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Old 04-03-2013, 05:47 PM   #1
05WRXWill
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Default 5-10k Budget to Blow, Throw Some Knowledge at Me

Ok as the title insinuated I have come across a recent sum of money, of which I desire to inappropriately throw into my liabilities instead of my assets.

First and foremost, I want to increase reliability.

A little bit about myself I recently decided to trade in the old DD (02 Lexus ES300) for a 2005 WRX with around 95k miles on it after several years of drooling and careful consideration. Needless to say I am a very satisfied new member of the Subaru community.



Given my budget what would be a good direction to go?

Currently the car is in solid mechanical condition (as far as I know), I recently upgraded to a high output alternator (160 W from Maniac), in order to support an upgraded sound system of which two amplifiers will be drawing from it. I also recently replaced the battery to add additional strength to the electrical aspect of the vehicle. I mention this because I find it appropriate in regards to these additions affecting long term reliability. I will of course be performing a spark plug/tune up. The tires have plenty of tread.

The Lexus set a solid standard of reliability of which I hope that the Subaru will do the same.

What sort of reliability issues will I encounter in the near future, or what typically happens to Rex's around 95k miles?

What would be an informed decision in regards to the appropriation of funds given the budget that I have set forth?

After reliability concerns are covered, I would enjoy some slight performance enhancements including but not restricted to a turboback exhaust (beefy sounding), BOV (I want the sploosh, don't judge me), Air intake (I live in friggen hot ass TX with a black vehicle) some coilovers which could easily translate to a reliability concern/performance upgrade, as well as a custom dyno tune that I plan on after said reliability issues/performance upgrades are performed.

Optional enhancements I will consider that I have yet to research include:
TMIC.

Are there other areas of improvement that I should consider?

Also what should I anticipate to spend given whatever options you suggest?

Quality>Quantity

Imagine you were me, had an 05 WRX as your DD, and have 5-10k to spend on it.

This thread will serve me in my decision making process and I believe it will serve others with similar concerns.


(9 monkeys since apparently 12 is not allowed)
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Last edited by 05WRXWill; 04-03-2013 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:19 PM   #2
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just buy more dope....best bet

or take the wrx...and the $$$ and trade it on an sti
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:22 PM   #3
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^^ Trade it for an STI, you'd be better off
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:25 PM   #4
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Why should I go for an STI? I'd rather not go through the selling/buying hassle again if I can avoid it.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Because it is a superior vehicle in many many ways. And it is the best bang for your buck upgrade over a 2.0 WRX if you have 5-10K to spend.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:38 PM   #6
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What do you have done to the car now? Do you have a/or reputable tuners local to you for your tune after all your upgrades? Are you performing all the modifications you self? If not, figure in cost for labor.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:52 PM   #7
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My suggestion:

Koni struts in stock housings
Keep stock rear strut tops
Group N front strut tops
used STi springs. If you want to spend on a little more performance, and are okay going a little stiffer, swift spec-r or RCE "regular guy" springs.
TIC fender cowl braces
Whiteline Comfort ALK
Whiteline adjustable 24mm rear sway, set middle.
Rear camber bolts or Whiteline adjustable rear lateral links so you can remove some of the rear camber, which will further help the understeer issues.
Go to a custom alignment shop and get aligned to about -1.5 f / -1.0 rear camber and zero toe
-- this is a bigger deal than you might think. Just the rear lateral links and a performance alignment will change dynamics big time, even without a rear sway. When lowered, you're almost -2 in the rear, which makes it grip hard. Pull some out and add some to the front and everything is more neutral. Tire wear is offset through rotating. You get inside wear in the front and outside wear in the rear.

Those suspension upgrades make for a quality DD ride and great performance. Do not consider coilovers if you value ride quality or wish to spend less than $2500+ on strut & spring. Konis are THE quality option, dspecs are only a small step down, and easier to install since you don't need to hack up the stock strut housings. I love my Konis and it's well worth the extra work, IMO.


17x8 wheels and 235/40/17 tires OR 16x7 wheels and 225/45/16
-- these are tire sizes to get in order to change the final drive. There are no good 18" tire sizes for this. The final drive ratio change makes the car much more fun. Yes this small a change in final drive is noticeable.
-- 16x7 is the cheaper route for both wheels and tires, but people love their big wheels. There's not a lot of tire selection in 225/45/16, you have to commit to a summer tire, but sounds like you live somewhere this isn't an issue.


Engine:
Uppipe
downpipe
catback
tune
(if leftover money) lightweight crank pulley

Save TMIC for bigger turbo, not really necessary for stock turbo. Keep an eye on the local classifieds / craigslist for a used STi intercooler and if you find a good deal, pick it up. The sti style y-pipe will give small gains vs. the ribbed wrx y-pipe, but it's not huge, wait for a good deal.

