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Old 12-28-2006, 02:11 PM   #1
beaviscih
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Post 4EAT Valve Body Removal / Mod / Install

2002 WRX Valve Body Removal / Modification / Installation

As a newbie, this is my first post to NASIOC. I have been a NASIOC member for less than a year, but in that time have gained valuable knowledge from the posts, comments and threads contributed by the members and moderators of this forum. Hopefully you will find this post useful – many thanks to NASIOC.

I decided to upgrade my 4EAT AT valve body (VB) after the following modifications were made.

1. Cobb up pipe
2. Cobb down pipe and cat back exhaust
3. STI pink injectors
4. Walbro fuel pump
5. VF34 turbo & Cobb Access Port VF34 stock tune
6. Utec ECU controller
7. Autometer gauge cluster (boost, oil pressure and EGT (probe off third cylinder))
8. SMC denatured alcohol injection system
9. Dyno tunes (base w/o alcohol and alcohol injection) 93 octane gas

A few friends and I installed mods 1-5 with much support from NASIOC posts & threads. Mods 6-9 were made by Engine Logics (Houston, Texas).

While the aforementioned mods made significant changes to the car, I soon found that the transmission needed attention as the 4EAT shifts were not as crisp as I would like; I was hitting the rev limiter from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd gears. Before the switching to the Utec and having the car dyno tuned I was running Cobb Access Port stock tunes. The shifting issues did not arise until after the dyno tunes. The main reason for this is the custom tune by Engine Logics. The folks at Engine Logics spent several hours dialing in the A/F ratio, boost and timing and did not stop until he had it right. The end results were two tunes that maximized the modifications made to the car but also highlighted a weak point – the inability to adjust the 4EAT shift points.

Unfortunately I was not able to dyno the car with the Cobb VF34 / 93 Octane tune before switching to the Utec so my torque and hp numbers were unknown. After the work by Engine Logics, there was clear performance difference compared to the Access Port stock tune (based on feel alone). According to Engine Logics dyno runs (with alcohol) the car is producing 285 ft-lbs of torque at ~2.7k rpm and 233 whp at ~ 5k rpm. I was expecting more hp at the wheels, but not expecting the torque to be near 285. Overall, I was very satisfied with the alcohol / Utec / dyno tune mods made by Engine Logics; now I had to address the transmission issue.

Since the 4EAT shifts were not as crisp as I would like, a friend suggested I upgrade the VB. Based on his experience this would help shifts (not shift points) be crisp and reduce wear and tear on the clutch pacs. Since I could not change the AT shift points, this sounded like a logical next upgrade.

After much research on NASIOC we decided this was the right move. While I could not find a VB removal how-to thread, we felt comfortable removing the VB ourselves after reviewing the WRX shop manual and the fact we did many of the existing mods ourselves.

Removal took approximately 3 hours (we took our time). The VB was shipped to IPT (Wayne, New Jersey) for the necessary upgrades. Install and transmission fluid fill was also about 3 hours.

VB Removal:

Tools Used: (10mm and 17mm wrench/socket, screwdriver, drain pans (several), sorbent pads (for ATF spills), oil dry).

The shop manual covers everything you need to remove/install the VB with a few exceptions.




We put the car on jack stands / ramps and placed the switch lever in park and drained the ATF from the plug. After drain plug removal we were left with approximately 6qts of ATF. Once the fluid was drained you should see solenoid wires through the drain plug opening. Note: make sure you have several drain pans. Total fluid drained was approximately 8qts. not counting what missed the pans.



We then started removing bolts from transmission pan. I suggest you start on the drain plug side and work towards the passenger side of the car. This will allow residual fluid to drain from the plug opening as the pan is lowered. The WRX is not equipped with an OEM pan gasket. Instead Subaru decided to use Three Bond 1217B gasket material (similar to Permatex). You will have to pry the pan from the adjoining flange. Be careful not to damage the flange or the pan surface. We used a narrow, thin, flat head screwdriver (very carefully) to break the seal and use our fingers pry the pan from the transmission flange.

