EugeneUtopia's 2010 FXT Project
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This is a discussion on EugeneUtopia's 2010 FXT Project within the Builds forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Current mod list: Current Power : 479.1 WHP, 482 WTQ (E85 @ 25psi). 11.844 @ 116.01 1/4 mile time ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ...

  1. #1
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    West Seattle

    EugeneUtopia's 2010 FXT Project

    Current mod list:

    Current Power : 479.1 WHP, 482 WTQ (E85 @ 25psi).

    11.844 @ 116.01 1/4 mile time



    Inlet: Perrin turbo inlet
    Heads: Ported and polished
    Transmission: 2011 STI 6 speed
    Headers: Agency Power Equal Length
    TGV Deletes: Composite TGV Deletes
    Radiator: Koyo performance aluminum
    Motor Mounts: Perrin motor mount kit
    Downpipe: 3" Invidia (ceramic coated)
    Spark plugs: Denso iridium 1 step colder
    Air/oil Separator: Crawford Performance
    Intake: Motorsports air-intake sensor kit
    Flywheel: Comes with the Exedy clutch kit
    Boost Control: AEM Electronic Boost Controller
    Timing Belt: Gates Kevlar high performance belt
    Access Port: COBB Access Port, V3 – SUB – 003
    Uppipe: GrimmSpeed
    DCCD: DCCDPro active center differential control
    Map Sensor: AEM 3.5 Bar Map Sensor with COBB adapter
    BPV: Forge Motorsport FMDVSUB03 alloy recirculating valve
    Crankshaft pulley: GrimmSpeed lightweight crankshaft pulley
    Valves: GSC Power-Division exhaust, intake & beehive springs
    Turbo: Blouch Dominator 2.5XT-R (heat shield ceramic coated)
    CAI Intake: SpeedFactory Racing Custom fabricated CAI intake
    Oil Management: Killer B oil pickup, tray and pan w/STI oil pump
    Injectors: Injector Dynamics ID1300s, balanced and flow tested
    E85/92 octane Management: Custom fabricated fuel purge system
    Radiator Hose: Mishimoto hose
    Exhaust: Invidia Q300 catless exhaust (with custom Flowmaster mufflers)
    Clutch: Exedy FM022HD Stage 4 Heavy Duty Twin Metallic Disc Clutch Kit
    Fuel Regulator: Cobb Subaru 08-14 STI FPR Kit + Tomei Fuel Pressure Regulator
    Fuel Pump: 2 x Walbro 460 LPH inside a Radium fuel surge tank, fed by a DW255 in-tank
    Air Pump Deletes: KS composite Tech air pump deletes with Phenolic Thermal Intake Spacers
    Intercooler: SpeedFactory Racing custom fabricated front mount w/4" Extreme Turbo Systems (ETS) core

    Short Block

    Rods: Manley H-Tuff
    Head Bolts: ARP 625++
    Crank: OEM STI heat treated
    Cams: GSC Power-Division S2 grind
    Pistons: Custom forged CP 99.75mm
    Bearings: King race intake and exhaust
    Block: OEM EJ257, fully closed decked, dynamically balanced


    Springs: Fortune 500 coil overs 7K/8K
    Strut Tower Bar: Cusco Type OS
    Rear Sway: 22mm adjustable Whiteline
    Front Sway: 24mm adjustable Whiteline
    Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport 255/35R18
    Wheels: 18 x 8 O.Z. UltraLeggera wheels @ 16lbs each


    Pads: Hawk HPS
    ABS Pump: 2010 WRX ABS Pump
    Lines: GoodRidge G-Stop stainless steel
    Brace: Grimmspeed Master Cylinder Brace
    Rotors: DBA 4000 Series T-Slot Slotted Rotors

    OEM add-ons

    • iPod interface
    • OBP sport grill
    • Rear cargo cover
    • DVD w/navigation
    • 2 x rear cargo nets
    • Red foot well lighting
    • All weather floor mats
    • OBP body side molding
    • iPod tray in center console
    • OBP Front sport bumper cover
    • 2010 Forester XT Limited model
    • Subwoofer under the drivers seat


