Buying My First WRX. Tell Me Everything I Need To Know! - Subaru WRX Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-15-2017, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Buying My First WRX. Tell Me Everything I Need To Know!

Hello everyone,

In the market for my first WRX. I'm looking for 04'-05' wagon and I have 15k to spend(No idea if that's what these cars are worth or not). My plans for the car is a nice reliable daily for commuting that I will tastefully mod.

I don't know anything about subie's so I wanted to make this post to start my research about them. I have owned many Japanese sports cars and I do all my own work so i'm not a bone head, it's just a new type of engine scares me.

I'm going to list every question I have about WRX's and Subaru's in general. Any information or opinions is greatly appreciated. Also, I know newbie questions like this are beaten to death so if you can link any informative forums or videos that would be awesome. Thanks for viewing!

Questions: (Specifically the 04'-05' WRX)
What are the most important things I need to know about owning a WRX?
How much should I spend?
What is the price range of these cars?
How reliable are these cars?
What are common problems?
What are some of the weak points of the car?
What is the maintenance like?
What are things to look for when buying used?
Wagon vs sedan, which is better and why?
How good is the stock suspension?
What is the best years/models and why?
Is there any differences between 04' and 05'?
What the hell is a cobb accessport and is it necessary?
Why does the WRX require tunes?
I herd mods to these cars do nothing without the proper tune, is this true?
Are the tunes just for performance or can they help reliability too?
I herd WRX's have very weak transmissions, how do you prevent blowing and tranny?
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 05:39 AM
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check out the Unabombers Manifesto over on NASIOC. lots of reading to do so get started. all your answers are in there.

https://forums.nasioc.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=533787

i've read the thing a few times now. real good info in there to get you started.

without sounding insulting.... you have ALOT to learn. you can tell from your questions. not knowing the very basics will make things challenging for you. i suggest you spend a good couple of weeks educating yourself or you risk serious damage to your subaru.

start reading and good luck! hope you find your dream car

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post #3 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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check out the Unabombers Manifesto over on NASIOC. lots of reading to do so get started. all your answers are in there.

i've read the thing a few times now. real good info in there to get you started.

without sounding insulting.... you have ALOT to learn. you can tell from your questions. not knowing the very basics will make things challenging for you. i suggest you spend a good couple of weeks educating yourself or you risk serious damage to your subaru.

start reading and good luck! hope you find your dream car
Thanks for the link! Really helped a lot and I will be referring to it in the future! Already spent an hour looking through it!

No worries about being insulting, I agree! I know very little about subies but I am doing the research! I'm the type of guy that does WAY too much research before buying my toys.

I wouldn't consider myself a complete bone head though, I realise lots of those questions were very newbie towards cars in general. I may only be 19 years old, but I have owned 2 na miatas, a s14 240sx, and a integra gsr. I have done muitiple engine swaps with 240's and miatas. Not trying to brag or anything, but I will admit i'm very scared and excited for owning a different style car then what i'm used to.
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 07:49 PM
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I skipped questions that are too vague or too open to personal opinion.

How reliable are these cars?
-They become progressively less reliable as you add power, unless of course you go all the way and put in a built motor and heads to hold that power... but even then...

What are common problems?
-Depends on generation.

What are some of the weak points of the car?
-Depends on generation.
-Transmission
-Ringlands
-Headgaskets? on earlier years
-Motor Failure

What is the maintenance like?
-Expensive (if you do it right)

What are things to look for when buying used?
-Previously unmodified (which is hard to find)

Wagon vs sedan, which is better and why?
...Or Hatch?
-Your preference

How good is the stock suspension?
-It's pretty damn good... but it really depends on what year and what you want to do with car

What is the best years/models and why?
-Different years have different advantages/disadvantages.
<05 have the smaller motor and dumber 16 bit ecu and weaker 5 speeds.... however the ecu is also more forgiving.... smaller turbo (td04-13t). I don't have hands on experience with these years.
06-07 considered best years by most (but I believe that's a question of perspective)... the 06 has better brakes and suspension parts than 07.
08-09 considered worst years... especially 08... however once again... perspective. I saved a good 5k buying an 08 which I spent building a car that's significantly faster than stis. The 08 comes with a bigger turbo than previous years (td04-19t) so it can actually produce more power... but it doesn't seem to deliver with that turbo and bigger motor. The 09 comes with a much nicer vf52 turbo (as the later years).
10-14 very similar but better turbo and aggressive wide body styling. The VF52 turbo has a lot of potential.
15+ completely new motor architecture. Completely different turbo setup... basically totally different car with a new set of issues/limitations.

What the hell is a cobb accessport and is it necessary?
-It's a tuning interface. It also lets you monitor your car
-It is necessary for tuning your car.. but there are other options which are more advanced
-Tactrix (Open Source) cable is cheaper but very complex and there are less tuners.

Why does the WRX require tunes?
-The car is not only turbocharged, but it's also a MAF configuration which makes it very delicate in terms of how it operates.
-Changes to intake path will throw your MAF scalings off causing your fueling to be off (sometimes very significantly). It can cause your motor to knock/blow.
-Changes to exhaust path will mess with how the turbo spools up. At a very minimum, putting on a downpipe without a tune can cause the turbo to spool way too fast and overboost. It can cause fuel cut (which causes CEL lights to come on) and potentially overbooosting without tuning for it can cause detonation.
-Changes to the turbo drastically change how much air goes into the motor which throws everything off. You have to retard timing with more boost and make sure your fueling is safe while keeping your eye on knock.

