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Woody MegaDork
12/5/14 11:56 a.m.

What octane fuel were you using when you were getting all that knocking?

ScottyB Reader
12/5/14 12:52 p.m.
Woody wrote: What octane fuel were you using when you were getting all that knocking?

93, if you can believe it. on 87 it sounded absolutely painful so i started using a higher grade as a bandaid. it was always at highway speeds, i.e. light load, low throttle opening, mid level rpm.

this was with good spark plugs, good quality gas, no CELs, etc. drove it around for like 2 years this way. i believe the earlier drive by cable cars were tuned more conservatively. the drive by wire cars (from my MY forward, i think) had a more advanced ECU and would advance timing like crazy. to confirm my hunch, i would reset the ECU by disconnecting the battery, then drive hard. the car would feel great until the first extended highway drive (the ECU would "learn", and then go back to its old hijinks), then it would be back to pinging.

i was able to fully confirm that this was an issue with the stock tune when i downloaded it with the cable in the last post. i'll show you guys what i found in a followup. spoiler: stock subaru tunes are frightening

ScottyB Reader
12/8/14 12:23 a.m.

here's a quick example of what i found in my car's ECU when i was looking into doing my own tune as a remedy for the general engine unhappiness outlined above. below is the stock open loop (i.e. the map that engages whenever you start putting the hammer down) fueling map. its a bit easier to see why i couldn't get it to stop pinging...it couldn't enrich the mixture!

give yourself a hand, Subaru. this is horrific.

and here is my fairly amateurish initial attempt at a fuel map revision that actually meets the engine's needs using some basic real-time logging parameters minus an actual wideband. i've since made a few more tweaks that pull a bit more fuel out of the top end. over the years i've also carefully pulled some timing out since it was also very aggressive.

i've been driving on this revised tune for over 4 years now using 93 octane. i'm leaving plenty of power on the table and its a bit sloppy, but at least its safe and it drives so much better, as well as passing inspection without drama every year. when the time comes that I can get a wideband on the car, i'll get the fuel tables really worked out. the closed loop/open loop transition (i.e., when the ECU decides its time to jump from maintaining stoich/efficient AFR and moving to the "power" maps) values are tweaked a bit so i'm still pulling an easy 30mpg on the highway @70, but it no longer tries to hold onto the closed loop map for so long when i step on it.

all tweaks done using Romraider:

  • revised open loop fuel values
  • revised open loop ignition timing values
  • revised closed loop/open loop switchover values to jump into open loop sooner/faster
  • remapped throttle pedal (search "Williaty's" thread on NASIOC). i used very close values to Ty's, but with a bit more initial tip-in for heel/toe downshifting easier. this is almost my favorite single modification on the entire car. very fluid, drive-by-cable feel.
  • rescaled MAF for closed loop operation. the values were more and more erroneous at high speeds due to the additional air being rammed in by the WRX duct at highway speeds.
  • removed speed limiter
ScottyB Reader
12/9/14 10:06 a.m.

i love driving. don't care where, as long as the traffic is moving, so i generally look for lots of excuses to find reasons to drive on interesting roads...at least as much as a guy with a 2 year old kid can. sometimes the journey is about more than driving though.

i've got one set of wonderful grandparents left, at 94, and they've relocated from their lifelong residence in PA to a rest home near my uncle in OH. i've always been very close to them as family but because of the distance i really never see them anymore, and at their age the clock isn't in their favor if i ever want to again. what's more is that they're losing the battle with dementia and i'm haunted by the knowledge that eventually, they will have no idea who i am anymore. i had a gut feeling in April of 2012 that i just had to go or the trip would never materialize at all, either due to time constraints or my own fear.

one of my best friends had a bachelor party up at Charles Town Races in WV, and i haven't seen him in years either so i knew i could make time and combine the journeys. i figured WV...well that's halfway to OH, right? sure it is!

one rule - avoid interstates whenever possible. backroads are king.