    • Gorilla mud guards (2 sets, one OEM for stock ride height, the other cut down 4")
    • STI themed Oil cap
    • Smoke tinted tail lights
    • GrillCraft hood scoop grill
    • Tint - 15% Front, 35% Rear
    • Cobb black battery tie down
    • Sound deadening in rear area
    • 2010 WRX instrument cluster
    • Cobb black on black shift knob
    • Optima D35 Yellow Top battery
    • 6000K HID low beam conversion
    • Subtle Solutions Alternator Cover
    • Grimmspeed magnetic oil drain plug
    • COBB short throw shifter & bushing kit
    • OBP (Body color) painted door handles
    • 3000K HID fog light conversion (yellow output)
    • Blacked out fog light trim rings with amber tint
    • 2010 WRX Hatch ECU and partial wiring harness
    • Projector headlights, blacked out with LED brow
    • Interior map, dome, hatch and door lights converted to LED
    • All major components in the engine bay power-coated black
    • 2010 FXT 5spd yaw rate/G sensor (to make the hill assist work)
    • JDM Forester emblem overlays on front, rear and steering wheel badges

    2010 FXT Build Thread

    How I came to get an FXT

    Bought the FXT in early August, 2010. My intention was to get a 2011. I heard that the engine, radio and MPG were all going to be better. I couldn’t get a confirmation on when the 2011 was going to be released, and my DD at the time (an AWD Audi A4) was starting to become unreliable, so I decided I’d search for a Forester. Many of my friends had Foresters and loved them, and it matched my needs well.

    I test drove a 2.5 Premium and liked it well enough, but coming from a turbo equipped “sporty” car, I felt the power was lacking. My good friend is an Audi fanatic, and when I mentioned that I drove the Forester, he asked me what my thoughts were of the Subaru turbo power delivery vs. the Audi A4’s turbo? I thought at first that none the Foresters were turbo equipped. I didn’t realize that the FXT existed. My buddy schooled me on the Impreza platform and how it carries over to the WRX, STI and Forester. He also let me in on the upgradability of the stout 2.5 motor (though he firmly believes the Audi S4 he owns is the best platform from which to jump into the turbo culture).

    I went back to the dealership and asked to look at an FXT. The first time I drove it…. honestly… I was underwhelmed. I could barely tell the difference between the 2.5i and the FXT. Maybe it was because the WRX/STI skewed my expectations. I thought the XT was going to be comparable, no, better than my A4. Still, I liked Subaru. My first brand new car was a Subaru Justy. That car was awesome, for what it was. I had hoped that Subaru had a CVT available for the FXT, but all that was available was the 4EAT. Little did I know how much that small lack of research would come to cost me in the end.

    I decided to take the plunge and started searching for an FXT. I knew that I wanted leather, Bluetooth and a turbo; in black please. Easy, right? Nuh uh. While the 2010’s were well discounted, there weren’t many left to be had. There was a black one in Spokane. That was it for the entire state. The next closest black FXT with leather was in Las Vegas. Instead of going with a 2010, I plopped some Benjamin’s down at Walker Subaru in Renton, WA and ordered a 2011 FXT Premium with no extra equipment.

    About a month later my worries about the reliability of the A4 proved justified, and I needed something NOW. Called Walker Subaru to see when the car I had ordered was going to arrive. Turns out they never ordered it. I canceled the order, but they refused and tried to hold my deposit. After a long argument and the threat of Small Claims Court, I got my deposit back and started calling around for a dealership that could get it right. I learned that the changes that I anticipated the 2011 model would have were not coming in that year. I negotiated over the phone and email and finalized on the black FXT Limited with 85 total miles clocked at Appleway Subaru in Spokane. It came with more stuff than I ordered on the 2011, but it was available, well discounted and they agreed to deliver it to downtown Seattle.

    Brand new FXT

    Last edited by EugeneUtopia; 05-26-2015 at 09:41 PM.

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    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    Choosing a direction

    A few months after I bought the FXT I joined and started researching what performance options were available. In hindsight, I should have joined/researched first. The FXT is my second car with an automatic transmission (not counting the ’72 Cadillac I bought as a project car in my early 20’s and drove for no more than 150 miles). I’m a stick shift kind of guy first and foremost. I’d always had manual shift cars, and between 1991 and 2007 my primary method of transportation had only 2 wheels (all 40+ of them in those 16 years). I had no idea how much power the automatic transmission robs from the performance of the FXT (as I mentioned earlier, the ’09 – ’13 FXT’s were only available with the 4EAT automatic transmission). It wasn’t until I was in the post-Stage 2 modification stage that I learned that in order to make, and use, exceptional AWHP, you need have a manual transmission. I learned how inadvisable it would be to swap to a WRX/Forester 2.5i 5-speed transmission (not very stout or possessing of ideal ratios) or how difficult it would be to swap to an STI 6-speed transmission. More on that later.

