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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Preface

I purchased my B6 completely stock, with 50K miles on it, in Summer 2014. I began this build thread in Winter 2018 on the heels of completing my Big Turbo build (Summer 2018). I did quite a lot in those interim 4 years and a large chunk of this build thread is devoted to retroactively covering that. However, this highlights an inherent problem with that retroactive chunk of the build thread… I hadn’t planned to make a build thread. So I don’t have pics for a lot of stuff I should, nor do I have many mid-install/DIY pics, and frankly even my timeline for when I did stuff throughout those 4 years is probably not totally accurate. So you won’t get to follow the progress as it goes from the ground up like a lot of build threads, which is something I sincerely regret, but from here onward you will because now that the build thread is here I plan to go forward updating it and treating it like your typical build thread.
HOWEVER, I should make it perfectly clear up-front that this is NOT your typical build thread. If “build thread” were a genre of its own I’d have to classify this as something else because while it is a build thread at heart it may also read at times as a “review thread” and at other times as sort of a history or retelling of the events and decisions I made with the car. The bulk of this build thread is in a more detailed narrative and chronological format. I will go into significant depth as to why I chose the mods/parts I chose, based on research and, in some cases, getting lots of hands-on exposure to the mod/part selections other enthusiasts made for their cars in order to inform my decisions even more. I will also at times possibly go into depth about even more mundane things I did with the car. The idea is that bringing up anything and everything opens up opportunities to educate readers or spawn questions on, well, anything and everything… I like to be comprehensive and I don’t want to assume any particular level of knowledge of any given reader. I recognize that these stylistic choices are not to everyone’s taste and that it means the build thread will be very lengthy, possibly dry or “fluffy” at times, etc. and that this may even ostracize some readers… That’s fine because my primary goal is always to educate/help, and my secondary goal of the thread is as sort of documentation of mine and my car’s journey for myself. It is my hope that anyone who actually has the interest to make it through this novella of a build thread will walk away very informed and with a clear idea how to go about their own builds.




Table of Contents (for primary posts)

Post #1 (this post) ----------------------------------------------------- Factory specs vs. modded specs; full mod list; potential next-up mods section; external resources; changelog (thread update history)

Post #2 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Intro to car and what to expect from this thread; first pics totally stock

Post #3 ---------------------------------------------------------------- First mod; some maintenance tips; tire choices/info

Post #4 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Significantly DETAILED info on tuning (“shelf“ and “custom”), cold air intakes, factory PCV system, and catch cans

Post #5 ---------------------------------------------------------------- New wheels; short shifter upgrades; additional maintenance tips

Post #6 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Full TBE; HPFP upgrade; engine/trans mount upgrades

Post #7 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Significantly DETAILED info on clutch kits; new shift knob; P3Cars multi-gauge; additional maintenance tips

Post #8 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Significantly DETAILED info on BBK upgrades, pads, rotors, and brake fluids

Post #9 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Significantly DETAILED info on suspension items, including struts/shocks/springs, strut mounts, end links, sway bars, control arm bushings and subframe mounts/mods

Post #10 --------------------------------------------------------------- Miscellaneous mods/parts over the years that don’t fit a particular chronology

Post #11 --------------------------------------------------------------- Miscellaneous maintenance and troubleshooting/diagnosis tips from over the years that don’t fit a particular chronology; ALSO, a couple sort-of DIY guides

Post #12 --------------------------------------------------------------- Significantly DETAILED info on suspension alignment, race pads/track tires, as well as rear suspension modifications and mount modifications made for a more track-oriented car

Post #13 --------------------------------------------------------------- COMING SOON (will include copious details on turbo upgrade considerations, turbo wastegates, engine limitations/upgrades, intercooling, fueling upgrades, intake manifolds, and more)

Post #14 --------------------------------------------------------------- Feedback on the Grams Performance 70mm throttle body and significantly DETAILED information on ECU air/fuel ratio calculations and strategies that pertain to the subject of throttle body upgrades




Factory Specs

***Note: In addition to just presenting some baseline factory specs, some of the below are mentioned to show how the B6 Passat is actually moderately sized as Sedans/Saloons go (at least in the USA) and not all that much larger/heavier than the GTI of the same generation.


Make: Volkswagen (obviously)
Year/Model: 2007 B6 Passat
Engine/code: 2.0T FSI/BPY
Transmission/code: FWD 6-speed manual trans/02M
Torque: 207ctq @ 1800RPMs
Horsepower: 200chp @ 5100RPMs
Tachometer redline: 6500RPMs
Curb-weight: 3305 lbs. / 1499kg. (compared to 3161 lbs. / 1434kg. for 6-speed Mk5 FSI GTI)
Power/weight ratio: 0.060 (compared to 0.063 for 6-speed Mk5 FSI GTI)
Length: 15’ 6” / 4.7m (compared to 13’ 8” / 4.2m for Mk5 FSI GTI)
Height: 4’ 10” / 1.47m (same as Mk5 GTI)
Width: ~ 6’ / 1.8m (compared to 5’ 9” / 1.75m for Mk5 FSI GTI)
Drag coefficient: 0.28 Cd. (better than 0.32 Cd. for Mk5 FSI GTI)
Chassis torsional rigidity/stiffness: 32400 Nm/degree (equivalent to a Porsche 911 (977), significantly better than the 25000 Nm/degree of the Mk5 GTI)
0-60mph: 6.6 seconds (compared to 6.1 seconds for Mk5 FSI GTI)
Quarter-mile time/trap speed: 14.8 seconds / trap speed unknown but likely a bit under 100mph (compared to 14.6 seconds for Mk5 FSI GTI and likely trap speed of a bit under or right at 100mph)




Modified Specs

***Note: Below are notable changes to my car's specs that differ from above factory specs. Regarding dyno results, 0-60mph, and quarter-mile stats… I am interested but not obsessed with these figures. I’m much more interested in the drive-ability and well-roundedness of my tune than I am with peak HP/TQ figures just like I’m more interested in not breaking my car than I am in launching my car umpteen times to get excellent 0-60 and quarter-mile stats. I’m not very into aggressively launching my car and I’m not hunting fame for these stats, just enough runs to satisfy my curiosity (and somewhat justify my expenses to myself haha).


Torque: pending more dyno results following most recent tune adjustments
(expecting ~360wtq / 380ctq)
Horsepower: pending more dyno results following most recent tune adjustments
(expecting ~360whp / 400chp)
Tachometer redline: 7400RPMs (w/ custom tuning software)
Curb-weight: 3240 lbs. / 1469kg (65 lbs. / 30kg lighter than factory spec)
Power/weight ratio: 0.123 (if above power figure anticipations are correct)
0-60mph: Out of only a few conservative 0-60 runs (timed accurately by my P3Cars gauge) each was right around 4.3 seconds without building boost or dumping the clutch and with loss of traction on 400tw all-season tires
(suspect 0-60 of 4 seconds or slightly less is easily achievable with aggressive launch and 200tw summer tires)
Quarter-mile time/trap speed: will post time slips after finalization of most recent tune adjustments
(realistically should be able to get time somewhere in the 11 second range with an ideal run as traction on the prepped surface isn’t much of an issue like it is everywhere else but that then makes me even more concerned for my drivetrain/powertrain safety so I’d settle for a low 12s time with an NON-aggressive start… I’m more interested in the trap speed anyway which I estimate should be ~120mph)




Modifications List

***Note: I’ll maintain a current list of mods and notable OEM upgrade parts here. This list will always reflect what is currently on the car as the go-to accurate list. Any parts that I chose to replace with another brand/design will be detailed in the thread itself.


Engine:

Advanced Tuning Products (ATP) GEN 2 stock-location GTX2867R turbocharger kit w/ 22PSI base-pressure wastegate actuator for internal wastegate
Go Fast Bits DV+ (w/ NO piston main spring installed) relocated via custom intake-to-turbo inlet junction pipe
OEM N75 boost control solenoid relocated to a custom bracket bolted to top of engine mount w/ vac lines connected to custom intake-to-turbo inlet junction pipe
United Motorsport custom tuning software
Integrated Engineering high performance intake manifold
Grams Performance 70mm throttle body
BSH Speedshop throttle body pipe
Wagner Tuning competition intercooler
Mishimoto performance radiator (factory style quick connect ends cut off and replaced with welded standard hose-barb ends; shaved corners for fitment with Wagner Tuning intercooler end tanks)
Forge Motorsport cold air intake (filter enclosure painted gloss black later; decided I did not like the carbon fiber)
o Custom bracket to support Forge CAI pipe (to prevent contact with master cylinder on road bumps)
o Audi Performance and Racing (APR) carbonio cold air intake (removed as of Fall, 2014)
BSH Speedshop intake heatshield (mounted to rear of engine between CAI and exhaust manifold)
Billy Boat Exhaust 3” full turboback exhaust system
Audi RS4 low-pressure fuel pump (modified to fit)
Audi Performance and Racing (APR) high-pressure fuel pump
Tork Motorsports 155-bar fuel pressure relief valve
VW Golf R fuel injectors
VW Golf R 3-bar manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor
Audi R8 ignition coil packs
NGK BKR8E (gapped @ 0.024)
o NGK BKR7E (no longer used since upgrading to bigger turbo setup, Summer 2018)
Integrated Engineering billet aluminum/black anodized valve cover
Integrated Engineering custom catch can system (mounted on a custom bracket bolted to top of engine mount)
o BSH Speedshop competition catch can (removed as of Fall, 2017)
Fluidampr crankshaft harmonic balancer

Liqui Moly Leichtlauf 5W-40 - Part #2332 (changed in ~5K miles OR 4-month intervals)
Dimple engine oil drain pan magnetic plug
ECS Tuning black anodized oil dipstick
Porsche 911 aluminum coolant reservoir cap


Transmission:

HS Tuning RSR clutch kit w/ Golf R dual mass flywheel
USP Motorsports stainless steel clutch line
ECS Tuning modified clutch bleeder block
Audi Performance and Racing (APR) adjustable short shifter kit (set to 100% shorter front/back throw & ~75% shorter side-to-side throw)
Audi Performance and Racing (APR) solid shifter cable bracket
ECS Tuning solid shifter cable bushings

Redline MTL (75W-80 GL4) gear oil
Dimple gearbox magnetic plug


Suspension/subframe/mounts:

H&R 26mm front sway bar (set to soft = ~130% stiffer than stock)
H&R 24mm rear sway bar (set to firm = ~270% stiffer than stock)
SuperPro front/rear adjustable end links (installed at curb weight… this is critical, details in thread)
034 Motorsports street density (60A) front strut mounts
Koni “Yellow” adjustable sport struts/shocks (front set to 1/2-turn from full-soft; rear set 1/8-turn from full-stiff)
Vogtland sport springs (1.6” lower)
034 Motorsports street density (60A) motor/trans mounts
VWR/Racingline subframe dogbone mounts
TyrolSport front/rear subframe rigid locking collars + ARP bolts
OEM B6 Passat lightweight aluminum front lower control arms w/ SuperPro street density (80A) polyurethane bushings
Powerflex race density (90A) rear lower control arm polyurethane bushings (arms painted gloss black)
034 Motorsport adjustable rear upper control arms w/ 90A polyurethane bushings
Powerflex race density (90A) rear trailing arm polyurethane bushings (arms & spindle painted gloss black)
034 Motorsport adjustable rear toe arms w/ 90A polyurethane bushings
o Spulen adjustable rear toe arms w/ pillow-ball spherical bearings (removed as of Summer, 2018, after 3 months of use; only purchased these b/c the 034 toe arms above were on back-order at the time)


Braking:

TyrolSport master cylinder brace (modified to fit w/ APR short shifter kit)
StopTech ST-40 front “big brake” kit, including:
o StopTech ST-40 front brake calipers w/ custom powder-coating
o StopTech 2-piece slotted AeroRotors (328mm x 28mm)
o StopTech stainless steel brake lines
o StopTech sport front brake pads for ST-40 BBK (uninstalled as of Fall, 2018)
o Porterfield R4-S front brake pads for ST-40 BBK (used for performance street/autocross)
o Porterfield R4 front race brake pads for ST-40BBK (used for track ONLY)
OEM rear brake setup (painted in high-temp gloss black)
o StopTech slotted rear rotors (OE size)
o Adam's slotted rear rotors (OE size - uninstalled as of Fall, 2018)
o Porterfield R4-S rear brake pads (used for performance street/autocross)
o Porterfield R4 rear race brake pads (used for track ONLY)

