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CT Engineering (Comptech) Icebox

I wasn’t a big fan of the cone filter that came with the TSX.  The stock air box had been removed for the most part, and replaced with a generic cone air filter.  Under quick acceleration the TSX had the adolescent-esque screen of the intake.  I’m old.  Er, older.  When I was younger and first got into the automotive scene, I would have wanted that sound.  Now I just want quiet.

I’ve always been a fan of Comptech or CT Engineering parts so I decided to take advantage of HeelToe Automotives Black Friday deals and purchase the OEM parts needed (lower air box) and the CT Icebox.  =D

I certainly like how the Icebox fills that area of the engine bay nicely.  Like it belongs there.  Gone is the scream, replaced with a nice, quiet, but strong acceleration.  I think there is even a slight whistle/whine with the installation of the Icebox and air horn under the drivers side headlight behind the bumper.

The Icebox makes me happy.  =)

 

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Skunk2 things for the TSX

Skunk2 had an awesome Black Friday sale so I decided to take advantage.  =)   Some things were needed, others were nice to get for a great discount.

After taking the TSX into Aspen Auto Clinic for a once over I learned I needed to replace the valve cover gasket and the VTEC solenoid gasket.  Since Skunk2 was having their sale and they offer a VTEC solenoid, I figured I’d pick up one of those.

I also learned that the TSX didn’t have adjustable front camber arms… =(

So I bought a set of Skunk2 adjustable A arms.  =D

Skunk2 seems to have upped their packaging game!

And now for a few dress up items:

Radiator cap before:

Radiator cap after:

 

Oil cap before:


Oil cap after:

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Almost like new steering wheel

The almost 13 year old steering wheel on the TSX was in worse off condition than my old 23 year old Integra sedan’s wheel.  I’m guessing the past 3-4 owners before me may have picked at it until it looked like this.

Since the TSX will be my daily driver, I couldn’t stand driving it with the wheel as it was.  After doing some research, a whole “brand used” OEM wheel from eBay was cost prohibitive and seemed like a lot of work.

After more research I came across the Wheelskins company leather steering wheel cover.  I wanted an OEM look and they seemed to provide the best offering.  So, I figured I’d give it a shot.

 

After about an hours worth of work, threading and lacing the cover on the steering wheel, I’d have to say i’m pleased with the results.

The cover is tight fitting, or as tight as you lace it on and soft to touch.  It’s a pretty quality piece and great addition to freshen up the interior.  If i could have gotten the areas near the steering wheels spokes as tight as OEM, it would have been perfect.  According to the Wheelskins instructions, spokes larger than 1.5″ should have “dummy” stitches on the front side of the cover.  So those areas are tight, but not “glued” to the steering wheel in those areas if you catch my drift.

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with Wheelskins leather wheel covers.  You can order them from Amazon as linked in this blog post, or at the Wheelskins website.

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It was a friggin plug…

So when I bought the TSX the navigation touch screen was non responsive.  After starting the car, it would go to the screen where you enter the security code and eventually just dim/turn off since the code couldn’t be entered.  The set of buttons under the nav screen and the little toggle switch also did not work.  The climate control buttons to each side of the screen worked though.

After doing some research online, I came across the conclusion that maybe replacing the whole touch screen unit would do the trick.  So after $370, I ordered a unit from eBay.

So after I received it I prepared to remove and replace the unit currently in the car.  While doing so I noticed a white plug receptacle on the under side of the unit.  The previous owner mentioned something about a white plug in that area that was for the light assembly of the cubby that was replaced by the Clarion head unit.  I didn’t see the white plug off the bat and looked around for it.  It was tucked off to the side of the Clarion head unit.  After taking a look at the plug and receptacle on the OEM unit I began to think that it wasn’t just for a light assembly.  There were too many contacts inside to just be for a light. So I connected that white plug to the under side receptacle of the OEM touch screen assembly and started the car… And what the friggin hell do ya know?!  The touch screen works!  >=(

So…expensive lesson learned.  I’ll only be out the 25% restocking fee the eBay seller charges after I return the unit.  =|

The newly discovered problem?  There is a navigation disc error.  So I ordered the final map update release for the 2004-2005 TSX that came out in 2014.  The 2014 Orange DVD Map update V3.D0 is the last update for my model year TSX.