That would be roughly $3-4k on suspension, wheels and tires and $1500-2k on exhaust & tune depending on brand and such of the exhaust pieces.

As mentioned, smaller diameter wheels / tires are big part of bumping up the engine performance. That list is pretty much all the bang for the buck 2.0L mods. Beyond that you're looking at braces to further stiffen the chassis, and/or the next turbo size up. If you're thinking anything bigger than that small turbo upgrade, then cut your losses, sell the WRX and get an STi or Evo, the Subaru 2.0L doesn't want to be pushed that hard without replacing everything... like EVERYTHING. I figured this out too late, I was in too deep already and there weren't Evos or STi's when I bought my WRX. There were Miatas and Civics and Mustangs and Z28s.

Last edited by Concillian; 04-03-2013 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:28 PM   #8
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the best way to increase your reliability is to save your money. when you start throwing parts at your car to "make it better," that's when **** starts to break.




and yes obviously parts wear out after so much time and so many miles... save your money so you can afford the repairs. i can't tell you how many times I've seen people with these 10k budgets spend all of it and then come on here asking what they should do because they can't afford a new engine
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:29 PM   #9
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Want reliability? Don't mod the car.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HinshawWRX View Post
Want reliability? Don't mod the car.
like i said....take wrx + $$$ and get sti

or coke and hookers....would be better for the OP anyway.....last longer...better pics
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:57 PM   #11
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You have scheduled maintenance coming your way at a little over 100,000 miles, open the owners manual. Timing belt kit, plugs, etc. Just get the service up to date and replace worn out parts, spend on quality oem parts or better when possible. A stage 2 setup is fun and fuel efficient, properly done it is rock solid reliable. I have an 05 Saabarex on stage 2 with 147,000 miles, 142,000 on stage 2 level performance. Preventive maintenance and not abusing your car is the key to reliability.

Last edited by D-Rodman; 04-03-2013 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:16 PM   #12
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get an sti. you always run the risk of fawking up the transmission. wrx tranmissions have ****ty shift forks and second gears. a sti trans upgrade will easily run you 4k dollars and your left with a ej20 engine. a ej257 has tons more low end torque and if you sell and buy a 05 sti you will have more power w/o having to do a bunch of bolt on mods. a simple tune and it can make 290whp on pump which is about a 50whp upgrade over the stock tune. good for lower classes in autox and will challenge 99% of the cars on the street. if your budget was 2k i might start mentioning go fast parts but with your budget your much better off selling the car and buying an sti. even if it means buyign a 1k dollar car to drive around whileyou shop for the right sti.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty View Post
like i said....take wrx + $$$ and get sti

or coke and hookers....would be better for the OP anyway.....last longer...better pics
Im with scotty... or buy my civic hybrid and get 40mpgs

Going past stage 2ish on a wrx never really seemed to make much sense imo. You'll be paying up for the 6 speed swap in no time.
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:25 AM   #14
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How about throwing money at it after the initial 10 k. The reason I say is that a transmission upgrade would be first priority,. 5x114.5 has some good pros. And so do 5x 110. I spend 7 k on a 07 swap and it was worth every penny. I had better struts wheels diffs and more. Then I have tic bushings... All of them. Then really it's the engine. A turbo, tactrix cable and dp with supporting mods are a huge improvement. But the reason ask if ur willing to throw more money at it, then you might consider an engine build when the stock one blows in a few years. (it shouldn't if you have a good tune with good oil and some luck). I hope that made sense. I'm tired and on the crapper.
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:11 AM   #15
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This is some solid input, a little about my driving style, I try to drive it like a grandpa, but I get those primal urges every now and then of which I still try to be mindful of the flimsy transmission. I recall reading through the forum and hearing a lot of complaints about the tolerance levels of the transmission which definitely has me worried.

Perusing the local auto market in Houston I've found only 2 STI's of which I would consider purchasing though I would be worried about the abuse they may have already endured. An engine rebuild may also be a serious consideration on my end as well though I have yet to see any noticeable signs of imminent failure. Once again I emphasize that reliability is the first concern, the performance upgrades I mentioned would be the extent of what I'd like to modify (suspension, turboback exhaust, Accessport, BOV, AWD Tune at a local reputable shop). I'm not looking to take this car to the track or do any autocross since it is my DD (looking for around 300hp).

I will definitely look into researching Koni suspension after reading the previous post.

