It has been a very long time since I have made any updates about my GTI. The main reason is because it has been down for almost 6 months. The month of October is when I took my GTI to the dealership because I had a CEL I noticed, at the time, the engine took a tiny bit longer to start but the car felt faster and pulled harder for some weird reason.
Naturally I took it the dealership in Austin because a couple years ago, I had the head completely replaced at that dealership because some idiot drove my car, and miss shifted which over revved and practically ruined my engine. The dealership took care of me and the work was spot on. Thankfully the insurance company paid for it and the dealership said I didn’t need a new engine. Well fast forward to two years later I got my CEL and I took it to same dealership.
I did Vag Com my car before I drove to the dealership to see what caused the CEL. The Vag Com showed engine speed error. Well that could mean the sensor was going bad or my timing chain skipped a tooth or timing is off. I was hoping for the sensor, but that was not the case. Come to find out the engine balancing shaft seized, the timing chain skipped a tooth. The engine balancing gear popped out and caused the timing chain to ride on the shaft. This was making the timing chain eat into the tensioners. My motor was dead. As in, I need a new F***King motor.
I found it odd I had to replace the motor because I drove the car with CEL from Houston to Austin without any problems at all, except it just took a tiny bit longer to start. The car felt it pulled harder with the CEL, but Im guessing that was due to the skipped tooth on the timing chain. The engine sounded normal not showing signs it was on a bad health decline. But after seeing the damage, I guess it was just one drive away from being on the side of the road with a pool of oil and engine bits.
I don’t really know how the dealership didn’t see this before, even when I come in to get it serviced. I asked the service advisor what could have caused this and said “overrevving.” WELL I know how to shift and never in my life, miss shifted and overrevved any car. Except when 2 years ago some idiot drove my car and that person miss shifted. I was hoping the dealership or the insurance would cover the damage because this was do to that incident. But after talking and reasoning, they just said its not covered under warranty and the insurance wont cover it. The main reason is because I did drive my car for 2 years before the CEL came on and they can say the car was driving just fine when I took it off the lot. Since my car is modified the insurance company automatically labeled me as a “streetracer.” But some parts could have been severely weakened and fail prematurely from the stresses of being over revved at that point. The dealership and insurance didn’t want to hear it. To them, its just money lost because the dealership was quoting me $10,000 to replace the motor with labor!!!
I was in a deep hole and probably one of the lowest point of my life. This was my first car I bought after college and needed a heart transplant. I still owed $8,000 at the time plus a possibility of paying $10,000 for a new motor. Oh, I also had to pay $600 labor fee when the dealership took out the timing chain. This is risk of upgrading a car and still owning money, and the same reason why my parents said to pay off the car first before modding it. I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me but it did. I did have the Miata and thats all paid up but still the GTI was my first car I ever bought. Its was a present to myself for graduating college.
After a lot of thinking I decided to screw the dealership, drop the old insurance because they suck and switched to a new one. I went to my good friend Joe and we go way back since middle school. Back in the day Joe and I would go to his bother shop and help around and just learn about cars during the summer. I was serious gear head before I could drive. I still remember when front mount air intake was the in thing and R34 GTR headlights on Hondas. I called my friend Joe to let him know I’m bringing the GTI to the shop and towed my car to Active Motorwerks in Austin Tx.
I decided to keep my GTI and not sell it or part it out. I had memories in that car and I couldn’t let it go. I knew I had to rebuild her and come back harder. I worked over time at my hospitals. The last thing I wanted was to be a financial burden on my parents. After looking for a couple of months of searching, I found the right motor from Eurospec Sport, thanks to a friend who showed me the website. I could have bought a used motor but a brand new long block was just $1000 more and I want this build done right the first time using quality parts. I ordered the new long block and within a week the engine arrived. The shop is a two man team and they were working on a couple of cars before they could do mine. I ended up waiting a couple of months but I didn’t mind because that gave me time to save more money for the build and I didn’t want them to rush on my car.
I bought Defi BF gauges with the controller about one year ago, and I wasn’t sure when to install it but since the car was going in for a heart transplant, that would be the perfect time to install the monitors. While the engine was out, I replaced the factory clutch since it was slipping due to the tune. I got the Excedy clutch which could handle my tune with the flywheel too. I even got BSH stiffer engine and transmission mounts so I can feel the car more. I bought the BSH oil catch can because I saw my old engine had a lot of oil build up on the intake due to the blow by from the turbo. Later I found out the engine that I bought is for the newer model GTIs but it bolted on perfectly to my car. I would say that was a good surprise.