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    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    Initial mods – Stage 1

    I initially bought a few cosmetic/functional items. Things I could install myself and enjoy immediately.

    All weather floor mats
    iPod tray
    iPod interface
    Under-seat Subaru subwoofer
    Cargo cover
    Security System Shock Sensor
    Color matched body molding
    Bumper corner molding
    AccessPORT AP-SUB-003

    Floor Mats

    The iPod interface is functional, but the interface isn’t intuitive. If I could to do it over again I would just get an aftermarket head unit. The pros include a fairly easy installation and very clean look. You do have to remove the stereo and the center console and center storage. It should take the average person 90-120 minutes to do the first time and half that time if you have to get in there again. Installation instructions here

    The under-seat subwoofer sounds decent and you can adjust its output from the DVD/NAV OEM stereo. Installation is much like the iPod interface. If you can do both the subwoofer and the iPod interface simultaneously, you’ll save a lot of time. The subwoofer has been in the FXT for 3 years now. I listen to it fairly loudly, and it still sounds great. Of course, at this price point you can go aftermarket for the same of a little more money and get much better sound. My goal was to go OEM for plug and play installation and reliability/compatibility. If you’re an audiophile, you’ll want to go the aftermarket route. Installation instructions here

    Cargo Cover

    The security system shock sensor is a no brainer. The sensitivity is adjustable from don’t-bother-installing-it to light parking lot bump (it is on the DVD/Navigation unit; I’m unsure if it is with the base head unit). Installation is very easy and takes 10-15 minutes to install and under 5 minutes to adjust. Don’t let the dealership fool you! My local dealer told me that they needed to set the sensitivity using a computer and specialized cable. That may be the case with OEM head units, but is isn’t at all with the DVD/Navigation setup. They charged me 1.5 hours to adjust the sensitivity alone. It was quite the con. Installation instructions here

    I think the color matched body molding is a great deal, and looks awesome. It comes with thin-ish cardboard templates that insure proper placement on the doors. If anyone could screw this kind of install up, it’s me, but it really was easy and fool proof. Installation instructions here

    The bumper corner molding look cheap and were hard (for me) to estimate proper placement and install by eye. The backing doesn’t set firmly and starts to peel off if not revisited a few times over the 2-3 hours following the initial install. I’m amazed I haven’t taken them off yet. I guess I have a sense that if I do, the bumper will get scuffed immediately after. Installation instructions here

    Color Matched Body Molding
    & Bumper Corner Moldings

    The AccessPORT was eye opening. In my opinion the best option for a budget minded owner wanting more UMPH. It gave me the modification bug! While expensive @ $600, it provides a stand alone performance boost and arguably mandatory for any modification past Stage 1.

    Access Port

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    2nd round mods – Stage 2

    I saved up for the next year and a half, lurking at May of 2012 I learned about Maxwell Power Services in Marysville, WA. I consulted with Dom, stating in uber-noob fashion that my goal was 380-400 AWHP. At ~15,000 miles on the odometer we went with:

    Invidia Q300 cat-back, dual tip exhaust
    Invidia catless down-pipe
    DW 200 fuel pump
    DW 750cc fuel injectors
    AEM electronic boost control
    Blouch 380XT turbo @ 17psi
    Whiteline 22mm rear sway bar
    Whiteline 24mm front sway bar
    MPS custom tune

    Dom advised me that these mods wouldn’t get me 380-400 AWHP, but it should be around there. The net result of this combined modification was 307.9 AWHP @ 5650 rpm & 375.9 AWTQ @ 3500 rpm.

    308hp / 376tq

    I was VERY happy with the actual power it made after the initial tune and mods, even tough the horsepower gain it produced was much lower than I was expecting.

    Someone smashed my windshield with a large rock less than a month after getting the exhaust. I’d lived in the same place since the car was new, and I don’t have a bad relationship with anyone in my neighborhood, so the only thing that I can think might have drove someone to vandalize the FXT was the noise of the exhaust. At the time the Q300 was really pretty quiet. But it didn’t say quiet for long.