ATE Typ200 brake fluid (used outside of track season)
Castrol SRF racing brake fluid (used during track season)


Exterior:

ECS Tuning front grille replacement (painted gloss black to match body)
Depo Smoked black front bumper side markers/indicators (now w/ orange bulbs inside to retain function when using turn signal)


Interior:

Raceseng "Slammer" polished stainless steel shift knob
P3Cars VIDI multi-gauge in analogue vacuum/boost reading configuration (w/ blue and red lighting theme to match OEM B6 Passat dash lighting)
Vantrue N2 front/rear dash cam (stealthily wired to dash-mounted parking-mode on/off switch & power management system)
Pioneer X6600BT single-din, bluetooth-enabled headunit (w/ blue and red lighting theme to match OEM B6 Passat dash lighting)
Johnson Window Films 35% window tint all-around (excluding front windshield)
WeatherTech sun shade
WeatherTech black floor and trunk liners


Wheels/tires:

Enkei 18x8” M52 “Hyperblack” (dark silver) wheels - 45mm offset - 21lbs. each (for street tires)
o BFGoodrich 235/40R18 Sport Comp 2 ultra high-performance A/S tires (no longer use this size as of 2019 - sidewall height was contributing to rubbing issues even w/o spacers)
o BFGoodrich 225/40R18 Sport Comp 2 ultra high-performance A/S tires (for street use)
o ECS Tuning 10mm black anodized, hub-centric wheels pacers (only used with Enkei M52/BFG SC2 wheel/tire set for street)
Motegi Racing 18x8.5" MR140 silver wheels - 45mm offset - 19lbs. each (for track tires)
o Hankook 255/35R18 Ventus R-S4 extreme performance summer tires (for track/limited street use in Summer)
OEM 16x7" Catalunya silver wheels (formerly for Winter tires)
o Dunlop 215/60R16 Wintersport 3D performance winter tires (no longer used - have used my Silverado pickup for Winter driving since 2017)




What’s Next?

***Note: The below is a tentative (and probably very optimistic) plan of mods that I would like to do at some point in the future, sorted by time/opportunity as opposed to category like above; some are much more likely than others, for example, the engine internal upgrades are FAR more likely than any of the cosmetic mods because I value function over form without hesitation.


Late 2019/when affordable:

• Oil pressure gauge system
• Unibraces to key chassis points
• Further upgrading fuel injectors & re-tuning accordingly (if fueling limits are reached)
• Upgrade LPF supply with auxiliary pump OR PM3 module
• Replace Mishimoto radiator (w/ Tyrolsport, Audi S3, or similar quality)
• Refresh & full rebuild/upgrade of engine/internals OR swap with built block/head
o Delete balance shafts from oil pump unit and have engine rebalanced without balance shaft rotating mass on crank
o Add 0.030" to exhaust valve springs (to combat possible valve float)
o Add Tial 38mm MVS external wastegate setup to turbo
o Have exhaust manifold / turbo hot-side / downpipe coated by Swaintech
o Have block/head cleaned and powdercoated (only if the timing and price is right)
o Iabed performance oil cooler
• Upgrade steering wheel (undecided on what kind)


Indefinite/after cosmetic issues addressed:

• Duraflex, Rieger, Cupra R, or Votex lip spoiler
• Further grille/bumper & other body modifications
o R36 front bumper/grille, or VW hi-def RGT body kit, or RS4 body kit
• Fog lights (maybe, but only if they project clear lighting not yellowed lighting)
• Depo smoked factory style headlights modified w/ halo rings and LED strips
• R36 OEM taillights OR Depo smoked factory style taillights (if available)
o For either, perform Skyline taillight mod and taillight running condition changes
• SRS-Tec or other wider front/rear fenders to accommodate wider wheels


If/when trans-related repairs needed:

• South Bend stage 3 w/ SMF (friction disc option pending robustness of RSR at track)
o If opting for endurance/race clutch, will consider SRE clutch options as alternative
• Wavetrac LSD (pending circumstances leading to timeliness of this upgrade, may consider a new/low-mileage trans swap first)
o Have old or "new" trans cleaned and powder-coated (only if timing and price is right)
• OE steel shift forks (02M311549Q)
o Shift fork bronze sliders (SQS)
• 4th gear input shaft support (Darkside Dev)
• Gearbox reinforcement plate (Darskide Dev)
• Main shaft re-enforcements
• Differential rivets-to-bolts swap
• Upgraded syncros (if available – [ending research)
• AWD conversion from 4Motion B6 Passat (likely never, but one can dream…)




[RESOURCES] - Below are some self-study materials; technical materials in PDF format (hosted on my Google Drive), some random resource threads that I've either posted info in or found helpful over the years myself, and a link to another build thread for VERY well done Mk6 GTI track car owned by a good friend of mine

FSI Design & Function Manual: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bzeazv76x9MXUjF1a1FSUFJkdFE
FSI Technical Data & Specifications Book: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1igHOT69IsNg-oE3TTT09uh8D_X5ya9-u
STASIS Guide For Many Engine & Turbo Jobs: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bzeazv76x9MXdHN3VXd1UnJnZGc


Miscellaneous threads:
http://racetrackdriving.com/car-setup/track-alignment/
http://www.stoptech.com/technical-support/technical-white-papers/white-paper---brake-bias-and-performance-why-brake-balance-matters
http://www.uucmotorwerks.com/CLUTCH/
https://www.phoenixfriction.com/t-cl...explained.aspx
https://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=66367
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8819306-Let-s-talk-brakes
https://www.golfmkv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=173203
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8774745-Sway-Bar-End-Link-Question
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8980465-Koni-Yellow-settings-MK6-GLi
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8747154-Metallic-whine
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8740569-Strange-zip-whistle-ish-noise-from-around-throttle-pedal-during-throttle-blips-(rev-match)-and-sputtering-noise-at-WOT-only-Seemingly-NO-boost-loss-or-vac-leak!
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8856297-Wastegate-Behavior
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?9283713-Upgrade-internal-wastegate
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?9275547-2013-GLI-Big-Turbo-Eurodyne-Maestro-7
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8846737-How-much-hp-can-stock-block-hold
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8771033-What-kind-of-oil-for-a-2007-Passat
https://www.passatworld.com/forums/volkswagen-passat-b6-discussion/537897-2009-vw-passat-2-0t-sedan-reliability.html
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8828393-Average-life-expectancy-of-2-0T-FSI
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8968905-Any-DIY-s-on-replacing-oil-filter-housing-cooler-on-Mk5-GTI-FSI
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?9123721-GTI-2-0-TSI-Air-Conditioner-Issue-maybe
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8725273-MK5-Brake-Hissing
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8747154-Metallic-whine


Friends Mk6 GTI Track Car Build Thread:
https://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=115417




[Build Thread Changelog]

- 11/18/18: Original build thread post (including posts 1-8)
- 11/24/18: Suspension/subframe post (post #9)
- 11/26/18: Added 20+ new pics for more eye-candy
- 12/02/18: Added details regarding catch cans vs. block-off plate-only setups (post #4)
- 12/19/18: Significant additions to detail in clutch information/options (post #7)
- 01/25/19: Added details regarding solving a noise issue you may develop when installing a catch can or block-off plate; added useful self-study and tech materials to the resources section
- 01/26/19: Added further detail to tuning subjects section (post #4)
- 03/05/19: Added part additions for upcoming track season to mod list (post w/ details on these parts and installs will come later)
- 03/29/19: Significant additions to detail of brake section (primarily pad, rotor, and brake fluid selection info)
- 05/27/19: Re-organized and added details to mods list; additional details to tuning section; fixed some typos
- 06/02/19: Added new post (post #10) with miscellaneous mods/parts installed over the years that don’t fit a particular chronology; also added table of contents for easier navigation
- 06/14/19: Added new post (post #11) which contains maintenance and troubleshooting experiences/tips as well as a couple sort-of DIY guides
- 07/12/19: Added new post (post #12) which covers a significant turning point for the objective of the car, primarily rear suspension work (lots of pics) and other stiffening mods for full track prep
- 07/16/19: Added new post (post #14) which covers my experience/feedback on the Grams Performance 70mm throttle body and significant details about ECU fuel trim calculations and AFR info pertaining to the Grams TB operation
- Next upcoming post: Post #13 to cover big turbo upgrade, fueling related subjects, intercooling, and more
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Intro/Background

Welcome to my build thread! For many, the title of my thread may already have you thinking to yourself how much an oxymoron it is to consider a Passat to be almost equal parts track car as it is comfy street car, or how foolish it is to spend the kind of money needed to develop a Passat to that point. Sure, a Passat may not be the most ideal model for pulling this double-duty, that’s fair, but it is my hope that this thread will show the merits of a well-sorted, tastefully modified Passat. While the B6 Passat does have some innate disadvantages in track performance areas – compared to the more popular GTI – most notably in its size/weight, you can see from the factory specs in my first post that the differences are not that drastic. Furthermore the B6 Passat has an ace up its sleeve; the chassis torsional rigidity is very very high, comparable to a Porsche 911 (997) and higher than many cars with much sportier pretensions. The purpose is for crash safety but this characteristic can absolutely be felt and taken advantage of for performance driving. I will not belabor any more technical details in this intro section but I brought that example up to demonstrate that there is more than meets the eye to the B6 Passat platform; considerations like chassis torsional rigidity are also examples of the kind of depth you can expect from my build thread. It is my hope that my build thread will show that the shortcomings of the B6 Passat in performance categories can be mostly overcome, whilst the multitude of attributes unique to the Passat make up the difference (and then some in my opinion). In essence, a thoroughly modified B6 Passat can strike a unique and well-rounded balance between being a sporty, responsive, and engaging vehicle to drive while also maintaining a far more spacious, comfortable, quieter, and higher quality interior as well as the advantage and appeal of being a rare breed to modify and a hilariously surprising sleeper.

If you’re not convinced, or if these thoughts didn’t even cross your mind – you’re just here to read a build thread – then, either way, you’re in luck because the heart of this build thread is INFORMATION. In all honesty, I’m mostly a dry, technical kind of guy so if you can tolerate that then you should be in for plenty of good info and considerations for your own build plans. And, PLEASE, feel free to ask any questions, I love answering questions even more than I love asking them. I’ve been a very active poster on VWVortex for just this reason, I always enjoy helping people out or just shooting the **** about cars.

I’ll start with a little background. In the summer of 2014 when my then current car, a hand-me-down 2000 Jetta GLS 5-speed, was beginning to show its age with 200K+ miles and poor maintenance history, I sold it for what I could. It was my first car, I had it for 6 years, and I still sometimes miss it a bit. I wonder what could have been if I actually knew a damn thing about working on and maintaining cars back then. I suspect it went on to last a good while longer as it were after I sold it, but had I kept it – and had I known what I know now – it’d definitely still be alive and well even to this day. But that’s just the thing: had I kept it, I most likely wouldn’t know what I know now about cars, I’d most likely still be totally inept. It was only after I sold that Jetta and bought my Passat that I took it upon myself to start learning to maintain it; partly in the interest of simply saving money but also partly because, even stock, it was a much more invigorating car to drive than the Jetta and I guess I wanted to form a bit more of a connection to it by working on it myself. Yeah maybe a little weird, but I know real car people totally get where I’m coming from on that last point.

So suffice to say, buying the Passat marked the start of a journey. It was a journey that started at ground zero for both of us because the Passat was totally stock and I didn’t know the first thing about cars. It was in starting to learn how to do even the simple stuff like oil changes, spark plugs, air filter, etc. that I became aware of the thriving VAG aftermarket and that, combined with the light nudging of a good friend and now fellow enthusiast, is what sent me off in the direction that brought my Passat and I to where we are now.




