RE: Subaru Impreza WRX STI | PH Fleet

RE: Subaru Impreza WRX STI | PH Fleet

Thursday 11th July

Subaru Impreza WRX STI | PH Fleet

Running an Impreza was never going to be cheap, but some months are rather more expensive than others...



You know when your car starts to make unfamiliar noises that you wish you hadn't heard? The kind that have you turning up the music or humming loudly to yourself in denial that they're there? Well I've been doing an awful lot of humming the last couple of months, but it was time to admit defeat.

I went into Impreza ownership with my eyes wide open; I'd spent hours researching what could go wrong with my prospective 15-year old rally hero so I was well aware of potential issues. It doesn't make it any less painful when you have to open your wallet, but at least you can mutter "I told you so" to yourself...


Let's start with the least expensive problem first. Rear damper failure seems to be a common occurrence, so when a clunking noise starting to come from the back of the car, I instantly knew what it was. Or so I thought. Not being someone who replaces parts like for like, I decided it was a good time to upgrade the dampers all round to KYB Ultra SR units along with a fresh set of top mounts. I was tempted to fit slightly lower springs, but thought better of it and kept the Prodrive springs on.

With a premature sigh of relief, I jumped in the car to see how the new dampers felt. Only the clunk was still there. Back up on axle stands and some more considerable force with rocking components about, I eventually diagnosed the clunk to a loose bolt on the rear anti-roll bar drop link. I nipped the bugger up and problem solved. That was an expensive lesson learned; don't jump to conclusions. But at least I had some shiny gold dampers on the car now. Though if I'm honest, I can't feel any difference in ride compared to the OEM units.

Moving on, no amount of double-clutching was going to save me from opening my wallet again to get the gearbox rebuilt. The early Newage gearboxes are known to have weak syncro baulk rings for 4th, 5th and 6th and mine had started to crunch into 5th. Apparently this was rectified in the Widetrack Blobeye that came in 2005, so worth bearing in mind if you're looking to buy a car that hasn't had the work done. I spent hours poring over forums with suggestions to try different oils to resolve the problem. But in reality this would only mask the issue and I'm not one for trying to hide it.


It was only crunching at higher revs when driving more enthusiastically so I was either shifting early or double-clutching to avoid the crunch and preserve the rest of the 'box. After speaking to a handful of specialists and getting some eye-watering quotes, I ended up taking my car down to East Kent Subaru near Canterbury. My 'box was sent up to TEG Sport in Cumbria, where it luckily only needed a set of uprated carbon synchro baulk rings as I caught it early. It still set me back a smidge over two grand, but if I'd left it for longer and caused more damages to gears, forks, shafts and other words I can't remember, then it could easily have started with a three.

So an expensive couple of months all in all with not many miles covered. Luckily for me since I bought the car a year ago, prices for low mileage clean examples have been rising rapidly, which has eased the pain. In fact, unlike fixing issues on other cars I've owned, I haven't resented VK53 NCA one bit. It's still my childhood hero and while it's been more expensive that a trip to the Maldives with my better half, I still love it to bits.


FACT SHEET
Car:
2003 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type UK
Run by: Ben Lowden
On fleet since: July 2018
Mileage: 52,178

Inspired? Search for a Subaru Impreza WRX STI here






Author
Discussion

Andy_5

Original Poster:

69 posts

41 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
I thought you’d sold this....?!

Frimley111R

9,731 posts

177 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Ouch but it is a complex high performance car that's 16 years old I suppose...

Lovely example though, my favourite

Jon_S_Rally

417 posts

31 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Wish I'd bought one of these a few years ago. Prices are definitely rising, so it becomes harder and harder for me to justify one sadly.

Need to get yourself some Prodrive wheels too, would make a huge improvement to the look.

f1ten

1,819 posts

96 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Eyes wide open into older car purchasing is the only way to do it. My 30 year old merc SL can throw up some nice surprises. M and e Components in buildings don’t last more than 15-20 years so why expect a car driven around fast in British climate to last !

StottyGTR

6,766 posts

106 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Eye opening. I've always been baffled at why people say Impreza's and Evo cost a ton to run, this is an insight. When I bought my Evo 4th gear crunched with enthusiastic changes, after many race events and track days years later I sold the car with 4th gear still crunching.

I'd hedge a bet the same gearbox is going to this day. £2000 saved thumbup
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Pig benis

768 posts

124 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Lovely car dude.

