One very confused newbie...
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This is a discussion on One very confused newbie... within the New Member Hangout forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; Hey everybody, Before I start, let me just apologize because I am sure I will get a few veterans yelling ...

  1. #1
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    One very confused newbie...

    Hey everybody,

    Before I start, let me just apologize because I am sure I will get a few veterans yelling at me for asking questions that have already been answered in other threads, but Ive actually spent the last few days trying to figure this out and I'm just digging a deeper and deeper hole for myself. Im just plain lost....

    I just bought an 05 WRX and for a first mod (besides better tires.. and maybe a driving lesson) I was thinking about reflashing the ECU. I am not planning on going crazy with engine mods, but I'd like to do the basics ie change the exuast to a fully turbo back system. After reading a ton of threads it seems like the best way to go is to purchase one of these all inclusive stage 1 upgrades. The thing is I don't want to do it all at once. Id like to eventually get to a point where my car is turbo-back. Should I buy uppipe downpipe and catback exaust first and purchase the reflash second or the other way around. I was thinking about going with Vishu stage 0 first and then either buying the stage 1 upgrade or adding the turboback seperately after. However, I don't want to spend money to reflash the computer every time I add something.

    This is where I get really confused... A reflash means just that I take it to a tuner and they spend some time playing with the ECU right? I know nothing about tuning, but I'd like to be able to change to different pre-programmed maps like if the weather changes (it snows alot where I live). Do you ahve to purchase something seperately to allow you to do that like the Cobb AP or ECUTEC? If someone could in plain language describe the appropriate engine management approach (options prices etc that would be great) for a newbie such as myself that doesn't that would be sweet. Im not looking to put 350hp in the car, I just want an every day driver that is legal and takes advantage of WRX's full potential. Once again, I apologize because these questions are all over the forums but I haven't found one long detailed thread that I can understand and follow logically (they are just all over the place from Cobb AP and UTEC and ECUTEC etc etc.) Please help!!Thanks !!

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  3. #2
    Registered User bigd's Avatar
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    No need to apologize, everyone's path through the tuning jungle is different.

    I'd get the parts first, then have it tuned.

    If you want to change the maps yourself, you'll need to buy the equipment. The easiest BY FAR seems to be the Cobb AccessPort. Its around $550 i think for the WRX, and you can switch maps whenever you like, and you can download them from Cobb's site. You don't need to go to a pro tuning shop unless you need to tune for a lot of aftermarket stuff. A full turboback, uppipe, and Cobb AP should do the trick for what you're looking for. If I were you, I'd get the Uppipe first and the Downpipe, then get the catback. Once you've got all that stuff, then get the AP and it should be plug and play, no need for a tuning shop.

    The car will be very noticably faster, sound MUCH better, and generally be more fun to drive.

    Here's some more rather inexpensive stuff you can do for cheap that will make the car much more fun all around...

    Brakes- stainless steel braided lines, better fluid (motul RBF600), better pads (Hawk something, can't remember the good pad name)

    Tires- theres a handful of great tires out there.

    Short throw shifter- Kartboy with bushings is HIGHLY reccomended by many.

    Swaybars and springs- the car will be much more responsive and balanced.

    Steering rack bushings- Whiteline are great, steering will be much more responsive.
    Dave
    01 RS

  4. #3
    Registered User BlkWRXWag's Avatar
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    Buy the accessport. You can read all about it at www.cobbtuning.com. You can then flash your ECU yourself depending on what parts you add. Just stick to their Stages.

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    thanks bigd

    Thanks thats exactly what I was looking for. A few more questions though.

    1) What is the difference between the Access Port and a reflash? Also is Cobb the best way to go ...how do you feel about Visnu tuning?

    2)You say to buy the do Upipe and downpipe first and THEN buy the catback. Will just adding the uppipe and downpipe change the sound of the car? Also, will I then have to put the stock parts back on to pass an inspection. I want the car to have a deeper sound but I don't want it to turn heads when I rev up the engine. I just want it to sound more sophisticated than stock, but not obnoxious.

    3) Should I mix and match companies when buying uppipe downpipe and catback.. are there certain companies that are better than others for specific parts?

    3) How come the COBB site suggests buying the computer first?

    4) Why would someone reflash their computer versus buying this accesport? It seems like a nobrainer to buy the one where you don't have to get it tuned every time you add something to your car.

    Thanks for all your help.

    -Matt

  6. #5
    Registered User BlkWRXWag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosaymaan
    Thanks thats exactly what I was looking for. A few more questions though.

    1) What is the difference between the Access Port and a reflash? Also is Cobb the best way to go ...how do you feel about Visnu tuning?

    2)You say to buy the do Upipe and downpipe first and THEN buy the catback. Will just adding the uppipe and downpipe change the sound of the car? Also, will I then have to put the stock parts back on to pass an inspection. I want the car to have a deeper sound but I don't want it to turn heads when I rev up the engine. I just want it to sound more sophisticated than stock, but not obnoxious.

