How to Make Your Car Lighter

by Eli Laurens

Automobiles use complex machinery to produce the simplest of physical forces, such as pulling or pushing a vehicle. One of the most important aspects of automobile motion is weight compared with engine power. Lightening the load will inherently make a car go faster, as the motor does not have to produce more power to make the car move. The average backyard mechanic can lighten a vehicle in about two hours.

Remove the rear seats by turning their mounting bolts in a counterclockwise direction, then pulling them free of the vehicle, if applicable. Rear seats can be heavy and weigh a car down by as much as 60 or 70 pounds. Removing them, and possibly the passenger side seat, will have a dramatic effect on weight.

Remove extraneous bodywork by removing the bolts or pop rivets that hold the parts onto the car; the fiberglass aero-skirts added to cars for appearance can weigh the vehicle down without providing the aerodynamic effects often sought by designers. The parts usually come off in four pieces: the front air dam, side valances and rear bumper skirt. As much as 50 pounds of excess weight can be shed in this manner.

Replace the stock steel wheels with lightweight versions by turning the lug nuts counterclockwise and taking the wheels off, then transplanting the tires onto the new wheels. Restore the wheels by turning the lug nuts in a clockwise direction, in an alternating pattern. Lightweight wheels can reduce total vehicle weight by 50 pounds or more.

Replace steel body panels and hood with carbon fiber models by removing their bolts in a counterclockwise direction, then transplanting the necessary hardware to the new parts. Large steel hoods have been known to contribute many extra pounds that carbon fiber, or even fiberglass, parts can alleviate.


  • check Removing the dash board can save weight, but often reduces safety by eliminating air bags and restraint systems.


  • close Use caution when operating a lighter vehicle, as the reduced weight can change the dynamics of the suspension.

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About the Author

Eli Laurens is a ninth-grade physics teacher as well as a computer programmer and writer. He studied electrical engineering and architecture at Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta, Ga., and now lives in Colorado.

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