first. I prefer to cam it first and blow it second!
- Engine Parts Round 1: Ignition, Fuel System (but not race carb), Cams, Displacement + Street Air filter & Sport Intake (all parts that do not impact vehicle weight to maximize power)
- Engine Parts Round 2: Valves, Pistons, & forced induction (if needed)
- Engine Parts Round 3: Forces Induction upgrades, remaining Intake & Air Filter parts, Exhaust System.
- Clutch: Since I do not use Manual w/ Clutch (I find it cumbersome and annoying personally), there are time I want faster shifts with Manual. upgrading the clutch is a lower PI cost option to get those faster shifts, but I still have to be careful not to spend too much PI here.
- Fine Adjustments: Finish off PI with fine parts adjustments (usually in drive shaft, Rims and roll cage)
- Race Aero and Other Cosmetic Parts: This might be last on the list, but there is a reason for this. When I start a build I usually end up with two versions to test. One with Race Aero and one without. I'm always surprised by the results! I HIGHLY recommend doing some testing with and without aero bits and see which one actually works better.
TuningOnce you have your car build to class in Forza, you are going to need to tune it. Tuning works the same in FH2 as it does in FM5 (except for off-road tuning which I Will cover in another post). You want to focus on a getting a good base tune (see the tools below) and then fine tune from there. I have several tricks and setting I use based on my experiences tuning, so I can get my base tune and fine tunes pretty close without ever needing to test drive. That said, I still test drive EVERY tune. The time I don't test drive, is the time I have a bad tune. There is always something left to adjust or a lot of times something I just totally forgot to set! Spend the time testing and adjusting your tune (in the testing session). It will pay off!
In-Game DescriptionsBelieve it or not, but the descriptions for each tuning category in FM6 do a pretty good job off explaining what adjusting each item "should" do to the car. I highly recommend reading them very carefully the next time you are fine tuning a car.
Rapid-Racer Tuning Principleshttp://www.rapid-racer.com/suspension-tuning.php
This is one of the best tuning guides I've read, and it's a great starting point for understanding the different aspects of tuning. It's not specific to Forza, but it really explains each of the tuning areas.
This is our web-based Forza tuning calculator (FM5/FH2/FM6). It provides one of the best base tunes you can get out of a calculator. As with all calculators, there will be more fine tuning needed for some cars than others. We are continuously developing this, and I recommend using the Beta version (unless it's broken ).
ForzaTune5 (FT5) & ForzaTune6 (FT6)http://forzatune.com/
Available for iOS and Android devices and they provide a good base tune BASE tune for suspension, alignment and gearbox. Not a bad option if you don't want to mess with the U2SC Turner on a mobile device.
Testing & Fine-TuningWith several options available to generate decent base tunes for cars, fine tuning is where good cars become GREAT! Anyone can generate a tune from a calculator, but that's not going to make the best that build can be. That's where testing and fine-tuning come in.
TestingI use three main tracks to test my builds. Which track I use depends on what type of build it is. Once a track or tracks are chosen, go to the Time Attack rivals leaderboards for the different classes and write down the leaderboard time for the best car that is not a leaderboard car (i.e. not the Alpha 33, BAC Mono, X-Boz or any other dominant LB car). This will provide a benchmark for how well the build/tune is doing on said track. I will actually go down in the 100-200 ranks to find a time. While I'm probably not going to bust into the top 500 in most tracks, I do have my moments!
- For builds that center around Grip and/or momentum, I usually use Brands Hatch. It has some of the most difficult corners and transitions in the game and is a great judge of a grip build's tune ability to maintain speed and change direction. A few other good Grip tracks are Sonoma and Spa (if you need some speed with your grip).
- For Power or Speed builds, I usually test at Monza or Daytona 24-hour. Those are two really good power tracks, and they will also test handling at different speeds. Although these are power/speed builds, they still need to handle well enough. Too little handling and the lap times will begin to suffer. Power is no good if it cannot be used
- For All-Around builds, I love running COTA. Why? Because I love COTA and it's a challenging track with every type of corner and some of the most vicious rumble strips & curbs in the game. I'll also use Silverstone and Indy GP
- Build the car, then load up all of the critical data points into the U2SC Forza Tuner, but I don't calculate the tune.
- I then go into Testing (hitting Y in the upgrade interface) and immediately pause and tune setup. If I'm tuning the gearbox too, I will bring up telemetry to record the redline RPM and do a high gear pull down the straight to see where peak torque and power hit (I really do this every time). On some cars power peaks VERY early, and I may adjust what I enter for redline RPM as a result (the rally engine swap is a good example of this).
- I will then finish entering all of the data into the U2SC FTC, calculate and apply the base tune.
- Now it's time for a test and I run one full lap, then bring up telemetry to check tire pressure (while on a straight to make sure the temps are within +/- 0.5 PSI of 32PSI).
- If it felt like the car was bottoming out, I will switch to the suspension (springs) screen and watch what happens when cornering, braking, acceleration and combinations of the three. If the suspension is bottoming out, I will race the ride eight by .2 in the front and rear w/o recalculating the tune. Then test again. Repeat... You can also add spring rate if need be (use the % adjuster in the U2SC FTC).
- The last thing I do is test the brakes. I love my brake pressure between 130% and 150% depending on the car and tires, but balance is key. I run down a straight in chase view looking at the side of the car and slowly squeeze the brakes until they lock up. What I am looking for is for the fronts and rears to lock up together or the front just a hair before the rear. Too much front brake will cause excessive locking and too much rear brake will case excessive locking and stability when turning and braking together.