Improve Mini Handling
Driving excitement is in the DNA!
The best thing about a Mini is the way it drives – fun, go-kart handling with a cheeky quality which is impossible to duplicate in today’s breed of cars.
This helpful, simple guide will help keep your Mini’s natural handling at its best, or act as a guide on how to improve it!
1 – Tyres
Most Minis came with ‘145’ tyres, which indicates the tread width. Upgrading to ‘165’ tyres will result in a very noticeable handling improvement and increase grip.
You should also check your Mini’s tyres regularly – check the tread depth and for uniform wear across the width and circumference of the tyre, check the inner and outer tyre walls for cracks or tears together with the tread – the front tyres should wear faster than the rear tyres as the Mini is front wheel drive and front wheel steering.
Always keep in mind that the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across 75% of the tyre width but must be the uniform all around the circumference of the tyre.
- If your tyres are worn more on the outside edges than the middle, the tyres are under inflated.
- If the tyre are worn more in the middle than the outer edges then the tyres are over inflated.
- If the front tyres are worn more on one edge than the other, this could be either incorrect wheel alignment or excessive positive or negative camber or excessive castor this will need checking out by a specialist.
- If the rear tyres are worn excessively on one edge, this could be incorrect wheel alignment or excessive negative or positive camber – this will need checking out by a specialist.
2 – Subframe
Check the integrity of the front and rear subframes as they carry all of your Minis suspension! Due to the low ground clearance of a Mini, the likelihood is that your subframes have taken a battering doing something as simple as driving over a speed bump. This is why it is essential you check for any damage, not only could your subframe need repairing to prevent rust, it can also distort the subframe, which could adversely affect the steering and suspension geometry not to mention the security of the suspension parts to the subframe and the subframe to the body.
If your subframe is beyond repair, there’s no need to panic – it can be replaced, although this can be quite a big job, especially if you’re unsure of what to do – our Mini specialists can help if you need a little advice. Alternatively you can buy fully built subframes that are ready to fit, or this is a job we can undertake in our comprehensive garage & workshop with our experienced technician.
Over time the rubber mountings that connect the subframes to the chassis wear & perish, these need checking and replacing, to keep correct alignment and preventing poor handling.
We have the full range of subframe mountings on our website – from standard rubber for original replacement, polyurethene uprated & firmer ride or solid type, the best but compromises road noise.
3 – Height
Make sure your Mini is the correct height you require and equal, side to side – this is the clearance your Mini has between the bottom of the Mini and the road, this is imperative as it highly effects the Mini’s centre of gravity, which in turn impacts the behaviour when you corner or brake! The correct original factory setting is 320mm from centre of the wheel to the underside of the wheel arch on the front and 330mm on the rear.
Due to the weight of the engine sat over the front wheels and the front seat passengers sat close also, the front rubber suspension cones can compress over time. This will lower the front suspension height, increasing the caster angle and increasing negative camber, moving the centre of gravity forward, all of which, destroys the handling characteristics. Compressed suspension cones also make the ride very harsh.
Easily adjust the suspension height, find the perfect setting with Adjusta Ride.
We highly recommend our Moulton Smootha Ride Kits, that transform all dry suspension Minis making a great car more comfortable and much more pleasant to drive!
4 – Camber & Caster
Make sure all your wheels are pointing in the right direction!
Tie rods effect the Caster angle of the front wheels, which can suffer when the standard bars become distorted. Adjustable Tie Rods will provide the castor adjustment required.
To increase cornering ability, you need to have negative camber, matched with the caster to produce a better, sharper turn in – introducing negative camber increases the footprint of the tyre on the road surface when the centrifugal force produced under cornering conditions shifts the centre of gravity towards the outside wheels
Bottom Arms effect the Camber angle of the front wheels, to complete the geometry setup you will require the bottom arms to suit, either fixed or adjustable type.
Static negative camber is key to increasing your Mini’s cornering capability, the amount needed varies wheel to wheel – if you’re struggling please get in touch with our Mini specialists who will be able to advise you on your needs.
For your Mini to reach it’s prime handling abilities you must optimise the caster, camber & tracking – we’ve included a table of data on settings below for your information.
Wheel Alignment Data
5 – Tracking
The front wheels on your Mini will likely not be parallel, they should point slightly outwards ( toe out ). The rear wheels should point inwards ( toe in ) If your Mini’s tracking is not set correctly, you will wear your tyres down at an accelerated rate – usually the inside or outside edge, this can also effect the handling of your Mini!
incorrect tracking will have adverse effects on the steering, it can introduce symptoms of bump steer, tram lining & accelerated and uneven tyre wear, it can increase the likelihood of oversteer or understeer also. We advise that you have your tracking checked & set every 10000 miles or so, unless you’re noticing increased tyre wear – in which case get it checked sooner.
Tracking can be set at home if you have tracking gauges, however we recommend that you bring your Mini in to us for our expert technician to set professionally.
6 – Shockers
Shock absorbers control the suspension movement by absorbing the inertia of bump and rebound. They keep your tyres in contact with the road, whilst absorbing impulses by converting kinetic energy & dissipating it – so you do not feel the bumps. Worn or poor quality shock absorbers will ruin the ride, increase stopping distances, increase tyre wear and make your Mini very difficult and unstable to drive. Don’t compromise on quality – always replace shock absorbers in pairs ( per axle )!
Don’t forget, our team is available 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 12pm on Saturdays to assist you with any questions you may have – or assistance you may need, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
You can also shop our entire Suspension range here.