Hopefully that will fix the navigation system of my used TSX.

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Out with the wide, in with the winter set up

First order of business was to swap out the wheel/tire combo I bought the car with.  They were far too wide for my taste.  The Work Emotion CR Ultimate wheels look awesome, they just weren’t the right fit for me.  The wheel specs are 18×9.5 +12.

I was able to find a set of of Enkei Aegis wheels AND winter tires on the local Craigslist!  At 17×8 +36, with 235/45 tires, the fit was more to my liking.  The “new to me” Enkei’s are far from perfect condition, but look great to me and give me a chance to try my hand a repairing curb rash and such, to make them look better.  One negative about the Enkei’s, one is missing the center cap sticker.  I haven’t been able to find one on the world wide web yet either.

Next order of business was a proper alignment.  The car came with a rear upper arm camber kit installed and Ingalls rear camber toe links uninstalled.  Thankfully, Skunk2 had a Black Friday deal going so I was able to buy a Skunk2 Pro Series front camber kit at a discount.

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So I bought a 2004 TSX…

Aloha all,

So I bought a 2004 TSX, with 158xxx miles on the odometer.

I used to be big into Acura’s, owned a few integra’s. My last was a four door GSR that I turbocharged and bagged.

I picked up this TSX with the goal of an OEM+ style to it. I plan to  document my ownership of it.

Mod’s when I purchased it are:

– SRD cat back exhaust
– BC BR Type coilovers with 34k front swift springs, 10k swift rears
– Work Emotion CR Kai 18×9.5 +12 wheels with 225/40 tires
– Clarion VX405 head unit in the cubby section
– A Spec front lip
– Mugen grille
– oem euro r headlights
– DC5 Type R shift knob
– side skirt splitters

Just for record, here is the Craigslist ad for it.

Bought it from my cousin in law in Florida and promptly drove it 1800+ miles back to Colorado.

Here are a few photos as it came when I bought it.

Now to document the bad:

  • The navigation touch screen isn’t working
  • Passenger side front fender is damaged due to a tire blow out.
  • Wheel/tire combo are too wide for my taste.
  • VSA and “exclamation point inside triangle” light was on
  • Fog lights aren’t connected.

It’s a great looking car. And it made the 1800+ mile cross country drive with no major issues.  I noticed a “slow to start” type condition during my three day drive home, so after a day into the drive I bought an Optima yellow top battery from Advance Auto Parts in Mississippi.  I also picked up some Rain X wiper blades at that time too.

Next order of business is to get the car looked over and fix the things that aren’t working or that I’m particular about.

 

 

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Megan coil over install on a 2015 Frozen Black Mini Countryman S All4

One of the gifts on my wife’s Christmas list this past year was a set of coil overs for her 2015 Frozen Black Mini Cooper Countryman S All4.  So I bought  her a set of Megan Racing Euro II series coil overs (MR-CDK-MCC11) Happy wife means happy life! Lol. So what follows is what I documented of the install. (Disclaimer, I didn’t note down the bolt sizes so I’m guesstimating from memory)

The fit and finish of the Megan coil overs is superb. The teal finish is nice and seemingly durable. The threaded parts adjusted smoothly and easily. And all parts felt solid.

TIP:  Adjusting ride height is definitely easier with the assembly’s off of the vehicle.  With that said, i didn’t know what heights the Megan’s are set at when shipped.  For reference, I set the fronts to have 60mm of spacing between the silver lock ring at the bottom and the smaller teal lock ring above it.  For the rear I set it to 30mm between the lower silver lock ring and smaller teal lock ring above it.  See photo at very bottom to see what that height looks like.

The front install didn’t take too much negotiating. With an impact gun replacing and removing the OEM front parts wasn’t too difficult.