I herd mods to these cars do nothing without the proper tune, is this true?
-This is not true. Some mods can cause severe (catastrophic) engine damage without a tune. It's not that it doesn't do anything (this is true for simpler NA cars)... but more of your car cannot compensate for the changes the mods make.
-This can range from Idle Issues, Stalling, Fueling issues (knocking, black smoke), CELs, CELs that will put your car in limp mode, overboost, underboost... and just about everything else imaginable.

Are the tunes just for performance or can they help reliability too?
-You have to get tuned (or tune yourself if you're brave and are open to a VERY steep/technical learning curve)
-If you want your car to function normal you need a tune after most types of modifications

I'll note one thing about tuning (for both Tactrix and Access Port)... you can get what are called OTS Maps (Off the Shelf Maps) which aren't the greatest... but if you buy parts that are designed to work with the specific OTS map, you can run those parts. They usually come in "stages" which are essentially made up groups of parts. There are a lot of WRX that get to stage 2 and an OTS map and stop there (and it's a good bump in power/performance over stock).

Generally speaking:
Stage 1 = Engine Management (load a map)... sometimes replacing the air filter in the stock intake
Stage 2 = Downpipe + Engine Management. Some places require a full turboback (ie downpipe+catback).
From there on it gets hazy and different manufacturers/maps will require different types of mods. There are also different variations of the same stages using different parts.

It's a little bit different with Tactrix... also more complicated. You have to surf the RomRaider form looking for maps other people have created for the same year car. Obviously you gotta have similar mods... and even then you have to be prepared to at least adjust boost maps to make it work on your car... and sometimes reduce timing if the map is knocking (if it's an aggressive map tailored to that specific car).

Welcome aboard! Please don't be one of those who pass through, ask questions, and never show up again.
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Ruso! I really appreciate all the info! I'm pretty set on buying a subie so I should be hanging around the forum quite a bit.

Still trying to decide which year I want to go for, because I really do want a blob or hawk, 04 to 07 but it might not be possible to find one for what i'm looking for. I'm looking for something that has under 100k that can be reliable for many years to come. The 08+ will be a lot easier to find one that fits that description then an older WRX.

I really appreciate all the info about tuning. I have never owned a turbo car before so it's interesting to learn about this stuff. My main goal with this car is a reliable daily. I really don't care about speed, hell i'm used to slow miata's and 240's. The only real engine work I would like to do is exhaust and blow off valve. 1. to remind me I have a sexy sounding subie and 2. to remind me I finally have a turbo car. Call me a ricer but whatever. So I might do those two things, get a tune, and then never touch the engine. Because like I said, I care more for reliability then speed and performance.... i say that now.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 09:57 PM
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Subies do not like blow off valves. Think about it like this: air comes into the intake, is measured by maf, and does not enter the motor when bov opens but your ecu still puts in the same amount of fuel. Now there is a rich spike...

For my car, even with a 50/50 bov/bpv the symptoms ranges from loud afterlife while shifting and decel to stalling and idle problems.

After nearly a year of tuning it I have it set to a high spring pressure, more so than it should. The compressor surges rather than blow off below around 5psi so the valve only opens under higher boost levels. It works well but I still shoot fireballs with a very loud pop every shift during wot acceleration.

You can "tune" around it but it's a bandaid rather than a fix. You'd have to reduce fueling under very low load conditions But that comes with its own sideffects.

A stock valve with an intake ( tuned of course ) is pretty audible... And a bigger bypass valve will make it even more so.


On the flip side I would highly recommend getting a downpipe and stage 2 tune.
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah after looking at the FAQ forum titter showed me I found that same info about blow offs. It also seems like subies don't really like aftermarket intakes either.

I feel stage 2 will be a little to much for me, as i'm trying to keep the car close to stock and reliable as possible. We will see though.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 11:55 PM
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It's not that they do not like intakes but rather that you have to tune for them. Also the stock intakes on later years are just fine until much higher hp gains.

A quality downpipe
+ good stage 2 tune is considered a reliable combination. But I understand keeping the car mostly stock.
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-17-2017, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnDrew View Post
I'm the type of guy that does WAY too much research before buying my toys.
no such thing as too much research

it seems you have a fair bit of mechanical background but not much tuning background. (well maybe both i dont know you lol.)

hit up WWW.HPAcademy.com for their Free Tuning Introduction Seminars. its generalized so you can learn on all platforms but the information is really valuable.

check out Bad Noodle's tuning guide. its also full of valuable information http://www.romraider.com/forum/viewt...hp?f=33&t=5299

romraider is the Open Source tuning method used in subarus. it operates with the Tactrix cable ruso mentioned. the OEM ECU is very powerful and can handle alot. A Cobb Accessport is a very good tool and veru user friendly but once you get past a few basic mods, you are going to need a professional tune, which can be done either though the accessport or opensource (or a standalone ecu)

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Last edited by titter; 01-18-2017 at 05:35 AM.
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-17-2017, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again titter! Yeah you are right I have no real experience with tuning so thanks again for the links! This is the stuff I have no knowledge on so I will defiantly read up!
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