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Basic Tuning

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Before we get started I want to point out a few things:

First, FM6 is NOT an easy game for you to master when it comes to Tuning, largely because despite the advice that I give here, setting up a ride is a very personal issue due to individual driving habits and characteristics that are unique to each driver.

That means I cannot simply tell you that for Car X and Track Y you need the following settings. It just does not work like that.

That being the case, there really is no alternative but for you to spend the time to get comfortable with the Tuning process and learn how it works at least to the point of being able to accomplish the minimum changes you desire.

The second factor that needs to be taken into consideration is that there are variances from track-to-track that make extreme Tuning inadvisable unless you really know what you are doing -- which again is why we take a more conservative approach here.

Finally I feel like it is important that I emphasize one more time that you do not actually HAVE to tune your own car or even learn to tune!

Thanks to the improved Leaderboards and Records scheme in FM6 you can view the Leaderboard for every track individually, you can find your car in the list and you can then download and buy the Tune that was used to set that time.

So if you are on the fence when it comes to desire to learn to tune, that really is probably a better approach and option for you!

Getting Started in Basic Tune Theory

What follows is more of a conversation that is intended to demystify the Tuning settings for you, and help them to make sense. We avoid getting overly technical and keep this an intimate learning experience.

If you are already a pro-tuner this is going to bore you silly, but if you are not, well then you just might find that you can learn something here and, perhaps more important, this will help you to get a better idea of what those different settings do and mean.

I am going to list each of the different settings in the order of their impact on the car rather than the way that they appear in the Tuning screen because it makes it easier to tune the car successfully when you approach it this way.

Collecting Mod Cards is Best Started Early and 50 is just a start!

Anti-Roll Bars

The Anti-Roll Bars (AKA anti-sway bars) directly control the stability of your car.

They are made to control unwanted body motion or sway, allowing you to balance under-steer versus over-steer -- they do this by restricting the movement and sway of the car body while cornering, helping to keep the car level.

Decreasing the front anti-roll stiffness reduces under-steer, while increasing it will increase under-steer. The point to making these changes is to increase the control you have over the car by influencing how the tires react in turns due to the position of the car itself.

Bear in mind though that making the body too stiff will cause the inside tires to lift off the track during hard turns, which will significantly reduce your control.

The balance of front and rear anti-roll bar stiffness changes the balance between under-steer and over-steer -- if you look at the stats on the left side of the screen while you are adjusting these you can see what the effect in G-force is for your changes.

Remember that you should never be adjusting more than one effect at a go, and you should be testing the settings to see how they change the car's performance on a track-by-track basis...

Tire Pressure

Probably the most important single element in the setup of your car, Tire Pressure will have a significant impact on the performance of your car as you race.

It is not simply a matter of having good tires on your car -- but having them setup correctly pressure wise so that you succeed in transferring the energy created by your engine to the track to make your car go as fast as efficiently as possible.

Tire pressure not only affects the grip of your car on the track, it also has a significant impact upon the responsiveness of your ride, and if you have the pressure set too high or too low, can really cause problems in control, as well as cause the tires to wear faster (though that last only applies if you have damage turned on).

As a general rule for most races you want to have your tires inflated to between 30 PSI and 32 PSI cold so that as you reach racing temperature they are achieving the maximum grip rate.

2011 Bugatti Veyiron Super Sport
2011 Bugatti Veyiron Super Sport

To better understand how the heat builds in your tires you should do a test run at 30 PSI and 32 PSI with the tire temperature reading turned on in your HUD in order to see how -- and where -- the heat builds in your tires.

How does tire temperature relate to pressures?

Higher Pressure = Lower Temperature

Lower Pressure = Higher Temperature

If you find that the edges build more heat than the center of the tire, you need to add to the cold pressure until you achieve a more even heat rate -- and if you find that the center heats up more than the edges, you need to decrease the PSI slightly until you find that happy balance.