Once the fluid was drained from the pan, we removed the remaining bolts and dropped the pan. At this point the VB will be fully exposed. Disconnect solenoid connectors carefully. Wires connected to the solenoids are color coded and match connectors (or at least pretty close…the yellow wire was connected to a beige connector…otherwise it is straight forward). Each solenoid connector / wire color is outlined in the shop manual.




Next step – begin removing VB bolts. Note that there are two different size bolts (long and short). The shop manual outlines the lengths of each bolt by location. This held true for all but one bolt (the manual shows a short bolt where it is actually a long bolt). There are 13 bolts that hold the VB in place. We did not remove the internal filter – it was left attached to the VB and changed by IPT at my request.

Exercise caution when removing the VB bolts. We removed all but 4 bolts to prepare for lowering the VB. While the VB only weights ~13 lbs, it is awkward to hold while removing the remaining bolts and is slicker than owl snot.

Note: Get ready for more ATF! Once you are down to two bolts there may be a rush of ATF that is contained in the VB (approximately 1.5-2qts). This caught us by surprise… make sure you have your drain pan ready or you will have ATF everywhere.

While this job could probably be done by one person, it helps to have an extra set of hands (one to hold the VB and the other to remove remaining bolts).

Note: There is a small VB piston that is attached to the shift lever mechanism. The shop manual does not mention anything about this piston. At first glance I thought we were in trouble. As it turns out, simply twist the piston off the connection housing while removing the VB. It will be obvious which direction the turn the piston to remove it from the connection mechanism. The piston fits into a small cylinder on the VB. Leave the piston in place until you remove the VB.



Once the VB was removed, it was placed on sorbent pads to allow residual ATF to drain. While this is draining, we removed the pan gasket magnet and cleaned the pan (remove residual gasket material). Note – I placed the pan face down in a large container and soaked it with methyl-ethyl-ketone (MEK) for several hours. I put just enough MEK in the container to cover the pan bolt holes. While the MEK removed most of the Three Bond 1217B gasket material, it also removed the paint (not surprising given MEK is a strong solvent). If you use MEK, do so in a well ventilated area.




I used very fine steel wool to remove the gasket material from the transmission. A dish scouring pad will also work. Just be careful not to damage the surface.

Shipment to IPT: It took a few hours to drain the VB sufficient enough to package for shipment to IPT. Note – make sure you clean the VB and drain as much ATF as possible before shipping. If you don’t you could risk a call from Fed-X, UPS, etc. wanting to know what hazardous materials you shipped and did not disclose to them before packaging.

I’m a little anal, so I packaged the VB as if it was going to war. Given the cost of replacement, I didn’t want to take a chance.

VB Install:
Tools Used: (10mm and 17mm sockets, torque wrench (low range, less than 10 ft-lbs), ATF fluid and a funnel with a long tube).

After unpacking the VB shipped from IPT, we inspected for visible damage. Changes to the VB will not be apparent as the modifications were made inside the VB itself. The outside looked just like it did before shipment (except the filter was changed the VB was clean).

According to the shop manual place the switch selector in neutral. There is no explanation for this so I’m guessing this is how the transmission calibrates itself after disconnecting / reconnecting the solenoids.

We inserted 4 bolts on opposite ends of the VB (just enough thread to hold the VB in place). Once the VB was supported by these bolts we inserted the remaining bolts (finger tight and same amount of thread as the initial 4 bolts). After all bolts were in the VB we tightened by hand, bolts were tightened to the specified torque number outlined in the manual. Torque sequence is not specified in the manual, so we used an alternating format.

After all VB bolts were tight, we reconnected the wires to the respective solenoid connectors. You should hear a “click” when the wire is fully inserted into the connector.



Attaching the trans pan was made easy by IPT as they supply a custom trans pan gasket with the VB rebuild. Use of Three Bond 1217B gasket material is not required. As with the VB we inserted 4 bolts to hold the pan in place and then inserted the remaining bolts and followed the VB install sequence.

Once all pan bolts were finger tight, we completed by tightening to the specified torque value outlined in the shop manual. We decided to go about 2 N-m more than the shop manual torque spec since we were using a cork gasket versus the 1217B gasket material. As long as you are consistent with your torque numbers and tightening pattern, you should be fine – just don’t over tighten the bolts.

