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Old 09-15-2014, 11:37 PM   #4118
ScoobyFreak86
Scooby Guru
 
Member#: 338329
Join Date: Nov 2012
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NJ
Vehicle:
2017 STI
Lapis Blue

Default

September 14, 2014

What’s being installed: GT Worx/Bilstein Struts, RCE Black “Regular Guy” Springs, OEM Top Hats.

Milage: 22,739

My quest to build the perfect daily driver has been ongoing since the day I bought the car. Everywhere I look, I always find something small to touch and bring to my standards. While I am not trying to make the WRX a luxury car, I do like adding things that reflect my personality and how I believe this car should have come from the factory. If you take a look back at my journey and choice of mods, you’ll notice everything I have done isn't necessarily to change the overall car as a whole, rather improve upon what is already there. I like my cars modded, but I like them reliable even more. I like to call it OEM +. It’s an extension of what a stock WRX is, but drastically improved in certain areas. Achievable is what I like to keep in mind. Making all my “subscribers” see an idea and turn it into a reality with parts that anyone can achieve. Yes, I know, I don’t claim my car to be any different than the next lightly modded WRX or STI next to me. Not it at all. I have basically all the go-to modifications done that everyone does eventually. However, it is mine. And I love it.

Now, you will realize that I have already visited the suspension aspect of the car over a year ago. I wanted a coilover system that was highly adjustable, affordable, and most importantly, comfortable for every day. I done my research like every other mod I have done and many of the recommendations and feedback was pointing towards the Feal 441 coilovers. My first thought was “I never heard of them”. However, after reading countless reviews of their excellent customer service and overall product, I decided to try them out. When I got them, I was pretty impressed. The overall quality was nice, seemed to be a very solid product. Nice that camber plates and swift springs were a stock option. Installed them and enjoyed the overall ride from them. They were responsive, tightened up the car where it needed to be, and comfortable on the road for a coilover. Kept putting miles on them and moved onto the next mod.

The colder weather was fast approaching and I was highly anticipating my first full winter in a Subaru. As I put miles on the Feals and the temperature started to drop, signs of a low budget coilover setup started becoming transparent. Extremely audible noises from the rear in temperatures 40 degrees or under. Metal to metal clunking over bumps at slower speeds on the driver front. Creaking and spring twine noises when going up my driveway entrance and inclines. I started questioning my choice of suspension quickly as I knew this was something that I wouldn't be able to dust off my shoulders as I would have to live with it, every day. I spoke to Odi on several occasions and he offered me some down-right awesome options. He offered for me to send the coils in and have them looked over and re-built (if needed). He even offered to send me new cartridges to rebuild them myself in my own garage. However, I had no spare suspension to toss on and I just didn't have the time to send them in or even take them out and rebuild them myself. I unfortunately ended up just ignoring it for the time being as everything was performing properly as far as I could tell. Props to Odi for going out of his way to offer different options to his customer. Customer service is definitely top notch. Winter turned to spring and the noises slowly started to dissipate, so it went to the back of my mind.

Fast forward to today. With winter coming up quick, I knew I wouldn't be able to stand another winter with these coilovers on my car. While the overall performance and customer service is top notch, they were the only place on the car where I felt I slacked on, if you will. Several options scrolled through my mind what I wanted to do, but most of which were expensive that would be so overkill for the street that I couldn't justify spending the money on. Since I had such great success with my KW coilovers on my previous car, I just always thought coil overs. I loved the fact I could dial the car in to exact how I like it. More low? Sure! Stiffen it up some? You bet chya! However, I needed to take a step back and look at the car as a daily driver. Not a racecar. Every time my wife or friends are in the car, I couldn't help but feel bad watching their heads bop around as we drove down the road. I could tell they were thinking “this car drives terribly!” So this lead me back to some simpler options. What about a strut/spring combo? I will get a high end damper that will give me comfort I need and performance I want. Started wondering what my options were and remembered when I got to see Jason’s (Overland04) car in person a few months ago. When he pulled up to AZP, I remember being in shock (pun not intended) at the height he was at for being on struts/springs. He was as low as I was! Ended up being the gtworx/rce black spring combo and I knew that was something I had to get on my car. The reviews and feedback for this setup checked all the boxes on my list. Hit up race comp engineering for a set, but unfortunately they are out of stock until end of September/October. Not to mention, they are a bit pricey brand new since I needed OEM top hats as well. The for sale section was limited, but I managed to come across a set only a state away in great shape, with black springs, OEM top hats, and low mileage. Bit the bullet and snagged them! Thanks Austin!

