8 Essential Auto Parts for Drifting

Competitive drifting puts the car under extreme stress, affecting everything from the suspension to the transmission to, of course, the tires. While many drift cars may have started out stock, there are certain parts it's important to replace for maximum performance and durability. 

One of the first mods many grassroots drifters make is swapping out the stock suspension. An adjustable set of coil overs will make initiating and controlling the drift easier — as long as you've got the right setup, at least. 

Source | Matt Marcu, GRIDLIFE

Similarly, it's important to upgrade your differential to be able to put equal power down to both rear wheels. Most RWD cars come with an open differential, so one of the easiest mods is simply to weld this. Alternatively, a limited-slip differential is a great choice if you want to swap it out completely.

Next up is the handbrake. Many stock handbrakes are enough for beginners but, over time, the cable can stretch and wear. A standard handbrake is typically connected to the braking system. It is enough to initiate enough oversteer for a drift, but it's worth investing in a hydraulic handbrake to increase performance. This is a separate system that can either activate existing rear brakes or a separate set of calipers.

As well as these popular mods, there are some essential parts you need for drifting in order to be able to begin a drift and put the power down when you need it.

1. Fuel Pump

You may have heard stories about fuel cutting out with hard cornering or drifting. While your fuel tank can play a big part here, a performance fuel pump will help keep your car running smoothly, as it can deliver more fuel flow to the engine — meaning you're much less likely to run into fuel starvation issues that could cause power loss.

2. Clutch

Another drift entry technique is the clutch kick (where you maintain revs, quickly dump the clutch and then release it) but this can have a serious effect on all your transmission parts. While there are better ways to initiate a drift at high speeds, the clutch kick is handy when you're going more slowly. A more robust performance clutch should last longer than a stock one, but don't forget to pay attention to other transmission parts, such as the flywheel.

3. Brake Calipers

Putting the car through such abnormal loads means you'll need performance brakes, though the specifics of the type of calipers you choose are often down to driver preference. If you've upgraded to a hydraulic handbrake, you might have dual rear calipers that give you a stronger rear brake bias. Look for something durable that can withstand short, sharp braking.

4. Brake Rotors

Just like calipers, brake rotors are also down to personal preference. For the most part, performance rotors will do the job, but some drivers prefer a lighter rotor. There is a chance, however, that lighter rotors — or slotted/drilled ones — will warp more easily so bear this in mind. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you change your brake rotors. 

5. Brake Pads

Pads are perhaps one of the most important car parts of the braking setup on a drift car. In other types of motorsport, performance pads work best at the high temperatures you get from regular, sustained braking before a corner. Things are a little different in drifting as the brakes are applied quickly to initiate the slide, which means they don't always get hot enough to work effectively.

It's important to find pads that work well at all temperatures and have a high friction coefficient — meaning they'll grab well onto the rotors. This allows for quick and efficient braking. Brake pads developed specifically for drifting or similar sports, such as autocross, are often a good bet, though not always necessary.

6. Gaskets

The extreme conditions of drifting require more durable parts. Gaskets can wear quite quickly, so looking for reinforced ones can help. The high temperatures generated during a drifting session can weaken standard gaskets, especially within the engine. A more durable head gasket is a good idea but it's worth having spares on hand, too. A reinforced gasket set will cover you for most eventualities.

It's also worth considering gasket sealers, as these can return your car to working order between rounds without the need to fit a whole new part.

7. Oil

The type of oil you use will depend on the car you're drifting, but typically, synthetic oil will perform best at higher temperatures. 

8. Basic Toolkit

Source | Matt Marcu, GRIDLIFE

If you're running your own drift car or are in the process of building one, it's important to have a basic tool kit. You'll want, at minimum, 8mm-14mm spanners/sockets as well as an impact wrench, torque wrench, locking pliers, a pry bar, tire pressure gauge and cable ties.

If you find you're missing something during your next GRIDLIFE event, don't worry! You can now have your parts delivered to the track.

Get Parts Delivered to the Track

If you're attending one of the GRIDLIFE Festivals and need to get parts delivered to the track, Advance Auto Parts can help. We know how frustrating it is to need something last minute while you're trying to prepare your car and toolkit for an event. So whether you want some spare parts on hand just in case or need to replace something before you get out on the course, you can pick up your order at the track. 

If the worst happens and you need something urgently to compete the next day, there's the possibility you could get your car parts delivered the same day. Just order before a certain time for afternoon or evening delivery (specific times depend on the event and day).

Source | Matt Marcu, GRIDLIFE

Are you attending a GRIDLIFE Festival in 2023? Let us know in the comments.

Last updated August 28, 2023