Clarkson said something once that was parsed better than i could have ever put:

"This is brilliant. No phone. No kids. No interuptions. It's just me, in my little metal shell. Time to think. Time to work stuff out."

i drove the entire 1,326 miles without any music or radio. just the sound of the EJ25 thrumming, feeling the road through the seat, watching a new landscape unfold, thinking about the inevitabilities of life and the people i love. reconciling, celebrating, moving forward. in OH i was able to spend the day with my grandparents and it was utterly worth the drive, and if i hadn't gone when i did i know i would have carried the regret with me forever.

up out of NC, into VA, and onto afton mountain

and down into the shenandoah valley

deep in WV on rt.50. wild, wonderful.

cincy! nice town, had a really neighborly vibe.

coming home through SE OH. started out looking a lot like my teenage home in lancaster, PA...pretty farmland. wish i had a porch and rockingchair to waste a morning watching the fog roll through.

everything i've read about the roads are true. wonderful, flowing, smooth pavement through sparsely populated forestland. everyone who lives there should own a sports car.

over the mighty ohio river and onto 77S through WV. what a great highway. i don't even mind the tolls if it means carving through the hills like this.

awesome trestle, and preparing for a serious storm

probably shouldn't have had the camera out but the rain was biblical. enough lightning to power a city. this storm went on to spawn a cell in NC that produced a tornado.

punching through a wall of trees to take me back to VA, then NC

outrunning the storm. i love thunderstorms, wish i could have watched it longer but i lost it behind the hills.

dropping past pilot mountain, the lone sentinel that would see me home.

thanks old girl.

Autolex Dork
12/9/14 12:06 p.m.

Beautiful writing and imagery. Loving the car and the literary prowess to go with it. Keep it up!

ScottyB Reader
12/9/14 1:42 p.m.

thanks! i'm certainly not the most interesting person or driving the most interesting car but i hope its fun to read/kill some time.

after 8 years a car will leave you with a tale or two!

ScottyB Reader
12/10/14 8:18 a.m.

time to get oontzy

before: having fun on gravel forestry service roads


  • cover alternator/MAF with foil
  • P21S Total Auto Wash (stuff is powerful, it'll strip the wax off anything it touches)
  • wheel brush, old toothbrush
  • elbow grease
  • immediately rinse with light spray, don't let the suds dry
  • let air dry while you do the rest of the car, then yank foil and towel dry
  • apply Meguiar's Natural Shine with microfiber rag
  • engine will now have "new car fresh plastic" smell when running, inhale of this deeply

love Natural Shine...dirt has a hard time sticking to it so one application is usually good enough for 2 washoffs. i'll come back from a dusty rallyx and just spray the engine down and it'll look 90% good again. hellafunctional!

ouchx100 Reader
12/11/14 2:52 p.m.

That engine bay is beautiful. I should post a pic of what our muddy rallycrosses and my lazyness has left mine looking

Love the thread and reading that road trip story! You touched on every reason why I love these cars and long drives. For me what makes the subaru such an awesome car is the fact that not only in stock form ( maybe tire change ) can you win both a rallycross, autocross, and do a track day, its still a really nice easy going practical car. I've only done one big trip in mine but it was way more comfortable to be in for 12+ hours than most would imagine. And with the awd it will get you to far off the path places in any weather.

Staying off the highway is something I'd love to do next time we drive up to washington. Too many beautiful sights through Oregon.

ScottyB Reader
12/12/14 11:36 a.m.
ouchx100 wrote: That engine bay is beautiful. I should post a pic of what our muddy rallycrosses and my lazyness has left mine looking Love the thread and reading that road trip story! You touched on every reason why I love these cars and long drives. For me what makes the subaru such an awesome car is the fact that not only in stock form ( maybe tire change ) can you win both a rallycross, autocross, and do a track day, its still a really nice easy going practical car. I've only done one big trip in mine but it was way more comfortable to be in for 12+ hours than most would imagine. And with the awd it will get you to far off the path places in any weather. Staying off the highway is something I'd love to do next time we drive up to washington. Too many beautiful sights through Oregon.

thanks man - but i'm battling GA red clay now and its harder to get results than with the fine gravel dust from before when i lived in NC and took that shot. so don't feel bad.

they really are versatile cars just as you say. quirky, and sometimes irritating with their issues but they will do just about anything you ask of 'em and there are hundreds of thousands out there. i'm thinking of popping some sound dampening mat in the trunk/doors to kill some noise on long drives, i'm getting older now and its wearing on me a bit after a couple hours on the interstate.

ScottyB Reader
12/12/14 11:38 a.m.

you know how our E36 M3ty plastic headlights fog over and yellow out after a few years? sure you do. i hate it. so i bought this:

its a 3M kit you can get at any AutoNAPAO'Reilly'sMart. you'll also need a power drill, but you should have one anyway.

before and after:

beware though, once you start doing this and take that original surface off the plastic, you're going to be rebuffing the lights every 6 months or so. not a big deal, but it certainly isn't a one-time fix.