The reason for that is simple: even heat means even grip -- you want your tires to provide a smooth contact with the track so that you transfer energy as efficiently as possible.

But bear in mind that, depending on the car and your setup, you will need to adjust this for each track -- so keeping notes and testing on the track you will race on are an obvious must-do.

Another thing you need to remember is that when you alter other settings -- the Springs, Suspension, and etc. you WILL be changing the effect that the track has on the tires and that means you will be having an impact on the Tire Temperatures!

That being the case, you should expect to have to return here and continue to adjust as the temperature changes manifest.

Tire Alignment

The Alignment of your tires directly impacts the grip of your tires, changing how tires are tilted. This sort of adjustment is specifically track-oriented -- for example for oval racing, in a fixed direction, you will want to adjust the tires to give the best grip possible based on the bank and turn direction -- which is the high and low side.

For regular circuit racing though you want a more level and even setup - which means you won't be adjusting much away from what the stock configuration already is.

Tire Alignment basically consists of three settings: Camber, Toe, and Front Caster.

1987 Buick Regal GNX
1987 Buick Regal GNX


The Camber represents the tilt of your tires along their horizontal axis. The camber affects the car’s grip and is changed to improve cornering or driving in a straight line.

Basically you can configure for negative camber (the tops of the tires lean inward), or positive camber (the tops of the tires lean outward).

You select a positive camber to increase the tire grip for straight line racing -- for tracks with lots of straight runs. This will have the effect of reducing over-steer, and increasing the grip for straight runs, but will reduce your contact and control while turning -- that being the case this is another point where I need to repeat that you make small changes, not big ones, then test them to see what the effect is for THAT track.

To set up the car for better control in turns you want to set a negative camber, reducing its under-steer. For tracks with lots of turns and curvy switchy runs this is preferred, but bear in mind that this setting will reduce the tire grip for racing in straight runs.

For oval and consistent turn tracks you can set the camber to make the car more responsive and controllable in the turns by setting the camber around 0 -- the general rule is for tracks with left turns you set the right-side tires to 0 or less, and for right turns you set the left-side tires for 0 or less.

Experimenting with this on a track like the Indy Oval is best since it allows you to experience the changes both in the control characteristics in the turns while at the same time allowing you to assess the negative impact that the settings have for the straight runs on each side.


The Toe is the angle of the tires around their vertical axis.

When you set this you are setting either “inner” or “outer” Toe -- the point being that with inner Toe the front of your tires are angled inwards, which promotes a more stable straight line motion, whereas with the Toe set outer, your car will be more stable in turns.

So again, you want to make small changes here, and you are configuring this on a track-by-track basis.

Front Caster

Finally we address the front caster -- which is the angle of the steering pivot axis. You are adjusting this so that the angle is either tilted forward or backward from vertical, viewed from the side.

The angle between the joint and the steering is the caster angle -- when you adjust the caster angle it changes the straight line stability, so when you have positive caster, you get better straight run control, but slightly less control for turns. Negative caster will achieve the opposite effect.

Remember to make your adjustments in small measures, and do not try to adjust more than one element at a time until you understand how they work with -- and opposing -- each other.


The settings for your springs also changes the under-steer and over-steer characteristics of your car. Basically this setting changes the stiffness of the springs, which directly impacts the behavior of the car suspension.

The stiffness of the springs changes how weight is transferred during acceleration, braking, and cornering, which means again you want to only change one setting at a go, and make small changes then test them on the specific track you are Tuning for.

The spring settings will also alter the height of your car, which can change its center of balance and gravity significantly -- so keep the changes small so that you do not radically alter the stability of the car.

The effects are predictable -- setting for a low stiffness makes the car better able to absorb bumps, which means on rougher tracks you get better control -- at the expense of responsiveness.

Increasing the stiffness of the rear will increase over-steer, while decreasing it will increase under-steer -- remember that all of the different parts work together for the overall effect.

