Saturday, December 16, 2006

Back from the Dealer

Got the Legacy back from the dealer a few days ago. Took it in to have them inspect the rear struts again and to check out a loud whining noise while in reverse. I know that Subarus in particular are noisy in reverse but this was obscene. John Elway West was very helpful and gave me a loaner car while they were looking at it. Nothing found in the rear struts, they are not leaking at this time, nor were the technicians able to make them "clunk" as we have heard on occassion. I figured that it would be hard for them to find any problems unless they saw a leaky strut or something, so nothing was done there. The transmission however, was a different story.

I went on a test drive with a technician to confirm the noise, and he agreed it was an excessive amount of whine. The dealer called the next day to inform me that they were going to have to pull the transmission to locate and fix the problem and that it would be a few days to have it repaired. I then returned to the dealer that night to get something out of my car and the technician already had the tranny out and apart. I spoke with him in brief about the cause of the whine and he explained that his assesment was that the case had been "streched" because of repeated clutch drops. I then asked him about the wear on the friction disk of the clutch and he replied that it was only about 20% worn. I found this amusing that he thought the case had been streched due to abuse, yet the clutch is only 20% worn after 20,000 miles! My wife doesn't even know the meaning of the term clutch drop, so I am positive that IF this "abuse" happened it was within the first 3,000 miles before we purchesed the vehicle. He also informed me that the parts that were needed were in New Jersey and that it would be the next week before I got my car finished. I didn't mind, I was driving around an '06 Forester XT as a loaner.

I went home expecting a fight from the dealer the next day regarding covering this under warranty. To my surprise, I recieved a phone message that informed me of the problem and gave me a timeframe in which they were going to try and get the car done. Nothing about excessive abuse or voiding of the factory warranty. I called and confirmed that eveything was going to be covered under the factory warranty and was very satisfied with the service and demeanor of my advisor, Patty.

I know this sounds like a plug for John Elway West's sevice department, but I really was impressed with the way they handled my blown struts, twice, and this incident. I will stay doing business with them until I have a reason to go elsewhere.

They ended up replacing nearly the entire transmission, including sycros, the case, the forks, ect. I picked the car up the next week and have had zero problems with it since. The transmission feels a bit more "notchy" like my WRX's did, and the lack of noise in reverse is nice.

All in all I'm happy to have the car back and it looks to be in top shape and ready to recieve some bolt on parts. It's been nice Mr. Warranty, maybe I'll have one again on a different car.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Who am I and What Am I Doing?

Hi. My name is Allen Stewart, and I am a car enthusiast. Sounds much like an AA meeting introduction, and in some respects, it should. I am 25 years old, married with no children as of yet. I work at a place called Peterson Fluid Systems in Denver, Colorado. We build dry-sump oil systems for high performance motors and many other things motorsports related. I run the assembly department there and basically build race car parts all day. Not a bad gig! I've also been a service advisor, a general maintence tech, a detailer, and various other jobs involving cars.

I have been around cars since I was a young sprite. My grandfather has multiple street rods and classic cars of all kinds. Cars have been a large part of his life, and I think that passion transferred to me through all the time we spent together. I really didn't get into performance until I was about 17 years old and took a trip to Bandimere Speedway here outside of Denver. The track is a nationally recognized 1/4 mile drag track and I was there for a "test and tune" night where just about anyone can bring their car and run it down the strip. I was there with some friends of mine and saw a few guys in AWD DSM's making some really fast passes. From then on I was hooked. I bought my first turbo AWD car when I was 18 and have never looked back.

Since then I have owned 4 DSM's, 2 WRX's, A turbo Laser, and a whole bunch of other cars. Right now I'm at 6 vehicles which is doing pretty well for me. We are about to buy another one for my wife. I buy them, build them, and sell them more often then some people change underwear.

I decided to start this blog because I wanted to document one of the build-ups that I do and be able to share some of my experiences with anyone who cares. We purchased a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT sedan in February of 2006 from a small dealer on Broadway here in Denver. It had only 3000 miles on the odometer, and we got a fairly good deal on it. The car was originally purchased for my wife. We traded her Tacoma in on it because she wanted to go back to a car. Looking back we should have kept the truck; you never realize how much you use one until its gone. She wanted a Legacy because of the looks and I wanted the turbo model because, well that's just the way I am.

