Road Trippin’ in the WRX

Update by Tom Suddard to the Subaru Impreza WRX project car
Sep 19, 2012

We saw some interesting sights on the drive home.
The WRX's front subframe had seen better days, but it wasn't a safety hazard.
Our Subaru sounded like a race car with all the "speed holes" in the exhaust system. Road trips in race cars aren't very much fun.

We put some cheap wiper blades on it, squirted a can of freon into the air conditioning system, and set off for Florida.

Shipping a car is expensive. However, so are tow trucks, repair bills, hospital visits, food and hotels.

Obviously, we faced a dilemma: How do we get our ratty $2012 Subaru WRX from Massachusetts to Florida? Ship it and fly home, or drive it home and risk a very unhappy wife?

Before we even picked up the car, we had the previous owner (who happens to be a GRM reader) take it to one of Tire Rack’s authorized installers for a new set of Kumho ECSTA 4X tires, as the car only came with three tires that held air. For a few hundred bucks, we avoided a huge safety hazard by putting new tires on the car. The car ran and drove decently, but did it really make sense to drive it all the way home?

To help us make that decision, we headed over to AJW Performance, a local shop that specializes in Subaru WRXs. We put the car on the lift and looked it over. We decided that we’d probably make it home safely, albeit with very little in the way of brakes.

The car was in desperate need of new exhaust gaskets and a muffler, but rather than refurbish the current exhaust system, we bolted on a used stock exhaust system that was sitting behind AJW’s shop and left our broken system behind. We also replaced the left front axle with a junkyard piece, as the car needed a new CV joint. To fix a coolant leak, we installed a used upper radiator hose and cap.

The car was nearly ready for the drive after just a few hours of work. We put some cheap wiper blades on it, squirted a can of freon into the air conditioning system, and set off for Florida.

Besides the weak brakes, this was one of the easiest long trips we’ve ever taken in a dilapidated old project car. In 2000 miles, we didn’t use a drop of oil. A bad wheel bearing sang more loudly with each passing mile, but things went smoothly. The WRX was tight, comfortable, quiet, and returned mileage in the mid-20s.

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