My First Detailing Job

But I’m already getting a little ahead of myself because the very first thing I did you my Passat was not mechanical at all. Yes, the very first thing I did was clean her up real good. She was already pretty clean but when I buy something new (to me) I usually get hit with the hardcore OCD so my new pride and joy just wasn’t clean enough (also the engine bay was filthy). Plus “clean looking” wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to make sure the paint was squeaky smooth (free of bonded contaminants) and well protected too so that meant I needed to do a full exterior detail, not just a wash. Unfortunately, I don’t have BEFORE pics, only AFTER pics…

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I think it turned out pretty damn well for a first time detailer. I did a lot of research beforehand on products and all the correct methodologies of detailing the right way and since I pick stuff up pretty quick, especially things that are very methodical and meticulous in nature, I got into detailing fast. Still love it. I’ll say this: I’ve tried just about all the major brands/products out there by now (as of time of writing in 2018) and while some of the more expensive products like AMMO, Adam’s, etc. are better than the affordable brands like Chemical Guys and Meguiar’s, they aren’t really better enough to justify more than double the price in most cases. There are a few specialty products you get from those upper-end brands that are worthwhile but for the main repertoire of detailing supplies CM and Meguiar’s have totally fine products that compare quite well. Honed techniques and methods in detailing is FAR more critical to good results than choosing between brands.

Oh and I also put in WeatherTech black floor and trunk liners!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The First “Mod”

So, anyway, what was the first “mod” I did? An aftermarket headunit of course! The base model 2007 Passat 2.0T has a 6-CD cylinder style stereo/radio unit. Now it definitely beat my Jetta’s because the CD cylinder for the Jetta was in the trunk and the Passat’s could receive all 6 through the CD slot and stack them up internally buuuut meh. So I got a good Pioneer single-DIN headunit with Bluetooth/mic and smart phone compatibility, etc. No navigation or anything fancy, never really cared for that. Even for the extreme novice electrician that I was (and still am for the most part) the install was pretty simple. Bought the kit from Crutchfield. Just had to buy a CAN-BUS adapter in addition to the basic kit. I used the empty storage tray portion that fills in the rest of the double-DIN space to wire and attach the mic too instead of running it up to the sun visor or anything complicated. It works just fine where it is and points right at me.

I did, of course, change the accent lights on the buttons/faceplate to red and kept the color for text on the LED screen as blue, thus matching the factory red/blue interior lighting!

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Some Good Basic Maintenance Notes (Especially on the Topic of Oil Choice)

Also around this time I took care of some basic maintenance items; oil change with Mobil 1 0W-40 (I think I may have started taking samples for Blackstone lab analysis as early as this first oil change too), also spark plugs, air filter, cam follower, maybe N80 valve, etc. Basically most of the cheap and common FSI/BPY attention areas. Also checked to make sure I had a Sanden AC compressor instead of one of the other OE brands that were known to fail and literally frag inside your AC system/lines. I did these things preventatively and wasn’t overly concerned about this cars health at all; aside from some cosmetic areas I have yet to address, the car was clearly well maintained and cared for in the 50k miles it had been driven by previous owner.

Since I brought up oil above I’ll take this opportunity to point out that, over the years, I’ve done a considerable amount of research and experimentation with many top-notch VW 502.00 spec oils along with Blackstone lab analyses for all of them, multiple times each, and have arrived at what I believe to be a very well informed, validated, and complete understanding of the best oil options available for the FSI/TSI 2.0T motors. Rather than burden this already massive thread, I will just drop a link to a thread in which I have several posts on the subject. If you read all my posts in this thread you should be very well informed.

https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8771033-What-kind-of-oil-for-a-2007-Passat




Some New Shoes and Rubber

After that point the very next thing I did was get some better rubber! My car came with the common factory all-season Michelin Primacy MXV4 in 215/55R16. That’s typical of Passat’s being that VW certainly isn’t targeting sporty or enthusiastic drivers with the Passat line. But either way 215/55R16 is very close to equivalent circumference to the 225/40R18 tires on factory 18” wheels so the size of tire I had on my Passat is just as much a function of the size of the wheel and the fact that VW doesn’t want to have different instrument clusters programmed for different speedo and odometer readings across their various models and factory wheel/tires sizes.

Anyway, those Michelins weren’t that bad for a Grand Touring style all-season with pretty hard compound but they were FAR from what a spirited driver wants so I ditched them a went for winter/summer configuration: Dunlop Wintersport 3D in 205/60R16 on my factory 16” alloys for winter and BFG Sport Comp 2 summer tires in 235/45R17 on a new set of 17” OEM Autobahn GTI wheels.
Around this same time I also got rid of the hideous badged grille. I bought the car in a state that requires front plates as well but don’t need it in PA so I got a badgeless black grille to bring a more aggressive look to the Passat.

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Thoughts/Experiences on the Winter Tires… And a Little Snowy-road Story

I got these Dunlop Wintersport 3D tires in a tall/narrow size as one should so they bite in snow more and are less prone to slide and, well there is no other way of saying it, they were absolutely knock-your-socks-off fantastic for their price. I have had some lackluster experience with Dunlop all-season and summer tires in the past (one set of which I had on briefly during ownership of this car but that I’m not even going to bring up again, that’s how bad they were) but these Wintersports were, according to reviews, about the best of what was in my budget at the time and they far exceeded my expectations. At first I was reserved in my winter snowy driving with these but very quickly came to trust them and pushed them more and more and more and I am pretty sure I still never really found the limit. Quite frankly there was one particular winter (the one right after I got these) that I was driving like a complete moron for the conditions and some might have thought I had a death-wish, but that’s how confident these tires made me and I never once had a close call with them. Still shouldn’t have been pushing my luck that way, but we all do stuff we shouldn’t from time to time. In one instance I was driving to work one wintery day on a seldom traveled backroad with nobody else on it at the time and I was running behind so I was driving very fast for the conditions. There was a good couple inches of fresh powder on the road, and more coming down during the drive, and I came upon a straight and fairly long section of the road and got up to about 70mph (yes I was being a moron in retrospect), I trusted the tires a lot already at this point. Well, I live in deer country and, you guessed it, a deer jumped out ahead of me at most 200ft. Instinctively I knew I had absolutely 0% chance of braking successfully in this case so I didn’t even bother. I don’t recall if I let off the throttle even or if I continued at my speed but, either way, I went for the dodge maneuver. I attempted to abruptly swerve around the deer, which required me to use the entirety of the fairly narrow 1-lane (each way) road I had and it was NOT a gradual swerve by any means, given the speed I was going and how close the deer was relative to the speed. I still figured I had a good chance of ending up in a tree this way too but it was my best shot. Of course, this whole event and all the thoughts I had happened inside less than a second and after that second had passed I had successfully dodged the deer completely, and returned to my lane unscathed and in COMPLETE AND UTTER AMAZEMENT that the tires didn’t even let me slide one bit. It was almost as if there was no snow at all despite the fact that there was a least 2 inches of fresh powder. It’s possible somebody up there was just looking out for my dumb ass but you never know; the only thing I can definitively point to is those tires. So, considering their exceptional price tag on Tire Rack, I’d get them every time. I can’t see those crazy expensive Blizzacks being much better to be totally honest.


Thoughts/Experiences on the Summer Tires

I got these BFG Sport Comp 2 summer tires 235/45R17, factory equivalent size for 17” wheels. They are a tad beefy for a summer set but the roads in PA are atrocious and, frankly, I don’t like the really low profile or stretched look. Even at this size, just slightly tall for a performance setup, these tires absolutely kill it for their price. BFG knocks it out of the park with this tire and especially the price. Are there better summer tires? Sure, but are their better summer tires for the price? Not really. And that’s not just according to me, that’s according to independent testers and professional testing from companies like Tire Rack… I always do my research. The only tire that I think is known to stand up to these Sport Comp 2 and for actually a bit less is the Firestone Firehawk Indy 500. I cannot personally comment on them but I may in the near future if I get a set to try out. Anyway, I don’t have any crazy stories for these BFG tires like I did for the Dunlop winters but they are hands-down a fantastic tire for the price and I’ve still gotten away with some stupid driving with them. If I had to make one complaint about them it would be this: they don’t talk to you that much. They don’t give you much warning before traction loss is imminent. So if you’re still experimenting with your cars handling dynamics or not totally comfortable with your suspension setup yet or something then these could be mildly dangerous if you’re driving hard. This isn’t that uncommon of aggressive summer tires though and traction seems to be pretty easy to correct with these so if they start to lose traction you certainly can recover. Also, they are fantastic in the rain and VERY resistant to hydroplaning in my experience.




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Little random bonus pic... I was visiting family over the Holiday and my Uncle (Retired Navy Veteran, BMW enthusiast, and great man) offered to let me put my car up on the lift for ****s and giggles. Don't recall doing anything noteworthy at the time, I had already been on top of things, but it was neat to see her up on the lift and learn some stuff from my Uncle!


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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Getting Tuned!

I made those wheel/tire purchases within a month or two of purchasing the Passat in July of 2014 and it was pretty much right after that when I got a stage 1 tune. I went with APR. I was aware of the other big tuners for shelf tunes but I went with APR for a few reasons:

1) I had an APR dealer pretty nearby (NGP Racing in Aberdeen, MD)
2) APR is the largest and, I’m sure, most wealthy of the big tuners which tends to correlate to R&D/testing quality… that, and the fact that VW considers them a partner and offers their tunes in some locations, made me confident in the product.
3) Their stage 1 tune advertised the largest gains of any stage 1 tune on offer for my FSI (by a fairly significant margin as far as torque goes) and while some would say that APR inflates their numbers compared to other tuners that would only bring the
APR stage 1 tune down into the same power range at worst and I suspect they ALL inflate their numbers anyway.
4) I liked the power curve I was seeing advertised. Make no mistake, it is still peaky and leaves quite a lot to be desired up top but that is at least 50% because of the inherent characteristics of the K03 turbo. Compared to the other big tuners, particularly
REVO as I recall (and have heard from several sources), the APR tune has a more gradual curve yet is still satisfyingly savage down low (as really any K03/K04 tune is).

Those are the reasons I chose APR over the others for shelf tunes. Now if you’re reading this thread and currently debating over tunes, I’m NOT going to say that APR is “best”. That’s at least partially subjective at the end of the day. What I will say, is I had absolutely zero problems with APR over the 3+ years I had APR stages 1 – 2+ (more on that progression coming up) and was always very satisfied and enjoying my car.


Off-the-shelf Tuning vs. Custom Tuning

I want to address another subject to... The highly contentious and oft-debated "shelf vs. custom tune" subject. I am going to weigh in on the subject with my advice, which is coming from my personal experience in both camps (shelf tuning AND custom tuning/setups) as well as my experience as a professional software engineer and avid researcher when it comes to my car build. As a software engineer you better believe I've delved into every bit of minutiae possible and asked of the numerous tuning companies everything they would discuss about the tuning parameters, variables, tables, maps, and the software itself. Obviously they aren't gonna tell me any of their trade secrets but the point is that, just by the nature of my profession, I have more insight into the end-user differences that are achieved by shelf tuning vs. custom tuning... and they really aren't that significant. It boils down to this: if you don’t plan to go with a setup that more or less needs custom tuning (e.g. non-standard hardware) then just stick to a shelf tune.