ScottyB Reader
12/14/14 1:35 p.m.

some interesting oil nerdery for us over-analyzing kind of people...

i've tried at least a half dozen kinds of synthetic oils over the past years to see what works best so that i can extend the drain interval while still protecting the engine as well as possible.

what's below is following the April full track weekend plus daily driving plus road trips as of this summer in 90+ degree heat. i was concerned about the chromium (that's piston ring wear) and silicon from last time but both are way down. i think i just had a crappy air filter seal.

This oil is Mobil 1 10W-30 High Mileage...I like it a lot and will probably consider it for future track days, but the car really likes to drink it for some reason. For daily stuff i might stick with the good old Rotella T6 5W-40 because its so damn cheap and the car runs nicely with it.

oils noted here from left to right - Mobil 1 10W-30 High Mileage and Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 for the last 3.

there's no secret that adding 2.5 quarts of fresh oil to the sump plus a very short oil change interval (the TBN is saying i could probably get 8k mile runs out of this safely) skews readings a bit but the wear metals are looking good considering the hard driving. the car drank a quart during the track weekend and the rest in daily driving. i don't know where it goes....it doesn't smoke, makes good power, so i just check the level every week and keep feeding it.

one thing to note is that this oil is rated ACEA A3. i specifically sought the M1 High Mileage stuff out as this is almost the only "over the counter" 30 weight i could find that was formulated to this rating. basically anything that's rated with this spec is highly resistant to shearing down out of grade (think extended, high heat, high load use on the autobahn for instance) to a thinner less protective oil over long drain intervals. i wanted a 30 weight in the car during the track day to keep oil temps down since my car does not come with a factory oil cooler.

i'd definitely recommend looking for this rated oil if you intend to run the car hard and want to keep the oil in use for a while - think non-dedicated track car or daily that you lay the whip to fairly often.

and here's a shot of the head at 75k miles, during a valve cover gasket change. run on nothing but synthetic its whole life. nice and fresh looking.

ScottyB Reader
1/21/15 9:44 a.m.

a story from a while ago that frames up why i should just stop picking up wrenches despite stubbornly continuing to do so. at the time this happened i was living in an apartment so this took place out in a parking lot. no photos, which was probably for the best.


so, in other news, i had to replace the driver's side steering rack boot. i went and bought a boot kit from EZSubaruParts.com, and a decent looking bag of parts showed up at my door with instructions in another language. no big deal, its just a rubber accordian right?

for us guys with UEL headers, the header merges about 3 inches underneath the driver's side boot and the heat just melts it. stupid design but the exhaust isn't OEM so nobody's to blame but me. anyway, the stock boot soldiered on half-ripped for about a year and i had previously made a little heat shield from aluminum flashing to try to deflect the worst which i think helped it last a little longer. so i decided to replace the boot before i put tires on, so that i could take the tie rod off and not have to give a E36 M3 about being careful since i was getting the car freshly aligned with the new tires anyway.

i did not take any pictures for reasons you will understand. i have taken minimal liberties in describing the actual event.

a $5.00 boot. "how hard can this be?" I said to my battle hardened, callous-handed self. Much like a star wars fan walking into the first ever showing of The Phantom Menace, so to was I calmly assured that this wouldn't turn into a laughable E36 M3-heap of an effort because I can change the oil and stuff. Unbeknowest to me was the fact that non-subaru steering rack replacement boots fit like a speedo on Michael Moore (pause, absorb). like a good boy, i had "bought", i.e. Extendedly Rented a front-end service kit from Advanced Auto ahead of time to make popping the ball joint off the knuckle easy as pie. i had the car up, wheel off, brakes off, rotor off, header dropped and ball joint off in about an hour.

now i find that i don't have an open-end wrench to fit the tie rod. it would have been so easy to test this ahead of time. i am le dumb. 40 minutes later i have now acquired many wrenches. boom, tie rod end is off. a screwdriver-ectomy later the boot is off and i pay respect to its ravaged husk of a former self. new boot comes out of the plastic baggie all fresh and nice, ready to pop on and be out of my consciousness for as long as possible. small end goes over the inner tie rod with no drama. big end starts to go over steering rack body, then plants its ass and bottoms out. you ever see someone hauling back on a stubborn dog that decides it WILL NOT move another inch, and just drops its butt to the grass and doesn't give a damn if the collar squeezes over its head until its eyes pop out? that is this boot.