Next step was to install ATF. I elected to go back with OEM ATF since I did not drain the torque converter. Eventually I will switch to synthetic ATF… but did not want to make the change during this mod.

We filled 6qts. and checked the level. The level showed full (on the cold range of the dip stick). We started the engine and ran for about 2-3 minutes to allow fluid to fill the VB. We checked the level again and it showed below low (cold range of the dip stick). We then added another 2qts.and checked the level again. This time the level was within range (cold range of the dip stick).

While the car was on ramps, we started the engine and shifted the gears through the full range to make sure drive was drive, reverse was reverse, etc. Next step – test drive!

We allowed the engine and transmission to warm up to normal operating levels by driving at low speeds before taking putting the car through its paces. Fortunately there are several long, uninhabited roads where we could open the car up and see how the new VB worked. All I can say is what a difference! The VB modification made a huge improvement. While the shift points did not change, I did not hit one rev limit and when the transmission shifted it was very quick and noticeable.

We returned to the garage and checked the fluid level and possible leaks. Fluid was on the low range (hot range of dip stick), but ok and no leaks! I opted not to add fluid and drive a while before adding fluid – which I eventually did (about 2 cups).

IPT did a great job on the VB which is allowing the work done by Engine Logics to really pay off.
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Last edited by beaviscih; 10-16-2008 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Changed photo links.
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Old 12-28-2006, 04:51 PM   #2
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IPT does great work...i'm loving my VB! Good write up...mine would have been...1)send car to Subaru Mechanic buddy, 2)wait for phone call saying complete
p.s. i vote sticky
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:54 PM   #3
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Terribly nice write up. I don't have a 4EAT, but I thank you for your wonderful contribution!
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:14 PM   #4
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Great write up! Sounds like a mod I would absolutely like to add sometime in the future. Now we just need a sticky worthy TC upgrade write up...
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:35 PM   #5
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great write up. very detailed. we need one for the tc too.
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:38 PM   #6
Master2192
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Nice Job!

I went a different route and instead of upgrading the tranny tuned the ECU to cut boost and ignition timing before the shift to alleviate shock on the transmission. It ends up shifting alot smoother (feels quicker) but performance is cut back since you don't have full boost immediately after the shift (but boost is back up to full within a 1/2 second according to my logs). Not as fast, but the transmission will last much longer which is good since its a daily driver.

Awesome writeup, this is one of the few things this website was missing. I may use it in the future if I decide to change the VB.
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Old 12-28-2006, 08:33 PM   #7
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I agree with the praise and vote beaviscih whose member number makes my nose bleed as n00b poster of the decade!
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Old 01-07-2007, 07:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master2192 View Post
Nice Job!

I went a different route and instead of upgrading the tranny tuned the ECU to cut boost and ignition timing before the shift to alleviate shock on the transmission.
You're not necessarily doing your transmission any favors. Subie noobie, but no noob to Automatic Transmissions here.

When you decrease load on an automatic transmission just before a shift point, you decrease the line pressure going to the clutches, thereby allowing "smoother" but mushier shifts. While this may feel smoother, what is likely to happen is that you will allow the clutch packs to slip between shifts. This can be especially troublesome in a car that can hit high boost pretty quickly after the shift is complete. In the long run, you will most likely wear out your clutch packs prematurely, unless you baby the car all the time and never hit boost after a shift. To get a proper WOT shift for high performance, you have to properly communicate that to the transmission by maintaining WOT. If by some chance the 4EAT in WRX's avoid decreased line pressure and hence slippage when engine load decreases, or if the ECU tweaks are much more sophisticated than I imagine, then by all means correct me, and let me know how you've accomplished this feat.

Valve body mods are a must when you have power mods to a car with an Automatic transmission, because it allows the transmission to maintain higher than stock line pressures on the clutch packs during shifts, so that the clutches don't slip. A trans cooler is also a must. A high stall torque converter is a must for cars that go to the drag strip, if only because of the tremendous difference it will make in performance at launch. However, if the car is not to be drag raced, then you should probably avoid the high stall torque converter, because it increases the temperature of the transmission. There are plenty more mods that can be done to automatic transmissions to increase performance, durability, firm up shifts, and lower the temps. (hardened parts, more clutches, better clutch friction materials, higher flow pump, etc.)
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Old 01-07-2007, 07:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master2192 View Post
Nice Job!

