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Old 12-02-2012, 10:02 AM   #1
tomacGTi
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Default M2/Synic/Fujitsubo copy header review

I'm sure this has been beaten to death but here is my take on this header.

I had purchased this as a stop-gap to sending my manifolds to Grimmspeed for porting or doing it myself. The going rate for used manifolds is around $100 or so plus shipping so for $150 shipped, I thought I would give them a chance. Of course it always costs more because I also purchased some Lava wrap and Grimmspeed gaskets but you would have to with a manifold swap regardless (minus the wrap). I also chose this header because I wanted equal length without swapping out the oil pan and installing a different uppipe.

Initial impressions:

The header itself arrived in a box with a bag of hardware and some metal and fibre gaskets. The whole thing is 304 stainless and all flanges were welded inside and outside. Prior reviews had stated the flanges were spot welded on the outside and seam welded internally but the one I received was welded on the inside and outside. Whether or not this is bad is to be determined but the flanges appeared straight after a test with a straightedge.

I cleaned up the inside of the merge collector to the uppipe due to some MIG welding slag and chased the O2 sensor bung threads but other than that everything appeared to be just fine. Blew out all of the tubes with compressed air and wrapped it preparing for installation.

Installation:

I had to hammertune the front lip of the subframe as well as cut off an unused mounting point on the radiator. I chose to clearance the subframe versus cut it just because I wanted to maintain some integrity (all the spot welds are still intact) versus cutting out material and also did not want to channel it and make this a fabrication project as well. With some bending and hammering, I was able to ensure around 1/2" of clearance or so around the lowest bend so as not to contact the subframe under load. I also have fresher Group N mounts as well so the engine doesn't torque very much in my car.

I was surprised after clearancing everything that the header literally just fell onto the studs. I had to wiggle the factory manifold off and this literally pushed up into place. Perhaps I got a better one but even the flex joints did not have to be preloaded to get the header up into place.

There are a dozen ways to ensure a leak-free installation and I gambled on the wrong one: I had chosen to tighten the manifold to the heads first, then to the uppipe. I was using Grimmspeed's seven layer gaskets and they sealed to the heads just fine, it was to my STi uppipe that you could see water streaming from the joint upon first start that something was amiss.

I untorqued the manifold/uppipe connection and retorqued as well as tried flipping the gasket around: same result with a leak. Without copper spray and with only a used OEM gasket left, I chose to use the included gasket that came with the header and surprisingly it sealed. I have no idea how long this will hold but I have some OEM gaskets on the way as well as some copper gasket spray. I do not want to be laying on my back in the snow in December in the freezing cold replacing this gasket when it lets go.

I let the header heat cycle as well as took it for a test drive and retorqued everything: still leak free.

Driving impressions:

A bit of background on my car: 2003 WRX Wagon: 2.0L. STi up, STI axleback, Stromung shorty downpipe, factory third cat and resonator, Venair turbo inlet, Apex-i filter in full factory intake, silicone hoses to a Griffin radiator recored stock WRX intercooler, Cobb Accessport v3.10 OTS stage 2. Basically a massaged stage 2 setup. Quiet and simple since this is a wagon and a DD as well.

The header made everything smoother: even idle. Revving there is no more boxer rumble (which I personally don't miss nay everyone else: it's MY car) but it still sounds very Subaru-esque. It still has that "thrum" like a refined tractor. It is a very agricultural motor.

Taking off like a normal human being, the car just rolls off smoothly and the turbo spool is much smoother as well. You feel the enhanced midrange and everything just feels less stressed for lack of a better word. Driving more aggressively you really begin to notice that the header broadens the range of the motor and the turbo doesn't fall as flat on it's face like it did before at higher RPMs. It's less peaky than before and easier to drive. If you search previous reviews of the Synic header, I can concur with them as far as driveabilty is concerned: I was impressed and definitely would say that it was a good addition to the car.

I can't say it made my setup any quieter because outside of the stock axleback, I have one of the quietest setups available.