The front assembly is held in by one 17mm bolt/nut combo at the bottom to the hub and three smaller 12 or 13mm nuts at the top accessible with the hood open. Aside from that the Megan coil overs also come with shorter sway bar end links that replace the OEM ones.

 

For the passenger side front I came across a thread on the internet that advised disconnecting this part so as to not damage it.  I believe it is for head light leveling.

 

The rear assembly’s are only held in by three bolts two 13mm hold the upper area and one 21mm bolt holds the lower to the hub.

The 21mm lower bolt was a headache to remove.  Even with an impact gun it didn’t want to come out easily.  It took some breaker bar action and a nearly bursting a blood vessel in my head to remove.

Once the lower assembly is removed from the car some parts from the OEM assembly need to be reused.

Use a spring compressed to disassemble to rear assembly.  I borrowed mine from the local Advance Auto Parts.  Below is a photo of the parts removed from the assembly.  Beginning with the number 1, is the order in which I put them on the Megal rear assembly.

And here is a photo of just the parts from the OEM assembly in the order they go on the Megan assembly.

And below is the finished product!

(From the ground to the center of the fender arch is about 26.5″.)

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First timer’s experience buying a Certified Pre Owned from Mercedes Benz of Colorado Springs

I just wanted to take the time to share my experience in purchasing a 2013 Certified Pre Owned (CPO) Mercedes Benz C300 4MATIC from Doug Dieterle at Mercedes Benz of Colorado Springs.

The back story, I was looking to trade in my 2007 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Prerunner for something nicer, newer and more comfortable.  I’ve always liked the look of a C class Mercedes Benz’s but I wasn’t finding one with the specs and in the price range I wanted.  On a whim, I took the family to Mercedes Benz of Colorado Springs just to see what they would offer for my trade in and to finally go see the C classes in person.  We fully were not expecting to purchase the day we just came to look, on August 9th.

Now, we drove up in the 2007 Tacoma and I feel we don’t look like the typical Mercedes owners.  I am tattooed, a minority and dress casually during my off time.  I am also an officer in the US military and have been for the past 8 years, so I can comfortably afford the vehicle I was interested in.
With that said, I don’t think that should or did have anything to do with our experience but I will note all aspects of our buying experience.

We arrived around 4pm that saturday afternoon, checked in with the front desk receptionist who said someone will be with us shortly.  Soon after we were greeted by Will Harold (Sales Manager) who said he’d send someone to help us.  So while we waited we decided to walk around and look at the cars on the lot.
After about 5 minutes of looking, Doug Dieterle approached us and asked if we’d been helped yet.  We informed him that Will Harold said he’d send someone over to us, so Doug went to confirm then came back and began helping us.

We told him our position and what we were interested in.  I told him I’d been researching all the Mercedes Benz dealerships in Colorado and that we were willing to travel (we’ve purchased a year old Mini from Mercedes of Loveland).  I also told him that I didn’t see the specific model with packages i was interested in on their website for CPO’s.
Doug in his diligence had a list of vehicles that were not posted on their website.  After reviewing his list he found the model with all the packages I was looking for, in the color combination I was looking for and just a bit outside of my original  planned price range.  Thank you Doug Dieterle for finding the car we were looking for!  Only issue was that it was currently being used as a dealer vehicle and one of the employees had already taken it offsite for the evening.  At this point it was already past 5pm (dealer closes at 7pm), but he made the necessary calls to have it returned to the dealership immediately.
Around 6pm the 2013 Polar White C300 4MATIC sport sedan with 16k miles and almond beige interior returned to the lot.  We immediately started looking at it in order to make a decision.  Since it was being used as a dealer vehicle it came back in a “driven” condition.  It was dirty, as in not having been washed recently but looked okay.  The only glaring issues we found in our quick short walk around and sit in was a small door ding on the passenger side and a curb rashed wheel.  We noted those issues with Doug and said we’d take it.