I went a different route and instead of upgrading the tranny tuned the ECU to cut boost and ignition timing before the shift to alleviate shock on the transmission.
You're not necessarily doing your transmission any favors. Subie noobie, but no noob to Automatic Transmissions here.

When you decrease load on an automatic transmission just before a shift point, you decrease the line pressure going to the clutches, thereby allowing "smoother" but mushier shifts. While this may feel smoother, what is likely to happen is that you will allow the clutch packs to slip between shifts. This can be especially troublesome in a car that can hit high boost pretty quickly after the shift is complete. In the long run, you will most likely wear out your clutch packs prematurely, unless you baby the car all the time and never hit boost after a shift. To get a proper WOT shift for high performance, you have to properly communicate that to the transmission by maintaining WOT. If by some chance the 4EAT in WRX's avoid decreased line pressure and hence slippage when engine load decreases, or if the ECU tweaks are much more sophisticated than I imagine, then by all means correct me, and let me know how you've accomplished this feat.

Valve body mods are a must when you have power mods to a car with an Automatic transmission, because it allows the transmission to maintain higher than stock line pressures on the clutch packs during shifts, so that the clutches don't slip. A trans cooler is also a must. A high stall torque converter is a must for cars that go to the drag strip, if only because of the tremendous difference it will make in performance at launch. However, if the car is not to be drag raced, then you should probably avoid the high stall torque converter, because it increases the temperature of the transmission. There are plenty more mods that can be done to automatic transmissions to increase performance, durability, firm up shifts, and lower the temps. (hardened parts, more clutches, better clutch friction materials, higher flow pump, etc.)
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Old 01-07-2007, 07:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master2192 View Post
Nice Job!

performance is cut back since you don't have full boost immediately after the shift
A bit more sophisticated than I was envisioning, but I still think it's loads better to do the VB mod.

How does the Subaru 4EAT determine the proper line pressure? If it's via TPS (throttle position switch) exclusively, then as long as you have it floored the transmission should hold high line pressure. However, if it determines it using some ECU parameter that you've tuned down, like boost, it may lower the line pressure causing mushy shifts. Is there any way to electronically trick the trans in order to raise line pressure or maintain high line pressure even though the engine load has decreased?

Last edited by ScaabyDaabyDaa; 01-07-2007 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 07-06-2008, 05:29 PM   #11
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WHAT SUBARU MEANT TO SAY WHEN THEY SAID BUT THE CAR IN "N":

I did this mod too in my garage and I found out the hard way what the Subaru manual means by putting the car in "N" or neutral. What they really meant to say was line up the shifter rod. I did the re-install the first time around and when you put the car back on the ground and fill it up every gear (including park) is a forward gear because the shifter rod is not connected. You may have lucked out and had it line up, (or it may be common sense to a person who has had auto-tech training) I however did not have this luck or common sense that the Subaru manual thinks I should have. Therefore, I just had to remove the pan again, get a free transmission fluid bath, and loosen all the bolts until the valve body drops down far enough to put the shift rod over the shifter mechanism.

If you cannot figure out where it attached, have someone sit in the car and shift the transmission. It is located on the passenger side of the valve body and the part that moves is what you attach it to. I luckily took lots of pics so you would know what I am trying to say.

Here you can see the cut out part that fits around the circle


And here is it lined up, then you just tighten it and it will be snug around the circle.


The I recommend having someone shift the car for you while you watch underneath and make sure that the shifter moves and pulls the shifter rod with it.

If someone knows the more technical names for anything I described please tell me because I am bad with naming stuff I more of less just call them the shifter thinggys that line up around the what-chu-ma-call-it. Girl talk..you know.

I did this all on the floor of my garage while laying on my back and the only time I needed a second pair of hands is when there are no blots in it when removing it and puting it back in, but then again I am a female and lack manly-muscles. So, If I can do it, just about any one who follows directions can do it.

