The Basics of Tuning in Forza 3 for the Xbox 360: Your Free In-Depth Guide
One of Forza 3's most popular options is the ability to tune the cars you purchase. There is an overwhelming number of tuning options available, and many are important. This basic tuning guide covers Roll Bars, Shocks and Springs, and Gearing. Don't tune another car before you read this!
A Good Tune Up
Tuning in Forza 3 is like its own game. Although you may never need to do it at all, it is something unique to racing games and Forza 3 that you'll want to know about. The entire single player mode is certainly achievable without ever tuning a car, and a good driver can certainly win many races without seeing the tuning screen.
But with that said, tuning can be incredibly useful. By tuning a car, you can squeeze every last ounce of performance, as well as adjust a car for use on different kinds of tracks. While a good driver who does not tune will beat a bad driver who does, a good tuner will always have an edge against an equally skilled opponent. Tuning can also be used to tame car behavior which you don't like and customize it to your personal preference.
So, lets tune some cars and get you out there racing better in Forza 3:
Anti-Roll Bars / Sway Bars
While there are actually quite a few ways to tame (or induce) understeer and oversteer, using adjustable sway bars is my favorite way of manipulating these characteristics, since you can't in many of the car driving games out there today. Sway bars are reliable equipment which produce generally similar results in different situations. You can accomplish a lot by adjusting tire pressures as well, but tire pressure adjustments can have variable results depending on tire temperature.
Generally speaking, understeer and oversteer are the characteristics you'll be dealing with just like in other racing games. To tame oversteer, you want to actually make the rear sway bars softer. To tame understeer, you'll want to make the front sway bars softer. In theory you can also achieve this by tuning the opposite ends. For example, you can tame oversteer by making the front sway bars stiffer. This, however, can have side effects that you might not anticipate, so it is best to deal with the end of the car that you're having trouble with directly.
When tuning the sway bars, tune in small doses. Remember that Forza 3 has the ability to tune in the middle of a test drive, so take advantage of that feature.
Shocks and Springs
Sometimes while racing a car, it will suddenly begin to feel floaty or will feel as if it has lifted off from the ground while navigating over a bump in the track. There are many places where this can happen in Forza 3, particularly on tracks like Maple Valley where there are many dips and rises in the track.
These traits are the result of shocks which are either too soft or too hard - which you've probably already encountered in other car driving games for the Xbox 360. Shocks which are too soft will cause the floaty feeling. It happens because the shocks are allowing too much travel and muffling feedback from the road. Shocks which are too hard cause the feeling that a car has lifted off. This happens because the shock's stiffness isn't allowing the wheels of the car to quickly recover after hitting a bump.
Tuning shocks and springs are the best way to get rid of these characteristics. There are differing opinions on how stiff a car's suspension should be, but I'm of the idea that a suspension should be has hard as possible without causing the car to feel as if it is lifting off the track over bumps. This ensures a car that will be as crisp and communicative as possible.
As mentioned, Maple Valley is a good track for tuning shocks and springs. Test drive on the track and see how the car reacts. Be sure to aim for the bump strips, as they are a great way to discover how the car will react to sudden and significant changes in the track.
Gearing in Forza 3
Adjusting the transmission can make a significant difference in how quick a car is in racing games. Many cars in the game have a top speed which is not limited by the engine so much as it is by the gearing. There are also many cars which can be made to accelerate quicker then stock if the gearing is changed.
When tuning a car's gearing you will be looking at a graph with five to seven lines on its depending on how many gears your car has. Each line moves along the RPM axis and the MPH axis up until it reaches the redline. This representing where you must shift into the next gear.
Adjusting you gears lower can increase the RPMs at which a gear will engage once you have reached red-line in the previous gear. This will often result in more power and a car which accelerates more quickly. This is often done in gears 2 through 4 to help increase speed out of corners. On the the other hand, the 5th or 6th gear can be made taller to help increase top speed. This isn't done as often because cars don't reach top speed on most tracks.
During any transmission tune it is important to keep the characteristics of your car's engine in mind. Be sure to take a look at the car's dyno graph to see where peak power is reached. For example, the Honda S2000 has a redline of 8,900 RPM and makes very little power below 6,000 RPM, so any changes to the cars gears should make sure that the car won't dip below that point when the next gear is chosen. On the other hand, the VW GTI Mk5 and Mk6 have fairly flat power between 5,000 RPM and 6,000 RPM and actually drop off a little towards redline, and they also have most of the torque between the 2,000 and 5,000 RPM range. As a result, it is best to ignore those last few RPM and gear the car as if it has a 6,000 RPM redline.
Remember the Dyno graph is easily available in the upgrades section, so go there if you're not sure where your car makes its power.
Win the Race
These three areas are the areas I feel are the most important to tune, but they are not the only options. That said, everything from tire pressure to differentials to downforce can be adjusted in Forza 3, and the effects of those adjustments can have major positive or negative effects. Remember to take it slow no matter what you're adjusting, and if you find that you've tuned your car into a uncontrollable hellion you can always revert it to a default tune.
Of course, if you want to know more about Forza 3 before you head out to play it, there are some other great Forza 3 articles here on the Console Channel as well. For example, if you're ready to find out what the best cars are for beginners, we've got you covered.