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Do Sim Racing Rigs Improve Your Driving Skills?

June 21, 2022

Will Sim Rigs Make You A Better Driver?

What's up, gamers? Today we're here to answer a question that has popped up quite often since around 2020 - is getting a sim rig worth it to help with your driving?

Sim rigs have become very popular and pretty cool to own in recent years, and obviously, a lot of this popularity gain happened in 2020. We were all locked in our homes without a whole lot to do, so once shows and track times started getting canceled, we looked elsewhere for our driving fixes. Lobbies were popping and we were all in lockdown getting lost in another world - though a little weird, it was a fun escape from reality.

But the question remains - do sim rigs make you a better driver? Let's go through that today. You might be surprised by the answer!

man using driving sim rig

What Is A Driving Sim Rig?

First of all, what is a sim rig? This could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. On the crazy high end, there's a whole cockpit experience with actual platforms that move in reaction to what's happening in the game, and those can be much more expensive than a lot of the cars we drive in real life.

Most people, though, will build their sim rigs with a wheel and pedal shifter setup bolted to a frame or chassis with some sort of seat. All of this is hooked up to either a PC - if you're a part of the PC Master Race - or a console if you're poor. Then, you have the graphics displayed on your monitor or your VR headset - more on that later.

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Why Are Sim Rigs So Popular and Why Would You Want One?

So now we know what a sim rig is, but why in the world would you want one? Well, if you've ever played GTA, Forza, or any other simulation-like racing game with a controller, it's not the most amazing experience. Yes, it's fun, but when you start getting into the driving, something's just not there.

On PlayStation, for example, if you're playing Gran Turismo or something similar with DualShock controllers, it's not easy to give gradual throttle input or be gentle on the steering input around corners. Essentially, you just have the button pressed to accelerate without much other input, and the system itself isn't that advanced.

A wheel and pedal setup alone makes the experience more realistic since you can do a little more fine-tuning with your inputs and also get some forced feedback on the wheel to help you understand what's happening with the car as you go over rumble strips or any other road surface. Besides the better input, these rig builds do a good job of simulating driving an actual car. You're more involved, having to steer or give throttle input and clutch in for gear shifts - it's just a great time.

Driving sim rig used at esports convention

What Driving Styles Are Sim Rigs Best For?

You can jump between a bunch of different driving styles with just one SIM setup, and each will feel very different, from driving a Formula 1 car to flying through a dirt rally stage. You can even drive a big rig truck if you want to live out those open-road fantasies, driving across the country to deliver products to a distant Walmart - American Truck Simulator is goated.

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Do Sim Rigs Help You Get Better At Driving?

So, if it's a simulation, do these sim rigs help you be better at driving? It honestly depends on what you're doing and the games you're using. Some games are much more simulation-like than others - for example, drifting games can help you get much better when you're on the track, but dirt rally games might not help you out that much one way or the other.

Essentially, there are things in real life that sims just won't teach you, but you can take the small wins where you get them. You can't simulate the exact G forces, but the throttle and wheel control, along with understanding how weight transfer works, is about 100% transferable between sim rigs and real life. They're pretty close and you can get a good feeling for how you drive.

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Can You Race Competitively With A Sim Rig?

We recently interviewed some actual race car drivers who use racing sims to warm up before races and learn when to refuel and pit for their strategies, even using setups at home for fun. There's no substitute for actual track time, but using a sim can seriously help.

This is especially true when you live somewhere like Wisconsin, where you have an offseason where the world is frozen over and you can't drive cars. Using a sim is something you can do, and if you're feeling competitive, then iRacing could be your cup of tea. iRacing is great because it's competitive, and they do a nice job putting you in lobbies that are grouped up with people with a similar skill set to yours. Plus, the physics are fantastic too.

Man using full three screen driving simulator

Are VR Racing Simulators Accurate?

We've gotta talk about VR because it's an absolute friggin' gamechanger. We recently started getting into VR for the first time and it's the absolute best thing you can add to a setup. Corsa VR in particular gives you an uncanny sense of placement in the car, and on the track, you also get depth perception with the ability to look at where you're going in relation to the car. It just feels natural - it's hard to describe, but mind-blowing.

Are There Any Downsides To Racing Sim Rigs?

This whole sim thing is great, but there have to be some downsides, right? Sure, there are a couple - for starters, the biggest downside is the sheer cost of a sim setup. Prices with components haven't come down a ton, but there are deals that we've seen around out there.

You also have a ton of different options at a wide array of prices - you can easily drop $10,000 for a crazy setup if you want. Realistically though, you're looking at upwards of $2000 for a solid sim setup, plus the PC or console that you're hooking it up to.

The second downside here is that you could be sacrificing your actual car budget, and actual seat time, for a sim rig. The price to get into a sim rig could be the difference between tires, mods, or repairs to get your car back on the track. And it could be the difference to a summer's worth of entry fees as well.

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Is Buying A Sim Rig Worth It?

We believe it's worth it to get a sim rig - cost is your biggest enemy, but you can piece together a rig over time and have a very respectable setup. Sim rigs let you have fun with your car hobby in ways that you couldn't do because you can race anywhere - it's fun, but the practice is real too. Sim rigs can help you be a better daily driver, and even learn some techniques, so if you've got the cash, we'd recommend it. But what do you think? Let us know!

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