I sold my 55k mint Subaru Impreza WRX blob eye last year, my goodness I regret that decision. These are fantastic cars, I'm seriously tempted to buy another. Mine was completely standard, apart from a PPP remap and prodrive backbox, I can't imagine how good one of these cars would be like with better suspension, better brakes and more power.

PB

iceicebaby1980

75 posts

41 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Need a good specialist local to you . I use cams performance Darwen . Top cars prefer mine to my old e90 m3

waftycranker

25 posts

3 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Nice motor, nice colour. These have always been the best looking Subaru’s in my eyes.

cookington

78 posts

85 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
I've been seriously considering one of these to replace my S3 when the PCP comes to an end, Ben's recent acquisition has only added fuel to the fire.

I'm not put off by the bills so far either, especially as I would aiming for a late model, wide-track blob eye so hopefully wouldn't need to worry about this particular issue if the article is correct.

Baileyk

30 posts

7 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Was under the impression these were bomb proof. Never knew the gearbox was a bit temperamental.

soad

30,087 posts

119 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
That’s fking expensive. How would a Evo compare?

iceicebaby1980

75 posts

41 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
The dccd gearbox on the later models are bomb proof , if I was to buy anther I’d be looking at a jdm new age stronger engine . But 10k plus for a good one

shalmaneser

3,624 posts

138 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
StottyGTR said:
Eye opening. I've always been baffled at why people say Impreza's and Evo cost a ton to run, this is an insight. When I bought my Evo 4th gear crunched with enthusiastic changes, after many race events and track days years later I sold the car with 4th gear still crunching.

I'd hedge a bet the same gearbox is going to this day. £2000 saved thumbup
Cheaper to get a later, more durable gearbox second hand surely?

cookington

78 posts

85 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
shalmaneser said:
Cheaper to get a later, more durable gearbox second hand surely?
This also crossed my mind.

Kosy

70 posts

104 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Exactly.

Don’t want to be harsh but when I read you had an expensive month I thought that the engine had let go.

A nipped nut and work around until the gearbox eventually died (if ever) would have been my choice. Then a refurbed box.

The biggest expense with these cars is fuel.

nunpuncher

1,207 posts

68 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
I take comfort in knowing that other performance cars of a certain vintage can cost thousands to run.

Jay Kay 225

16 posts

115 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
I went into ownership with eyes very wide open about 2 years ago, hence buying a recently imported 2004 low mileage JDM Widetrack STI. These things are bombproof - so I was told...

It came with tonnes of history (written in Japanese mind) lots of fancy bits all over it and yes, I paid over the odds but wanted the best and financially it would be worth it in the long run.

I was told the cambelt had been inspected on import and had many years of life left in it , however for peace of mind I took it to a so called local specialist for a new timing belt kit, water pump and coolant change. The job was done and I was left to enjoy many thousands of hassle free motoring.

60 miles later however when accelerating up a slip road to join a motorway, the car made an odd noise and lost a bit of power so I limped it home. A few people took a look over it and were not sure of the issue so I whipped off the engine covers to check the belt and sure enough the cowboy who did the job had left the tensioner lose - as well as may other bits and bobs he had touched that were now hanging off.

While the timing was out, it didn't sound enough for bent valves etc so I had the car delivered back to the garage for another go at doing it right this time. This was eventually completed after lengthy delays and they sent me a video of the car running confirming it to be running great, only, it sounded like a bag of nails. By now I was board with this idiot so got it trailed to another specialist nearby. The engine was stripped and the verdict given to me. While it had only done a genuine 60k miles and the timing was still well out, the engine was worn to hell with all kinds of long term damage done to it. The best guess was that the car had had a hard life in Japan and spent most of its life on track as engine components looked like they'd done many multiples of the actual miles driven. It would make sense given the other non-standard parts on the car.

The engine was junk and I sourced a new lump from a recently imported 2006 Spec C type RA. As my turbo also had a little play in the shaft, that was junked too and I found a recently rebuilt hybrid with larger compressor wheel. The engine I bought was fully serviced, another cambelt kit and water pump etc was bought along with many hundreds of pounds of gaskets etc and it was all put back together.

I travelled 500 gentle miles and took it back for another oil change and a remap, however a couple of days before the map, a slight misfire began. When takin it back, it was diagnosed as a coilpack breaking down, so a new set of coilpacks were installed. The mapping session showed that the freshly rebuilt turbo wouldn't hold boost beyond 1.3 bar so a new Forge actuator was ordered. Once I had got this fitted, it was off for another mapping session. I asked for a sensible map as I wasn't chasing figures and I now, at long last, have a well running car putting out around 350bhp.

While the engine was being done I had an Exedy clutch added, a 3 port boost solenoid and a couple of other little bits.