I got them before the weekend, which I was excited about since I had some free time to get them installed. Quality is exceptional and just overall feels like a solid product. OEM quality, if you will. My only gripe is I wish they were a different color. Black is boring, but that is a small grievance and can be addressed if it really bothered me that much. Anyway…put the car up on stands and off to work I went. Everything unbolted and came out of the car well and the gt worx went into the car beautifully. Hard to believe these are not OEM! Lowered the car down while anticipating the height it would bring my car to. Now keep in mind, I was pretty low on the Feals. I was about 1 finger gap all around and 25 3/8” from ground to fender. I loved the height, so I was a little weary of where I was going to be with the new setup. Took the car for a spin so the springs could settle into their final position and went back to take some measurements. To my surprise, the car is only about ¼”- ½“ higher than where I was on the Feals. Which is 100% ok with me since it will give me a little more ground clearance all around. It actually is at the PERFECT height for practicality, yet closing up that wheel gap just enough. It’s perfection. Now that my worries of height were left behind, my other main concern was how the car drove.

I took the car out on a mix of spirited and every day driving to get a good feel of the new setup. Coming from coilovers in my past 2 cars, I had some expectations in my mind since they are two very different setups. I kept my mouth shut and put the car through its paces before I gave it a good opinion. I am happy to report that the car feels absolutely phenomenal. Turn-ins feel extremely predictable. It feels nimble in my hands and easy to control. No bounce over small imperfections in the road (feals did this a lot at slow speeds). They soak up anything that I throw it at while keeping the car conformed and planted. I was in complete amazement. This amount of performance from a strut/spring combo!? It completely 180’ed my thoughts on strut/spring combos over coilovers. The ride is beautiful, comfortable, and nowhere near as jarring as the coilovers were. As Jason so perfectly put “it really brings the car close to the ride quality of a solid M or S4 European suspension.” I am going to have to agree completely. And that is coming from a previous M3 owner. Comfortable on the daily duties you encounter day to day, yet stiffens up and handles on rails on the spirited back road twisties. I really couldn't be more pleased with my choice to change things up. It made me fall in love with the car all over again and one of my most favorite parts about the GT Worx/RCE setup… it’s as quiet as a church mouse. Not a clunk. Not a creek. Not a noise. It is music to my ears, well… silent music. After living with the noises from the feals for almost a year, it is a huge relief to know the car feels solid again. Granted I have yet to test these through the winter months, I am confident they will stay at the noise level they are at today.

I urge anyone thinking about this setup to not hesitate any longer. Get it. You’ll be more than pleased. I honestly wish I knew about this setup before I ventured to the Feals. Quality and performance… they have it all. Knowing I removed a low end, budget minded coilover and moved to one of the best, high end strut/spring combo for around the same price is a good feeling. I do plan on keeping this car until the FA motor goes into the new STI, so I got a few years left with this car. Knowing the parts on it now will outlast my ownership, possibly the life of the car gives me more joy in my overall ownership. “Set it and forget it” if you will. I look forward to my drives to work now. I purposely hit those bumps that I once avoided when on the feals. And I look back in the parking lot as I walk away even more knowing I have the car set up for me exactly the way I wanted it. Guys, it’s a great feeling. I shall report my findings once the temperatures start to drop and run the car through its paces then. For now, go out and get this suspension in your car!

Now, let me back up a second. I know I probably just turned a few people away from the feals, but let me explain further. The small, and I mean small, issues I encountered could have very well just been MY specific set. I am not knocking anyone who has them or plans to get them. In all fairness, the feals brought great joy to the car. For the price, I personally believe they can't be beat in that category. My KW's were twice that price in my M3 and they felt just as good performance wise. And that is saying a lot comparing to a German built, well known performance company. The feals did what they were supposed to do. They gave me all the adjustments in the world, completely eliminated any remaining body roll after the sways, all while keeping a few bucks in my wallet. They honestly were very comfortable for daily driving. On the highway, people were shocked at the ride quality before being at the height I was at (in a good way). It was a great setup for someone with a strict budget. I just personally couldn't take the added noises associated with coilovers for a car that sees no track time. I apologize if I disrupted anyone's plans or dreams, but I wanted to give my honest opinion on my experience. I hope you all understand that and not to take offense to my findings after 14,000 miles on the Feal's. I figure everyone benefits from honest opinions, so I just wanted to lay it out there for anyone willing to read it.

Any questions, you know where to ask!

Check back this weekend for a great update. Hint: I will be at AZP this Friday to get a few things done . I will post pictures of the final ride height after the alignment. I want it dialed in correctly before I go out for a shoot.

IMG_0288 by Freak Photography, on Flickr
IMG_0293 by Freak Photography, on Flickr
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