Next step in the process was the price.  After a bit of negotiating and a healthy amount of paperwork we were on our way to completing the purchase.
Our experience with this Mercedes dealership was going pretty well at this point.  It was great customer service which came to be expected with such a premium brand, even if we were buying their entry level model.
But if I would have known the hassle we would experience with some of the issues we found after later inspection of the vehicle, I would have scoured over it with a fine tooth comb during our initial walk around and sit in.

The next dealership employee we dealt with was Jerry Garsez the Finance Advisor.  Our plan is to register the vehicle in Florida, since that is my state of residency.  Jerry was not helpful in the fact of explaining to us why we couldn’t use our Colorado Springs address for all communication but register the vehicle in Florida.  My wife definitely felt that he was rude in his interaction with us or at the least short, and unhelpful.
This ended up becoming the biggest issue with the car buying experience.  We were assessed CO sales tax even though the vehicle is now titled and registered in FL.  (Today, on January 17th, 2015, 5 months after purchase I received final word from Wil Harold that the dealership can do nothing about the sales tax and I would have to take it up with the City of Colorado Springs on my own…)

After purchase, Doug directed me to call him on monday to set up appointments to take care of the door ding and curb rashed wheel.  After emailing and calling a few times that week I was finally able to reach Doug.  He informed me a service advisor would be giving me a call to set up the appointments but that did not occur.

The following Saturday after purchasing a new to me Mercedes I had a new found interest in auto detailing. After giving it a hand wash and detail I noticed that other wheels had curb rash and that the lower area of the front bumper was very scuffed, to the point where there was deep gouges and paint exchange from speed bumps or parking blocks.
I immediately brought this up to Doug and did some research and found that Mercedes Benz offers a Vehicle Exchange Privilege program.

Every Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is sold with a seven day/500 mile Exchange Privilege*.  If you are not satisfied, return within seven days/500 miles (whichever comes first), and the authorized Mercedes-Benz Dealer will exchange it with another Certified Pre-Owned vehicle of equal or greater value (if the buyer wishes to pay the difference).

I definitely was not satisfied and certainly hoped that corrective actions would be honored.  After all, it is a premium brand and I’d expect they would do everything possible to reasonably satisfy a customer.  To me, MB seems like a brand that aims to earn customers for life.  Not to make quick sales to as many one time customers as possible.

Given that it was the seventh day, we decided to just take our C300 back to the dealership and get the issues noted.  Upon arriving, Doug informed us that Wil Harold would be assisting us.
Will spent a few minutes with me and explained that the appearance part of making a Certified Pre Owned MB is

A Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is a clean-skinned beauty, as free as dings, dents, rips, scratches, and scuffs as we can make it, with high quality fit and finish, inside and out.

He mentioned a “3 foot rule” which I understood as they take care of everything appearance wise within a 3 foot view.  He then goes on to tell me to give him a call the following monday to make the appointments to get things taken care of.  I always like to assume the best in people so I took his verbal word and returned to my car where my wife and son were waiting.
My wife, thankfully being the realist, said that was unacceptable and demanded this in writing.  At that point she went to speak with Will and finally left with his hand signed word the issues would be taken care of.

We left the dealership with optimism that the issues would be taken care of.  While driving to our next destination, service advisor Greg finally called to make the drop off appointment for wednesday the 20th of August.
That morning came, I dropped off the C300 informed the service advisor helping  me at the time it was in to have the wheels refinished and bumper fixed.  He asked for and I provided him a copy of the bumper fixing that Will Harold had drafted since it wasn’t part of the “We owe/I owe” document during the purchase process.  They also gave me a 2014 GLK350 as a loaner vehicle which has been very nice.  They also informed me my car would be ready thursday.

