How Car Upgrading Works in Forza Motorsport

Car upgrading has seen a big overhaul in the new Forza Motorsport game. In this guide, I look at how to upgrade your car in Forza Motorsport, and the best upgrades you can buy.

Forza Motorsport Car levelling

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The new Forza Motorsport game has flipped car upgrading on its head. You can no longer buy a car and upgrade it to be a complete track monster in a few minutes like you can in Forza Horizon 5 or previous Forza Motorsport games.

In this new Forza Motorsport, car upgrades are tied much closer to how long you spend with a car. You need to put in the time on track to level up your car, which then unlocks car upgrades.

In this guide, I look at how to car upgrades work in Forza Motorsport, and how to maximise your car’s speed and potential.

If you’re considering playing Forza Motorsport with a racing wheel, check out our guide on the best racing wheels for Forza Motorsport for our wheel recommendations on Xbox and PC.

How are car upgrades different in Forza Motorsport?

As mentioned, car upgrades are now tied to your car’s level. As your car levels up, you gain access to more upgrades which you can apply to your car.

The benefit of this new system is that you have to spend time with a car to level it up. This increases your knowledge of a specific car and can help form a bond with individual cars if that’s your thing.

The downside of this upgrade system is that you can no longer buy a new car and immediately start upgrading it. Although, you do get 300 car points to apply some initial upgrades for every new car. These 300 points won’t go very far, and key upgrades are still locked behind different car levels.

This means that if you’re a car builder, a painter, or if you simply want to try out new cars, you’re very restricted in what you can do. You will need to spend a good few hours racing before you gain access to that turbo upgrade or body kit that you’ve been eyeing up.

The really restricting part of upgrading your car in Forza Motorsport is that specific car upgrades are locked behind your car level. You will need to get your car to specific levels before you can equip certain car upgrades.

Also gone from previous Forza games is the use of monetary currency to buy upgrades. Instead, you buy upgrades using car points which are earned while racing a specific car.

Forza Motorsport Car Upgrades

How car points work

Car points are the new currency for upgrading your car with. As you spend time on track with any car, you will earn car points which are specific to that car. Car points aren’t transferable between cars.

If you want to earn car points to upgrade a specific car, you need to spend time driving that car. This means that if you have two identical cars, say two Ford Mustang GTs. One that you want as a permanent drift car, and the second you want set up as a track car. You will need to take both of those cars to level 50 to unlock all upgrades.

You will earn car points at all times while driving your car. Much like car experience and levels, you will gain car points for performing well on track. You’ll earn car points every time you put in a fast lap time or sector time.

You can then use the car points that you have earned for a specific car to purchase upgrades. All upgrades have a different cost, meaning you’ll need to decide on how you want to upgrade your car.

Are Forza car points refundable?

You aren’t locked into any upgrade path though due to being able to refund your car points at any time.

If for example, you purchase an upgraded exhaust for a car, spend some time on track and decide the upgrade isn’t providing the performance gain you need.

You can then head into the upgrade shop and remove the new exhaust. This will refund all of the car points that you spent on that part. You can then go down a different route and spend those car points on different upgrades.

This gives you a lot of variety for how to spend your car points and gives you the freedom to test out different builds.

Car upgrade levels explained

So now I’ve touched on how to upgrade your car in Forza Motorsport, and how car points and upgrades work. I want to look at which parts you gain access to at different car levels. These are the levels that you will need to get a car to before you can equip these upgrade parts.

Car Level 1 Upgrades:

  • Exhaust
  • Air Filter
  • Restrictor Plate
  • Intake Manifold and Throttle Body
  • Oil and Cooling
  • Brakes
  • Chassis Reinforcement and Roll Cage
  • Ballast

Car Level 2 Upgrades:

  • Tire Width
  • Rim Style

Car Level 4 Upgrades:

  • Anti-Sway Bars

Car Level 8 Upgrades:

  • Spring and Dampers
  • Fuel System

Car Level 9 Upgrades:

  • Transmission
  • Differential

Car Level 11 Upgrades:

  • Ignition
  • Flywheel
  • Tire Compound

Car Level 12 Upgrades:

  • Clutch
  • Driveline
  • Rear Wring

Car Level 15 Upgrades:

  • Front and Rear Bumper
  • Bonnet

Car Level 20 Upgrades:

  • Single Turbo
  • Aspiration Conversion
  • Intercooler
  • Weight Reduction

Car Level 23 Upgrades:

  • Camshaft

Car Level 26 Upgrades:

  • Valves

Car Level 30 Upgrades:

  • Displacement

Car Level 35 Upgrades:

  • Pistons and Compression

Car Level 40 Upgrades:

  • Engine Swap

Car Level 45 Upgrades:

  • Bodykit

Car Level 50 Upgrades:

  • Drivetrain Swap

How to quickly level up your car in Forza Motorsport

With many key car upgrades such as body kits and engine swaps being locked behind car levels. How long does it actually take to unlock every upgrade in Forza Motorsport?

There are 50 levels in total for every car in Forza Motorsport. Getting a car to maximum level involves you racing on track, perfecting corners and putting in fast lap times.

If you race well, you can level up your car in Forza Motorsport to level 50 in around 2 or 3 hours. Of course, this length of time depends on a few key factors.

Forza Motorsport Gameplay Track
Speed and consistency means faster car levelling

If you race cleaner and put in faster lap times, you will increase how much XP you earn and the rate at which you earn XP. Also, if you’re racing faster cars, you will be able to drive a complete lap much faster.

This is important because you gain XP based on your performance through each corner and segment. If you can race through each corner faster, you will be gaining XP at a faster rate.

As an example, lapping Laguna Seca in a stock Ford Mustang GT can take say 1 minute 45. There are 11 corners around Laguna Seca, giving you 11 areas to gain XP. This is presuming there are no other cars on track and you’re only gaining XP for your individual performance, not overtakes etc.

If you are lapping Laguna Seca in the track-ready Audi R8 LMS GT3 car, you can achieve lap times of around 1 minute 20. That is the same lap but 25 or so seconds quicker. This means you’ll complete more corners in the same space of time, allowing you to level up the faster Audi R8 GT3 faster than the much slower Ford Mustang.

Use assists to level up cars

So we know that to level up your car means spending time on track to earn XP and level up. But one pretty easy way to level up any car without the grind of driving for 2-3 hours is to use the in-game assists.

Now this is pretty controversial as essentially you can use the assists to make the car drive by itself. This removes the need to drive and compete to earn levels, which kind of takes away the whole point and progression through Forza.

It certainly isn’t a technique that I’m going to use, but it’s definitely worth talking about as it can result in a level 50 car without ever racing a single lap.

If you buy a new car and want to get to level 50 without racing, simply enter an event and turn on all of the driving assists. These include auto steering, auto braking and throttle assists. Then you can start the event, set your controller down and let the AI drive your car for you.

You’ll still earn XP and within around 2 or 3 hours, your car should be at level 50. As I said, this kind of removes the point of the game, as you’re not actually competing or enjoying the driving.

But if you’re a Forza photographer for example and need a specific body kit. You could simply leave your console on for a few hours with the assists enabled. Then when you come back, you will be able to buy the body kit you require.

How does car upgrading compare to car tuning?

While buying upgrades for cars on Forza Motorsport is completely locked to your car level, car tuning is not. Providing you have the parts installed to access specific tuning menus, such as a race suspension, you can tune your car at any point.

Various base tuning options are available right away. But some are locked behind specific parts. A race suspension for example is required for some more in-depth suspension tuning options to become available. And this is the same as in previous Forza games.

In that regard, I guess the car tuning is locked behind the levelling system. You need a specific part to unlock that part of the car tuning and setup, and certain parts are locked behind levels.


The new Forza Motorsport upgrade system certainly is a feature that has sim racers and Forza fans divided. Many, like myself kind of love it. Turning Forza into an RPG is right up my street. Even if it does make accessing the best upgrade options a little harder to do.

But there are also those who dislike this new car upgrade system, and I do completely understand why. Let me know in the comments whether you like this new system or if you dislike it.

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Article written by Mjolnir

Mjolnir is one of the main setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. He has had years of experience in sim racing, both competitively and casually. After a decade of sim racing experience, he co-founded to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.
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