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    Increasing power and eliminating boost creep

    Over the course of the next 8 months the FXT developed a REALLY bad case of boost creep. The boost creep was there right after the mods were installed in May of 2012, but it wasn’t very noticeable. As time past, it became more noticeable until it got to the point that it would violently shut down power. I felt it was dangerous. I went back to Dom at MPS and we discussed a possible fix for the boost creep as well as the path to higher HP.

    In February 2013 and with ~30,000 miles a Process West TMIC w/ Process West Traditional Turbo Upgrade Hose (necessary for the non-standard turbo placement), Cobb SF intake and Airbox was installed. The Blouch 380XT was removed and the housing (wastegate) ported. Dom performed a re-tune to compensate for the added modifications, including dropping the map to a maximum of 15psi. During the re-tune considerable knock was noticed and the boost creep was reduced significantly, but it still existed. A few days later Dom switched to 1 step colder spark plugs, which did help a little more, but didn’t resolve the issue 100%.

    Process West TMIC
    Process West Traditional Turbo Upgrade Hose
    Cobb SF intake and Airbox
    Denso Iridium Power Plugs One Step Colder IKH22
    Re-tune at MPS

    The net result of this modification was 323.6 AWHP @ 4800 rpm & unk AWTQ (dyno read 448.4 AWTQ, @ 1,500 rpm, but I seriously doubt that).
    The knock was still very bad, and the timing had to be retarded by 11 degrees.

    Process West TMIC

    324hp / 448 tq

    While looking on the forums I came across the GrillCraft hood scoop grill. Knowing it would match the sport grill once I get that, I decided to buy and install the GrillCraft hood scoop grill. It didn’t fit the scoop opening very well, but its close enough to not be noticed by the causal observer. Looks pretty decent, and I have yet to see another in person. I bought and installed it in Mid March, 2013. Instructions for the install can be found Install instructions here

    GrillCraft Hood Scoop Grille

    At the same time I returned to the Genuine Subaru accessories for some aesthetic and convenience items.

    Subaru Sport Mesh Grille
    Interior Illumination Kit (blue)
    Rear cargo nets

    I don’t like the look of the OEM grille. It makes the FXT look like it has braces. After searching for an alternative (the STI sport grille, an aftermarket Carbon Fiber grille and a few others) I eventually went with the OEM Sport Grille option. Installation took about an hour, but probably should have taken closer to 30-45 minutes. Installation Instructions here

    Subaru Sport Mesh Grille

    I also installed blue footwell lights. Knowing then what I know now, I should have gotten the red footwell lights. My instrument cluster was blue when I installed the blue footwell lights, but I currently have a WRX instrument cluster (more on that later) which is red. Putting in the red footwell lights will come later, I’m sure. Installation instructions here

    Footwell Illumination Kit. Stock photo. I can’t take low light photos well

    Lastly, the cargo nets (one that goes against the back of the rear passenger seats and the other that goes directly in front of the rear hatch) often come in handy. While the front net and rear net have two different part numbers (F551SSC001 & F551SSC101) they are, in fact, identical. Mounting is very easy, with the exception of finding the areas that have “no texture”. These areas need to be drilled into. I have pretty good vision and it took me forever to find them. Installation instructions here

    Cargo Nets

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    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    A couple of the OEM wheels were pretty dinged up because of some careless parking. Wanting to get some nicer, undamaged wheels and keep with the blacked out theme, my next step was to get replace the OEM alloys, in black. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford that yet, so opted to Plasti-Dip the originals. The DipYourCar website has some great tutorials, but ordering the Plasti-Dip product from DipYourCar is neither the fastest nor the most affordable option. Instead, I bought the Plasti-Dip from Home Depot of all places. DipYourCar sells the black product that I thought would look best on my car for $6.85 per can, plus shipping. Home Depot sells the exact same product for $5.98 with no shipping fee or delayed gratification. I bought 4 cans, but actually needed 7, because I chose to do 6 coats on each wheel including out outside as well as the inside of the wheel. The end result came out pretty good! This is a GREAT product which comes in many colors. If you want to test a wheel color (or body paint color), this is a very easy, inexpensive way to visually validate the right direction for you for very little money. A little effort and the Plasti-Dip comes off, leaving the original surface as it was before it was applied.