She has been driving it for the past 8 months and loves the car. I haven't done anything to it, mainly because I was wrapped up in other projects, but now we need something that can tow and she wants to be back in an SUV again. I jumped at the opportunity to take over the Legacy and start transforming it into the beast of a car it is capable of.

In the next month or two we will get her a Durango and I will begin work on the Legacy.

Stay Tuned!

Project Introduction

Project 2005 Legacy GT
“STi Killer”

Objective: To build a reliable, powerful, and tight handling car that still offers the acceptable ride and comfort of a touring sedan. Project STi Killer will out accelerate, out corner, and out brake a stock STi.

Overview: The car being used for this project is a silver 2005 Legacy GT sedan. From the factory the Legacy GT offers 250hp from a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder boxer engine. The block and engine internals are much the same as the STi, but the Legacy was equipped with a smaller turbo, different intercooler and intake manifold to fit the scoop and lines of the car. This difference in design poses some challenges for one trying to make significant power out of this vehicle. The biggest problem is the intercooler size and location. Due to the design of the hood a stock sized intercooler must be used or there will be little to no airflow through the intercooler at high speed when the intercooler is needed most. Possible solutions to this issue are going with a front-mount intercooler or an air to water type intercooler. Both have their advantages and drawbacks. That point is a ways down the road yet, but something to keep in mind during the build. This project will be recorded from beginning to end with at least two dyno graphs showing the increase in power over stock. Since we do not have access to a skidpad, no lateral grip numbers can be recorded but the results will be recorded by the driver.

Part 1: What is already there and prepping for power.

The most important part of getting the most performance out of any vehicle is making sure the car is in excellent running condition to begin with. Luckily, we purchased this Legacy GT with only 3000 miles on the odometer so we know that it has been treated well for the majority of it’s life. The only issue we have had with the car is the rear struts have been replaced twice under warranty. Occasionally the noise has been heard again recently so we will take the car back to the dealer to ensure the struts haven’t blown again. We intend to retain the use of the stock struts so they must be in top-notch shape before we put extra load on them by installing lowering springs. Oil changes have been kept up to date and semi-synthetic oil used to reduce engine wear. Full synthetic will be used starting at the next oil change, as the car will be about 20K and seeing more “spirited” driving.

The vehicle already has a couple aftermarket upgrades, none of which alter performance so we should be able to get a nice baseline dyno number that one would expect from a stock Legacy GT off the lot. The previous owner or dealership installed a STi gauge pack including a boost gauge, an oil pressure gauge, and a coolant temp gauge. I would have rather had an EGT gauge installed over the coolant temp, but we will go with what we have already until it becomes necessary to have one. The vehicle also has extensive clear bra installed covering almost the entire front end, blacked headlights, and a STi rear trunk spoiler from the JDM Legacy GT. Not much is in the plans at the moment to add to the aesthetic look of the car. Obviously, wheels and tires will be added but more to improve handling over the stock set. We will stick with a 17” rim for aftermarket wheels, but wider, as we intend to use the stock wheels and tires during the winter months if needed. This influences brake upgrade choices, as most aftermarket caliper/rotor upgrades are too large to fit under the stock 17” wheels. At this point we will try to upgrade the stock components or will be on the lookout for a brake kit that offers use of the stock wheels.

The car runs very well at this point, and maintenance will be kept up to or exceed the manufactures recommendations. The first thing that needs attention is the handling. To the average guy wanting to drive this thing to work everyday in comfort the stock suspension is probably ok, but the vehicle has way too much body roll and understeer for a performance enthusiast. The stock tires are decent, but not what we would call “confidence inspiring”. Power is not the first concern of this project, the Legacy GT puts down a pretty healthy horsepower number stock. We want to be able to harness the available horsepower better than the factory car. First thing is to start off with a baseline dyno graph and see what kind of power we are putting to the wheels. Then we will start to add parts with some lowering springs to get the center of gravity down lower as well as reduce body roll and add a larger tubular rear sway bar to reduce that pesky understeer. Then, it’s time to focus getting the car stopped quicker.

Stay Tuned!