You have probably heard car tuner professionals and tuning firms rant about stages 1, 2 and 3 tuning mods. You also probably think that they are earth shattering relevant terms that every driver worth his or her salt should know. As much as we hate busting the bubble, it has to be done. In all fairness, these terms are meaningless when applied to power gains, and are not reliable means of explaining the power added by modifications. In addition, many part makers do not offer a consistent difference between the three stage mods.
However, there are a few points that can help you distinguish the difference the conventional mod at every stage.
Stage 1 modifications are those added in isolation. Real stage 1 modification parts do not require any engine modifications to be done in order to get them working. While other mods can aid in raising power gains to realize maximal potential, stage 1 modifications are not mandatory mods. In terms of the overall benefits, these are positioned down tuning requirements list. Stage 1 modifications are in most cases simple DIY fits that work with standard engines in excellent conditions.
Examples of these types of modifications include blow off diverters, timing or simple engine remap changes, panel air filters, and many other similar parts.
Stage 2 modifications offer greater power gains compared to stage 1; they also require extra work or parts or they will not function as expected. Extreme stage 1 changes are also regarded as stage 2 mods. Most stage two modifications are DIY fits that require specialized tools and knowledge. For example, a hybrid turbo will require fueling and remap upgrade as well as strengthening the engine.
Stage 3 modifications are sometimes known as the track day adjustments since they require other modifications to function but are not suited for everyday driving use. For example, in racing, stage 3 mods can withstand elevated temperatures but are useless when they are cool. As you drive around town, you do not have the luxury of waiting for your car’s breaks to warm up before they can operate efficiently. During race day, the breaks heat up with every lap. The aggressive cam profile moves the power band to the rev range making your car harder to drive in city traffic.
Stage 3 race modified vehicles also require frequent servicing and overhauling. Extra strain placed on the engine leads to premature engine wear and tear if you decide to use the car for regular driving. Stage 3 modifications are the most aggressive and are not things you should include in your every day drive to work car.
Remember, some tuning firms will box parts and simply label them as stage 1 to 3 (sometimes they go as far as 4 and 5). However, these labeling should not be taken to mean guaranteed power gains for your vehicle nor their suitability for installation in your vehicle.