    Pre Plasti Dip

    Post Plasti Dip

    I brought the FXT to AccuTint in Bellevue, WA to get it tinted a few days later. I found a good deal on GroupOn or Yelp or some place like that. I had 15% tint installed on the front windows and 35% tint on the rear. This makes the car look a lot better IMHO. I have no problems seeing out in daylight or at night. I think if it were any darker it may be dangerous to drive at night. The 35% added to the factory tint makes it nearly limo tint dark.


    Nice story about AccuTint. First off, the owner offered to drop me off at my work while the work was done (1/2 day). They also picked my up when it was done, which in itself was unexpected and appreciated. What really set them apart from other businesses was what one of my favorite websites,, would call a RAK (random act of kindness). The Chive embraces random acts of kindness between its members and anyone else for that matter. I had a sticker on the inside of my back windows which I had applied to the inside of my rear window only a few weeks prior to deciding to get the tint done. The front desk employee at AccuTint told me that the sticker would have to be removed. I told her about the new sticker, and that I was bummed that I’d lose it. When I came back to pick up the car, I discovered that AccuTint also creates custom stickers, and had duplicated and applied the sticker they had to remove. They did it as a surprise, and didn’t ask for any compensation. Wonderful people there at Bellevue AccuTint!

    KCCO - Chive On!

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    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    Catastrophe and Stage 2+

    At about 44,000 miles the FXT started to lose performance. It smelled like oil, smoked when it was started in the morning and at one point wouldn’t hold a stable idle. A cracked piston was to blame, so a set of JE forged pistons were installed. While I did like the power the FXT had made, it wasn’t at the 400ish AWHP that was shooting for. Since the piston install was a major job, I opted to ask DOM what else he would do if it were his. Some calls were made and the results was:

    Blouch Dominator 1.5XTR Turbo
    Agency Power equal length headers
    Grimmspeed up-pipe
    Perrin turbo inlet
    KS tech air pump delete plates
    Composite TGV deletes
    • Center timing belt guide
    JE EJ257 99.5mm forged pistons
    • Cam bolt – NON AVCS
    • Oil Pump Timing Belt Guide
    Denso Iridium Power Plugs One Step Colder IKH22

    The net result of this modification was 345.5 AWHP @ 4800 rpm & 413.8 AWTQ @ 4000 rpm and no more cracked piston or poor drivability.
    It was with this modification that I learned how the 4EAT automatic transmission was the limiting factor for any more significant increase in power and torque. The only option at this point to get more from the build was to install a 5 or 6-speed transmission. If only I had known that $11,000 ago.

    346hp / 414tq

    A few months after this work I also added a red LED in the hood scoop (I think it looks great, but I’m in my 40’s and stuff like that was really popular “in my day”). Installation is about 15 minutes if you already know where you’re going to route the wires. I ordered the optional 4 button remote that toggles the LED strip from (1) On, with multiple levels of brightness, (2) Flashing, with multiple speeds, (3) Pulsing, with multiple speeds and (4) Off.

    Yes, in the State of Washington it is illegal to use this product on the road, but I’d argue the legality if te car is stationary and unoccupied. Got it from Custom L.E.D. Service, L.L.C.

    In Scoop Red L.E.D's

    While the Whitelinefront and rear sway bars helped with cornering quite a bit, I wanted a slightly lowered look with even better sporty performance. I found that a lot of FXT owners spoke very highly of the Swift Springs. A quick visit to the Mann Engineering website and the springs were on their way. VTR installed them, and it turned out to be one of the best overall mods. They compliment the sway bars, and the handling is much firmer, without a harsh ride.

    FXT ride height pre Swift Springs and after they were installed. Ignore the wheels in the “after” picture. It’s just the best post-spring install photo I’ve got

    At about 50,000 miles, I wanted to find something that would make the FXT stand out in a (Subaru) crowd, but still have a stock appearance to a non-enthusiast. The look of blacked out headlights was always appealing, and fit the theme of the FXT. Since I’m not the type to DIY much, I went to Google to find a bolt on option. CarID has a replacement headlight that is plug and play and features halo-style lights, projector beam design with better visibility and brightness, and an Audi-styled LED “brow”. They arrived two weeks later and were installed in a few hours. Aside from the tint, this is the modification to the FXT that stands out to others. I also debadged the sport grill and relocated the horn. From the factory the horn is attached to the radiator frame, positioned horizontally, directly below the hood latch, on the front of the frame. I relocated it to the rear section of the same frame, vertically so that it is “hidden”.

