Jun 9, 2011 update to the Subaru WRX project car

Studly Subaru

The ARP wheel studs aren't a show part, but they certainly look tough.
ARP sells a replacement package for the WRX. You'll need one package per corner.
Tough hubs and studs are important. Have you ever seen <i>Spartacus</i>?

Despite the track-ready performance of the early-model WRX, there are some stock components that aren’t quite up to snuff.

Our Subaru WRX has been working really well as a daily driver, but we can’t have a thoroughbred like this living a life of ease for too long. After reflecting on a goal for our all-wheel wonder, we decided to keep it simple and enjoy using it as a track tool. Sure, it’s not a grand goal, but it’s one of the things a Subaru is great at. Grip at all four corners and benign handling characteristics also makes our Subaru a fantastic learning platform.

Despite the track-ready performance of the early-model WRX, there are some stock components that aren’t quite up to snuff. Case in point—lots of carry-over parts from lesser Impreza models are easily overwhelmed when faced with the relatively high horsepower and g-loads of a WRX on track. After our last session at the Ocala Grand Prix, we noticed a stripped wheel stud at the front of our car. Luckily, we were able to nurse the Subaru home with four lug nuts and some good karma.

It only makes sense to replace the wheel studs as a set, and since we were doing one side we might as well do the other. Disassembling the car down to the point where the hub can be removed and the studs pressed out is a pain, so we went with a stronger, more durable replacement stud from ARP. These are the same studs used on ridiculously powerful race cars around the world and should serve us well through thousands of wheel changes, torque applications and heat cycles. Barring genuine abuse, we should never have to worry about them again.

We considered changing the wheel hubs as well, since they’re a common failure point on track-driven Subarus. It’s a common enough problem that Subaru beefed up the hubs and bearings on the STI models after 2005, and the aftermarket offers many one-stop solutions for racers and track day enthusiasts. The only problem: They’re bloody expensive at just over $500 bucks for a pair of heavy-duty hubs for just the front wheels. Despite the damaged wheel studs, our hubs and bearings looked and felt fine. So, we decided to hold off on upgrades here until we really need them. (They’ll be on our list for Santa as well.)

With the new studs in place, we’re ready to head back to the track. For now, we’re enjoying the car both on and off the track—just as the sales brochures and video games promised—but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

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Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
6/9/11 9:27 a.m.

Our Subaru WRX has been working really well as a daily driver, but we can't have a thoroughbred like this living a life of ease for too long. After reflecting on a goal for our all-wheel wonder, we decided to keep it simple and enjoy using it as a track tool. Sure, it's not a grand goal, but it's one of the things a Subaru is great at. Grip at all four corners and benign handling characteristics also makes our Subaru a fantastic learning platform.

Despite the track-ready performance of the early-model WRX, there are some stock components that aren't quite up to snuff. Case in point—lots of carry-over parts from lesser Impreza models are easily overwhelmed when faced with the relatively high horsepower and g-loads of a WRX on track. After our last session at the Ocala Grand Prix, we noticed a stripped wheel stud at the front of our car. Luckily, we were able to nurse the Subaru home with four lug nuts and some good karma.

It only makes sense to replace the wheel studs as a set, and since we were doing one side we might as well do the other. Disassembling the car down to the point where the hub can be removed and the studs pressed out is a pain, so we went with a stronger, more durable replacement stud from ARP. These are the same studs used on ridiculously powerful race cars around the world and should serve us well through thousands of wheel changes, torque applications and heat cycles. Barring genuine abuse, we should never have to worry about them again.

We considered changing the wheel hubs as well, since they're a common failure point on track-driven Subarus. It's a common enough problem that Subaru beefed up the hubs and bearings on the STI models after 2005, and the aftermarket offers many one-stop solutions for racers and track day enthusiasts. The only problem: They're bloody expensive at just over $500 bucks for a pair of heavy-duty hubs for just the front wheels. Despite the damaged wheel studs, our hubs and bearings looked and felt fine. So, we decided to hold off on upgrades here until we really need them. (They'll be on our list for Santa as well.)

With the new studs in place, we're ready to head back to the track. For now, we're enjoying the car both on and off the track—just as the sales brochures and video games promised—but there's a lot of room for improvement.

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