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Street Stories: Thoughts on Forum Advise: click here

1) We were able to help a new customer. The customer had many mods, including a complete turbo back exhaust system, with a Stage 2 chip on the way (chipless for now).

He bought a Blitz Intake from another parts supplier in the area. They installed the intake and drove off finding the check engine light on and would not go off. Also, the car would not run strong. Hesitating and holding back. The customer returned to the supplier to question this. The supplier, who provides parts for many imports and does a lot of racing said the lights always go on, but if you are racing, so what. The customer responded by saying I'm not only racing, I use my car every day and it has to be legal. The supplier now showed his true colors by saying...your not serious about racing, I can't help you.

What this shows is unfortunately many general suppliers of parts have limited experience with Subaru and are not truly able to help the Subi owner. In fact told him to seek help elsewhere. The customer went to a local Subaru Dealer, but they also were unable to help them. But did recommend he speak to us.

We first recommended he reset the ECU, which no one had done, including the Dealer. This did not put the lights out, so in desperation, the customer removed the Blitz and re-installed the OEM intake. After a lengthy discussion on intakes and what the customer wants, we recommended and ordered an Unifilter Cold Air Intake.

To make a long story short, the intake was installed by one of our Subaru Performance Dealers, and the Subi Guy can't believe how strong the car is running....happy to say the least.

The moral of the story is, not all intakes work, even if they look beautiful. And not all parts suppliers or dealers are going to work with you to recommend the best or resolve your problem.

Some just want to sell parts and really don't care about you!

2) Heard a story about a Subi guy who bought a Stage 2 Kit and an Injen intake from a local performance shop (sells parts for all cars) and had the kit installed by that shop. This sounds fine to a lot of guys.

Subi guy heads out and in short time finds several things happening. The CEL is on, the car can't rev over 5K and the engine runs like xxxx, and seems hot, as if something is burning. So the Subi guy heads back to the performance shop where he is told they can't do anything for him, tell him he should find a Subaru Dealer to fix it (recommending an local dealer). Basically telling him to get out.

Subi guy heads to the local dealer. FYI, this particular dealer is a buddy of mine and is used to working on performance parts and hot cars, where they agree to try and help him.

They first recommend he remove all performance equipment, so they can better access what is happening. After much this and that, the dealer narrows the problem down to a few possibilities. Such as: the turbo (not running correctly), the hoses from the turbo (replaced when the Stage 2 was installed) or the crankshaft having a vibration, preventing the engine from revving high.

During all of this the Subi guy is getting impatient, frustrated and rather rude when the dealer explains the possible issues and related costs. The Subi guy becomes 'wild', not wanting to pay anything, thinking it should all be covered under warranty, even though his car had/has performance parts on it. With all this racket, the dealer finally has it and tells the Subi guy it would be best to seek help elsewhere.

The moral of this story is fairly simple. If you're putting on performance equipment, it is important to consider the manufacturer of the equipment, who recommended the equipment and who installs it. All play a key role in the success of your upgrade. If you allow a non-specialist to recommend equipment and work on your car, you run a risk. Not all things are equal. You're not driving a Honda, Mitsu, ????, etc. It doesn't like xxxx for parts or service.

Also, if you are lucky enough to find a Subaru Dealer willing to work on you HOT car, don't argue with him. You should become his friend. Don't think for one moment he owes you a warranty or anything. Rather you should kiss his xxx and be thankful he's willing to help you at all!

UP Date On This Story, Customer finally receives some help from a Subaru Dealer and but, Subaru would not warranty his engine for problems. They found out the upgrades he had on the car, so.....the Subi guy had to buy a whole new engine from the dealer to regain his warranty.

The cost was high enough to create a massive nose bleed....

3) Had a customer visit us a short time after putting on a Rampod intake and Turboback exhaust system to complete his Stage1 kit with a Dastek chip on his Forester XT. We discovered he had placed a hyperflow intercooler and blow off valve from a competitor of ours, I guess trying to save a dime. You would think the installation should have been simple, but after some discussion with the customer, he indicated that the intercooler hose was not properly attached by the other company and had come off while driving the car home from the install. Realizing something was wrong when the car was running rough, then not at all. Upon his inspection, it was found the hose had come off from the intercooler and re-attached it and drove home, thinking all would be well. During the week prior to visiting us, he continued to notice the car loosing power, with boost not going above 7psi. The intercooler hose was still attached, so he did not know what to make of it. We completed the install of the Dastek in his XT, then went to test drive the car, only to discover it was still not making any real boost. Returning to the shop we inspected his BOV and discovered it was leaking at the seal where it attaches to the intercooler. The other fellows had ground the back of the BOV, trying to help it seat against the hyperflow intercooler, but in the process created an unlevel surface, so it would never seat properly. It was obvious, a hand grinder was used. We were able to save the BOV by removing the base and grinding the backing plate level on our precision grinder, then re-attach the BOV to the intercooler. Now it was correct. FYI, hyperflow top mount intercoolers have a high spot at the top of the recess where the BOV seats. To have it seal properly requires precision grinding of the backing plate or XXXX happens. We now take the car out again to test it, discovering the problem is still there. As the car accelerated and the boost climbed, the boost would stop and then decrease. This suggested a blockage in the exhaust system somewhere. Possibly in a cat, from running a 'too fuel rich condition'. Running too much fuel through the exhaust system will destroy cats quickly, plugging them up or breaking them up, where they can fly into the turbo. Next we removed the factory uppipe (has a cat in it) and replaced it with an equal length racing header and uppipe. Took the car out again, finding that this helped a bit, but still did not resolve the whole boost problem. We next, replaced the downpipe and midpipe, both with cats and found this to be the final pieces of the puzzle.