That's because the reality is that shelf tunes are just as good as your average custom tune AS LONG AS they are paired with the standard hardware they are intended for. See, everyone has this notion that getting a custom tune when they are stage 1, stage 2, or basic bolt-on K04, is better than a shelf tune because it is more tailored to their car... it really isn't. Those shelf tunes from the big tuners are tailored to that hardware they are intended for already; they are, in effect, a custom tune in-and-of themselves for that specific basic bolt-on hardware. The second you deviate from standard bolt-ons and add non-standard stuff like high performance intake manifold (do NOT unless you’re going BT), or water-meth injection, E85, etc. that goes out the window though. THEN you want custom tuning because THEN you need a tune that can be tailored to your non-standard hardware to take full advantage of it. But that's only the case for a minority of enthusiasts/modders. If you have the basic standard hardware that the shelf tunes are written for you will get little-to-nothing out of a "custom tune." And the reason I threw "custom tune" in quotes is because most custom tuning companies do NOT actually give you a truly custom tune when you have basic bolt-on hardware because it would be a waste of their time; they already have a tune ready to go for that (just like the big "shelf" tuning companies). Why would they duplicate effort and tune specifically for each car when the stage 1/2/K04 cars with standard bolt-ons are nearly the same and any amount of custom tuning they do from one to the other is gonna net fairly minimal and possibly negligible difference in power from one bolt-on application to another. So for bolt-on stage 1 thru K04, a shelf tune is totally fine and generally the only thing you’re going to get out of a custom tune on standard bolt-on hardware is a bit more refined of a powerband and MAYBE a bit more power if your tuner really knows what they’re doing and if you pay for the time it takes to dial it in to that level. That’s best case scenario; worst case scenario is you’ll pay just for them to load a cookie-cutter file for your hardware (which will be at best as good as the heavily R&D’ed/refined shelf tunes) or they will do a more custom approach but it will take many re-tunes and more $$ to get it any better than a shelf tune which is already designed for the hardware, is heavily R&Ded, and used by thousands of feedback-providing users for the same application.

To elaborate on that, a proper tune will perform well regardless of environmental factors; whether you introduce load with the AC on, drive when it's very cold or when it's very hot, etc. the car should perform well. This is generally the case for shelf-tunes because of reasons stated above regarding R&D and because they have to be to be so mass-marketable. With custom tunes, however, the tuning typically occurs in very narrow scope. There are more environmental variables than you can count that can skew the data and tuning and while most of the time these variables are not significant enough to be total deal-breakers (in the sense that your car isn’t going to run horribly), it will prevent the tune from being as capable as it could be which is the biggest oxymoron of custom tuning

Properly tuning a car takes significant dyno AND street time. The idea that a custom tuner can do some pulls, log some data, change some figures, rinse and repeat, and have a tune that is magically better than a shelf-tune, for the right hardware, should be looked at with EXTREME skepticism. Rarely does a totally custom tune not require multiple re-tunes to be competitive, it’s just the nature of the game. Some people like that game, I like it, but not for a bolt-on stage 1, stage 2, or even K04 setup. Not worth the headache for minimal gain, at absolute best.

At the end of the day custom tuning is actually NOT all that much different than shelf tunes. They are all working with the same data, the same parameters, the same variables, the same tables, the same maps, etc. It's all the same process and the same techniques used to accomplish the same thing, the ONLY real tangible difference is that the custom tuners will adjust that stuff around your build and the shelf tune obviously does not. That is why I say that the ONLY reason to go custom tuned is if you have non-standard parts on your car that a shelf tune does NOT account for or take advantage of properly. This is why for stage 1, stage 2, and for K04, most "custom" tuners load a canned file anyway and it's no better than a shelf tune. It's basically the same thing because there is no significant variance to account for from car to car.

Hopefully that clears anything up on that subject and readers will see the merit of choosing a shelf tune from one of the big tuning companies if they are only planning for a basic bolt-on application. As for whose tune to go with, that's up to your budget and goals so weigh your options. Look at what they're all offering/claiming and consider ease of access to support from the company because, while it is fairly rare to have issues with a shelf-tune, you're at their mercy if you. Understand that most of these tunes are going to be pretty similar because, at the end of the day, there is only so much you can get out of the K03/K04 turbo. Both are peaky, peak early, run out of breath up top (much less so for the K04 of course) and there's only so much that tuning can do to flatten that powerband out and move it up the RPM range when the hardware itself dictates part of that behavior. So look at power claims, look at charts for powerband, and look at what Euro shops near you have which affiliations, that's my advice.


More Notes on Custom Tuning

For those that are considering the custom tuning route I have some more info to share. I'm going to take the not-so-popular position on yet another subject, this time on the overrated custom tuning option called Eurodyne.

Make no mistake, Eurodyne Maestro is a useful tool but it isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maestro "dumbs" down custom tuning so that it can be more approachable for end-users. Even then, however, it takes a good deal of know-how and trial/error to get a decent custom tune out of Eurodyne Maestro's suite and it is only going to be decent when it's done. That's because, as with all things, there is a cost to dumbing down a product. In this case the cost is that Maestro is not nearly as comprehensive as software such as WinOLS which give FAR deeper access into the ECU's tables, parameters, etc. or the software designed by professional custom tuning companies (e.g. United Motorsport) for their own use. So whether you really know what you're doing and use Maestro to tune yourself or hand it over to a shop with professional tuners, your custom tune with Maestro is not going to be as good as it could because you're gimped from the start since your control is limited and thus the thoroughness and maximum efficacy of your tune is lesser compared to custom tuning options mentioned above.

The only advantage to Eurodyne (and WinOLS) is that it allows the end-user to have control and to tinker themselves. Most of the time that isn't an advantage though because while there is a lot of satisfaction to be had in doing it yourself the end product from a user who is just dabbling is never going to be as good as a custom tune from a company/tuner that does it professionally. That's fine for some people but if you're a perfectionist like me and you want to know it's as good as it's going to get then Eurodyne is never the answer.

That's all regarding the Maestro add-on to Eurodyne... don't get me start on the base-maps that come with the main Eurodyne software. The base-maps released for Eurodyne are, and there's no other way of saying it, hot garbage. The logs I've seen from Eurodyne base-maps are consistently some of the worst logs I've ever seen. Some were literally unsafe.




***Note: So at this point in the chronology of the cars build history we’re at about Fall of 2014, just a few months after I bought the car


The Obligatory CAI plus a Catch Can Of Course

By this point, not too long after the stage 1 tune, I decided to get a cold air intake. From research I knew not to expect much, if anything, at all from a CAI on a stage 1 car, but I figured why not? They’re cheap, add a bit of pop to the engine bay, and sound pretty cool. I do like a nice intake woosh, however, I DO NOT like that stereotypical BOV sound. Anyway, I frankly do not remember why at all but for some reason I initially went with the APR carbonio stage 1 CAI. It was overpriced (to no one’s great surprise) and it was only after I installed it that I realized I just really did not like the way it looked. I think this is in part because I just wasn’t a big fan of the stock engine cover that it integrated with to begin with and preferred seeing what was underneath and also because it didn’t really create even the faintest of intake wooshing noise. Faint was really all I was looking for, I didn’t want anything obnoxious but this stage 1 version of the carbonio intake just didn’t make any difference.

So I sold that in a matter of a month or two and put on a Forge “Wintake” instead. Not only do I like the look with the engine cover off but it has the added benefit of just taking away one extra step when I go to clean up engine bay or do pretty much any work in there. There were other reasons I chose the Forge CAI though. First of all, I liked the fact that the filter element was fully enclosed instead of just sitting on a plastic heatshield but otherwise totally exposed like most other CAI options. I later decided I wasn't a big fan of the carbon fiber wrap around the enclosure for the filter though so I eventually painted over that in gloss black. The most important reason I chose this CAI though is that in my research I came across info that verified the bung welded into the intake piping for the MAF was designed properly so that the MAF sensor is positioned just right in the intake stream. This was a criterion I was concerned with after discovering that not all CAI options are created equal in this area. The MAF sensor must be positioned/oriented just right in the intake stream to achieve accurate enough readings for optimal fuel trims to be calculated by the ECU. The MAF bungs for various other CAI do NOT all do this successfully; however, the Forge CAI was one that has been well documented to do so. It actually did not originally, but it was later revised by Forge to correct the issue.

I also added a BSH competition catch can at the same time. I feel like this is common knowledge to most by now but just in case… Contrary to how they are marketed, catch cans don’t do all that much in the way of preventing carbon build up on intake valves (they’ll slow it down some but that is all), but what they really do is keep your boost pipes and intercooler clean and relieve you of the burden of having the failure prone stock PCV. So still worthwhile. I was somewhat worried about freezing issues with the catch cans. While PA isn’t as cold as some more northern territories, it can easily get into the single digits at least sometimes in most Winters. The low temperatures in the Winter mean that the catch can fills up much more quickly with condensation. I concluded though that as long as the lines to/from the catch can lay flat so they do not have any valleys that condensation can pool in that I did not have to worry about the lines. I also decided that as long as I drain the can (after driving when the contents are melted) on a weekly basis so that it can never fill up and freeze at the top where the lines enter and exit the can then I shouldn’t have any worries there either. I have not had any issues with the catch can setup in the last 3 years, even one Winter when we had some negative temperatures. I think that, logically, anyone can run a catch can in any climate as long as they adhere to these rules which account for the only issues that could occur while running a can in freezing temps.

***Pro-tip: If you’re like me and you don’t want to run a vent-to-atmosphere setup or a drip line down to the ground because you don’t want any mess in your engine bay or underbody, then buy a fuel petcock/valve and install that in place of whatever drain plug your can came with. Usually the threading on the drain plugs for the various catch cans I’ve seen are all ¼” NPT threads. Then carry a small bottle/container in your trunk for draining on-the-go if needed. This combo makes draining much less of a nuisance, especially in Winter when you’ll be draining often.


IMPORTANT Note on Catch Cans vs. PCV Block-off Plates

If you fully understand what the PCV system really is for and what it does then you can begin to see why a block-off plate alone is not wise.

To re-cap: PCV stands for positive crankcase ventilation and, like most car parts, the name implies exactly what the system is for. During combustion it is inevitable that some gases from the combustion process will escape past the piston rings and down into the crankcase. This pressure must be evacuated in some way or else it is forced out of the weakest points around the crankcase, namely seals (e.g. RMS and another common one is all the way up on the valve cover oil filler neck seal). Enter, the PCV system. It alleviates this positive pressure, starting with the front PCV system. When the engine is in vacuum at idle the two-stage control system within the front PCV is such that vacuum pressure returns to the intake manifold due to a closed pressure control valve. With the factory front PCV on, when vacuum pressure is low enough/when you enter boost, the control valve opens and then pressure goes through the valve cover pass-through channel and to the rear PCV breather. The rear PCV acts essentially as a pass-through (with a check valve), as does the valve cover itself, because the front PCV is what receives the vented crankcase pressure first.

The catch can replaces the front PCV but it retains the flow path and full functionality of the PCV (minus front check valves). The block-off plate does not retain the full path and functionality. It is for this reason that guys with block-off plates frequently run into eventual issues with oil seeping out the oil fill cap area, increased likelihood of valve cover leaks, and increased likelihood of RMS leaks. Not good


IMPORTANT Note Regarding Noise You May Notice After Adding a Catch Can or Block-off Plate

After adding a catch can or block-off plate to an FSI with a cold-air intake replacing the factory intake you will notice a sort of "putting" noise manifesting itself in the intake ONLY at idle. I thought it almost sounded like an older percolating coffee machine when I first heard it. It may sounds threatening but it is actually harmless (as I will explain below). However it is very annoying and makes the car sounds like crap at idle so most folks want to get rid of it. I'll explain why the noise develops and how to get rid of it.

When the engine is in vacuum at idle the two-stage control system within the front PCV is such that vacuum pressure returns to the intake manifold due to a closed pressure control valve. With the factory front PCV on, when vacuum pressure is low enough/when you enter boost, the control valve opens and then pressure goes through the valve cover pass-through channel and the rear PCV breather, but now that you’ve removed the front PCV this control valve’s function is gone. Full vacuum at idle is no longer being contained by the pressure control valve that used to be there and is now defaulting to the rear PCV check valve which was not designed to serve this function. This manifests in your intake because your intake is obviously hooked up to the turbo post-rear PCV breather. Removing the rear PCV check valve will solve that and the harmless vacuum pressure merges with boost loop which ends at the intake manifold, the same end point of vacuum with the front PCV pressure control system; therefore once you go into boost this new routing without any front or rear PCV check valves behaves as normal.