Total cost for everything on top of buying my already overpriced 'bombproof' JDM car, approx. £6,500. So, in two years I've spent well north of £20k in buying and keeping it running and adding a few more mods to give it my own touch.

Expect the worse with an Impreza and be extremely careful who you use for maintenance as the Subaru world is filled with cowboys unfortunately. I've heard countless horror stories and they've been far worse than with other marques I've owned.




Edited by Jay Kay 225 on Thursday 11th July 14:23

rossub

2,136 posts

133 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
cookington said:
I've been seriously considering one of these to replace my S3 when the PCP comes to an end, Ben's recent acquisition has only added fuel to the fire.

I'm not put off by the bills so far either, especially as I would aiming for a late model, wide-track blob eye so hopefully wouldn't need to worry about this particular issue if the article is correct.
Depreciation will be non existent, so any repairs would be far less painful. I'm fairly sure the repayments on that PCP will far be far more expensive.

Jay Kay 225

16 posts

115 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
It is pretty though



iceicebaby1980

75 posts

41 months

Thursday 11th July
quotequote all
Jay Kay 225 said:
I went into ownership with eyes very wide open about 2 years ago, hence buying a recently imported 2004 low mileage JDM Widetrack STI. These things are bombproof - so I was told...

It came with tonnes of history (written in Japanese mind) lots of fancy bits all over it and yes, I paid over the odds but wanted the best and financially it would be worth it in the long run.

I was told the cambelt had been inspected on import and had many years of life left in it , however for peace of mind I took it to a so called local specialist for a new timing belt kit, water pump and coolant change. The job was done and I was left to enjoy many thousands of hassle free motoring.

60 miles later however when accelerating up a slip road to join a motorway, the car made an odd noise and lost a bit of power so I limped it home. A few people took a look over it and were not sure of the issue so I whipped off the engine covers to check the belt and sure enough the cowboy who did the job had left the tensioner lose - as well as may other bits and bobs he had touched that were now hanging off.

While the timing was out, it didn't sound enough for bent valves etc so I had the car delivered back to the garage for another go at doing it right this time. This was eventually completed after lengthy delays and they sent me a video of the car running confirming it to be running great, only, it sounded like a bag of nails. By now I was board with this idiot so got it trailed to another specialist nearby. The engine was stripped and the verdict given to me. While it had only done a genuine 60k miles and the timing was still well out, the engine was worn to hell with all kinds of long term damage done to it. The best guess was that the car had had a hard life in Japan and spent most of its life on track as engine components looked like they'd done many multiples of the actual miles driven. It would make sense given the other non-standard parts on the car.

The engine was junk and I sourced a new lump from a recently imported 2006 Spec C type RA. As my turbo also had a little play in the shaft, that was junked too and I found a recently rebuilt hybrid with larger compressor wheel. The engine I bought was fully serviced, another cambelt kit and water pump etc was bought along with many hundreds of pounds of gaskets etc and it was all put back together.

I travelled 500 gentle miles and took it back for another oil change and a remap, however a couple of days before the map, a slight misfire began. When takin it back, it was diagnosed as a coilpack breaking down, so a new set of coilpacks were installed. The mapping session showed that the freshly rebuilt turbo wouldn't hold boost beyond 1.3 bar so a new Forge actuator was ordered. Once I had got this fitted, it was off for another mapping session. I asked for a sensible map as I wasn't chasing figures and I now, at long last, have a well running car putting out around 350bhp.

While the engine was being done I had an Exedy clutch added, a 3 port boost solenoid and a couple of other little bits.

Total cost for everything on top of buying my already overpriced 'bombproof' JDM car, approx. £6,500. So, in two years I've spent well north of £20k in buying and keeping it running and adding a few more mods to give it my own touch.

Expect the worse with an Impreza and be extremely careful who you use for maintenance as the Subaru world is filled with cowboys unfortunately. I've heard countless horror stories and they've been far worse than with other marques I've owned.

Just sounds like you were very unlucky with the car you bought . The guy I bought mine of had a ring binder full of receipts of previous owners . The car came with all expensive mods already done . Kw coilovers big brake kit mapped by Andy Forrest had over 10k spent on it . Not even been forged . So I was lucky in that respect . But in the last two year it’s needed a clutch new pads discs all round . I’ve had suspension set up . Changed colour of wheels new tyres . Bought a spare set of winter wheels and tyres . Also the servicing oil changes . So of the top my head all that lot would be 4K


Edited by Jay Kay 225 on Thursday 11th July 14:23