    3) Should I mix and match companies when buying uppipe downpipe and catback.. are there certain companies that are better than others for specific parts?

    3) How come the COBB site suggests buying the computer first?

    4) Why would someone reflash their computer versus buying this accesport? It seems like a nobrainer to buy the one where you don't have to get it tuned every time you add something to your car.

    Thanks for all your help.

    -Matt

    1) Cobb > Vishnu

    2) Buy in whatever order you want. UP/DP will change the sound, but not a huge amount. Depends on your inspection. Sound is personal preference - do some reseach on different exhausts.

    3) To make you spend more money It really doesn't matter - up to you.

    4) Read up about Custon tunes vs. off the shelf maps.

  7. #6
    Registered User IronMedic's Avatar
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    another thing to consider is the UTEC computer. it lets u manage all parameters of tuning. whether u know how to tune or not, it is a great computer. i dont know anything about tuning yet (i understand all the parameters, just not how to modify em) but all i did was load a stage 2, 91 octane map and i was on my way. the UTEC computer has a built in dashboard that u can monitor from your laptop while in the car. it also comes with knock protection and u can disable the CEL when it comes to dealing with the stupid sensors on the turboback/uppipe swap. the Cobb AP lets u disable the CEL as well.
    hope that helps some too! u are on the right path to get an ECU upgrade first! i would personally do that first before the rest of the work.
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  8. #7
    Registered User bigd's Avatar
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    (correct me if I'm wrong) but a reflash overwrites the ECU, and that can only be done a limited time (the ECU can only handle about 100 reflashes before its dead), and you have to pay money everytime you want the map changed.

    The AP (and other piggyback style EM systems) work with the computer, so you don't need to reflash the ECU and wear it out.

    UTEC is a really solid system, but expensive (just over $1k). The AP can't be beat for its price/performance (nearly half the UTEC price). You just won't have full tunability unless you get Cobb's Tuner software package (another $450).

    The Uppipe eliminates one of your catalytic converters, this one comes right before the turbo. It will make a very small change in the sound of the engine, but does a lot to increase flow. Uppipes range from $100-$200 typically.

    The Downpipe will make a small change in how the engine sounds, but will make a huge difference in flow. there are 2 more cats in the DP. Get a good aftermarket DP with a good high flow cat and you should still pass emissions with no problems, but you will have a much better flowing exhaust. The sound will change a little, but not much. If you get a catless downpipe, don't expect to pass emissions tests, but your exhaust will sound insane with a catback. Its loud without cats. A good DP can net you as much as 15-20hp alone. Expect to pay $200-400 for a really good DP.

    The catback doesn't do much for performance (maybe 5-7ish hp at most for a full 3"), but does boost teh ego. it will sound better with just about any (good name) catback. I'd reccomend Invidia (for performance), their system is a full 3" all the way back. It doesn't taper back down to 2.5" like some systems. I've got the full TBE and its MEAN, but awfully loud because its catless. I love it because it intimidates the crap out of anyone trying to race me. Its gorgeous, some of the best welds I've ever seen. Some manufacturers make catbacks that have silencers, or bigger mufflers, they help to quiet the noise. Catback systems run around $500-800 normally.

    You can usually get a DP/catback combo for much cheaper ($900-1200). Some vendors will run specials on package deals for a DP/UP/Catback combo.
    Last edited by bigd; 08-11-2005 at 10:26 AM.
    Dave
    01 RS

  9. #8
    Registered User BlkWRXWag's Avatar
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    You are right, but AP is not a piggyback. With the AP, flashing a base map will take up one of the ECU reflashes, but real time map changes will not. For the difference in base and real time maps, please read www.cobbtuning.com! If you do not intend doing any tuning yourself, AP makes much more sense to me than UTEC. However, only you can make that choice by reading all about them and making your own decision.

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    OK. So I think I've made up my mind ... After reading alot about the AP setup, I think thats the way to go for me. If I want to get into tuning the engine myself, I can always buy the Protune setup which will make it just as good as the UTEC.

    Now, that I've decided which ECU upgrade to get I have a few more questions. The threads seem to show mixed opinions when it comes to upgrading engine performance or handling. From what I understand, the stock tires on the 05 wrx are crap so I guess it makes sense to bite the bullet and get some good tires. I go to school in Maine and see a fair amount of snow, but live in NYC so I would be getting all season tires. Is it still worth my while to upgrade the tires even if I'm still gonna just gonna get some more all seasons? Also, will simply upgrading the tires be enough change in stopping / handling to match the change in hp ill get from the AP setup?

    Lets say I have enough to do the tires (if I really do need to upgrade those), the computer, and one other thing should I get an upipe, or maybe brake upgades, springs or endlinks (no clue wat those are btw).