To remove the rear PCV breather check valve you must remove the rear PCV breather pipe from the valve cover and turbo inlet, then using a flat-head screwdriver or similar tool you need to jab out the entire check valve and ensure no fragments are left behind. The exact design of the check valve depends on the version of rear PCV breather you have. Some are more annoying to remove than others, but each version has a cross-piece over top of the check valve that is part of a molded ring around the edge of the breather hose. You do not want to remove that ring/cross-piece if you can help it. If you do the factory hose that goes from valve cover to the rear PCV breather hose and is molded for exact fitment may not seal correctly so you would possibly have to use a different hose to connect them then.




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APR carbonio




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Forge Wintake + BSH Catch can


 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
***Note: Winter went by after those mods and, apart from my usual religious and anal maintenance routine I developed, I did not do any work/mods to the car. Come early Spring of 2015 I did some more though…


The Classic Cam Timing Chain/Tensioner

Actually the first thing I did that Spring was maintenance, but not general maintenance. I decided to take on my first big mechanical task by replacing the cam timing chain/tensioner which is, of course, very well known to be an early killer of the FSI motors, second only to the cam follower itself. This job was far and away more complicated than anything I had gotten into at this point so it was very stressful. However, I was absolutely committed to learning hands-on, I did my research, I didn’t do anything rashly, and I came out smelling like a rose – a very sweaty, dirty rose. There was only one part that didn’t go that smooth and if you’re an FSI junky then you probably know exactly what it was… yep, everyone’s favorite exhaust cam bolt that takes that stupid poly-drive bit sheared like it was made of paper. Thankfully I was prepared with some EZ-outs and drill, etc. and was able to extract it. I used multiple magnets in between multiple brief drilling sessions to keep all the little metal curls from getting anywhere they shouldn’t be. This was still difficult and I was afraid for a time it wasn’t going to work. Finally got it out though and then put the exhaust cam lobe in a container filled with fresh motor oil and shook it around a bit, then let it sit. The thought there being that it would help to suspend any metal flakes that I may have missed. Suppose it worked, never had an issue after the job was done. I think the same thing that has helped me all along the way even to this day and what clinched this job for me is that every time I take on a job that is new to me (which is every time I do something new on this car) I make sure I research the hell out of it and I apply critical thinking and my very methodical, slow and steady type of approach to it. So that’s my best advice to new DIYers… slow and steady wins the race. You might be out there a lot longer than some people would – trust me I always am – but when it’s all said and done at least it’s done right the first time.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics of this job since there was already a fantastic DIY on VWV for it and I wasn’t ever really planning to have a build thread.


IMPORTANT Note on Identifying If You Have the Failure-prone Revision A Intake Camshaft

If you own a 2006 or early-2007 model FSI (actually any 2007 model FSI, just to be safe), then I highly recommend that you check which revision intake camshaft your car is equipped with. This can be easily done by removing the vacuum pump and checking the side of the intake camshaft lobe, as the revision A (the failure-prone one) looks quite different from the revision B part which is has been proven not to be failure prone. I will put a link below to a thread that has pictures to help distinguish the two from each other. You’d also be wise to take this opportunity to check out your cam timing chain tensioner because it is visible (partially) with just the vacuum pump off. You won’t see much of it but you can get a good enough view to tell if it is very worn down. You can see it between the top and bottom portions the chain with two orange-ish (they are white when new but orange-ish when stained with oil) plastic guides that the chain rides on. These guides wear quickly and lead to slack in the chain and inevitable camshaft timing mishaps.

My final word on the subject of the intake camshaft revision/type… if you find that you have the failure-prone revision A intake camshaft and your car has under 120K miles on it, you may be able to get the replacement covered under an extended warranty issued for this part. You may also need to actually have fuel pressure issues resulting from a badly scored revision A intake cam lobe for VW to honor the warranty though. Either way it is worth a shot, swapping the camshaft is quite a huge PITA!

https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?3754451




New Shoes... Again

I decided I didn’t really like my GTI Autobahn 17” wheels anymore so I sold them and got some wheels I did and still do truly love: the 18” OEM Smoked (Black) Karthoum wheels. I had these wheels for over 2 years as my summer set. I don’t have them anymore. That’s not because I stopped liking them though, there were other reasons for the change dealing with later modifications. In retrospect there was probably a liiiiittle too much black with them but the silver accent (which matches the chrome trim on the car) helped to break that quite a bit. I’d have never gone with full black wheels on a black car, no way.

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A Better Shifting Experience

At some point that summer I decided that, more than anything else, the thing that was keeping me from enjoying my car was the vague, sloppy, boring shifting feel. It was just robbing me of a real connection to the car. So I decided to fix that. Enter the APR short shifter and solid shift cable bracket, plus ECS solid shifter cable bushings.

At this point I’m probably starting to seem like an APR fanboy… I’m really not, the only reason I spent way extra on the APR short shifter is because it allows for side-to-side throw adjustment too. I set it to full short throw for front-to-back and something around 75% shorter for side-to-side. For anyone wondering if this has ever caused me any issues with going into the wrong gear, the answer is no. Not once, not ever, in nearly 4 years now. I think this would only ever be a concern for new manual trans drivers, if at all.

Now, what the short shifter does and how it improves the shifting experience should be pretty obvious as it just allows you to shift a bit faster and crisper due to shortened travel of the shifter, and I think even the solid shift cable bracket and solid shifter cable bushings are pretty well understood by most folks who’d be interested in a build thread like this. But, for the uninitiated, I’ll explain. For manual trans owners, the shifter cable bracket is the metal, roughly “W” shaped bracket bolted to the top of the trans though which the shifter cables pass and clip on to. For most models, this bracket is plastic and it flexes during shifting, which translates to slop in the shifter. So it should be apparent what replacing this with a metal bracket does. Likewise, there are rubber bushings on the links on the end of the shifter cables that attach them to the levers/relays on top of the trans which are, in turn, connected to the shift forks in the trans. These rubber bushings also allow slop, A LOT more than that shifter cable bracket actually. Upgrading these shifter cable link bushings to solid bushings is an absolute MUST for manual owners in my opinion.

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
***Note: Summer 2015…


Time To Make Some More Noise… And Fuel Pressure

Next I decided to install a Billy Boat 3” full turboback exhaust which I lucked out and got for just over $1000USD on ModdedEuros at the time which was $400 cheaper than elsewhere. Though the welds on the unit I received weren't anything to write home about, they weren't bad either (I've noticed zero issues around the welds in the last 2, nearly 3, years). It’s a beautiful 304L stainless exhaust. My research indicated that it had higher quantities of nickel and cadmium in the alloy than the other 304L exhausts I was comparing it to, which, of course, means better corrosion resistance. Still looks fantastic to this day with no rust formation that I’ve noticed despite a few salty winters since I got it. Fitment was completely perfect. It has a high-flow 100-cell cat (whereas most catted aftermarket exhausts have 200-cell compared to OEM 300-cell). The only other exhaust that I might have gotten over the Billy Boat would have been a 42DD turboback, I’m a big fan of that company and the quality of their work from examples I’ve seen in person, but I couldn’t justify the considerably higher expense. Besides, Billy Boat used to make APRs exhausts for them so that is at least some indication of their quality, I’d say. I like the tone of this exhaust a lot. It is obviously aftermarket but it’s not obnoxious by any means and is quite civil during highway cruising. It really growls at the 3K – 4K RPMs, where it sounds fantastic on accel or decel.

At this same time I also installed an APR upgraded HPFP and got flashed to APR stage 2+. The gains were pretty minimal and there isn’t much to say there.


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First Steps To Locking It Down

Last thing I did that Summer was install 034 street density motor and trans mounts to reduce wheel hop and trans movement/slop when shifting under heavy acceleration. It definitely did accomplish that. What it also did, that I wasn’t expecting, was add a bit of an angrier tone to the motor itself under hard acceleration. A nice bonus!!! Makes sense since the mounts absorb less vibrations from the engine and sound is, after all, vibration too so more of that engine sound makes it through to cabin.

These mounts marked my first venture into the classic DD vs. track conundrum. Not that my car was track ready or even close to it at that point (I was still on stock suspension with loads of body roll) but just that stiffer engine/trans mounts aren’t something that everyone would necessarily consider a DD mod. In my opinion and experience that’s not a concern at all. I am extremely anal about interior noises, vibration, and harshness (NVH), and while these mounts added some it was in no way distracting or annoying, even in a dead silent car with no music or conversation. Interior rattles are gremlins anyway and they come and go sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. I’ve tracked plenty down and stopped them with foam tape behind critical areas of the panels, but I’ve had even more that I never tracked down because they just disappeared and never came back. Adding stiffer mounts is a drop in the bucket honestly, I think any DD can have them with minimal concerns over NVH as long as they are a modest change in durometer of the rubber or polyurethane like the 034 “street” density mounts. A “track” density mount may be a different story.

Bottom line… my car was, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, intended to strike a good balance between a street car and a track car, and since I’m very finicky about refinement it’s a safe bet that anything I do to my car is fine for a DD unless I indicate otherwise. As it has evolved and my driving tastes have changed a bit I’ve become a bit less finicky/anal since the first year or two I owned the car, but at this point in the chronology of the build thread I was still in that more finicky phase so you can trust those engine/trans mounts I have recommended are good for the discerning DD'er. Now, I should note that these days (e.g. NOT at this point in the chronology of the build thread) I've halfway taken it off of DD duty. I'll take it to work when it's nice out but otherwise I drive my truck now that I have a shorter commute and way too much money into this car haha. So where once I intended my Passat to be maybe 70% DD / 30% track, it's a solid 50/50 these days. Nevertheless, I still think that following my model is a good baseline for what you can get away with on a DD and still be totally comfortable with as such; ultimately, even today with many more “harsh” mods that I haven’t covered in the thread yet, the car is still extremely civil and not the least bit annoying to DD.
HOWEVER, there is a big caveat I almost forgot to mention… I do genuinely believe that part of that is due to the fact that it is a Passat; one thing I love about the Passat over the Jettas and GTIs is that the interior quality, fit, finish, and noise levels, etc. is QUITE a bit superior and nicer. I think this factors into how much it is (not) affected by mods like engine/trans/subframe mounts, etc. I’ve been in Mk5 GTIs with very similar setups and they are notably less civil in the cabin.

Anyway… here are some pics, you can see the engine mount but it looks stock because 034Motorsport builds their mounts out of the factory housing. Unfortunately, their factory housings do not have the unused bolt-hole that the mount I had from the factory did which I had used to bolt in my catch can’s bracket… I realized this only after I installed the new mount so I had to ghetto rig a new bracket system from spare parts I had laying around. Turned out decent enough. Decided to keep it up until the point I stopped running the BSH catch can (more on that later)…


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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
***Note: Early Spring 2016…


Clutch Time

2016 was a big year for me and my Passat that started out with drivetrain upgrades because my clutch started slipping in the Winter. Whether this was due to winter cold air bringing in the boooost season so that the car might have been putting out a bit more power or whether it has to do with the temperature coefficient for the clutch material being less favorable in Winter for tolerating the heat produced by bursts of torque, or maybe both, I’m not totally sure. But either way, it was too much for the stock clutch which eventually starting slipping any time I went WOT in 3rd gear or higher. The decision on what to get for the clutch upgrades was the first mod that I truly belabored the plan and research for to an almost nauseating extent; I belabored whether to go with a OEM+ sort of solution – retaining a dual mass flywheel (DMF) and performance organic disc with a much stronger pressure plate – or to go with the more standard single mass flywheel (SMF) route with aftermarket options. There are a couple prominent options in the OEM+ category, including the HS Tuning RSR clutch kit (essentially a Luk brand TTRS pressure plate and clutch disc, possibly modified) and a few different varieties of Sachs Race Engineered (SRE) kits. Yes, Sachs has a racing engineering department and they do sell OEM quality performance parts. Quite attractive but also quite expensive, unfortunately. To be fair though, all the OEM+ options are expensive. On the other end of things there were numerous aftermarket options available, all of which were paired with a SMF. These included South Bend Clutch, Black Forest Industries, Clutch Masters, and SPEC. There were some other companies/options that came on my radar but during my research on them it quickly became obvious there was too little info available on their options for VWs for me to be comfortable so I quickly discounted them and, therefore, have nothing to say about them here.