The one thing I did not expect was at 2800-3200 RPM there is a bit of drone that was not there before, it reminds me of where the cams used to hit in my 1984 16v GTi. There is no contact anywhere and I attribute it to the thinner tubes versus a cast manifold and a natural resonance in the motor enhanced by the addition of the header. It was there with the stock manifolds but is definitely much more pronounced now.

I'm guessing this is where it's most efficient as it really hums along similar to the airbox on my motorcycle. It is more pronounced from the front of the car as well. I'll probably get used to it but I did like the near-silent cruise at 70-75 that my previous setup had on the factory manifolds.


In summary:

It took a little work to get them on and I'm going to have to go back underneath and swap out a gasket (or not if I chose to roll the dice) but I'm so far impressed. Time will tell how long they last and what gives out first but for the price they were a viable alternative. I'll still port the factory manifold just in case but really for the price, I'm tempted to order another to keep as a spare.

You hear stories of longevity on these things going from weeks to months to years so I'm curious how long this will last. Mine is wrapped with 2" Lava (at 25% overlap) and the flex joints are exposed and everything is already turning a bit gold. The crossover tubes in the center are getting that multi-color hue (they're slightly exposed) so we'll see how things hold up. I live in PA as well so we get seasons. These things will be tested.

Stay tuned I guess.

-Randy
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:14 PM   #2
Dakota D
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pics plz
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:31 PM   #3
tomacGTi
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No pics of the install or the header but if you search for Synic here or Google a thousand images will come up.

The header has been around in some shape or form since 2006.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:08 PM   #4
tomacGTi
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Quick update:

Header is still working just fine and checking back with Cobb, it's playing nice with their OTS stage 2 via logging. The ECU has figured it out and it is still smoother to drive versus the stock manifold and you can really feel the gains in the midrange and the extended top end. I would say by the butt dyno that spool hasn't changed at all either. I'm sure if you were on a bigger turbo than a TD04 it would get choked but it works just fine for me.

It definitely gets loud when hot.

The factory manifold did as well but since it was cast iron, it hid this much better. It's that 2800-3200 area where you're at 75-80 that it is louder from the front of the car versus the back. Mind you, I'm running one of the quietest setups known and the header was the only change. Any speed below this or above it doesn't drone along but it most certainly does especially if the motor is loaded on a false flat or hill. This is the one thing that I don't like about it: it's louder (noticeably) compared to the stock manifold in this range.

Other than that, it's holding up fine.The Lava/titanium wrap still looks good, the provided gasket I used for the uppipe/manifold joint hasn't blown out yet (fingers crossed). At least I have a spare factory gasket and copper spray now just in case.

We'll see...

-Randy
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:07 AM   #5
tomacGTi
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Just figured out the drone: the header was making a very slight bit of contact with the subframe causing the noise. It had cut the header wrap slightly on the lowest bend so I had to patch in that section.

I crawled underneath the car and instead of pulling the whole subframe down and clearancing it further (notching or further hammer-tuning) I loosened all the mounts and slid it as far forward as possible. I also added a couple of washers to the two front 12mm mounts to space it down.

Result: highway drone virtually eliminated. It may still be barely contacting when the motor is at full boil but I'll address that in the spring if need be. This header will still be louder than the factory manifold but this cured the cabin droning to the point of being near-stock.

Last edited by tomacGTi; 01-03-2013 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:00 PM   #6
BoostHard
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Where can you find this header for sale? Thanks!
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Old 11-21-2013, 04:04 PM   #7
tomacGTi
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One year update:

I pulled the header down to replace my leaky STi uppipe. I had ordered another header from the same vendor to pre-wrap it so that I would literally just install the uppipe and header and not have any downtime. I was planning on selling my old header on to a friend for a song.

I wanted to re-wrap the headers because the existing lava wrap had basically crumbled to dust in many places. So as nice as the stuff is to work with, over time it degrades just like any other wrap. That and the PIA stainless ties either loosened or broke resulting in tattered wrap in many places.

The new header was nothing like the old one. Apparently M2 is now Manzo USA and although the header is the same general shape and design, the quality of assembly left a little to be desired.