    Finally, if I am def going to get the AP system does that mean I need to buy gauges or is that more for looks at this point in my upgrade path.

  11. #10
    Registered User BlkWRXWag's Avatar
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    We can't tell you whether to upgrade suspension or engine first - that is up to you and what you want. Me, my stock tires were off the car within 10 miles of purchasing the car and three years later are still sitting unused in my garage.

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    Registered User bigd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlkWRXWag
    You are right, but AP is not a piggyback. With the AP, flashing a base map will take up one of the ECU reflashes, but real time map changes will not. For the difference in base and real time maps, please read www.cobbtuning.com! If you do not intend doing any tuning yourself, AP makes much more sense to me than UTEC. However, only you can make that choice by reading all about them and making your own decision.
    i knew it wasn't a piggyback system, but its not a full engine management system. I just read the user manual and i (for some reason) thought it was installed and left in (piggyback style). so, thanks for the correction.

    Personally, I like a car that is well balanced, stable, and highly responsive. power is a secondary priority for me. I see too many "enthusiasts" upgrading the engine/drivetrain and throw caution to the wind as far as everything else is concerned. I've seen too many cars that are capable of some incredible acceleration and speed, but couldn't stop or control the car incase of an emergency. (reminds me of the muscle cars with the skinny front tires, that scares the crap out of me).

    All I am saying, is (for safety's sake) one shouldn't spend every penny on power upgrades without at least considering the other aspects of the car's performance. (Not that this is your intent, its just a point).


    There are all season tires that are much better than stock tires, you don't need to go with ultra-high performance summer tires to enjoy better traction. if you're not that worried about tire grip, keep em, I've seen a lot worse. Put some miles on them, and with your driving style (when spirited) you feel the tires aren't up to par, research what is currently avaliable and choose something suitable.

    Suspension upgrades are great ways to make the car more fun to drive. Springs can lower the car (and center of gravity), give it a more aggressive stance, and firm it up a bit so you get less body lean. Swaybars help to balance the car during cornering, and with an adjustable set, you can tune how much the car wants to over/understeer. If you go with swaybars, you'll need endlinks. They're small links that connect the bars to the moving suspension arms. The stock endlinks are too wimpy for upgraded swaybars.

    It seems like you're going about it in the right manner, the more research you do the more you'll determine just what you're looking for.
    Dave
    01 RS

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    Registered User le wagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosaymaan
    3) Should I mix and match companies when buying uppipe downpipe and catback.. are there certain companies that are better than others for specific parts?

    3) How come the COBB site suggests buying the computer first?

    4) Why would someone reflash their computer versus buying this accesport? It seems like a nobrainer to buy the one where you don't have to get it tuned every time you add something to your car.
    3) it doesnt matter if you mix companies, theyre are better quality than others just search for some posts on here, people compare them all the time.

    3) they suggest buying it first, because it is better to run your ECU with the parts, so if you buy the up/dp first it wont hurt, but its not the best for your car. If you buy them afterwards the cobb ap takes care of it.. i belive its something like that.

    4) the accessport only allows you to upgrade to stage 2.5 ( for now ) which is vf34 turbo, w/ stock intake and etc. People buy other companies that allow them to fine tune it more, and to upgrade to whatever hp they want.
    EVO III 16g'd wagon
    stock tranny goin strong
    .. already ready for a bigger turbo
    - - - - - - - - - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by chanwahyaoh
    Sometimes after I go poo, I just blank out and mindlessly continue my upward wipe all the way up the small of my back and end up smearing brown all over myself. Just kidding. That sucks about your laundry though...

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    Registered User le wagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosaymaan
    Lets say I have enough to do the tires (if I really do need to upgrade those), the computer, and one other thing should I get an upipe, or maybe brake upgades, springs or endlinks (no clue wat those are btw).
    definately go with an uppipe if your running the turboback, the cats in the stock up could shatter and F up your turbo.
    EVO III 16g'd wagon
    stock tranny goin strong
    .. already ready for a bigger turbo
    - - - - - - - - - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by chanwahyaoh
    Sometimes after I go poo, I just blank out and mindlessly continue my upward wipe all the way up the small of my back and end up smearing brown all over myself. Just kidding. That sucks about your laundry though...

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    Registered User BlkWRXWag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by le wagon
    3) 3) they suggest buying it first, because it is better to run your ECU with the parts, so if you buy the up/dp first it wont hurt, but its not the best for your car. If you buy them afterwards the cobb ap takes care of it.. i belive its something like that.
    Uppipe is not needed until you raise boost. Just adding a downpipe (or uppipe) will be fine. Car will be fine without EM. You just get better performance with EM.

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    Thanks for the great info guys. Quick question.. If i go with Cobb AP do I need to get some gaugues too or can that wait until I get the up/dp/catback to get them.

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