I researched the above companies, and some of their options, intensely and then began narrowing down my list. For those that stayed on the list, I would then look more in-depth at the individual component choices of their respective offerings. The survivors that stayed on the list from the above were the HS Tuning RSR kit and South Bend Clutch. I nixed every other option from the list for the following reasons:

I nixed the SRE option for the OEM+/DMF route because the particular Sachs pressure plate used in these DMF-compatible setups had some documented instances of failure under only moderately demanding use whereas the significantly beefed up Luk TTRS pressure plate included in the RSR kit had no such documented cases. Indeed, I could not find a single solitary case of disappointment in the RSR kit. Every review was glowing and it consists of quality OEM parts just like the Sachs kits. The RSR kit was on par with or cheaper than the SRE kit options as well. I nixed SPEC first because I saw FAR too much negative feedback on the quality and longevity of their parts and their power-holding figures for the parts were very vague/not reassuring. I’ll give them this, they are priced very competitively. So competitively, in fact, that this too didn’t inspire confidence. I had to wonder if they weren’t just straight-up cheap parts, which was a notion re-enforced by my research thus far. There is a line between charging an arm and a leg like SBC does and just having straight-up cheap parts. I could not find any info to inspire decent enough confidence in SPEC so I nixed them. That had my hoping to find a good alternative to the more expensive South Bend options in the form of a BFI or Clutch Masters option. But I had to nix these too at the end of it all. BFI clutches are made and supplied by a company called Competition Clutch. While I didn’t find anything damning about Competition Clutch and they may be quite alright, I didn’t find anything inspiring either. There just wasn’t a whole lot of info to go on specific to feedback in VW aftermarket applications. I lastly nixed Clutch Masters. This one was much more subjective. I ultimately nixed them because it seemed to be a consistent trend everywhere I read about Clutch Masters, that their setups caused a significant amount of gearbox chatter (more on that later). I also found that Clutch Masters outsources their component manufacturing, but I couldn’t find out where so that left a big question mark, whereas SBC does their manufacturing in-house for applicable components. I’m pretty sure they use a modified and powdercoated Sachs SRE pressure plate though like just about everyone else. Sachs makes them for SMF applications too and that one is basically the standard for aftermarket SMF and single-disc applications that rebrand the disc. While the controversy of parts kept in-house versus outsourced doesn’t technically go anywhere objective, I personally just tend to feel more comfortable with the former. So I settled on SBC for the SMF route.

With the RSR and SBC options as my leading choices, I next had to look at and compare the components themselves. As I was targeting a DD-friendly setup I preferred either to retain a DMF (like with the RSR kit) or, in the case of going the SMF route, I preferred to have a steel flywheel, not an aluminum one. While the aluminum SMFs are much lighter and lighter flywheels translate to quicker engine revving up and down due to less inertia on the crankshaft end, it also means significantly increased gearbox chatter, which can be annoying for a DD vehicle. Gearbox chatter is especially amplified with the air con on in the Summer since this puts additional load on the engine which is transmitted along with the gearbox chatter into the cabin. The heavier steel SMFs, by comparison, are still typically much lighter than the factory DMF but not so light that gearbox chatter is too intense. To that end the SBC kits suited my needs well enough since they include 19LB steel flywheels (7 lbs lighter than stock). But these would still contribute to some chatter which could not be avoided so this was a consideration on my mind.

There was nothing of particular note on the distinctions between the pressure plates for each kit at the time I was making this decision. I trusted that they were both quality and were both rated for significantly higher power-holding than I planned to need. However, the RSR kit did get the edge here as well because the Luk TTRS pressure plate included in this kit (possibly modified as well) was stated and tested to be good for applying enough clamp force on the clutch disc to hold up to 480 ft-lbs of torque, whereas only the most expensive of the SBC kits I was even considering could match that (and it had draw backs in other areas I will discuss). So, technically, this was an easy win for the RSR kit too.

Lastly, I considered the clutch disc friction materials themselves. The clutch disc included with the RSR kit is a performance organic friction disc, as are the clutch discs used in the SBC Stage 2 Daily and Stage 3 Daily kits. The SBC Stage 2 Endurance and Stage 3 Endurance kits, which I gave brief consideration, used different materials. The Stage 2 Endurance uses a hybrid clutch disc with performance organic material on one side and sintered iron material on the other, whereas the Stage 3 Endurance uses Kevlar friction material on both sides. I immediately discounted the Stage 2 Endurance because, put simply, hybrid discs are a gimmick. The idea is that the pressure plate side of the disc uses organic material to make engagement and start performance similar to OE (less aggressive) and the flywheel side uses sintered iron to allow for significantly higher static to dynamic frictions ratios and temperature coefficients for better performance under high heat spikes/abuse. Based on my research (some of which I will link below), I found that this works but only to a small extent; yes, normally a performance organic disc would have similar to OE start performance and, yes, the sintered iron itself does have those properties. Those things would matter if both sides of the disc were made from the same one of those materials. But that's not the case here. Not only do these materials definitely wear at different rates and under different conditions so the disc can develop some odd behaviors over the course of its use, but it's not ONLY the material on the pressure plate side that determines what engagement is like so you're not actually getting OE-like clutch engagement just because the pressure plate side is organic. Likewise, just because you have sintered iron on the flywheel side does not mean your clutch disc is automatically up to the task of handling the immense power and heat that sintered iron discs are usually designed for; that is because both sides of the disc will be exposed to heat from use and the least common denominator here is the organic side, of course. The disc is limited by that. Also sintered iron discs wear flywheel faces incredibly fast and while they do have high heat spike tolerance, if you expose them to excessive slippage (e.g. in traffic) they will glaze fast and NEVER recover. Fully organic (both sides) discs can recover from minor overheating/glazing after the glazed surface is worn off. I discounted the Stage 3 Endurance shortly thereafter for similar reasons. Although Kevlar disc materials mimic organic in their engagement properties (not very aggressive) and start performance, they are similar to sintered iron in that they have very little tolerance for slippage necessary in some DD traffic and they can NEVER recover if overheated. That characteristic does not make for a good DD clutch. So at this point I had only the SBC Stage 2 and Stage 3 Daily options left versus the HS Tuning RSR kit. All used performance organic discs, all were rated for far more than enough torque than I ever conceived I’d be making (which is funny looking back), but the RSR kit was rated for more than either, it would have absolutely no gearbox chatter, and it had rave reviews everywhere I looked (whereas even SBC had hit-or-miss reviews). I chose the HS Tuning RSR kit.

I think I made a good choice. I got a clutch kit that was strong and sporty but not brutal in traffic. One that could handle some degree of feathering the clutch, which of course you avoid 99% of the time but can’t always avoid in traffic or creeping into a garage or out of one in reverse, etc. I got a kit with better longevity since OEM organic clutch discs can last well over 100K miles on unmodded cars if the operator is an experienced manual driver. And I got a kit that wouldn’t require me to deal with the classic SMF gearbox chatter noise and I also wouldn’t have an unbalanced crankshaft.

Sure this would all come at the expense of the quicker revs and less rev hang to be had with a lighter SMF but that was a trade I was willing to make for my DD. Best of all, based on independent reviews I found and HS Tuning’s own tests, there were much more powerful cars using and abusing it for over 50K miles with zero issues. There were no shortage of people going through SB and CM kits in much less time. SB and CM seem to be pretty reliable on the whole, but it seemed like sometimes you’re just settling for a possible crapshoot when you go with those brands. Many people with no problems, and many people with defective kits, or just kits that crapped out within and unacceptably short amount of miles. I decided to take a chance on the RSR, hoping that as an OEM-like solution it would have similar OEM longevity. Time will tell but the weak link, in terms of longevity, may be the DMF I retained with the RSR kit. While I did elect to upgrade to the Golf R DMF which is supposed to be a bit stronger, ultimately, it has the same overall weakness and concern of all DMFs. The internal springs that absorb the torsional forces between the two opposing flywheels will eventually stretch/fail. I consider this to be the weak link of the setup and may eventually regret the choice. But I’ve put upwards of 25K on the kit so far (as of Summer, 2018) with ZERO issues whatsoever and I ABSOLUTELY love it. It was exactly what I was going for: super sporty, super engaging to drive, combined with my shifter upgrades previously mentioned, but also forgiving enough to be tolerable in DD situations. It’s a far cry from stock with that heavy pressure plate, but very tolerable for DD.

That was my thought process in 2016 anyway. I am happy with it and I still stand by it, I believe it was the right choice at the time. I should say though that my tastes have changed somewhat over the last couple years, enough that I might tolerate a more aggressive setup when the time comes. That time may be sooner rather than later now after having completed so much additional modifications, not the least of which being the upgraded turbo. Once I’ve worked my way up to supported the maximum power this turbo can output I could get fairly close to the maximum capabilities of the RSR kit (to close for comfort and buffer room anyway) so I have my eye on an upgrade that did not exist at the time I was looking in 2016. But that’s possibly a post for another day ;)


Oh and I also added a stainless steel clutch line at the same time. I think it’s pretty common knowledge that these simply improve the firmness of clutch pedal application feel since the stainless steel lines do not expand under pressure like the factory lines due, so not much more to say about that. I also installed an ECS clutch bleeder block. This frankly was a part I installed mostly just to do it while I was at everything else. I was dubious about how much of an impact it would actually have; supposedly because it doesn’t have a restrictor like the factory unit it allows for more brake fluid flow rate to the clutch line and thus makes the clutch engagement a bit sportier/touchier. I can’t really speak to this specifically because I installed it amid those other mods too so… it isn’t plastic and it looks nice I guess! That’s all I have to say for that.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the clutch parts install as, again, I never expected to do a DIY. I did these installs in March of 2016 if I recall currently.


Resources on Clutch Disk Friction Material Info

http://www.uucmotorwerks.com/CLUTCH/
https://www.phoenixfriction.com/t-clutch-materials-explained.aspx




Some Preventative Maintenance

Next up, and about a month later, I did timing belt service, water pump, etc. Again, no pics :(. Not much to say on that, basically a routine maintenance even though I did it a bit on the early side, but it was at this point that I felt like I could say I had “graduated” from a novice DIY mechanic to a pretty competent and capable one. I got a pretty big confidence boost from these projects!!!




***Note: Spring/Summer 2016…


Lost Some Gears

I do have some pics of the few other things I did in Summer of 2016… I had one of my shifter cables stretch/fray on me. I lost 2nd, 4th, and 6th, and the shifter went limp when trying to engage those gears so I quickly deduced this had to be a cable issues since it was only gears that were a backward throw. The very first time it happened in 2nd I thought I had a shift fork issue or something like that but then when it happened in 4th and 6th and started thinking there had to be something to that and checked the cables. Here is what I saw:


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So I dropped the shift box and installed new OEM shifter cables. It was actually quite a PITA…


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An Important Note Regarding Leading Cause of Damage to Shifter Cables

To this day I still don't know exactly how that cable got that bad. It's not a particularly common thing to happen, though I have seen some threads of users who've had the same issue. One leading cause, however, is when the shifter cable comes into contact with/very near to the exhaust downpipe. This is more common on certain aftermarket downpipes, depending on the bend angle in the pipe and its fitment. If the shifter cable comes into direct contact with the downpipe it will be damaged over time. I don't know whether this was or was not the cause of mine failing. I tend to think not because it would have had to be pretty far from over where it naturally settles to have come into contact with my Billy Boat downpipe. To be safe though, I made sure that when I installed the new one I routed/positioned the cable as far away as possible. I have NOT had any issues since then (a bit over 2 years now). I am also positive that the failure did NOT have anything to do with the various upgrades I've done to shifting components. It was either a "wear over time" thing, or related to the downpipe. My cable was easy to situate away from the downpipe but, for those who are not able to do this and are concerned for their shifter cable, there is a bracket made by 42DD that can be easily installed to hold the cables away from the downpipe.