The idea here is not to change one setting radically but to achieve the desired effect by making minor changes throughout the systems on the car.

2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV
2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV


The Damping settings are how you directly control the rate of travel for your suspension in the two directions it moves.

Basically when you alter the settings here you change the bump and rebound stiffness to be either hard or soft -- which in theory can improve handling by increasing and decreasing grip. I sa in theory because changes you make to other systems on the car, if too radical, can actually impact or even negate small changes made to the Damping.

Being conservative in the changes you make is not just a good idea, it is the best way to keep each of the different systems in play.

The two types of damping -- bump and rebound -- controls the extension of the suspension as it rebounds away from the wheel wells. Increasing the front bump damping stiffness will increase transitional under-steer of the car, while changes to the rebound damping can impact the over-steer.

You should bear in mind though that too much bump damping -- that is to say increasing the stiffness -- causes instability on rough surfaces. Too severe changes in decreasing the stiffness will have the effect of over-large transitional over-steer, so again make these changes in small increments and then test them.

Your goal is to make the car as stable as you can while conserving handling efficiency.


File this under “I don't know that this is actually true, but...” I heard somewhere that the folks that design racing cars actually spend about as much in research and development of the braking systems as they do on the engine parts.

The reason for that is probably because the brakes on a race car are about as important as, well, the air in the driver's lungs. Really important in other words.

This is not as complicated an issue as a lot of people think -- because the magic that happens here has everything to do with how much of the braking power is configured for the front brakes, and how much is configured for the back. Why is that so important?

Well, first, it is called braking bias, and what it does is balance the very complicated forces of inertia and energy - oh and gravity sort of - to allow you to both brake really well and control the dead weight of the car when you do it.

The usual balance of power is 65% front and 35% rear, which provides the optimum force for retaining best control while braking into curves and cornering.

The idea is that the bias towards the front brakes makes the car more controllable entering turns, while favoring the rear brakes makes the car looser in turns. Simple, right?

The thing is depending on the track you are racing you may actually need a looser rear-end -- for example a short track with lots of sharp turns and hard curves can be easier to race if you can drift the corners -- but with the standard braking setup that is not so easy. Making your rear end a little looser can help.

For most tracks a front bias between 65% and 70% is ideal, but you may find that you need to adjust it for some tracks, particularly short tracks with lots of hard turns.

2013 Caparo T1
2013 Caparo T1


This is the one aspect of Tuning that actually fits into the broader experience I have with planes - because what Downforce is in simple terms is the adjustments you make to keep your car from briefly becoming a plane. Seriously!

Basically when you adjust the Downforce you are reducing lift - think of it as putting more pressure towards the ground to prevent the effects of the wind from lifting the car up. In a plane the magic that makes it fly is due to the wind flow under the wing being slower than the flow over the wing, which produces lift.

It should not shock to to learn that the same conditions when applied to a car will cause a similar effect -- the force of the wind below the car is slower than that above, and the car lifts off the ground. To prevent that each of the cars is engineered for adjusting the pressure on top -- bearing in mind that this is most often an issue with supercars rather than regular racers. Just saying.

You only have to watch a few NASCAR races to see a car that was not properly set up for the track conditions lift off briefly and then crash -- and yes indeed, that lift-off bit is almost always followed by a crash, there is some rule there I think...

So to prevent that you need to create Downforce -- which is accomplished using the spoiler systems that you see on the really fast cars that take the form of the narrow adjustable front spoilers and the honking huge wings on the back.

The thing is you don’t want to apply too much Downforce to your car, because when you do it actually has a significant impact upon speed and wear -- specifically it will slow your top speed and it will wear your tires.

When you alter the body style, and increase the power, this is one of the elements you may need to adjust depending on the track. I am not entirely certain that they fully simulate wind in the game in terms of natural blowing wind, but they absolutely simulate draft and generated wind.

The basic rule here is simple: as you test the car if you notice you are losing connection to the ground, then increasing the Downforce would be a good idea.