by now my fingertips are raw, it is high noon in NC and i can smell my flesh cooking, and people are literally gathering, most likely out of sincere concern, to watch as i am writhing on the ground trying to throw my weight into the tips of my fingers to pop this boot over the end of the rack. i am elated with a glimmer of hope as one side of the boot goes over the rack, only to cause the other side of the boot to pop completely off. i try this from alternating angles with similar results. children from the neighborhood stop with confused voices to ask my why my car is broken. their accompanying adults ask why i am not taking my car to the very highly rated garage down the street, and i attempt to explain that i'm "saving money" as i am surrounded by my collection of approximately $800 in tools and another $40 worth of wrenches i just bought an hour ago. i begin to sweat through the seat of my pants which makes me appear to have pissed myself.

over the next 2 hours i try almost everything i can think of. i am dehydrated and fairly sure i'm becoming delusional, as at one point i think i was actually trying to sneak up on the boot by looking away as if disinterested and then hurling myself at it and clamping down on it with all my might to try to force it onto the rack. i have but literally a millimeter more of movement before the boot will seat and i will be victorious. at this point i've put enough time into this that i'm very leary of using pliers lest they rip the rubber, since i have no idea if this thing will even actually fit the car anymore. but i cave, and go for my trusty vice grips and a screw driver - a deadly combo. i swiftly yank them from my now disheveled toolbox like the sword of Excelsior, shoulder-blade crawl back under the car like a retarded sea lion, and start giving this boot hell. the screwdriver pries the boot away enough to give the vice grips purchase. i am attacking this bastard from all sides. it cannot escape my rage. my wife comes out to check on me for fear that the grunting has meant the car has collapsed on top of me in an effort to release me from this suffering.

with a small, girlish war cry i pucker my buttocks and summon the ancient power of my inner spirit animal; the pygmy hippo. screwdriver on one side, vice grips on the other, i use all of my Beiber-esque frame to offer one final challenge to the Boot of Regret. and just like that...pop! it seats perfectly. it is done. i lay on the searing payment for a moment to regain consciousness and take note of my massively sunburned thighs. no! be strong...i must finish this. back under the car i slide the clamp over the large end of the boot to finally ensure it shall never again move from this place of resting. the clamp does not fit. it is approximately 1 mm too short.

40 minutes later i return with $2.50 worth of hose clamps.

the remaining hour is spent piecing the car back together in a swirling haze of dehydration and rank BO stench. i am thankful the shop where the car will be aligned tomorrow is only 3/4 mile up the street, because i'm only partially sure the car will be roadworthy once i get it back together. tools go back in all the wrong places in the toolbox. i forget to put the brake rotor on before the wheel. the powdered nitrile gloves i've just taken off leave white powder marks all over the inside of my car as if a crackhead has had a seizure in it. 4 shirts and 6 hours later i retire to my abode mostly in shame. that night i have nightmares that the first time I turn the wheel tomorrow the boot will pop back off the steering rack.

epilogue: that boot's goin nowhere. works like a champ. alignment was perfect. tie rod ends are still totally solid with no slop. if any of you subaru owners use a non-OEM steering rack boot i will come to your place of residence and elbow drop you in your sleep.

Cliff Notes: cheap parts can get right the berkeley out.

ScottyB Reader
7/22/15 9:53 a.m.

looks like i've got some catching up to do!

so from back in November last year:

3/17 overall, 2/5 in Prep AWD. my butt dyno is fairly accurate i guess...i figured my 3rd runs were fastest and the time readouts now back that. i think i can gun down 1st in PA next time if i can get the front to dig in.

i don't know why but i always drive like 1st run - total mess 2nd run - back way off 3rd run - i love it when a plan comes together 4th run - overdrive car like idiot

every time!

lots of fun, but boy i am rusty. really didn't feel confident in the car again until my last few runs. fought a total lack of front grip all day on a surface that literally looked like silt on the surface of the moon. so much damn dust. course was pretty fun but had some frustrating corners that highlighted my lack of skill getting the car down into first gear...stupid synchros. brought a buddy who co-drove and had a blast, i think i converted him.

these are my best runs, and by "best" i mean least screwed up...

had a rough time getting the front end to tuck. really liked the first set of corners and the sweepers leading to the last hairpin. never could get the car rotated right coming into the hairpin to the finish. stupid carousel.


much preferred running the course in this direction. flowed better on the infield. got lost in my own dust cloud exiting the stupid carousel. got too Dukes of Hazzard coming off the last banked section, bottomed out real hard on the driver's front and it upset me enough that i just couldn't collect things and slid out into a cone group (you hear it at 1:13) which really sealed 2nd place for me.


next time i'll try some in-car gopro mounting points so you can witness my wacky-waving-inflatable-flailing-arm-tube-man driving style.....and holy crap i've gotta find that trunk squeak and kill it dead.