A Shiny New Knob

Not long after that I figured, hey why not get a new shift knob while I’m at it. So I added a Raceseng “Slammer” stainless steel shift knob. It’s a 1.1lb, beautifully machined steel shift knob. Absolutely exquisite, yet very simple. Not a fan of leather or delrin knobs. I wanted something hefty and classy yet simple looking. I also like that it’s a particularly large and round knob which fits my hands well and is good for the a side-grip which I prefer to a top-grip for shifting (can’t wait for the first post from somebody who takes that out of context haha). Make no mistake, this knob is very heavy. Thinking of a shifter as the big lever that it is, you can observe the following physics: the longer the throw, and the higher up the knob is positioned in relation to the shifter stalk (essentially a longer lever), the more force is applied in the shifting motion and the follow-through, which would make a really heavy knob a bit too much. But this is balanced out by the fact that I have a really short throw setting for my short shifter AND I have my knob positioned pretty low (shorter lever). It means I have to give it a bit more oomph initially to overcome its weight (which I like) but because the throw is so short and the knob is so low there is less force/momentum than there otherwise would be. It’s all balanced out. Between that and the other shifter upgrades it leads to a shifter that requires a short but hefty and positively engaging, very mechanical feeling shift. I’ve swapped out some 0.5lb to 0.75lb weighted knobs to try them out for a good few days and just didn’t like it. I think it all comes down to the combination of this knob with my preferred throw distance. I think they just complement each other perfectly. If it was a longer throw I don’t think I’d like it as much. But as it stands I love it and, as simple as it is compared to all the other upgrades I’ve done to this day, it is one of my favorite aspects of driving my car. I’ve been lucky enough to drive more expensive, sporty cars that don’t come anywhere close to as engaging when running through the gears.

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Gotta Love More Numbers

Lastly, I installed a P3Cars VIDI multi-gauge into the left-most driver’s side air vent. Super clean gauge and pretty darn handy for its multiple data points. Not quite as extensive as a Polar-FIS MFD upgrade but less fussing with it required to get most of the same data and I like the display more. I’ve found it to be pretty accurate. It reads all its values EXCEPT for boost from the same blocks as VCDS does (which are mostly reliable). Boost is read from there but then, depending on the program you select, will have some correction formulas applied. These can help with accuracy in some cases for tuned cars but can be hit-or-miss too. I’ve had no issues getting accurate readings as compared to analogue readings but YMMV. I know some people who have. This can easily be fixed by just running an analogue vac line to a 8-bar MAP sensor you can get from P3Cars to plug into one of the inputs on your gauge and transform it to analogue boost reading, which I did out of necessity when I went BT. I mainly went this route because I wanted multiple data points without a ****-ton of gauges; I’m in the minority of folks that don’t actually like gauges/pods on my wheel/dash/pillars honestly.

Due to a shipping error I wound up with a P3Cars gauge with white/red color scheme intended to match the interior lighting of other models. Of course, I only found this out after installing and turning the unit on. That’s what is reflected in the pic below but I did later exchange it for the red/blue scheme to match my interior lighting.

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
***Note: Early Spring 2017…


This year marked an even bigger year than the last, this year was when I really shifted my Passat towards a track-ready car because it was all about braking and suspension upgrades, which were honestly overdue.




If You Go Fast You Gotta Stop Fast

The year started out with a big brake kit (BBK) in March. I was looking at options and also asking around and happened to stumble upon Ryan Jacob’s (HYDE16) own StopTech ST-40 BBK for sale since he was upgrading to a 6-piston setup. A 6-piston setup would require an upgrade to TTRS master brake cylinder and that was more than I wanted to get into myself. So I settled on his StopTech 4-piston kit w/ 328mm X 28mm rotor setup, stainless steel lines, etc. He had also had it properly powder-coated with a sharp gloss black powder-coat since StopTech calipers have notoriously poor single-stage paint. For the price he was offering it was almost a no-brainer. So I bought the kit, installed it, put in new pads, and some ATE Typ 200 fluid, and that was that. I stuck with the StopTech sport pads which are StopTech’s metallic aggressive street/light track pad. These pads need to warm up a bit so they are truly at their best in more aggressive street driving, but they are still perfectly fine, safe, and civil in normal street driving. They can also hold up to light to modest track use VERY well for their price. There are certainly better options for track duty but not anywhere in the price range. These pads are a really good value. They do dust like CRAZY though… but that’s the trade-off typically.

BEFORE I installed them I decided to put a coat of CarPro CQuartz DLUX (a semi-permanent ceramic coat) on the calipers to add protection over the powder-coat itself.

I know the only pic with kit installed is pretty dreadful but oddly it is the only pic I have of the BBK installed BEFORE I also did all my suspension work (which was shortly afterward), and I'd like to save those for that section of the build thread... so no worries, there will be plenty of better eye-candy later :)
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I also did rear pads at the time and decided to do the StopTech sport pads for rear too in OEM size since I kept OEM calipers for rear. Since I decided to replace the rotors as well I had to remove the caliper carriers and HOLY MOLY were those M14 triple-square bolts for the rear caliper carriers a bunch of absolute bastards! Since the last inch of those bolts are exposed to the elements they get very corroded… my Craftsman C3 cordless impact gun (pretty powerful for cordless) didn’t do jack to those bolts. I wound up soaking them in PB blaster, heat cycling them with a propane torch multiple times, and then applying my entire body-weight to almost 4ft of breaker bar to crack them loose and even then I barely got them. YMMV, maybe mine were extra tight, but either way… you’ve been warned! I actually kept the most difficult one as a trophy that I have on display in my house!

Anyway I replaced the stock rotors with Adam’s custom rotors in a standard slotted type.

A few words on rotor type... this is a hugely overblown subject. The reality is the type of rotor you choose, whether it be blank, slotted, drilled, whatever, makes veeery little difference for performance. I'd get blank or slotted, NO drilled. Drilled is an aesthetic thing only, no matter how much every company trumpets the claim that they are for better heat dispersion, etc. The fact is drilled rotors are just for looks and the only thing you're gonna get with them is a greater risk of heat cracking your rotor because its structural integrity with all those holes is weaker. Not saying it’s likely at all on a street car, just saying it’s more likely. On top of that, heat dispersion efficacy is dependent on mass. It’s simple physics. The more mass there is to transfer heat into the better the dispersion. Guess what is being removed from those fancy drilled rotors with each hole… mass. So unless you really just love the look of drilled rotors then stay away. The same marketing claims about slotted rotors when it comes to the difference they make because of heat/gas dispersion is mostly hocus pocus too but at least slots don't sacrifice structural integrity. I also like the way slotted rotors look (unlike drilled which I think look ugly) so I'd go for slotted. They can shave your pads down a little faster though. Two-piece vs. one-piece isn't a huge matter either; yes, two-piece will be lighter which reduces unsprung weight and can have a tangible affect on acceleration and stopping if reduced enough, but you'd have to shed a lot more unsprung weight in other areas too before you'd really notice. Since two-piece rotors are usually sold as part of big brake kits though they benefit from being larger than the OEM one-piece rotors and it's rotor size that is the biggest factor to consider in upgrading (because, once again, more mass to them).

I determined that the possible slightly better gas dispersion through the slots compared to blanks was worthwhile, as well as water dispersion (assuming any water on a rainy day isn’t instantly vaporized when it comes into contact with these parts), and plus I like the way slotted rotors look.

I did decide to remove the calipers completely and paint them at this time. I went pretty cheap and just used a can of Rustoleum high temp black paint to see if it would last. Honestly didn’t expect it to last too long but it surprised me. I did plenty of coats and it has held up perfectly for over 2 years now


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Notes About Pad Upgrades

The very first thing, and sometimes the only thing necessary, to consider for a street driven car is a street performance pad or a light track/auto cross pad. The major criterion to consider is the pad material; metallic or ceramic mainly. Metallic dust more but are cheaper and good ones have much more stopping power than ceramic and consistent bite when hot or cold (if they are designed for street use that is). Ceramic barely dust but bite is inconsistent as they work best when they are hot, they also don't tend to bite as well as top-tier metallics. A lot of people assume they are superior because they are on high end cars... not true. The truth is that ceramic brake pads are meant for long life and minimal dust. Good ceramic pads will never outperform comparable good quality metallic pads. Braking power is ultimately determined by the coefficient of friction between the two braking surfaces and the exchange is in the form of pad material as the pads are softer than the rotor (except for some race pads; more on that later). So a good rule of thumb to go by is the more dust a pad makes the better it stops. It’s a bit of a generalization but it’s basically accurate. Observing these laws of braking physics makes it clear why performance ceramic pads cannot outperform performance metallic pads. The other criterion to consider is pad temp range, in other words how much they can handle before you get brake fade. Brake pads have a maximum effective temperature range and an optimal temperature range in which they work best. For street and auto-cross/very light track use a high performance street pad is ideal because these have a effective temperature range starting at 0* which means they will actually work well when you need to stop in a pinch and you haven’t used your brakes for a few moments. Unlike generic street pads, a performance street pad will also have a fairly high maximum temperature range before they fade (usually plenty high for street but not nearly high enough for anything other than LIGHT track use). A dedicated race pad, as you might expect, has a temperature range that starts at least a few hundred degrees above a street pad and often times several hundred degrees. These pads should NOT be relied on to stop you properly during most street driving. They will also wear your rotors down VERY fast because when race pads are cold they are working in full abrasive mode and are actually harder than your rotors until they are heated up and start transferring pad material instead; you will pretty much never heat them up enough for this to happen on the street. StopTech has my vote for most affordable, effective street and light track pads (their “street” and “sport” line) which I used for a few years and enjoyed. They are incredibly priced for what you get. Lately I’ve been partial to Porterfield as of time of writing (Fall, 2018).


Notes About Brake Fluid

If you have a premium performance street or light track pad with appropriate heat range, as discussed in the previous section, on your factory brake setup and you’re still encountering brake fade on the street then I can pretty much guarantee it is your brake fluid. It’s NOT time for a BBK, it’s just time to flush your brake fluid/bleed the system. In most cases the OEM brake fluid is sufficient and it just needs to be replaced. That’s because brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water. Over time it becomes saturated with more water content which lowers its efficiency in dealing with heat. Fade is more likely to occur in older fluid (over 2+ years) and when pads are low because thinner pads means more heat transfer from the rotor/pad to the caliper and thus more heat transfer to the brake fluid. All brake fluids have a wet boiling point (boiling point when a sufficient percentage of water has saturated the fluid) and a dry boiling point (boiling point when very little to no water has saturated the fluid). The dry boiling point is pretty much only representative of your brake fluid for the first couple months it is in the car, after which it starts to shift towards the wet boiling point. Again, NEW OEM fluid every year or two is generally sufficient but for those that do not want to flush the OEM fluid that often or for some drivers who reach high speeds and demand serious fade resistance, then higher end brake fluid isn’t a bad idea because it will have a higher wet boiling point and thus you can change it less often and maintain high fade resistance. That is the characteristic to look for: wet boiling point. ATE Typ 200 is generally the best value for a performance brake fluid at only $15/L with modest boiling points. Motul makes a couple that are a bit better but 2x as expensive. Castrol SRF is the king of high wet boiling points. One could go an entire track season without replacing it because it has an insanely high wet boiling point (nearly as high as ATE Type 200’s dry boiling point)… but it also has an insane price tag!


IMPORTANT Notes About BBK Upgrades

One thing I’d like to note to readers is some considerations regarding BBK setups that aren’t often taken into account. There are a lot of aspects to car modding in which the motto “bigger is not always better” applies… well BBK upgrades are one of those aspects it applies to. When searching for a BBK setup one must focus on a setup that maintains as close as possible the same brake bias/balance the vehicle is designed with from the factory. A lot of the physics and specifications of the setup come into play here: number of pistons, size of pistons, size of rotors, and more. And if you’ve modified the weight of the car in front of centerline of car or rear of center line of the car it gets even more complicated because you’ve effectively changed the weights that the factory brake bias is based on.

Sometimes bigger kits are not always better because they may greatly upset the brake bias ratio that the car is designed with in mind for best braking results and safest car behavior under braking. And that’s just speaking of the front BBKs. When we start talking about rear BBKs you can almost guarantee that you’re going to throw off the brake bias unless your front setup is large enough to maintain the balance. If you have a pretty typical 4-piston BBK up front like the ST-40 which already maintains a close-to-factory brake bias, and then put a equally large BBK in the rear you’re creating much more rear-bias and greater braking power in the significantly lighter back end of the car which is very unbalanced and can lead to erratic behavior under braking like the back end locking up and getting squirmy well before the front end.

