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· Premium Member
162 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been a member here since buying my DGM 2013 WRX Hatch new.

Searching this forum and others has been such a great resource for learning about these cars and seeing what people are doing to make them better and more fun to drive. Everyone's path is obviously different, based on how much you want to spend in time and $$. And also in deciding whether to do something that would void your warranty. We make our own choices.

My car has just over 70k on it and I recently got some new wider rims & tires and had stiffer sway bars installed. Totally changed the car ... it drives better than it did new and handles better than I thought it would after the upgrades.

I also bought an AP V3 and installed it a couple weeks later and really enjoyed the little boost in power. I went with the stage 1 OTS map since my engine/exhaust/intake are all completely stock. After reading about datalogging and how that data can reveal potential problems with the engine/tune, etc., I decided to do it for the first time and send it in to see if there was anything going on. At the end of the dataloggng run when I let off the gas, I felt the gas pedal vibrate a little and I heard a ticking, knock noise. I coasted to a stop and then the engine cut off. I called for a tow and my car was at the dealer for almost 2 weeks.

While waiting for the tow truck I was thinking about what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the OTS tune cause this? Did the stress of that WOT run simply expose an existing problem that was probably going to happen anyway? I think so.

I bought the extended factory warranty when I got the car and I have been going back to the same dealer for every service since day one. They were very honest and up front with me, once they were able to review all of my service records. They said they've seen "some" WRXs with the same problem, #3 cylinder rod bearing failure, that have had much fewer miles on them and had never been tuned or modified. So, they covered a new engine and turbo under the extended warranty. It was probably in the $9,000 - $11,000 cost (to me) range when they were done with it. I don't think every dealer would do this ... I consider myself lucky. So, be nice to your service reps every time you go in.

I was very glad to hear that the tune wasn't the direct cause. But, I was told by a tech there that he doesn't recommend the AP and their OTS tunes for the WRX engine. According to him, the STI engine bearings, pistons, etc. are of better quality and more durable. He also said a pro tune is the way to go (if you have to) especially on the WRX motor. I had no idea that there was a mechanical difference in the two motors (duh) ... I figured it was ECU tuning and exhaust that differentiated them.

Last thing I want to mention is that I was able to meet the tech who built the new motor and talked with him about the condition of the old one. Everything was really clean. The heads, valves, crankcase area .. all sludge/buildup free. But the pistons were a different story. There was carbon caked all over the tops of them. I used to use BG44K years ago and I think I am going back to it since I have a fresh start.

If you're somebody like me who craves more power and better handling. 1st, start with the suspension/wheels, etc. If you're still under warranty and you decide get into ECU mods, find a way to start a discussion about mods in general with the guys at the service department. The only reason I put the Stage 1 on my car is because they told me they'd have my back, as long as I stayed with OTS stuff or a protune. When the engine crapped out and I was on my way to the dealer, I was preparing myself for the worst. And I didn't blame anyone ... I knew that "technically" they could deny my claim. To have them admit it was a flaw in the engine, kinda restored my faith in humanity a little.

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· Premium Member
162 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Follow Up:

When they were rebuilding the engine they offered to do a clutch job for the cost of the parts. I took them up on it because it seemed like a great idea, and it would save me money down there road when it needed to be done.

By the time I got home with the car, about a 20 minute drive, I was hearing a cyclical squeaking sound when I would let the clutch all the way out. I thought it might be the throwout bearing. When I called my service rep he told me to bring it by. As soon as they heard the sound they set up another appointment for me and it was in the shop again for a week.

They said the problem was a tube in the transmission case that got deformed somehow when the engine went back together. SOA replaced the transmission case and they rebuilt the transmission, and I was offered a flywheel for the cost of the parts, which I took them up on.

After a couple weeks of driving to work and a some long trips, I finally broke the 1,000 mile mark on the new motor and took it out for an early morning blast through the country ... it had been about a month since I'd been able to wring it out a little and it felt pretty awesome.

I shudder to think of what I would have been on the hook for, had the same scenario played out with no warranty coverage.

If I do any tuning down the road, I will be damn sure I'm ready to cover the cost of what could happen. Not to say that this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't put on the tune, not at all. I think it was inevitable, and I got lucky it happened when it did. The car runs like a Swiss watch now and I don't even miss the little boost I enjoyed for a couple weeks before all this happened.
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