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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:15 PM   #1
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Default Light Cars vs Heavy Cars?

Now I know obviously lighter cars are better in pretty much EVERY way to a heavy car, but do heavy cars have any significant advantages?

As far as I know:

Light cars:
- Accelerate faster over a heavier car with the same power
- Need less distance to stop with same brake system
- Better gas mileage with same engine over a heavier car
- Easier to handle and more nimble in handling
- Usually cheaper to manufacture (but not always)
- Better in snow

Probably some others I forgot

Heavier cars:
- More stable at high speeds

About it for all I know...

Anything I'm missing? Trying to get a good feel for Light vs Heavy cars, yaknow?

Oh, and as a bonus, for a car (or compact pickup, compact crossover, or compact SUV, so all in the same relative weight class), what would be considered a "light" weight? (in lbs)

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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:19 PM   #2
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They typically hold up better in an accident.
You can fit a higher HP engine and the chassis can support it.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:22 PM   #3
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Weight is very important for traction, a good example would be the Bugatti Veyron which weighs in at 4400 lbs which is necessary for optimal traction. If you have a 700 HP RWD car with 50/50 weight balance, the car will be a lot slower at 1700 lbs versus say 2000 lbs.

For streetcars I would consider anything under 3000 lbs to be pretty light.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:24 PM   #4
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There are a great many variables with most of your questions.

A heavier car does offer an advantage in having more overall mass, and the associated positives that accompany this. This can greatly affect the results of an auto accident, if the structure is designed to make efficient use of this.

One thing I will mention about the overall weight of a vehicle is that where it lies is more important than how much of it there is. The moment of inertia principle is very important.

This is one of the great ideas behind the multiple disc clutch system. All of the weight is centralized in a small area near the center of the rotating assembly, decreasing the MOI and allowing the engine to respond more quickly to inputs.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:35 PM   #5
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So add:

+ Usually hold up better in accidents
+ Usually better for traction in RWD applications (cant imagine how that'd help a FWD, or do a whole lot for AWD)

And -3000 lbs is usually pretty light. Okay, so far so good, keep the info coming guys

Also, did I miss any for light cars?

Last edited by elemein; 02-13-2012 at 09:39 PM.

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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:40 PM   #6
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Oh, it definitely helps with FWD and AWD. We are talking more pressure on the tires. I don't slip, and mine are wide, and my engine has quite the pep.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elemein View Post
Now I know obviously lighter cars are better in pretty much EVERY way to a heavy car, but do heavy cars have any significant advantages?

As far as I know:

Light cars:
- Accelerate faster over a heavier car with the same power
- Need less distance to stop with same brake system
- Better gas mileage with same engine over a heavier car
- Easier to handle and more nimble in handling
- Usually cheaper to manufacture (but not always)
- Better in snow

Probably some others I forgot

Heavier cars:
- More stable at high speeds

About it for all I know...

Anything I'm missing? Trying to get a good feel for Light vs Heavy cars, yaknow?

Oh, and as a bonus, for a car (or compact pickup, compact crossover, or compact SUV, so all in the same relative weight class), what would be considered a "light" weight? (in lbs)
My Thunderbird is a very heavy car but it gets very good fuel economy, why? Because objects in motion tend to stay in motion so on the highway, it takes very very little torque to maintain motion. In town that's a disadvantage because you are accelerating that same mass from a stop each and every time. So heavy weight is a plus for highway mileage, and a minus for city mileage.

Some people believe that heavier vehicles are better for towing because the trailer doesnt wag the tow vehicle as much.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSIMP88 View Post
Oh, it definitely helps with FWD and AWD. We are talking more pressure on the tires. I don't slip, and mine are wide, and my engine has quite the pep.
But isnt there a point where power to weight & handling outweigh the benefits of more traction?

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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raptor22 View Post
My Thunderbird is a very heavy car but it gets very good fuel economy, why? Because objects in motion tend to stay in motion so on the highway, it takes very very little torque to maintain motion. In town that's a disadvantage because you are accelerating that same mass from a stop each and every time. So heavy weight is a plus for highway mileage, and a minus for city mileage.

Some people believe that heavier vehicles are better for towing because the trailer doesnt wag the tow vehicle as much.
Seems to make sense... The gas thing does, I dont understand the towing thing, but the again i dont really see myself needing the towing information to be honest. Thanks!

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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by elemein View Post
Seems to make sense... The gas thing does, I dont understand the towing thing, but the again i dont really see myself needing the towing information to be honest. Thanks!
So imagine a vehicle towing a 5000lb trailer that is affected by the wind and by other forces on the road, now those forces on that 5000lb trailer are going to affect a 4000lb tow vehicle more than a 6000lb tow vehicle because it is much easier for 5000lbs to unsettle 4000lbs than 6000lbs. Now a good driver will make up for that, but like U-haul wont rent you a trailer unless your vehicle weighs over a certain amount.
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[1989 Ford Blunderbird / 1985 Ford Conestoga Ox-Cart 4x4 / 2004 Ford Fairmont GT]

Last edited by Raptor22; 02-13-2012 at 09:58 PM.

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