this was also pretty fun to watch....open diffs and street tires suck but it still hooks up pretty well


ScottyB Reader
7/22/15 9:55 a.m.

well, E36 M3.

over the past month a puddle of gear oil has been getting bigger and bigger under the car and i've started having to top off the tranny every week or so to keep it happy. its dripping from the bellhousing which means its the input shaft seal...not uncommon. prepare for the ultimate "while I'm in there" debacle...

so i've gotta drop the tranny and split the gearbox case to reach the $10 offending seal. but here's the thing, at 125k miles now, if I'm already popping out the input shaft to swap this dumb seal, I might as well also just go ahead and do new input shaft bearings, particularly since these are the bearings that aren't fully bathed in gear oil and and because the input shaft isn't as well supported as the shaft below due to having to reach out over the front diff....so they tend to wear out quicker and are responsible for most 5 speed deaths that don't involve tearing the teeth off the gears from flat-brimmed yo-boi abuse.

i can slide the seal and front bearing off without trouble. the big rear bearing has to be taken off and put on with a press....naturally.

and, because i'm still on the original clutch, and its getting soft, has a bunch of rallyx launches on it, has a lot of shudder on cold mornings now, and is probably full of gear oil....i'm just going to go ahead and replace it. with a better clutch. and a lightweight flywheel. might also upgrade the transmission mounts. because rallycar.

yeah i could probably just do the seal, get an OEM clutch disk, and resurface the stock flywheel. but, i intend to keep pushing the car hard in local rallycrosses and i don't really want to replace it with anything right now as a cheap kid hauler. this thing doesn't really owe me anything so i guess i'll just keep it reliable and more fun when the opportunity allows.

ScottyB Reader
7/23/15 9:11 p.m.

didn't realize what a wall of text this page has been. whoops. here's some dirt pics, back from April.

tough but fun weekend! 11/27 overall, 4/7 in class. not the performance what i wanted (never been out of the top 3 in class) but it was a good day to learn.

anyways. me coming in a little sideways to the hairpin, digging in

i was debating removing my swaybars to increase turn-in but this shot is making me rethink that move. the car is definitely getting weight transfer even though it doesn't feel like it, and i'm going to lose camber and heighten my risk of de-beading a tire if it starts leaning more. likely solution: drive better.

rained the night before and the course went from areas of wet-cement mud to dusty hardpack so every corner was different every single time we ran. in some places the mud was so deep it tried to pull my shoes off. not my first choice for a mud bog vehicle:

i had to try out some new tire pressures in an attempt to find mud traction and was just really inconsistent with my lines all day. i feel like i've forgotten a lot from last season so this was a wake up call and has lit a fire in me a bit. at my best, i was less than 2 seconds off the fastest time of the day which felt good considering my car's prep level and the conditions. at my worst, i literally zoned out in the middle of a run and completely missed a gate which added 10 seconds to my run and destroyed my chances of a class podium. i just never found a line and was really bad in transitions....E36 M3 happens, gotta get 'em next time!


other fun pics...i love showing these to my buddies who think they need a foot of ground clearance and fancy rally bits. get out there and hoon your face off!

miata is the answer, always

see this E36 M3piece? it was purchased for $600, split between two teenagers who race it. both were fast, and one of them beat me. i love it, and salute them.

go ahead and laugh at this barge but don't look at the times. guy took the car his daughter wrecked, taped the door back together, and turned it into a rally car. snows on the front, bald all seasons on the back. destroyed most of the field.

something seems amiss :dunno:

amazingly this teggy left with the front lip and subframes intact

ScottyB Reader
10/31/15 4:14 p.m.

well, time for the fun game of "tolerate the noise until its too annoying to handle"!

the Whiteline front offset strut mounts (above) I'm using have had a history of teething issues, ranging from deteriorating rubber to bearings that click. i thought i made it through my experience as a lucky case of everything working OK especially given the rallycross use. turns out; nope! over the last few months, i've started to get some clicking and popping out of the bearing that's held captive in the mount, specifically the driver's side:


ooooh. no bueno.

thankfully, it tis but a flesh wound and isn't going to blow up or anything...its just a hugely annoying noise and thankfully only happens when the wheel is getting cranked around, like in a parking lot. i wish you could see the faces of all the rich, pretentious housewives in their Navigators and Yukons when i pull up to my son's preschool in my rumbling, poverty-spec econoE36 M3box, covered with mud, front end sounding like its popping apart every time i turn the wheel, with the brake pads screeching like an old train. so charming, i'm surprised nobody's called child services on me yet.