    Halo + LED Projector Lights

    At about the same time the headlights were replaced, my tires were at 53,000 miles. If I wanted to get larger wheels, this would be the time. I bought a set of 18 x 8 O.Z. UltraLeggera wheels from shod with Falken ZIEX ZE-912 245/45R18 100W tires from Buy Wheels Today (OEM is 17 x 7 wheels with 225/55R17 tires). This upgrade is what is known as a +1 swap. While the rim was larger, the height of the tire was lower, leaving the circumference of the new wheel and tire very close to that of the OEM tire/wheel combination. This leaves the speedometer and AWD system unaffected. I wish I had researched this purchase more as well. I went with the tire size that the website suggested. I think I would have been happier with a larger or wider wheel. Or both.

    18 x 8” O.Z. Racing UltraLeggera wheels & Falken ZIEX tires

  10. #8
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    West Seattle
    At 54,000 miles I installed what turned out to be one of the most disappointing purchase experiences of the FXT build.

    I live in a more-ghetto-than-not area of Seattle, and the O.Z. wheels definitely stand out as nice, aftermarket and prime candidates to be stolen. I didn’t find researching security options for wheels to be very easy. Coming from the standpoint of a person who isn’t knowledgeable of what is and isn’t really secure vs. cosmetic. I ended up liking the look of Zerg Industries extended security lug nuts. They came in multiple colors, looked sexy and boasted to protect the investment in the wheels.

    There were many issues though. First problem was the description, or lack of one. They were supposed to be “security” bolts, but didn’t outwardly say what made them more secure than normal lug nuts. Turns out that 16 of the nuts are traditionally 6-sided (4 per wheel) and 4 are 7-sided. Their advertisement DOES list that in the specs, but not as part of the description. They also come with plastic enter caps that screw in with an included torx/hex nut tool, but don’t mention what purpose these serve. I’m a tire noob, so to this day I still don’t know if these plastic screw-in inserts serve any purpose other than looking interesting.

    I wanted to so something special with the lug nuts that I’ve never seen before. At least not on purpose. My plan was to have 4 sets of 5 different color lug nuts. Each wheel would have a different color lug nut, and the mixture of colors would be identical on each wheel. The inspiration for this came from the first season of Dexter and the nail polish colors of the prostitutes that were victims of the Ice Truck Killer.

    3 months (July 26, 2013) before I got the wheels, I started trying to get my lug nut vision to come to fruition. I first contacted the Zerg authorized rep, DemonWerkz. I asked them via a Facebook PM if it’d be possible to get a set of the Zerg lug nuts, in the color variety I wanted. Within 20 minutes they replied, saying they’d have to check with Zerg. I didn’t hear back, so on July 29 I PM’d them again, asking for an update. 3 minutes later they replied, saying they hadn’t heard back yet, and would call Zerg the following day. On August 2, 2013 I PM’d again for an update. On August 3rd they replied that Zerg wouldn’t do that. Within a few hours I PM’d them back, accepting that my idea wouldn’t happen, and ordering a set of simple black lug nuts. I didn’t hear back from DemonWerkz again until August 26th, when they told me that they overlooked the order. The order was placed, but I didn’t get anything over the course of the next 3 weeks. I called DemonWerkz and they told me the lug nuts were on back order. I gave up on DemonWerkz and ordered from StreetLightz instead. They arrived a week later. They do look nice, but are fragile. After being installed, removed and installed again, they show significant signs of scoring and have lost much of the black anodization.

    Zerg Industries Extended Security Lug Nuts

  11. #9
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    West Seattle
    A road less traveled

    I’d been very curious about what kind of ¼ mile times the car would run as it was configured. I went to Pacific Raceways for a “Test and Tune” event. I was impressed (mostly) by my final MPH (104) but the 60’ time and launch with the automatic, well, sucked. The best time I could manage was in the very high 13’s. I wanted to have better control of the power the FXT has. I admit that I’m not the best at using the FXT to the extent of its capabilities. I decided to research that it would take to convert my SH to a 5 or 6 speed.

    Pacific Raceways Test n Tune day!

