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S401 A Long Week

Well its been 8 days now since the car was delivered. Whats the verdict?

When it arrived, sitting on that truck I was excited. It was filthy, but damn it was a cool looking car. Those big gold Brembo brakes peeking out from behind a set of stunning BBS wheels. It’s the small things that make this car special.

Saying I was disappointed when it started up and was rough as guts is a bit of an understatement, but hey, there was no point in being mad about being screwed by the seller. I now owned the car, and had a fair wad of cash sitting in it. There was potential there, for sure, I just had to pull out the stops and make it the car it should be.

So since I got the car, I have put many hours and some cash into it. I’m glad I don’t charge by the hour!

Getting it home from work in the first place was a bit nerve-wracking. I couldn’t risk driving it in rush hour, so I left the car at work, we went home in the Honda, had dinner and went back to get the car a couple of hours later. I managed to drive it home OK, it was a pig to accelerate but at cruise it was tolerable.

The first step, once home, was to try replacing the spark plugs. The plugs in the car were heavily worn, with a massive gap. Its amazing the car ran at all. Sadly this isn’t something that just happens overnight, the seller knew the car was running like this and just neglected to fix it. Probably got told the spark plugs would cost a fortune to change and they were super-duper hard to do, so reverted to standard and sold up.

This helped the issue but it was still misfiring. Knowing how bad the plugs were I had no faith at all in the coils. Pushing a spark over that gap does bad things to coils. I managed to score a set of good condition coils from a V7 STI from a member on the Clubsub forums (thanks!), and while they were in transit I gave some upper engine cleaner a shot. It’s unlikely it had been done in a while, and Subaru recommends it every service or two.

Upper engine cleaner didn’t really do a lot, but Shumma did result in some clouds of smoke. Other than that, it still ran like a bag of poo.

I also decided I had had enough of seeing so much mud around the car. It’s obvious it had been doing some fully sick rally driving on really muddy roads or something, because it’s everywhere. After work on Saturday I came home, and started cleaning the car, wheel by wheel, arch by arch. It started pissing down about an hour into my 5 hour cleaning mission. I was soaked through, and rolling around on the ground trying to water blast under the car didn’t help. The amount of mud I cleaned off is horrific, but dammit, there is still more to come off.

The coils arrived, and I quickly set to work smothering them in sealant, and fitting them after work. It’s not a fun job, but I am getting pretty good at doing the plugs now. All the little tricks that make the job easier, like rotating the rear LH coil 90 degrees so it will clear the reinforcing plate on the chassis.

The coils worked, and the car runs amazingly well now. It is finally how it should have been when I got it. I love driving it; its powerful, comfortable, easy to drive and really understated. Its quiet, and civilised, but when you stick your foot up it the exhaust valve open, the boost comes on and you’re off.

Theres still a lot more work to do, especially regarding the interior, but what I have achieved in one week with this car is staggering. I look forward to doing more work on it, making more posts about it, and getting it to the condition it deserves to be.

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Mark Zhu
Mark Zhu
7 years ago

Been following your blog! Really nice car, always wondered why this “upper engine clean thing” is promoted by subaru and not other manufacturers?