good news! Whiteline knows its a dumb problem, and i'm under my 3 year warranty period on the part by 4 months so they're sending replacements for free.50. i guess i might be retarded for using the same part again but i'm hoping they've improved the mounts in light of the widespread issues. the bigger thing is that frankly, there just doesn't exist a product that can replace the job that these do. i'm also going to use this opportunity to take advantage of getting my new BFG comp-2 A/S's on in a month or so (currently sitting in the tire dealer's garage) ...at which point i'll get an alignment anyway out of principal, so its a perfect time to tear the suspension apart and get it all lined up again.

ScottyB Reader
5/13/16 9:17 a.m.

gave my transmission rabies the other day.

so, the gearbox has been shifting crappier and crappier the last month or two because its overdue for a fluid change. didn't want to dump a lot of $$ on baller fluid, since I intend to rip into the trans sometime in the near future to take care of the input seal when i do the clutch soon. so i snagged some El Cheapo Autozone GL-5 Synthetic for like $4.99/qt to hold me over for 10-15k miles. all the specs checked out, so i thought i scored with a decent short-interval fluid.

yeah, don't do that. this stuff sucks out loud. no discernable improvement in shifting over the old dirty fluid (never had that happen before) and its foaming like crazy no matter how long i let the car sit, even with fluid level perfectly on the "F" mark. i've never had a transmission fluid do that before, even after flogging it on track. i have a feeling part of the shift quality or lack thereof is due to the fluid foaming up when the gears turn, which means poor lubrication for the synchros and what not since air works less well than actual oil :lol:

anyway, not too worried since i've put less than 100 miles on this run of fluid but for the rest of you, don't make a $20 mistake that could cost you a transmission, because i have no doubt running this stuff long term would be a death sentence for the tranny internals.

picked up some valvoline 75W90 synth and we'll see how that does.

ScottyB Reader
5/14/16 9:02 p.m.

well, i dumped the Autozone garbage, filled up with 3 qts Valvoline 75W90LS synth and .7 qts Pennzoil Synchromesh

first time back out, downshifting 4-3-2

felt soooo niiiiice. did the trick for real. any subaru guys with a 5 speed need to hit this.

ScottyB Reader
5/14/16 9:11 p.m.

in other news, while the car was in the air.....

you should have seen the mudslide i cleaned out from the chassis the day before. could have made myself a few pots out of all the GA clay.

rear strut regrease (via zerk fittings), tire rotation, mud flap install.

i've replaced these old Kumho 4X's with BFG Comp-2 A/S. so far i'm in love with the comps and have been riding on them for a while now. i gotta say though...these 4X's put up a good fight for about 35k miles. road trips, rallyx (2 seaons), an HPDE weekend at VIR, and asking them to put up with daily duty across all 4 seasons. that's a pretty good result for doing all that along with almost -2 deg of camber.

scored a sweet deal on some cheap local craigslist Rally Armor flaps from a part-out. here's the thickness difference between the Classic flap (new) and Basic flap (what i've been using). the Basics feel like the strength of construction paper in comparison.

here's the difference in width and coverage on the front mudflaps. nice bump up in function with the Classics, it will help keep the stone hits to a minimum when the wheels are turned at full lock

turns out subarus are self-healing too...tranny isn't leaking anymore. probably because the seal is warm enough that it stays swollen all the time now. it just means i get to put my clutch job off until the heat down here is unbearable, yay.

so in the meantime my tranny has been a little overfilled since i did that as a precaution due to it leaking all the time and not wanting to top off every other day. figured with the car up on stands, why not get it all kosher now? so i unbolted the drain bolt, took a little gear oil out, crawl back out from the car and check....almost no difference in level. back under the car, drain a little more. almost no difference on the dipstick. ok FINE go back under and in getting the bolt just loose enough for some gear oil to flow out in a controlled fashion, i lose my grip on the drain bolt, start to fumble it and in the meantime gear oil starts POURING OUT NO NO PLEASE STAHP NO WAIT WHERES THE BOLT HOW IS IT COMING OUT THIS FAST E36 M3 E36 M3 SHIIIIIIIII and then in a spray of putrid gear oil get the stupid bolt back in. except now the fluid level is almost too low to register on the dipstick. for @!$# sake. and all i have at this hour tonight is about 3 ounces of gear oil leftover in a bottle. FUUUUUUUUUUU.

turns out it was just enough to get me back on "L" on the stick with the car back on level ground, so i can get over to an AdvancedZoneParts in the morning and get a little top off. bah.

thestig99 HalfDork
5/15/16 8:29 a.m.