I will look into the possibility of purchasing a STI, though I'm still quite skeptical. Insurance premiums will raise and MPG will diminish further I'm assuming

I'm leaning more towards keeping what I have so I suppose I should get a bit more specific, Should I have the transmission rebuilt, or should I replace it?

Are their other parts that are common oem structural failures on WRX's that I should anticipate moving forward?

If these issues in regards to reliability are the worst of what to expect then I suppose the performance upgrades should be considered.

Specifically what would be a good suspension system to look into, I want to get multiple perspectives and see if there is a tendency/consensus among owners. Thanks again for the suspension advice, I will look into dialing in the specs given the previous information in regards to stance. (Koni, H&R, Tein, RCE, APS

What turboback exhaust kits should I look into? I want a low pitch rumble, and reliability that will won't goof anything up. (Borla, Greddy, HKS, Invidia, others?)

BOV: Which ones aren't prone to getting stuck/leaks/failure? I'm sure the stock recirculating one is probably worn down a bit.

I will stick with the stock intercooler as I don't feel the need to upgrade the turbo.


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Old 04-04-2013, 09:15 AM   #16
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Get a complete Jdm version 9 spec c sti swap, engine, transmission, axles, hubs, brakes, struts, rear dif, ecu, etc. Spec c so the ecu is not immobilized, you'll have reliable 300hp and all your money spent. Check out the ej207 info thread and the ej207 owners thread.
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:28 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 05WRXWill View Post
This is some solid input, a little about my driving style, I try to drive it like a grandpa, but I get those primal urges every now and then of which I still try to be mindful of the flimsy transmission. I recall reading through the forum and hearing a lot of complaints about the tolerance levels of the transmission which definitely has me worried.

Perusing the local auto market in Houston I've found only 2 STI's of which I would consider purchasing though I would be worried about the abuse they may have already endured. An engine rebuild may also be a serious consideration on my end as well though I have yet to see any noticeable signs of imminent failure. Once again I emphasize that reliability is the first concern, the performance upgrades I mentioned would be the extent of what I'd like to modify (suspension, turboback exhaust, Accessport, BOV, AWD Tune at a local reputable shop). I'm not looking to take this car to the track or do any autocross since it is my DD (looking for around 300hp).

I will definitely look into researching Koni suspension after reading the previous post.

I will look into the possibility of purchasing a STI, though I'm still quite skeptical. Insurance premiums will raise and MPG will diminish further I'm assuming

I'm leaning more towards keeping what I have so I suppose I should get a bit more specific, Should I have the transmission rebuilt, or should I replace it?

Are their other parts that are common oem structural failures on WRX's that I should anticipate moving forward?

If these issues in regards to reliability are the worst of what to expect then I suppose the performance upgrades should be considered.

Specifically what would be a good suspension system to look into, I want to get multiple perspectives and see if there is a tendency/consensus among owners. Thanks again for the suspension advice, I will look into dialing in the specs given the previous information in regards to stance. (Koni, H&R, Tein, RCE, APS

What turboback exhaust kits should I look into? I want a low pitch rumble, and reliability that will won't goof anything up. (Borla, Greddy, HKS, Invidia, others?)

BOV: Which ones aren't prone to getting stuck/leaks/failure? I'm sure the stock recirculating one is probably worn down a bit.

I will stick with the stock intercooler as I don't feel the need to upgrade the turbo.



1. leave it stock

2. spent cash other places (i.e. not the car)

3. Source used parts and your cash will go farther

4. Motor build is easily going to cost depending on parts, low end with in house labor $4 - $5k, outsourcing labor $6k to maybe 8K. Parts are easy, labor is not

5. I like the idea of v9 swap, but this is going to be a used motor; take that into consideration. Full v9 swap would cost, parts alone i have seen them at around $7K on skid.

6. The last thing you want to do is build the motor for "reliability" , then upgrade the turbo to run toddler boost.

7. Be patient, look around for someone who has to move parts asap and get them on the low.

8. Explore 2.1 stroker option
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:32 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty View Post
like i said....take wrx + $$$ and get sti

or coke and hookers....would be better for the OP anyway.....last longer...better pics

I do not know of anyone that was able to ration coke or hookers
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:11 AM   #19
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My wife had an 03 ES330. Totally different cars. Lexus is reliable because people don't really modify them. Listen to Concillian and do the suspension stuff. Your dampers are probably shot by now. Use a good oil and if the car is indeed stock it will last you for many more miles. Of course stick to the maintenance intervals and use the proper fluids.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:08 PM   #20
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I don't know why ur afraid of an abused sti. It's the same thing as an abused wrx. Things like mpg and other stuff are irrelevant. I can tell you now that I get 15 ish mpg average with city and highway. My friends stock sti still gets better mpg. I'm saying find yourself with a limit. Stage 2 wrx or else you will have a wrx with sti guts in and out like me. It's cool but much work.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:28 PM   #21
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"Typical hookers and blow comment"

Just kidding.

