My original build thread can be found here. http://www.racecentex.com/forum/showthread.php?639-My-integra-project.
My initial interactions with RTR were good. James and his shop were recommended by a friend of a friend. I met with James in May of 2011 about my teg and getting it back together and on the road. We settled on doing an LS/Vtec with a wire tuck, brake line tuck, electro hydraulic power steering, chipped ecu, wiring JDM headlights and getting the interior reinstalled with new carpet.
My car was in his shop from the beginning of June to the end of September. In the beginning, James would send frequent pic updates via text message. As time went on the updates were less frequent. When September rolled around I asked when my car would be done. After I returned from a TDY trip late September he said I could come get my car.
I daily drove it after first getting it back. Initially everything seemed okay. I’d rate the condition of work compared to what we discussed at 60%. The interior carpet was hacked. He said they couldn’t get it installed right. The carpet was an OEM mold that cost over $200 from stockinteriors.com. It was cut in the wrong places and didn’t sit right at all. The exhaust resonator and header hung extremely low, and my car wasn’t even at the height I wanted it. James also informed me that my chipped ecu wasn’t ready and that a stock GSR ecu was in my car for the meantime.
Then one day a friend of mine pointed out white smoke coming from my exhaust. I took it through the car wash one day and also noticed a major leak inside the firewall. I mean water was pouring in at both the driver and passenger foot well areas.
When I texted James about those issues he said he’d fix them. I texted James to set up a time to fix the exhaust and header as well as the water leak and that never materialized. One day he informed me that my chipped ecu was ready to be picked up. Minutes after I left his shop the ecu literally started smoking. I shut the car off, called him back and he put back the stock GSR ecu back in and told me he’d get the “chipped ecu” checked out and let me know when it would be ready.
As far as the white smoke, I inspected things and found that a hose that was suppose to go from the intake manifold to PCV and oil separator was not even there. The port on the intake manifold was just capped off. When I installed the hose correctly I didn’t have any more white smoke issues.
I also found that the header was modified and the fit was poor. They flipped the lower section, had to relocate the O2 bung and what was now the bottom and the upper section was then welded to the lower section instead of bolted in via the appropriate mounts.
The electro hydraulic power steering wasn’t completed satisfactory either. I had a good slow leak that I had to top with PS fluid every week. He said that was normal with the MR2 PS pumps. Even though I purchased a brand new OEM pump. Also, I had to reorder AN lines because he decided to change the location of the pump after first giving me a measurement for which I ordered an AN line for.
The wire tuck was sufficient. I say sufficient because everything seemed to work okay. I did find some parts shrink tubed but others just wrapped to hell in electric tape. Also some parts were soldered while others were just twist and taped together. I GAVE James a whole bunch of new and different sized and widths wire loom and shrink tub which wasn’t all used. He included some type of Mil spec connector which was nice but hidden under the intake tube. The brake line tuck wasn’t. He just covered everything in the bay area with what he called “RTR tuck plates” Which were just black sheets of plastic zip tied down. The brake lines were all hidden under there. He also located the prop valve in the passenger foot well. He said he’d make a metal kick plate for it so that way it wouldn’t be messed with by passenger’s feet. When I got the car the carpet was just laying over the prop valve. So in the event that I did have a passenger and they would have accidentally put there feet over the prop valve, I could have lost or had disproportionate braking. HUGE safety concern.
In late November my teg was hit by a City of Killeen garbage truck. I texted James about getting an invoice/work order copy so that I could include it with my claim to the City showing the value of the car. Ever since the smoking chipped ecu incident I heard less and less from James to the point where my texts went unanswered. That was really irking, all I was asking for was a write up to include with my claim and it was ignored.
One error to note on my part; I didn’t get a copy of the work order/invoice before work started. I actually did ask James a few days after he picked up my teg and parts for a copy but he never answered about it. When we discussed payment he said to do it as a gift over paypal. I continuously asked for an invoice and never received one.
There was a sign in his shop “office” I remember seeing saying something to the effect that all work will be paid for first. That coupled with not getting an invoice and paypal gifting the payment should have told me to stay away. And I say “office” because my initial visit I walked into something that looked completely unprofessional. Broken couches, ash trays and dirt, a neglected display case and a fire arm laying next to some car magazines.
Again, my mistake for doing business with RTR. And an expensive one at that. I followed through because it was a recommendation from a friend of a friend. Next time I’ll make better decisions and work with a professional shop. The thing is, on the initial visit I even spoke to James about my concerns with working with a shop. How I’ve heard of the shady stories of being charged for work or parts never done or installed. Or being left high and dry after the work is complete if something goes wrong. He reassured me that RTR was not that type of shop and that customers end of becoming friends and just coming over to hang out.
Now I won’t know if the ARP head studs or flywheel bolts were ever used. Or if everything he said he would do was done 100%. I was left high and dry after I picked up my car though, just plain ignored. I never received the chipped ecu I paid for. And I guess I wasn’t a customer that was good enough to be treated as a friend.
Now for a few pics:
This shot is of the header connection to exhaust. The Invidia test pipe I provided was welded to the header. My car isn’t lowered to the height I would set it at and as you can see the header connection is a couple inches from the ground. I scraped just pulling into my driveway.
A shot of the exhaust resonator, barely any clearance. I found they didn’t reuse the rubber exhaust hangers. So to get the clearance you see here I had to use adjustable bands on the hanger portions tightened up just to get that much clearance.
The first time i pulled my bumper after getting my car back I noticed that the bumper support wasn’t even bolted in. It was just laying there. The yellow areas show were the bolts were suppose to go on both sides. Those bolts exist to help line the bumper up to the headlights.
Here’s a shot of the wire tuck in the front area. When I was salvaging parts from my teg after the garbage truck hit it I noticed what looks like some lamp cord used for the wiring. This area is where I also noticed some areas shrink tubed and soldered while others were twist and taped.
Just like so, see the left vs. right.
And this is how the wiring sat under the fender. It’s completely exposed to the wheel area.
Here’s a video of the white smoke from the exhaust Before I fixed the PCV connection
Here are some shots (taken by RTR) of what they call a brake line tuck. Much of it ended up being covered by black plastic “tuck plates”.
Notice the bends aren’t really clean.
RTR ended up just spraying the brake lines white. 😦
I’ll post more pics and videos I took as I come across them.
All in all, I do not recommend RTR Performance. It was an expensive lesson learned. Its my fault for missing the tell tale signs of an unprofessional shop. I chose to overlook it because it was recommended from a friend of a friend. I hope that others can use my experience to help them with dealing with this or other performance shops. I’ll follow up with the Better Business Bureau but I do not believe RTR is an official tax paying business.
My advice would be to get multiple references. Make sure you get work orders/invoices/receipts/ some kind of paper trail. Get a good estimate of when work will be completed. Things may initially start out well, like I write in my original build thread. But can go bad in a matter of time. All the following up I had to do and hassle I experienced made me lose a lot of interest. It was a crappy experience but its a lesson learned.
Harker Heights, Texas (TX)