Mario and Hass from Active Motorwerks really did a great job. Honestly, it took a while for everything but I wasn’t complaining. They take the time to make sure everything is done right and very thorough with the work . All the gaskets, fittings, lines where replaced and was nice enough to do a 50,000 mile transmission service. They wire tucked my Defi gauges, and used MOTUL oil on my engine and transmission. They cleaned the engine bay before putting the new engine in. Even though it was their first time changing engines on a GTI they are not new to modifying cars. Active Motorwerks is a shop that does OEM and aftermarket installs mainly specializing on BMWs. The shop gets the exotic cars like Lambos and Ferraris for tune ups or repairs. GT3 Porshes come in for modifications and rotary powered cars for engine swaps. Every time I come in, the shop is always clean and organized with a lot of different style cars.
When I actually saw my GTI start up for the first time in 6 months, it was like a seeing a old friend you haven’t seen in years. It just felt soo good and you remember the memories. The deep burble of the exhaust, seeing the Defi opening sequence, the familiarity of the Status racing seat, and gripping the leather steering wheel. I took the car on a test drive, and made me really miss the power. Hearing the spool of the turbo build up boost just brought smiles. The Miata is fun in its own way but the power and acceleration is something Im not used to in a long time.
After getting my car back with a brand new, zero miles motor I immediately started putting some miles on it to make sure everything was working right. Just before my GTI called it quits, I bought a set of Work Kiwami. After many months of just sitting at my crib, and letting a good friend borrow them I finally got a chance to mount up my Kiwami. They were more aggressive spec then the Rotas but I was tired of rep wheels and I wanted real wheels again. I know the fronts will be perfect but I was worried the rears would be too aggressive for the maxed out rear stock camber.
The front specs are 18×9.5 et5 205/40/18 with -3.5 degrees of camber. I just like how lightweight but strong these wheels are. Did I mention its deep concave specs too.
As I suspected, the rears didn’t fit like a glove. I had to get smaller 225/35/18 tires because the tire shop had a super hard time fitting 215/40/18 on a 10.5in wide wheel. I ended up raising my coils to the max height and it still rubbed enough to burn my fenders. Stock camber was maxed to -4.5 but I needed camber arms. The picture above and below shows my fitment before camber arms with the coil overs at the highest setting.
Some people say this is Mexi poke but its not. Just hella poke and hella stretch. You can still see the groves of the tire is still within the fender. Mexi poke is when the groves of the tire go past the fender. I could have gone with over fenders or went crazy and have a body shop widen the rears. But I like aggressive wheels with aggressive camber. I ended up purchasing Innovative Design and Fabrication (IDF) control arms from Bag Riders. The IDF is a better quality build then the eBay counterpart. The bushings are quality Energy Suspension bushings which can easily be replaced if worn out and stiffer then OEM. The install is straight forward and a direct bolt on.
IDF adds serious camber, if you are about that stance life. At the alinement shop, the max camber is -12!!!! The camber arm is designed so you can really lay frame without having the camber arm hit the frame. Don’t buy eBay ones, they suck period. You can never go wrong with quality that is backed with design and research. The eBay camber arms wasn’t a direct bolt on and I had to do some drilling for the factory bolts to fit. While drilling to make the holes bigger, the bushing literary broke off the camber arm. I didn’t even get a chance to ride on the eBay one because it broke during installation. Thats better then having it fail on you at highway speed. The thing with eBay products is the the quality is not there. Its a hit or miss, sometimes you get lucky and the part works but most the time the part fails and you are back to were you where in the first place.
My main shop in Houston, is One Stop Automotive located on Bissonet and Hwy 6. The shop is dump friendly and have a chill shop owner. Ask for Fernando or Alex, they know to work on cars properly and are car guys too. This would be the second place to go to if I can’t make it to Active Motorwerks in Austin.
With my camber arms installed I dialed the fitment to -8.5. I could tuck the 18×10.5 et0 rims but I wanted the slight poke of the fender to rim. This is static, and still had enough clearance if I hit a bump the rims would tuck under the fender.
No place for hate. But let the haters hate. Stance is something you either like it or hate it. Some people respect it, some other people just don’t get it. I just build my cars for my satisfaction and enjoyment.
This car has brought me ups and downs kinda like life. I was really down when I found out the motor was dead. I was seriously thinking of just cutting my loss and just sell the car as is with a broken motor and pay off the rest of the car. But I felt that was worse then trying to come back harder and rebuild her. I did not to give up. I took my time finding the right engine, I towed my GTI to a shop that I trusted. I saved the money from the overtime and paid for everything. I wanted to do things right the first time and no short cuts. No matter how tough life can get, if there is a will there is a way. Hard work and determination gets you where you want to go in life, and not just in cars but everything you do. Taking shortcuts, laziness, and making excuses wont do you good. Every problem has a solution. Its what you do about your problem determines what kind of person you are. We all have downs in life, what matters is how to deal it. Don’t let the down get the best of you.