Prepare Your Car HPDE: 10 Essential Checks

Porsche pccb brake rotor with yellow caliper afixed to a gt4

Prepping your car for a track day involves a number of checks and possibly some fluid changes to ensure you’re safe when on track. Here are 10 items you’ll absolutely want to pay attention to when you prepare your car:

Brakes #

  • Pads and Rotors: Ensure that brake pads have ample material left and that rotors show no signs of warping. These are what stop you on track and the single most important safety feature of your car! If you’ve never had the brake pads changed or they’re more than half gone, change them. You can opt for OEM but might do better with an aftermarket product. You could even go for street/track pads which will have more bite and withstand higher temps – be aware some might squeal on the street until they get up to temperature.
  • Brake Fluid: Use high-temperature brake fluid that meets or exceeds the vehicle’s recommended specifications. Your brakes are going to be used, a lot, so will get very hot. We see so many folks at the track end their day early because they boiled their brake fluid. Do yourself a favor and swap your fluid out, it’ll make the world of difference.

Tires #

  • Tread and Pressure: Check tread depth and wear. Look for any cuts, punctures, or sidewall damage. There should be plenty of tread left, and there should be no missing pieces of the tire missing (tire chnuking) or parts of the tire separating from other parts of the tire (delamination).
Prepare your car by checking tires for chunking like this

Wheels / Lug Nuts #

  • Integrity: Inspect wheels for cracks or significant damage.
  • Lug Nuts: Check you have all your lug nuts! Torque them to manufacturer specs. Do you have lug nut studs like below? If so, when was the last time you changed them? Check you manufacturer’s recommendation for how often they should be replaced.
Close up lug nut bolts with yellow nuts on a gt4

Brake Lights / Indicators #

  • Functionality: Ensure all brake lights and turn signals / indicators are working properly.

Windshield #

  • Visibility: Make sure the windshield is free of cracks that could impair your vision or worse still shatter under stress. In all likelyhood, if it’s cracked it’ll need to be replaced. If it’s a stone chip you might be able to fill and fix yourself.

Mirrors #

  • Adjustment: Check your mirrors for optimal rear and side visibility, making sure they can move outwards a little further than you’d normally have them. You might also consider a cheap, wide, rearview clip-on mirror for extra visibility.

Seatbelt / Harnesses #

  • Condition and Fit: Check the integrity of the seatbelt or harness system.and make sure there is no fraying or knicks in the belt.
Interior of a 981 gt4 showcasing the installed sabelt 6-point harnesses in yellow

Prepare your car tip – Loudness of Exhaust #

  • Noise Restrictions: Be aware of track dB (decibel) limits and ensure your car’s exhaust system complies.

Leaking Fluids #

  • Inspection: Prepare your car by checking for any signs of fluid leaks in the engine bay, under the car, and around hoses and reservoirs. Leaking coolant or oil on track is not only incredibly dangerous to other drivers you’ll also be charged a small fortune for track clean up.

Battery #

  • Security: Ensure the battery is securely mounted to prevent any movement.

Items to remove from your car before going on track. #

Items removed from car including car floor mats manual ezpass sunglasses

When you prepare your car for the track, don’t forget to empty it of loose or heavy items completely! A cleaned out car is a necessity for safety and perhaps a little better performance. Loose objects can become nasty projectiles under heavy braking or in the event of an accident. Unnecessary extra weight can also affect your vehicle’s responsiveness. If you can remove it, you probably should!

Here are some of the things you should remember to remove before going out on track.

  • Loose Objects: Sunglasses, air fresheners, phone mounts, and any other small items like fluffy dice, air freshners etc.
  • ‘Pockets’: Remember to check door pockets, glove box, armrest, seat backs.
  • Floor Mats: Remove front and rear mats to prevent them from sliding and interfering with pedals.
  • Spare Tire and Jack: Reduces weight and ensures safety by removing potential projectiles.
  • Trunk Items: All items not secured should be removed, including any shopping bags, tools, or loose clothing.
  • Cup Holders: Remove any bottles, cups, or loose change.
  • Dashboard Items: Remove parking permits, GPS devices, and ezPass/toll transponders (remember where you put the transponder you’ll need it to get home!).
  • Child Seats: This is here because we’ve seen parents forget about them when going through tech inspection!
  • Wheels: Remove any center caps, hub caps, lug nut covers and tire valve caps.
Updated on November 1, 2023
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