The CMS STi owner, Tristan, was planning on taking it on a week long trip to the mountains for some true driving zen, and the STi needed to be in fighting trim to do so. So, he put together a list of both performance upgrades he wanted to do and maintenance items that needed to be addressed. A lot of times with car guys, the “fun stuff” comes first (performance), and the “not-so-fun stuff” (maintenance) comes a distant second, if at all. This is really the opposite of how it should be, as maintenance and upkeep should always come first. Why? Well, what good is a fire-breathing 500 horsepower monster….if the car dies because old fluid wasn’t changed, or a wheel falls off because a bearing failed? Exactly, it’s not good at all. So, with an upcoming 2,000+ mile trip, with hard up-hill driving, and the need for the car to make it up and back under it's own power, it was decided to get all of the “not-so-fun stuff” done first. Read on to see what we addressed and why!
First item on the list was to get every fluid changed out – Transmission and Gear oil were changed out to high performance Motul Gear 300, as this stuff is able to handle heat and abuse better than the OEM fluid. The brake fluid was bled with high-temp Motul RBF600 which will also stand up to higher temps better over standard fluid. The clutch fluid was bled with ATE typ200 (and a new stainless line put in place of the old rubber one), power steering fluid was flushed and cycled with new ATF, and finally the coolant was swapped out for new stuff when we removed the radiator. Last on the list was some fresh Motul Sport oil for the engine with a new filter. Fluids are often overlooked because they will continue to operate quietly even when they are very dirty, meaning they don’t squeak like low brake pads, or clunk like a bad axle. The issue is, dirty/worn fluid doesn’t operate like it should – trans and diff fluid won’t lubricate the gears, oil won’t lubricate bearings, clutch fluid will break down and won’t operate the clutch as easily, and so-on. You can prematurely wear these mechanical items out, or worse, break an expensive part. So it’s worth your time, and money, to always keep up on fluid maintenance!
With fresh fluids in place, we moved on to the big stuff – wheel bearings. The STI had about 75k miles on the factory bearings, and they were starting to drag a little bit and make some noise at speed. Instead of waiting for one of the bearings to really start to go, we replaced these ahead of time. New OEM front bearings were bolted in place, these come as a complete unit on the STis and are not too hard to replace. The rears actually need to be completely disassembled and are a lot more work, but it needed to be done! While we had the hubs apart we replaced the factory studs with ARP upgraded studs. These are much longer than the factory wheel studs and stronger, so it’s a win-win. We highly recommend studs like these when using wider wheels, spacers, or when you simply need to remove and install wheels/lugnuts often (like in racing, autox, etc.). Every time a lugnut is removed and then torqued down the stud is slightly fatigued, and over many removals and installations they can fatigue to the point of failure. So, if you’re the kind of guy or girl that removes and install wheels a lot, consider upgrading!
Next up was tires; we had older tires on the car with enough tread that probably could have made the trip…but we wanted to really enjoy the roads up there without worry. So, we went with a new set of Dunlop Direzza ZIIIs. These are a very high performance tires with lots of grip, and we love the way they feel and the feedback they provide. You do trade off longevity with low treadwear tires like these, but the grip and consistency is worth it for us. The 5th tire we needed to change, was our “space saver spare”. Yes, this has to be the most un-fun thing to spend money on for a car, but our spacer saver was dry rotted from many years of just sitting in a hot trunk. It wouldn’t hold air when we tried to air it up, and since the STI uses a unique spacer save to clear the factory brakes, we didn’t want to chance driving without one. So, we purchased a new spare tire (which is very expensive if you never bothered to price one out), had it mounted up, and then it went back into it’s home in the trunk…hopefully never to be used, but there if we need it!
A couple of the bigger projects involved new brakes all around, which can be seen in more detail in a future post, where we install 6 piston calipers, pads, rotors, and fluid - so stay tuned for that!
We also replaced our radiator, thermostat, fans, and coolant, which can be seen in detail here - Radiator Upgrade
So with all of this done we felt more confident in our cars’ ability to not only make it up to the mountains and back, but to also operate smoothly and without issues while doing the fun stuff – twisty mountain roads! The same can be said if planning to compete in an upcoming track day or autocross, rallycross etc. We often hear people call and say things like – “I have a trackday coming up and I want coilovers” – But when we ask about the cars maintenance history……silence. ALWAYS get the un-fun maintenance stuff out of the way first, and then move on to the fun stuff. Don’t be that guy with a $5k suspension and a dry transmission being towed back to the pits, or stuck on the side of the highway without a spare tire!
Circuit Motorsports is a performance auto shop located in Orlando Florida. We specialize in performance upgrades, ECU tuning, and fabrication. If you are interested in performance upgrades or a full build consultation contact us today!
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Website - www.circuitmotorsports.net
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