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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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Chemical Guys interior detailing products!

Its been awhile since I’ve had a vehicle with great paint and worth the time spent for detailing! Since purchasing my CPO C300 I have a renewed interest in auto detailing! lol. A while back a friend of mine suggested the Chemical Guys to me. I noticed a few spots on the interior that must have been missed and didn’t get addressed during the wash/detail right before taking it home from the dealership so I placed an order for Chemical Guys stuff and gave it a shot. 

First thing I tried out was their InnerClean – Interior Quick Detailer & Protectant. 


It took the black mark right off with barely any elbow grease! 

Also found a black spot on the carpet that I hoped would come out with their Lightning Fast Carpet & Upholstery Stain Extractor.

It looked like a pretty deep set stain/mark but I just hit it with the Stain Extractor and an interior brush and it came out like it was never there! 

I’ve bought a whole bunch of other stuff from the Chemical Guys that I can’t wait to try out!

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Avid.1 wheels sad face. :(

Looks like Avid.1 wheel company’s quality is questionable. I’m no wheel snob and don’t mind the replica wheel company’s out there.  I mean, not everyone can afford hard to find original wheels or built to order multi piece wheels.  So some companies bring those classic style’s back with replica’s.  And isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
Either way, I found these photos on Instagram of Avid.1’s replica of the Schmidt TH line wheels, the AV.03.
What a bummer…



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RTR Performance Harker Heights, Texas

My original build thread can be found here.

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  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!i=1839909580&k=zB7T26c&lb=1&s=A][img]

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.

RTR Performance
Harker Heights, Texas (TX)

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Cipher Auto Racing Seats Review

Here’s a review of Cipher Auto and their racing seats.  I found the company on the forum  I browsed through the many seat vendors in the Sponsor Market place and came across the Cipher Auto thread.  I was in need of new seats for the integra and I couldn’t bring myself to purchasing 1200/per seat brand name ones so I decided to look for a replica/knock off/ start up company/brand and give them a try.

Of all the cheaper seats out there Cipher Autos seemed to be the best looking non logo’ed.  I considered knock off brand brides but I’m not trying to fool anyone and these seats would be going into my daily driver anyway.  Most folks on the car forums raise the issue about the safety of these replica type seats.  I don’t plan on racing so it wasn’t too much of a concern for me.

I really like the Bride Digo style of seat so I private messaged them on honda-tech and asked for a quote on Cipher Auto’s CPA1019 Black Cloth w/ Suede Insert & Red Outer Stitching racing seats, seat brackets, and their Cipher Racing Black 4-Point Racing Harness Set.  I also asked if they offered a military discount (which they do) and the quote was under $500! I thought that was an amazing deal for seats, brackets and harnesses so I decided to take the risk and try Cipher Auto out.
I placed the order and made payment on friday, July 8th and received the seats the following friday on the 15th.  I immediately unboxed and inspected the seats  before assembly.  The seats were all packaged in one large box with the seat bases separated from the backs.  I did find that on one of the seat bases there was  a couple tears.  Didn’t look like it happened during shipping because the seat pieces came bagged in plastic and I didn’t find any tears before removing the plastic for each piece.  I immediately called Cipher Auto to find out how to get a replacement seat base.  Customer service informed me to email them a photo of the damage and that they may be able to get a replacement sent out the same day.

Other than that issue They appear to be great quality and they assemble pretty easy.  I was informed that the seats would arrive before the brackets so I’m still waiting on those.  Also, the day they shipped my order,  monday, the 11th of July a rep from Cipher called in regard to the harnesses I ordered.  They were out of stock on the black ones so they wanted to see if I wanted the cam lock version in black or possibly the seat belt style in red. I opted to go with the seat belt style red harnesses.  Since the teg is going to be my daily driver I didn’t want to fiddle with a 4 point cam lock every time I jumped in my car.

Here’s a couple photos of the box when it arrived.

As it arrived
Bit of the bracket poking through the box

Here’s a photo right after unboxing.  Decently packaged.  Everything came bagged in plastic sealed with tape.