Now the fellow is SCREAMING down the highway, under the power he expected.

See his car here

The moral of this story is: sometimes when you think you are saving a few dollars, you aren't...particularly if the people you have install your products DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!!! Trying to save a few dollars on parts and labor, can actually cost thousands of dollars to fix! Be careful, not everything is as it looks.

To say this fellow wasn't happy is a huge understatement.

4) A guy called us with a 2002 WRX wagon asking if we could help him out. He explained he had a Utec engine management system, TXS turbo back exhaust, TXS BOV, TXS TMIC, 550cc injectors, 255 fuel pump and a VF34 turbo. He said the parts were put on by a local 'tuner' and ran fine for about a week. The car smelled of fuel, would not idle properly and when he put his foot down, it would stumble, spit and backfire. The piggyback chip was mapped using the tuner's chassis dyno, so it was perfect, according to the 'tuner'. When the guy called the turner asking to bring his car back in because it would not run properly, the tuner said "sure". After many visits over a 6 month period, without any resolution, the tuner finally said 'don't come back', leaving the customer on his own, until he called us. After discussing what was happening with his car, we agreed to have a look see, without any promises. Many times a 'tuner' will mess up a car so much, we will pass on trying to fix the car. Too many things to sort out, bad mapping, parts added to the car, not working on the car properly. Most guys don't want to hear they made a mistake or were sold XXXX, thinking it would work fine and make big power. As part of our agreement, it was understood we would only look at the car and evaluate what might be the cause of the problems, then make recommendations as how to fix them. The guy agreed. What we found was, the chip was mapped incorrectly, the BOV was vented 100%, the cat was completely clogged and the intake was messing up the MAF sensor. The cat was clogged because of the Utec running too rich, along with the BOV 100% to atmosphere, adding even more fuel to the mix. This rich condition also fouled the plugs. We have seen this before with other fellows who have come to us with Utecs and BOVs vent 100%. So, it was decided, we could correct this problems by removing the Utec, Downpipe w/ cat, BOV and plugs and replace them with a Dastek piggyback chip, Xcceleration Downpipe with high flow cats, 100% Recirc BOV and new plugs.

The car is now running perfectly, without backfiring,

smell of fuel, and accelerates without hesitation.

See his car here

The moral of this story is: just because a 'Tuner' has a big shop, great looking showroom and talks a great story doesn't mean he knows what the parts he is selling actual do or work on a car, and if he actually knows what he is doing for tuning. Just because a tuner has a dyno doesn't mean he has the experience or knowledge to use it correctly.

Remember a chassis dyno is only one part of the tuning process, not the 'know all, end all' of the process. Cars need to be road tested and tuned after chassis dyno tuned.

Plus don't judge a book by it's cover!

5) A fellow called us with a STi, who had worked with two other "Tuners" to bring his car up to about 450hp+, but the car was not running correctly. The first tuning shop had a big building, great showroom, many parts on display and a clean shop. As part of the build up, the tuner replaced OEM engine block with a built STi block from a well known engine builder, plus upgraded many other parts on the car, turbo to a APS55, injectors, fuel pump, intercooler, brakes, suspension and more. He had a UTEC for engine management and the shop tuned the car. After many weeks, the fellow finally gets his car and comments on how the engine is knocking. He is told to break-in the engine and the knocking will stop. While driving home, he calls the tuner and says it's getting worse what should he do, since its a 3 hour drive home. The tuner again says the engine needs to be broken in and that the knocking would go away. The fellow again accepts the answer and continues driving. The knocking never stops and when he is near his home, sitting in traffic the engine gives out. He calls the tuner and reports his engine blew and was greeted with a "You must of been racing, so you're out of luck!". Not knowing what else to do, now he takes the car to a second tuner who inspects the engine and says the block needs to be replaced again, which they do with another "built block", and add performance street cams and port and polish the heads to the mix. Several weeks go by again and this fellow is growing inpatient and wants his car. This tuner says they have tuned the car and it is ready to be picked up, but can't get it to idle; keeps on stalling. When asked when they are going to finish the tuning, they respond they have, there is nothing more they can do and give the car back to him. This is when he calls us asking us what should he do, since both tuners can't seem to get the work done correctly or tune the car. We indicated he should not drive the car with tuning issues, it's not safe for the engine. Also, since there have been several "Tuners" involved in the car's build up, worked on the engine, made internal modifications which can't be documented, we are unable to help him at this time. Too many variables unaccountable!