For the 5-10k, you are actually better off getting an STI. You'll increase HP by 70hp and have a better transmission, brakes, (and other things).

If you are going to keep the car, do the timing belt and all 100k maintenance. Get a turboback of your choice (any downpipe + nice sounding catback). Stage 2 OTS tune for now. $2000ish between that stuff, including the timing belt change.

Upgrade the suspension and brakes. Rear swaybar, struts and springs, pads and rotors. $1000 total.

New tires for $500-1000, depending on selection and if you want new wheels... some more $$$ for that. $1500 tops.

You're looking at for $4500, you can have a reliable daily driver that's decently aggressive for the street. All of the parts can be installed yourself too.

... I do see your point with not wanting to upgrade to the STI. Used WRX/STI that are in good shape are hard to come by. If you have a good one, sometimes it's better to keep it.
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:50 PM   #22
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spend 5-6 grand on a new ej25 setup. Even an oem shortblock from subaru will work fine and you have good flowing heads. get them checked. Then youll knock out your upcoming maintenance of waterpump/timing belt ect. youll be flushing the coolant. Replace with a almost stock clutch (to keep from blowing up your trans). maybe a VF39 and a tune. front mount can be had for like 500 bucks off ebay (they work fine) and can add a good amount of power over a top mount if tuned properly.

Dont waste money on a 3 port ebcs, header, intake, intake inlet, stuff like that. OEM is all just fine.

Thats what id do if i have a 95k mile 2 liter wrx and 5-10 grand. I make it a zero mile 2.5liter Hybrid on the Conservative side.
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:10 PM   #23
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Honestly, best thing to do if he wants to save time(which is money) and increase reliability is to just sell and get an STI with the extra cash IMO.
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 05WRXWill View Post
An engine rebuild may also be a serious consideration on my end as well though I have yet to see any noticeable signs of imminent failure.
At the HP levels you're discussing, an OEM block, either 2.0L or 2.5L is your best bet here. Run it until it fails, then get a new block and valve job. If going 2.5L then also machine the heads to enlarge the chambers.

Quote:
I'm not looking to take this car to the track or do any autocross since it is my DD (looking for around 300hp).
300 HP requires a turbo upgrade. You're looking for around 220ish (pump gas) to 250ish (E85) on the stock turbo.

Quote:
I'm leaning more towards keeping what I have so I suppose I should get a bit more specific, Should I have the transmission rebuilt, or should I replace it?
At your power level, the transmission is fine if you drive it right. You don't need to baby it, just don't abuse it with clutch dumps and such and it will be fine.

Quote:
Are their other parts that are common oem structural failures on WRX's that I should anticipate moving forward?
Heat around the turbo area causes valve cover leaks on that side. CV joints and wheel bearings also tend to wear out over there first. Vacuum hoses and breather hoses over there tend to get brittle and crack. Etc...

Coilpacks sometimes go... power steering pumps eventually, but they can be rebuilt for cheap if you're handy. Radiator is a pretty common failure. That's all I can think off the top of my head.

Quote:
Specifically what would be a good suspension system to look into, I want to get multiple perspectives and see if there is a tendency/consensus among owners. Thanks again for the suspension advice, I will look into dialing in the specs given the previous information in regards to stance. (Koni, H&R, Tein, RCE, APS
Koni or D-spec struts IMO. I already gave my spring advice. STi used springs or swift / RCE black for a little more stiffness. STi springs are signficantly stiffer than stock.

Quote:
What turboback exhaust kits should I look into? I want a low pitch rumble, and reliability that will won't goof anything up. (Borla, Greddy, HKS, Invidia, others?)
Find a meet in your area and listen to other's exhausts. You sound like a mellow guy who doesn't want an obtrusive exhaust... Maddad whisper, Greddy Evo2 and Borla Hush are not too loud, flow well and deepen the tone. Exhaust brand choices will not affect reliability just a pipe. Just get a tune, as you said that was the plan.

You DO want an uppipe for reliability. The cat in the stock uppipe tends to fail and send pieces into the exhaust if you don't replace it with a catless one. Cat in an aftermarket downpipe doesn't really matter for performance at your HP levels. It's purely whether you feel like being environmentally responsible.
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:55 PM   #25
mod maniac
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If you don't want MORE POWER and drive like a grandma leave it alone, What good is an upgrade to you? Tint the windows, add more sterio equipment, do some trashy paint work, do some interior work, how about spinners?
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