I was already expecting to clean up the uppipe area as I did before, but this time the way they joined the pipes into the flange and welded it resulted in an exit that was less than 42mm wide in some areas. The factory uppipe is this wide as well as the cast exit of the factory manifold. The way the header is constructed, if you were to port it to match your uppipe, you may weaken it to the point of failure. My previous header had a 45mm wide exit: a perfect match to my new GS uppipe.

The bends in the header were also not as good as before. Where the old header had smoother mandrel bends with few tooling marks, this new header had obvious creases where it was clamped into place. Between this and the weld work on the inside of the uppipe collector, I just reboxed the header and returned it to the seller. I was a bit disappointed.

The old header was cleaned up as it has been under the car for the past year. There was a little corrosion here and there but overall it was in good shape. No light was showing through the mesh flex joints and a fresh layer of wrap went onto the header: this time safety wired into place. I trued up the uppipe joint with a belt sander (the included gasket had held this entire time) and reinstalled. After wrestling a small uppipe leak, it finally sealed and I installed an 04 undertray to better protect it from the elements this time.

Hopefully it will hold up another year but in the meantime, caveat emptor on the "new" version of this header. I was looking forward to just popping a new one on there and saving some grief but the old one was better. Who knows? I may have to order another and it will be better next time. Only time will tell.

-Randy
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:03 PM   #8
tomacGTi
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I take it back: I think removing the header from the car to install the uppipe was its death blow: the upper flex has broken.

I noticed it today as I was driving to meet a friend for lunch when I heard a whistling that would come as the engine came on load. When I returned home, you could see where the flex had started to fail with some soot so off they came. Thank goodness I ported my stockers.

They barely lasted me a year but I'll miss them.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:00 PM   #9
tomacGTi
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Not to beat a dead horse, but I now cannot recommend this header to anyone: here's why.

The braided interior flex joints failed and sent its remains into my TD04. The only good part to this was the fact that the turbo had come off the car anyway for an upgrade. I took it apart today to find part of the braid was lodged in the scroll of the exhaust housing. That would explain why the turbo spool up sound was so much louder for a while before I took off the turbo.

Obviously since this header was also on the car when my new turbo went on, my month old, new-to-me turbo came off the car this afternoon for inspection. So far there are no foreign bits in the scroll and the blades are undamaged. Thank god these things are tough.

Stay away from this header: you stand the chance of fragging your turbo. The sad part is that it made made great power in comparison to the ported manifolds on the car now but certainly not worth the chest pains. I am contemplating cutting the old flex joints out and welding in either a slip-type connection or the proper turbo-use braided flex used on Grimm's uppipe.

It's cold and 25* and windy, if it does happen, it won't be for awhile.

You've been warned.
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:09 AM   #10
tuzzio
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Great review. Not that I'm in the market for a header, but any header with a flex section could break as yours has and send fragments into the turbo. It's unfortunate yours did however.
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:47 PM   #11
tomacGTi
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Just in case someone still thinks that a one year warranty will cover this sort of failure, I was just told by Megan that it is not covered.

They didn't specify by time or otherwise but regardless, you get what you pay for.
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:05 PM   #12
BoostHard
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I ordered this header after i read the initial review in this thread. A week after it was installed the flex section literally melted while my tuner was tuning the car and the heat from the open flex section burned up one of my coil packs.

M2 blamed it on me and said that i was driving it for weeks like that and because i didn't remove it before more damage was done, it was my fault and refused to pay for the coil pack that their faulty product caused to fail. Needless to say, they did give me my money back and told me to keep the header.

I'm going to have the flex sections cut out and have slip joints welded in.
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Old 12-17-2013, 10:53 AM   #13
tomacGTi
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You can order the correct turbo rated 1.5" flex sections from Treadstone and weld them in, they're right around $25 each. I was going to go this route and weld them in but decided not to because:

-I didn't trust the header to last (possible cracking at the center area)

-Introduce more heat stress into the already thin and used 304

-Spend more money on a $150 header, not including wrap and my time.

I'm running my ported manifold for the time being but will probably go back to an EL header after an oil pan switch.

Wish you had posted up earlier with the failure, I can only imagine how many other people have gone through the same BS.
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