Eveything wrapped in plastic.

Few pics of construction and detail

Seat bottom. Everything seems to be good quality.
Really like the suede middle inserts!
The fit and finish are very nice.
Cipher Auto logo in the corner
hardware and instructions
Tears in the seat base.

Cipher Auto is currently working on getting me a replacement.

July 19th, 2011 update:  Just received the seat brackets.  They are the adjustable ones. :/
When a rep called on the 11th to confirm my order he asked whether I would like adjustable or non and he explained the differences between the two.  The non adjustable would be like stock seat height and the adjustable at its lowest setting would be a little higher than stock height.  I like the height of integra seats OEM.  I emailed them back regarding this.  Waiting on reply.

July 20th, 2011 update:   Cipher emailed saying the replacement seat base is on its way.

July 23rd, 2011 update: Received the replacement seat base.  And have the two seats assembled.  Now just waiting on the correct, non adjustable seat brackets.

July 25th, 2011 update:  Cipher emails back and states that company policy is to return the incorrect brackets first before they ship the correct ones… More waiting.  :/

July 26th, 2011 update: Cipher Auto provided a FedEx shipping label to return the adjustable brackets they mistakenly sent.  So I shipped back the incorrect brackets today.  Now I’ve got to wait for them to receive them and send out the correct ones.  :/ I will be tracking it through a website I use called

July 31st, 2011 update:  Checked and it said they had received the seats on the 29th.  I emailed regarding receiving the package and they replied:

Yes we got it back and passed it to the return dept to verify, and after that process done then we will have the welder to make another set for you.
We will update you as soon as we got it done. In the meantime we do not have ETA yet.

Thank you.

We appreciate your business!
Customer Service
Ph   (909) 542-8868
Fax (909) 784-1809

August 14th, 2011:  Sent Cipher Auto an email on August 8th and have not received a reply, so another one was sent today asking when could I expect the brackets.  Last email I received from their customer service department was on August 1st.  Its been over a month since I initially paid and placed my order.  Seats seem to be great, customer service is highly lacking.

August 26th, 2011: So I got an email from Cipher…

Since you are not that satisfied with this transaction, we would be happy to know what kind of compensation are you looking for.

August 30th, 2011:  I finally received the non adjustable brackets from Wedge Engineering (Cipher outsources to them I assume).  Only issue now is that there is no hardware.  😐 I sent them an email regarding this new issue.  Let’s see how this problem is fixed.  And in regard to their last email about compensation.  I believe refunding the $189 for the brackets is fair.  Nearly two months later I still do not have a complete order.  I promptly made payment.  Why couldn’t I receive my order in a timely manner?

August 30th, 2011:   So Cipher promptly responded to my email please see below:

That is the most rude, inconsiderate experience in customer service I have ever had.  At this point I am done with Cipher Auto.  I hope that they rectify the situation.  If anyone is interested in seeing the complete chain of emails in a pdf file I will gladly provide it just so that no one else gives their hard earned money to this company.  Please look at the two pictures below in regard to the hardware Ed claims they do not send.  The pictures show the incorrect brackets I returned to Cipher.  With included hardware…


September 7th, 2011:  So John Tang from Cipher apologizes for Ed’s lack of customer service and offers the excuse that Ed is under a lot of stress.  He informs me that he will send out the hardware which I received today.  And what do I get to my surprise?  7 nuts and bolts…7.  Not the 8 that are needed, 4 per seat to attach them to the brackets.  At this point I’m completely done with my dealings with Cipher Auto.  I appreciate John’s efforts but it was too little too late, and just not enough.
I strongly suggest not buying from Cipher.  One day short of two months I receive as complete an order as I’m willing to deal with.  At first the customer service was okay.  Issues were noted and resolved, over the span of weeks mind you.  But an experience with a rep named Ed shot their reputation to crap.  Now let’s see if the seats hold up.  They seem to be of decent quality.  I’m happy with the fit and finish so far.  I’ll update as time goes on and show how the seats hold up.