Now this fellow doesn't know what to do,

since he has had two "Tuners" touching his car and it still doesn't work correctly.

The moral of this story is: you need to check the references of who does your work before starting. Just because the shop looks great: clean, organized and with a pretty building (face) doesn't mean they know what they are doing. You need to do your homework first on who you are dealing with. Most important, if too many hands touch your car, doing custom work and it fails, no one is going to want to jump in and sort out the problems. The liability is too great and so is the mess. If one tuner causes a problem, you should resolve it with them first; either mechanically or legally before moving on. It only gets worse with the more hands involved.

"If your car doesn't sound right or operate correctly, it's only common sense there is something WRONG!!"

6) Had a fellow who wanted to upgrade his Legacy GT contact us and after much discussion decided on a stage3 kit for his car. He lived too far away from us, for us to install the kit, but that did not matter because our kit could be put on by anyone. After the kit was installed, he called to say how happy he was with the performance and over the next 12 months ordered upgrades for the suspension and brakes as well. Now the car handles as well as it goes.

The fellow contacts us after about a year has passed, wanting to know what he could do next to increase power again. We spend many hours discussing what he wants to do with the car; daily driver, track days, etc.. It’s decided he wants to keep it a daily driver but wants as much low and mid range power as possible for acceleration, trying to reduce turbo lag to where it’s almost non-existent. He wants to go fast! We put together a plan to accomplish his goal, which includes a custom turbo for low/midrange power, upgraded block to run up to 30psi or more and our custom heads and cams for extreme low/midrange torque, keeping his stage3 large tmic and more upgrades to support the plan. The mods are to be sent to the customer who is going to use a local machine/install/tuner shop to do the block work and install the parts, including tuning. The upgrades are actually our STi stage5 kit modified to fit the Legacy GT and produce the extreme low/midrange power seen by our STi guys.

It becomes immediately apparent having some of the work completed away from us is going to be a rocky road. We know this by the types of questions we see from the engine/install/tuner shop. Questions like: what are the tolerances for installing the t-sleeves, and it’s going to take a lot of time to road tune the car, is there a fast way?

Eventually, our fellow changes shops, and finds an engine machine shop and an install/tuner shop, but now the install/tuner shop is convincing our guy he needs to change parts, that our plan isn't going to work and he will need their turbo, engine management and other parts to replace our stage kit in the name of high horse power. The customer agrees.

After the install/tuner replaces our turbo for a larger one, removes our large top mount intercooler for a large front mount intercooler and retunes the car using his engine management system, the car is delivered to the customer, who calls us and says “I have terrible turbo lag, the car is worse than before and isn’t any fun to drive”. The car is now making about 500whp and has plenty of top end power, but no low end power. This would be great if he wanted to go drag racing, making 5,000 rpm hole shots, but not so for acceleration on the street. We discuss the changes at length and suggest a way to reduce the turbo lag, still using the parts recommended by the install/tuner. Trying to help get back on track. The fellow arranges for the car to go back to the install/tuner to explore our recommendations.

About 2 months go by and we receive a call from our customer with his progress on making the changes, trying to get back his low end power. He now says he has plenty of low end power, but no power over 6,000 rpms. The power has now dropped to about 380whp and falls off quickly. When asked what was done, he replies: they changed the turbo again, this time to a small twin scroll, lowered the boost and removed our custom race cams. When asked why, he said because they could not stop the detonation over 22psi, but they are looking into how to get back his top end power and will make more changes in the future. What a waste of time and money to continue using these guys!

The moral of this story should be: decide what you want the car to do, decide who you are going to trust to recommend the upgrade plan and decide who is qualified to install and tune, not just sell you parts and tune without capability. We have seen this too many times where a fellow decides a goal and in the middle or at the end of the build up is swayed to make changes, which is different from the original plan ….usually to the project's demise. Many install/tuner shops will not just install your parts and follow a plan, rather their egos get in the way and they have to make changes, to take control of project and call it theirs, even if they don’t know what they are doing.

Just like quicksand, once you start sinking (changing the parts to suite the financial gain of the install/tuner) there is no stopping it.

It’s going to FAIL!

Once you decide on your performance goal, who you are going to trust for advise, you must stand firm and not deviate from the path!! Fellows who want to just sell you parts and take your money aren’t interested in the success of your project.


Please remember they are only stories.
Take them for whatever value you get from them.