Nice work!

Interesting to hear some feedback on the 5spd Subaru "trans cocktail". Been meaning to do that to mine for quite a while now.

ScottyB Reader
5/15/16 2:45 p.m.
thestig99 wrote: Nice work! Interesting to hear some feedback on the 5spd Subaru "trans cocktail". Been meaning to do that to mine for quite a while now.

I originally used the Subaru "Extra-S" gear oil product exclusively in my trans. it was a little pricey but worked wonderfully in the 5 speeds.

well, Subaru discontinued it recently and i still wanted to run something synthetic instead of their new "HPGO" gear oil which is touted as a worthy Extra-S successor. but, its formulated quite differently, in ways i didn't personally think were all that great, so i figured now was as good a time as ever to try something else and if it wasn't worth it i'd go back to the HPGO.

after looking over a bunch of reviews and mixtures, including the famous "Uncle Scotty's Cocktail" i decided it would probably be best to keep mixing of brands and weights to a minimum for the sake of unknown variables. i think AndrewTech - a very highly regarded tuner - mentioned the Valvoline/Synchromesh formula so i went with their recommendation. its fairly cheap and very easy to find at your average autoparts store.

so far i'm satisfied. not as good as Extra-S was in the cold, but now that its warm the trans shifts as good as it ever did and i feel confident i could run this oil for a long time with the durability of the synthetic formulation.

ScottyB Reader
4/24/17 8:53 a.m.

I Did A Coolant Flush, or

Oh Damn I Don't Think My Car Is Hydrating Enough This Doesn't Look Healthy

old to flushed out, L/R

so i've been putting this job off for...forever, most because maintenance is boring and i only want to be under the car if it means i get to play with go-fast bits. but in last year's annual triple-digit heat wave here, called "July and August", i figured it might be a good time to get proper coolant in the car and keep everything happy and reliable. its been a while since the last change and didn't want to just do a quick coolant dump and refill, it was time to get all the old stuff out and start fresh. i also grabbed some new OEM bits and a neat tool to complete it all:

• thermostat

• thermostat housing

• thermostat gasket

Lisle Spill-Free funnel, this thing is great

• 2 gallons of Peak Global Lifetime coolant - totally compatible and NO subaru head gasket sealer goop added.

amazingly the stock rubber coolant hoses are still super pliable and crack-less, so i passed on getting new ones.

thankfully subaru puts the thermostat right on the bottom of the block, so instead of draining everything out the radiator petcock at a trickle, i just pulled the thermostat housing and thermostat and let it all dump out in a big waterfall. as it turns out, there is no such thing as a bucket or drip pan large enough to keep you from ending up laying in a small pond of fetid coolant. sort of like being in the Splash Zone at Sea World, but with poisons. but it was hot out, so at least it felt nice.

i refilled the system with about 1-1/2 gals of distilled, burped the hoses, and ran the car with the climate control set to max heat (want to get everything out of the heater core) until the rad fans turned on. then change wet shirt, do an odd job, let the car cool, pull housing and soak myself again. rinse/repeat 3 times, and would have liked to do a few more but when its this freakin hot it takes like 2 hours for the car to cool down enough to drain again, and i just don't have that kinda time. the top pic is the result. the original coolant came out a brownish green mixture and by the end, it was just tinged a little orange.

new stuff went in and burped super easy with no spills thanks to that cool funnel. the Peak product says its "lifetime" so i guess i can forget about it forever, although maybe in a few more years it'll be cheap insurance to do it again.

as with any time i get under the car, something else probably needs some love. found out my passenger valve cover gasket is all goopy, and they seem to go about every 70k so we're about on schedule for a new one. so it goes.

ScottyB Reader
4/24/17 8:58 a.m.

next up:

scored a nice craigslist haul a couple months ago:

• STi steering shaft u-joint

• 2 90A turbo alternators

i've wanted to stumble on a deal for a higher-amp alt from one of the turbo cars for a while so i could comfortably run some auxiliary lighting. stock is 75A and these are plug and play. nabbed these 2 for less than the cost of 1 reman. i'm thinking of running a 20" single or double-row LED bar in the lower radiator opening, or possibly 2 LED foglight units.

below is the difference between a standard WRX/RS steering shaft and an STi "solid" shaft. i have what's on the left which is damped by a big rubbery donut and it dulls steering feel. the STi unit has no give to it, so its a great mod to heighten steering feel and i'm really looking forward to it in conjunction with my upgraded steering rack bushings and hardened tophats.

big install day coming up for all the crap i'm hoarding, just gotta figure out when i feel like shredding my knuckles instead of grilling tasty aminals and drinking beer instead.