    First thing that I learned was that there had been full STI swaps into the SH Foresters, but only one conversion where the original FXT motor was mated to an STI transmission. That build is located here.

    I didn’t look into the possibility too closely, but the thought of tossing a 5 speed manual transmission from a base Forester 2.5 crossed my mind. It seemed like the cleanest option. It probably would work, and be the easiest option. But, after a brief bit of researching, I learned that the 5 speed transmission doesn’t hold up to high HP motors.

    Getting information on what it takes to put an STI transmission was harder than I thought. The posts I saw on various boards said that it either couldn’t be done at all because the hardware didn’t match up, that it would be too much work (arguably true if you are the first one to do it), that everything matches up just fine, plug and play (big no to that) and that the CAN bus doesn’t match up between the two (the most accurate of the information). Contacting the tuner of the other FXT that was able to do the swap successfully proved to be discouraging. When asked what they did to make the swap a success, they stated that the hardware was swapped, but that the electrical was still incomplete. Although vague, they said that key features, like ABS and traction control was not functional.

    Luckily for me, two of the best tuners in the US within an hours drive from where I live. I went to Dom at MPS and he told me that it would probably be possible, but new ground for him. He couldn’t give me an approximate cost or tell me what parts I’d need to source. I then turned to PIA, who were very confident that it could be done. It would just be a matter or how long and how much money it would take. While fiscally daunting, that was at least inspirational. PIA it was then!

    I touched base with Steve and Mike at Steve’s Pacific Import Auto, in Tacoma, WA. They are one of the many Seattle area tuners, and a favorite among the Subaru crowd. Lots of impressive cars have been built here. Arguably the most well know of those was the first independently swapped (STI drivetrain + interior + suspension) SH FXT’s. Many have seen this video of it online.

    It was discussed that the ideal position to be in would be to have a complete donor car. Since that’s an $8,000 to $12,000 proposal, and outside of my budget, I asked what the other options would be. Initially Mike and Steve suggested getting, at a minimum, these parts:

    • 6 speed STI Transmission from an ’08 – ’13, including drive shaft, cross member and center differential
    • Complete pedal set from the STI
    • Starter from the STI
    • Brake master cylinder from the STI
    • ECU from an ’08 – ’12 WRX hatchback with a manual transmission
    • Complete wiring harness (everything that connects to the ECU) from the WRX
    • Instrument cluster from the WRX
    • Decel g/yaw sensor from the WRX
    Shift trim from a 5 speed SH FXT
    Shift boot from a 5 speed SH FXT

    So off to the internet I went in search of parts to make the dream of a 6-speed transmission into a reality!

  12. #10
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    West Seattle
    The search for parts

    I found the transmission and assorted STI parts from NASIOC member Austin, AKA “littlewhitewagon”. He is located in either southern or central California, but was headed to Portland to some socializing, and offered to bring the transmission and parts with him, in exchange for gas money. We agreed on a price, and soon it was all sitting in the back of the FXT. I went to the local dollar store and bought two $1 shower curtain liners. They protected the carpeted area in the FXT from getting oil and dirt. I also placed some cardboard back there to eliminate carpet dents and lightly cushion/suspend the tranny.

    2011 STI 6-speed transmission and assorted parts

    I brought the parts down to PIA the next day, where they inspected and stored them until my conversion time.

    I researched locations to buy the ECU and wiring harness. Seems like the easiest place to find one is Florida and the tri-boroughs of New York. I was luckily able to locate a donor car in the Tacoma area, at B & R Auto Wrecking out of Graham, WA. I dealt with Shawn in their internet sales group. After negotiating a price for the ECU and harness, I went down to their Graham store to pick it up. Took a few days to get what was ordered, and soon afterwards they too were in the hands of PIA.

    Steve, owner of PIA, wonders what he got himself into

    I soon went on vacation to Boston, and dropped the car off with PIA, where they started on the swap. I couldn’t be more excited, and anxious too. The day before I left it was discovered that I would need the instrument cluster (as suspected), which I also obtained from B & R.

    2010 WRX Instrument Cluster

  13. #11
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    West Seattle
    The swap

    A week was spent in Boston, and I was anxious to get back to Seattle and the FXT. The PIA guys told me that the transmission went in without a hitch. Though it wasn’t planned, they had to use the rear FXT axles on the front of the Forester, because the front STI axles were barely too tight of a fit. We didn’t have to use the STI axles that Austin gave me with the transmission, but they were there, had less mileage than the FXT and were obviously going to be happier down the line with the extra power.