Best of luck to all that try it. It's a really simple straight forward mod. and IPT is great. They kept telling me to make sure I lined up the shifter but I thought it was a clip I guess LOL. Now I know.

-Sarah

PS. Another must is goggles or glasses. They saved me from getting trans fluid in my eyes. I did have it just about everywhere else though.

Last edited by MarioLV777; 07-06-2008 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 07-06-2008, 05:54 PM   #12
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Great write up. Just perfect
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Old 10-06-2009, 01:43 AM   #13
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hello great info and wondering this can be done in an impreza 2009 n/a? will this reduce the time that it takes to acelerate 0-60 mph?
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PANTERAPUNCH View Post
hello great info and wondering this can be done in an impreza 2009 n/a? will this reduce the time that it takes to acelerate 0-60 mph?
It only firms and reduces the delay in shifts and as I understand it it doesn't change the shift schedule. You would need to call IPT to see if they can work with the 09 trans. You will pick up some 0-60 due to the faster, firmer shifting, but might not be a good choice as a first mod.
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:47 AM   #15
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Nice to see some cool auto write up.
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Old 10-24-2009, 12:30 AM   #16
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Very nice sir. I am glad that there is somebody out there that actually appreciates their 4eat. I love mine personally. Just curious though, how much did this cost you? I feel like this would be a great mod since I am hoping to go stage 3 soon.
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Old 10-24-2009, 08:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Bigs View Post
Very nice sir. I am glad that there is somebody out there that actually appreciates their 4eat. I love mine personally. Just curious though, how much did this cost you? I feel like this would be a great mod since I am hoping to go stage 3 soon.
I don't have the '02 any longer, but at the time the valve body work cost around $550 not including shipping.
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:12 PM   #18
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I'm curious if any one else has tried this. And if so did it do anything for an incredibly harsh 3-4/4-3 shift flare? I recently acquired a 99 OB Limited that has this problem. I'm trying to find solutions.
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:11 PM   #19
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Wow, a 4EAT thread. I <3 you.
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Old 06-13-2010, 04:51 PM   #20
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I think this thread can be used as an example of searching when n00bs say they searched and found nothing. I searched for "valve body" and got this.

This has to be one of the most useful threads I have ever come across, and should be stickied.
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Old 06-13-2010, 05:18 PM   #21
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IIRC it's linked to in a sticky.
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Old 07-17-2010, 01:57 AM   #22
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Default 4EAT Upper Limits

How much BHP or WHP can the 4EAT handle?
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:03 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egibboy View Post
How much BHP or WHP can the 4EAT handle?
Stock or modified? I know there are a few folks that have gone with the full-tilt boogie 4EAT build and some of those were driven pretty hard in the 1/4 mile, and did well. Stock, I'm not sure, but can say that if you go with power adders, you will want to do the valve body and probably the torque converter. Check the transmission forum for more info.
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:56 PM   #24
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Default 4eat

Thanks for the info beaviscih. I was looking to possibly push 325HP to the wheels and wanted to know if the 4eat had the guts to handle the power. It sounds like the valve body and torque converter could need an upgrade as well.
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:17 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egibboy View Post
How much BHP or WHP can the 4EAT handle?
i was wondering the same thing.....i have a 2006 4eat and ralli spec is saying i can not install my bigger turbo(400whp) intill i upgrade the tranny there saying when they go to tune it, it will blow up.....any knowledge on the 4eat would help me alot.....they also told me (rali spec) that you could have a manual wrx with 450whp and it will runn high 11s and the same car in automatic will run 10s......he said autos can be way faster.....ive been calling every shop finding out as much as i could including ralli spec, veriouios motors, and precission tunning.. i know ralli spec is one of the best they built the x games subarus so i trust them... can i get away with just a TC and tranny cooler with 400 whp
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Stock '02 wrx 4eat valve body WRX1 Private 'For Sale' Classifieds 7 11-30-2004 03:30 PM
4EAT Valve Body $300 Shipped WagonRX Private 'For Sale' Classifieds 2 08-01-2004 10:34 AM
WTB: 4EAT valve body svxr8dr Private 'Wanted' Classifieds 0 10-23-2003 11:46 AM


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