ScottyB Reader
4/24/17 9:01 a.m.

an old post from last September, that i forgot to write here. the last year or so has been pretty boring...lots of errand running and suburbia driving that just sucks the life out of you sometimes and makes driving a chore. this was a nice treat. "real home" and family for me is SW Virginia.

went on a long trip from GA last week to handle some business needs up in Staunton VA. decided to stop over in Roanoke at my folks place to split the drive up and it occurred to me that i'm completely stupid. i never realized that its just as fast to take backroads + the blue ridge parkway as it is slugging along up 77 and then 81 whilst dealing with the E36 M3show that is semi trucks pacing each other up the mountains in both lanes. i felt like warden at the end of Shawshank Redemption. how did i miss this?

so i had myself a pretty excellent time getting back to one of my favorite joys in life, which is bombing mostly deserted old appalachian roads deep in hill country. from VA exit 1, 77 at Fancy Gap i climbed up into orchard lands and then north through the hollows and vineyards of the BRP in Floyd county. then jumping off onto 220 just in time to drop down Bent Mountain and down some familiar short streets to the house.

i don't have a whole lot to report other than it was a nice reawakening. i forgot what i bought and built the car for. kind of forgot what the seat bolsters feel like when they're doing their job, and how the steering isn't alive until its really loaded up. it made me remember that feeling of being a kid and sprinting across the yard just because you can, pushing against the ground and the ground pushing back. the exhaust sounding a call into the deep rhododendron thickets and hearing it call back with the riot of a million little bugs and things constantly disappearing past the open window. after hours and hours of interstate it was like being handed the keys to a kingdom.

i reached the first of the route at sunset and almost never saw another car. it was sublime. every flavor of banked, off camber, decreasing radius, gut-drop elevation change, chip-coat to fresh black asphalt. i had the windows down and kept cranking the heat up because i was shaking. it wasn't until i was wiping sweat off my temple that i realized i wasn't shaking because i was cold. when you're away from "home" that long without realizing it, the excitement can just be too much.

it broke my heart to watch those mountains recede in the mirror again when i took the onramp back to the low country of GA to get back to my house at the end of it all. back to the maps for next time.

ScottyB Reader
5/12/17 11:46 a.m.

so to celebrate passing 135k miles this weekend i decided to bask in all the inconvenience of doing headwork on a flat engine and replace the valve cover gaskets that were goopin all over my underparts. they seem to deteriorate every 70k miles or so, so i guess i'm right on schedule with this second replacement. i had a Felpro kit on hand that i've been ignoring for like a year, so with a nice breeze cascading through my boxers and a cold malt beverage in hand i went to it. i was curious to see the valvetrain and how things were looking after the past years of hard use in hot weather with 6-8000 mile oil changes. removal of the intake and battery helped me get at the 5 valve cover bolts per side and everything cracked loose without issue. flat engines require a bit of "pre-cleaning" on the top seal area of the valve cover where all the crud falls onto and lays, so that when you pop the cover off a bunch of sand and dirt doesn't all immediately fall directly into your valvetrain. a toothbrush, simple green, and a wipedown did the trick. inside cover...this is exactly how i pulled it off. i was expecting at least a little gold varnish but none to speak of.

same story inside. not even a golden hue, just an oil sheen.

all good in the hood. long intervals with high quality synthetic continues to look like it should and the detergent packs in those oils seem to do an amazing job at keeping sludge and varnish to a minimum. we'll celebrate the 200k mark with another peek i guess. :thumbup: ------------------------ i'll also tell you guys one thing. Electromotive Contact Cleaner cleans plugs really well. it also BURNS. i was blasting a grody windshield wiper plug "while i was in there" from disconnecting the washer reservior and the spray reflected off a part of the plug and splashed back in my face. somehow i was able to close my eyes in time. responses as follows: • (1 sec) whoops *wipe face* • (3 sec) hmm, tingles, back to work..... • (10 sec) OWOWOWE36 M3MOVEOWE36 M3E36 M3E36 M3AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa had to wash my face for like 5 minutes and it still stung like an hour later. hit me the worst on my eyelid. if i got that right on the eyeball there's no way i wouldn't be seeing an optimologist right now, probably blind. i'll never EVER use that stuff without glasses again.

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