    The original plan was to remove the interior and swap the FXT harness and install the WRX. Steve got a copy of the wiring diagrams for the FXT and WRX. The majority of the interior was removed. The FXT harness was removed. Many hours into the wiring swap, Steve determined that it would actually be faster and more efficient to identify the parts of the harness that were different, and graft the WRX connectors to the FXT harness. The ones that were different were mainly (or solely, I’ll have to confirm) associated to the transmission connectors. I spoke to Steve at the E85 tune and he said that if he did it again, he’d just get the correct connectors and add them to the FXT harness, without removing it. Hindsight is 20/20, and I this case would save 40ish hours from the process.

    Since this was a one-off installation that was essentially all done on the fly, a lot of hours went into getting everything right. Steve from PIA said that when it was all added up, the total time was 66 hours. That included the 60,000 mile maintenance, aligning the headlights and tune time. If he had to do it all again, he estimates the time at approx. 20 hours

    Dash comes off

    It was discovered that the ABS pump and decel (G/yaw) sensor both needed to be swapped from the WRX as well. The ABS pump was needed to get rid of the error light it creates when the FXT ABS pump communicates with the WRX ECU, and the decel sensor for much the same reason, as well an additional wire needing to be added to the sensor. I’m not sure exactly what caused the need for the additional wire, but the hill assist doesn’t work without it.

    More modifications!

    Injector Dynamics ID1300 injectors
    DCCDPro w/dials
    • Body painted handles
    Walbro 460 LPH fuel pump
    • ABS pump from the WRX (mentioned above)
    • Decel (G/yaw) sensor, mentioned above

    Along with the STI 6-speed installation, the subject of upgrades necessary for the E85 tune came up. At first the thought was that only some larger injectors would be needed, but it turned out that in addition to the injectors, the fuel pump also needed to be upgraded.

    419hp / 420tq



    The PIA SH FXT has door handles that are painted the body color of the car. I’d had my chrome door handles plasti-dipped for quite some time. I loved the look, not to mention it added to my blacked-out theme. Steve was very happy with the results he had with his, and suggested I do the same. I agreed, and Steve sent the door handles off to prep and paint. When I picked up the FXT, they were the first things I noticed. They look great!

    Painted Door Handles

    Decel Sensor (FXT sensor shown)

    ABS Pump (FXT pump shown)

    Walbro 460 LPH Fuel Pump

  14. #12
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    West Seattle
    Pictures of the transmission swap

  15. #13
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    West Seattle
    Final touches

    Feeling that I’ve been neglecting the engine bay, I had to throw a little bling inside. Classy COBB battery tie down!

    Cobb Battery Tie Down

    I ordered a few vinyl overlays from JDM Fanatic Vinyls. I think they look pretty good.

    Front Emblem

    Rear Emblem

    Steering Wheel Emblem

    Interior featuring the new tranny with classic COBB shift knob

    Last edited by EugeneUtopia; 12-07-2013 at 05:00 PM.

  16. #14
    Registered User EugeneUtopia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    West Seattle
    Coming soon....

    ... reports on the other work that has been done, but I haven't finished writing about, including:

    And discussion of future mods (in order of how soon they will be done), including:

    • Paint chrome fog light rings (Done)
    • Install yellow fog lenses on fog lights (72 hrs)
    • Cobb oil cap/screw (1-1-14)
    • Custom Titanium FMIC (3-1-14)
    • Strut tower brace (3-1-14)
    • XT hood delete (switch to NA hood) and de-badging (3-1-14)
    • Trunk area brace (TDB)
    • Back up camera (TBD)
    • Different exhaust (TBD)
    • Big brake kit (TBD)
    • Turn signals in the mirrors (TBD)
    • Prova D steering wheel (TBD)

    Current State

    Last edited by EugeneUtopia; 12-07-2013 at 05:02 PM.

  17. #15
    Registered User wrx650's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Cleveland, OH
    I Support ClubWRX
    Wow! Great thread. Really enjoyed reading this. That thing is quite the fozzy. I have tje same steering wheel overlay

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

    2009 Spark Silver Metallic Sedan - Stage 2+

    Stink-Eye Mob #91

    Help Me with My Build Thread :

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