Friday, two days later Greg the service advisor calls me and in a hesitant manner tells me that my car is ready.  Wheels are refinished and door ding repaired.  The hesitant part was when he was telling me that they weren’t going to fix the bumper because it was approximately $180 and that it wasn’t part of the “We owe/I owe” list.  I immediately responded saying that I provided a copy of the agreement Wil Harold made to have the bumper fixed.  Greg replied saying he’ll do some research and give me a call back.  Within minutes, he calls saying that it will be fixed but that their “paint guy” is only in on Tuesdays.  He said I can either come in get my car then bring it back or just continue to use the loaner vehicle.
At this point, I’m a bit frustrated.  It seems as if they planned or would attempt to not have to fix the bumper!  If not, why would they take the information at the drop off appointment to fix the bumper but not tell me that their “paint guy” wouldn’t be there until next week?  They estimated my car would be ready thursday. Why would they estimate that knowing one issue can’t be addressed until next Tuesday?

Aside from all that, this review has been 5 months in the making.  I’ve held off on publishing until I the tax issue was closed.  And unfortunately, I was wrongly assessed sales tax by Mercedes Benz of Colorado Springs and have to deal with it on my own.

I love the car and have come to love the MB brand.  But I will never give my business to MB of Colorado Springs after the headache and hassle that their Finance Director, Jerry Garsez has caused me.

Additional note, we purchased a Frozen Black Limited Edition Mini Cooper Countryman from Schomp Mini a couple days ago.  After explaining that i am an active duty service member, Florida resident, and that I would be titling/registering the car in FL, they reviewed the paperwork and DID NOT ASSESS CO SALES TAX!!!.  Given that experience with Schomp Mini, I now know it was possible for MB Colorado Springs to have done the same, they, for whatever reason known only to Jerry Garsez decided not to.

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Varrstoen, supporting unoriginality

So I’ve been on a wheel writing kick lately. Today’s focus is on Varrstoen. It seems this company is all about copying design’s, selling them at a fraction of the cost and saturating the wheel market misguiding new enthusiasts to the wheel world.

Now, I’m no wheel snob but it comes to a point where enough should be enough. At least come up with one design thats original or isn’t a 90% copy of a reputable wheel.

Just take a look at Varrstoen’s current wheel offering. The red text is the company and wheel model of the original design.
IMG_0353.JPG

And if you’re curious about quality, check out a google search of “varrstoen fail” You’ll see a fair amount of forum posts and pictures demonstrating the Varrstoen quality.

Google search “Varrstoen fail”

Check out this claim on a 370Z forum about a Varrstoen wheel +25mph+pothole. The original post was on an M3 forum.

IMG_0354.JPG
(Even had the audacity to put on a BBS centercap)

And also from the same thread on the 370Z forum, a poster found this courtesy of JDM Chicago:

IMG_0355.JPG

IMG_0356.JPG
(This can no longer be found on their page though.)

Varrstoen…why so similar to Enkei?

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You sir, are an imposter!

So I’m going to start off a new category about wheels…

Wheels can totally change the look of a car, making it stand out from the thousands of same make and model cars out there.  The price of wheels and new tires start off in the hundreds, commonly close to a thousand.  But they are one of those modifications that bring instant satisfaction to a car enthusiast.
There are a plethora of wheel companies nowadays that offer highly sought after styles for the budget minded or young budding car enthusiasts.  Main concerns with the replica companies is that they take away business from the companies that develop the original design and the quality and strength of their wheels is often questionable.

So without further delay first feature of genuine vs. imposter!

MTechnica Turbo’s vs. Avid.1 AV.17’s

MTechnica Turbo’s
Avid.1 AV.17’s

The claim can be made that MTechnica’s design isn’t original.  Which I won’t say it is.  They admit the Turbo’s are

Inspired by the Porsche 935 Kremer cars built in the 1980’s Gr.5. We built a strong lightweight concept to fit modern compact cars. Vents and internal fins are functional to help circulate the air between the wheel and brakes.

But in this case I’d say its a question of quality vs design.  A set of MTechnica’s range from $1000 to $1520 a set depending on style choices they offer.  Or Avid.1’s can be had for about half, at $512.  You could basically get a set of AV.17’s with tires for the price of the Turbo’s entry level set alone!

And Avid.1 is strikingly similar in name to the ADV1 wheel company…

What would you choose?