The Differential always confused me because I thought it was mostly adjusting gearing in the rear-end but it turns out that the whole point is really to better control and adjust the rotation rates of the rear wheels -- which actually makes more sense even if it sounds like almost the same thing.

It turns out that rather than controlling how fast the rear wheels turn, what it actually does is control how fast each of the rear tires turn individually... Because when you are in turns the inside rotate less than the outside wheels. And the Differential is really very important for that, because if they both turned at exactly the same speed, well, you would have trouble.

When you are adjusting this you have two settings that are available -- acceleration and deceleration. The first controls when the differential secures when accelerating, which in addition to preventing the off-wheel to slip, allows you to better use the available power coming out of the corner.

The second controls when the differential secures as you decelerate -- which means when you enter a corner. The higher the rate the more stable the event, but it can also have a significant effect on the responsiveness of your car.


The reason that this part is towards the end is because this is part of the power adjustments you will make, and these should come last.

Before you start to alter the gearing of your car I want you to consider several points -- if you are new to this then small changes are best ALWAYS. Make a small change then test it to see what effect it has because that is really the only -- and best -- way for you to discover what the effect is, and how to obtain the effect you desire.

The Gearing configuration in your car directly effects its top speed and acceleration, in combination with the power produced by the engine and transferred through the tires. These settings can be changed to provide more top speed or acceleration by changing the gear ratios for each of the gears individually.

When you adjust the gear ratios you will notice that the stat display on the left of the screen will change to reflect the changes you have made -- note the time for both 0-60 and 0-100 as well as the Top Speed as those stats reflect the average results for the change you made. Remember to make small changes, not large ones, so that you can better judge the impact that the changes have when you test run the car after you make them.

The way that this works is actually pretty simple: when you increase the gear ratios, you lower the top speed, but increase acceleration. Increasing the gear ratios can be useful for tracks with short straight sections and a lot of curves and turns, because it allows you to accelerate quicker even if at the expense of a top speed you will not actually reach due to the short straight sections. This is also useful when Tuning your car for drag racing for shorter runs like quarter-and-half-mile races.

Increasing the gear ration will cause the displayed 0-60 and 0-100 stats to grow, while decreasing causes the stat to get lower -- bearing in mind that you will find the maximum possible speed desired based on the track and the effect you want as you work through the ratios, and once you zero in on that, that is your decision point.

With that in mind, remember that you are Tuning the car -- gearing it -- for the track, this is not a generic setting. If you want a generic setting then stick with the configuration that the car came with!

For tracks with long straight runs you want to make sure that you have that top speed available to you, but for tracks with lots of turns, or that are twisty, top speed is less important than acceleration, since chances are on that sort of track you will rarely actually get into top gear.


It is odd but not surprising that this is the first thing that most players think of when it comes to “Tuning” a car. Bigger engine? Check! Racing transmission? Check! But here is the thing -- adding power to a car that is not already stable? Yeah, that is not a step in the right direction.

The thing is this is not as significant an issue as you might think, because there is only so much you can do to the engine and drive system before you end up bumping your ride into a new class, and that pretty much ruins any work you have done because the car will no longer be eligible for the race you are Tuning it for.

The smart approach is to get the car stable and performing the way you need it to, and then think about upping the power. The most effective path for upgrades once you do that is the cam, then exhaust, then air filter. You will be surprised at the improvements those will make that will not bump you into the next class.

And finally there is one more aspect to upgrading or Tuning power that you should consider -- and that is driver skill.

If that sounds odd to you or you feel it is not really part of the whole power side of the sport, consider this: highly skilled drivers are considered powerful on the track. Or you could say that they are full of power -- well, I could say that, you probably wouldn't...

But I can also point out that improving your skill on a track by running and learning that track can shave significant amounts of time off of each lap. In fact preventing yourself from making mistakes caused by a lack of familiarity with the track often results in time improvements that exceed anything you could accomplish in Tuning.

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