Making compromises on braking bias in the name of having larger brakes is pretty much NEVER a good idea, especially for a street car because you’ll rarely ever actually realize the true potential/reason for upgrading to bigger brakes in the first place: heat dispersion. The sole reason to upgrade the actual size of the brake components (aside from how they look) is that larger components can contain and dissipate more heat more effectively, meaning you have a deeper braking zone to dive into before brake fade. Frankly, for a street-only car, brake fade can be eliminated with proper pad choice and good brake fluid (flushed once a year). There is NO need for a BBK and there is especially no reason to get one if you’re only going to utilize it to its full potential, say, 5% of the time you’re on the road, meanwhile throw off the factory brake bias 100% of the time you’re on the road.

I could get into a lot more detail but the moral of the story is that a BBK is overkill - and sometimes counterproductive - for a street car but if you want to get one then before you just go nuts you want to make sure you’re taking into account factory brake bias (if your cars weight in front and rear of center line is close to factory) and choose a kit that respects the factory brake bias for best braking results and car behavior under braking. Just buying any setup without research into these considerations can end in less than optimal results. While you have to greatly upset brake bias to have very tangible and noticeably dangerous effects, even a minor upset in brake bias is not making the most out of your money because some of the returns you expect out of your purchase (in the form of braking performance) are being diminished and/or not capitalized on due to unbalanced setup. This is why I settled on the StopTech ST-40 BBK in front and NO upgrade to rear (aside from pads)… it wasn’t just the price of the kit, it was the fact that this kit for this application maintains close to VW Mk5/Mk6 generation brake bias (admittedly a bit skewed with the heavier/longer B6 Passat but still very close).


Notes about BBK / Wheel Fitment

I’m fairly confident there are no VW OEM wheels that can fit over even a modest BBK like the ST-40 I got. That said, typically you will need to get either aftermarket wheels with more generous offset and spacious spoke design, or you will need to get wheel spacers. At the time I didn’t want to part with my OEM Black Karthoum wheels so I elected to get spacers. These wheels were 18” X 8” w/ 51mm offset (“ET”). I originally purchased hub-centric ECS Tuning brand 15mm spacers for the rear and 10mm for the front, however, I ultimately wound up running 10mm spacers in the rear as well because with the 15mm spacers I had pretty bad tire rubbing on the wheel well liner (not the fender) on even pretty minor bumps in the road. Unfortunate because it looked fantastic. Almost perfectly flush (barely missed the fender when rubbing). With the 10mm spacers in the rear rubbing issues were rare (only on severe bumps) but I couldn’t get spacers any thinner than 10mm for the rear or front wheels would be spaced out further than the rear wheels which would look ridiculous. With the 10mm spacers in the front I had about 4mm of clearance from the caliper to inside of the spokes (generally you want to have no less than 3-4mm of clearance). The 10mm spacers in the front looked excellent too and never rubbed at all despite being very flush. This is because the front suspension does not have nearly as much travel (is much stiffer) than the rear.

I won’t belabor the subject of spacers because, in general, if one can avoid them one should; however, if you buy spacers make absolutely certain they are “hub-centric”. This means that the spacers have a pretty significant lip on them to fit the wheel over just like it fits over the factory hub lip. If they are not hub-centric then your wheels are, by default, now lug-centric which will wear out your wheel bearings in VERY short order (in the front anyway). It is hard to find hub-centric spacers in sizes smaller than 8mm. Not impossible, but harder. You must of course also get extended wheel bolts with spacers. The factory bolts are 24mm long so if you were to get 10mm spacers, for example, you’d want bolts that are 34mm long to safely secure your wheel and spacer to the hub.

I did not run spacers for long. A few months, maybe a bit more. But it wasn’t long before I decided that I didn’t like having rub to worry about in the rear, even though it was rare, and I wanted to get lighter wheels anyway. Lighter wheels means less rotational mass/weight and inertia that has to be overcome during acceleration and that has to be stopped during braking, which translates to better performance in both scenarios. I also wanted to get away from quite so much black. I still loved my OEM Black Karthoum wheels at heart, but it was time for something new… There will be more on that later though ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
***Note: Late Spring 2017…


Lower and Tighter

It was finally time to tackle the most inherent problem of the Passat compared to its smaller/lighter VW brethren… the handling characteristics. The B6 Passat rides higher than its same-generation VW counterparts, is obviously heavier, and since it has the same sway bars, etc. there isn’t any compensation for all that in the suspension system. As a result, it has more body roll and understeer than the other models. With significant, and smart, modifications to the suspension this can all be negated to make the B6 Passat a surprisingly nimble car in its class and easily comparable to less thoroughly modified cars of the hatchback/2-door classes. While it is heavier than the GTI and Jetta of the same generation, it is not by much. This also makes it quite a good deal lighter than most makes of 4-door Sedan these days, so when comparing a B6 Passat to the sort of cars that it should rightfully be compared to it actually comes out looking pretty good.


Struts/shocks/springs

First things first, I wanted to lower the center of gravity, stiffen spring rates, etc. to counter body roll (and that disgusting fender gap). I wanted to lower the car enough to get significantly better handling but not far enough that I’d have concerns over complicated/un-ideal suspension geometry or cracking my oil pan due to the completely garbage roads in PA and surrounding areas. And, truthfully, I seem to be in the minority on this but I really can’t stand the look when the tire actually disappears behind the fender. I think it looks totally unattractive. To me, a perfectly flush look is the most attractive, so to that end I decided on about a 1.6” drop. Of course, that’s just my taste, to each their own.

Since I decided on a pretty mild lowering and since I knew I’d probably never bother with lowering it more than that, nor would I ever have a need to raise it again, I determined coilovers would be a waste of money. While I was initially going to get coilovers I eventually came to terms with the fact that, as nice as it would be to have the flexibility of adjusting ride height, I’d realistically be very unlikely to take advantage of it. The car wouldn’t be low enough to have problems in Winter (I still drove it in Winter sometimes back then) nor problems on even pretty awful roads so having to raise it was a non-concern. Plus if I did play with the ride-height based on seasons I’d technically want to get alignments every time I changed it which would get old and expensive fast. I’d also never buy cheap coilovers which meant I was automatically looking at $1200+ for coilovers and that was not worth it to me. Instead, I got the tried-and-true Koni Yellow struts/shocks and a set of Vogtland sport springs which allowed for that 1.6” drop I was after. My research also suggested that the spring rate of the Vogtland springs was a pretty good match with a set like Koni Yellows (e.g. on the more aggressive side). I set the Koni Yellows about 75% toward soft up front and almost full stiff in the rear. I would like to emphasize to my reader’s that one of the critical aspects to achieving the best combination of performance and ride quality when purchasing struts/shocks with separate lowering springs is a well-matched spring rate. This can take a lot of digging online and phone calls but the end result is worth it. If you choose wisely you will wind up with better ride and performance than just about any coilovers that are under roughly the $1500USD range for half the cost.

Koni Yellows, just like most sport struts/shocks/coilovers, are not intended to last particularly long compared to softer OEM-like setups so when I replace these after about ~30-40K miles of use I may opt for a higher-end setup. Then again, I’ve liked them quite a bit so far so I may just replace them with the same. That’ll be a discussion for a future post. Likewise, there is also a small possibility I may consider lowering to 1.8” lower because the 1.6” drop was not quite enough to get the perfectly flush look I wanted. It is close though so I have not made up my mind up yet on that either.


Strut mounts

I also installed 034Motorsport “street density” stiffer strut mounts at this time. These are replicas of the OEM strut mount design but made with a vulcanized rubber that is quite a bit stiffer than factory mounts which means less flex under the forces of cornering and, in general, a more planted feeling car, at the expense of ride comfort because bumps, grooves, and holes in the road will be quite a bit more jarring, even if you’ve got a very good setup otherwise.


End links

Finally, I installed SuperPro adjustable end links in front and rear. I was sure to install these with the vehicle resting at curb-weight, NOT in the air at all, because this is critical to making sure that the sway bars are not loaded up with any static pre-load. This ensures the most comfortable possible ride and most predictable characteristics. There isn’t a whole lot to be said about the SuperPro end links in and of themselves; they get the job done and are good enough quality. It is worth considering that they are one of the most affordable options, yet they have one of the best warranties in the business on their products. That was why I bought SuperPro end links. Aftermarket end links in aftermarket suspension applications aren’t known to last nearly as long as factory end links/factory suspension applications so you go through them pretty quickly, somewhat depending on driving style and typical road conditions. At time of writing, my front SuperPro end links have already been replaced once and lasted a bit under 2 years/~25K miles, but replacements were provided to me at no charge and will continue to be in the future thanks to SuperPro’s fantastic lifetime warranty. Once again I don’t have much in the way of pics of actual install or parts. I have one mid-install pic I grabbed for some reason with the OEM strut out and axle removed from the hub. And a picture of ride-height after install…


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***Note: Early Summer 2017…


Sway bars

Let’s start with the sway bar upgrades because the choice of sway bars is equally, if not more, critical as the choice of struts/shocks/springs or coilovers and I have quite a lot to dive into pertaining to that decision. Before I dive into sway bar specs themselves, let me begin by giving an overview of WHY to upgrade sway bars for any readers that may come along and are novices to this sort of thing. Sway bars are sometimes also called “stabilizer” bars or “anti-roll” bars and the latter of those two names gives us the best insight into their primary purpose; to increase roll stiffness/decrease body roll. The bars, of course, connect both sides of the suspension and thus transfer some force from one side to the other during cornering. This is torsional (twisting) force NOT compression and as the outside corner of the car experiencing the most lateral force twists up the opposite side of the car that is un-weighted tends to twist opposite; the torsional stiffness of the bar, it’s ability to resist that twisting, determines its ability to control body roll as these forces act on outside and inside of the car during cornering. What results from minimizing body roll is better ability to control wheel alignment in cornering and better ability to maintain traction/maximize the traction patch (amount of tire surface area) that has good contact with the road/track surface. Oh and, of course, to also adjust the propensity of the car to understeer/oversteer. Most folks know that factory VW cars (and indeed most non-performance cars, especially FWD ones) are setup intentionally to understeer. Understeering is as it sounds; it is when the car is not steering/responding as much as you are commanding or where you are pointing it to which results in you plowing through to the outside of a corner instead of having the clean line you were aiming for. Conversely, oversteer is when you get more rotation than you were aiming for because the back end has started to wander or, in more severe cases, completely kick out which can result in a classic spin out. Think of drifting as controlled oversteer and the concept is pretty easy to grasp. Oversteer preferred to understeer for performance driving; more so on RWD or AWD vehicles since they can actually take advantage of the oversteer and control it being that they have power to the rear wheels, however, it is still preferred oversteer before you understeer on a FWD car for performance driving. Ideally, though, for performance driving (especially in a FWD car) you want it to be pretty neutral. If it’s going to do either you’d rather it oversteer a bit first as a warning but you really want it to be pretty hard for either to happen so that you can take the car to a pretty extreme limit before you induce either. And that is the intention I had when I chose my sway bars.

There are a lot of people get caught up entirely in the numbers when it comes to sway bar choices, as in the measurement (in millimeters) of the bar. While this is important, as it directly correlates to that torsional stiffness mentioned earlier, it is not all-important. Nor is the construction of the bar (hollow vs. solid), material strength, etc. technically speaking. What is all-important is actually at a higher level than all of those particulars; it is simply bearing in mind the stiffness increase of the front and rear bar IN RELATION to its factory counterpart (and how you do that effectively is by knowing those other specs). So many people gloss over this understanding. They hear that getting a stiff sway bar in the rear is how you get rid of understeer and encourage oversteer first, so they get a huge 27mm rear sway bar and don’t upgrade the front sway bar at all, or very little. My personal favorite, though, is the guys who follow that “logic” even further and actually remove the front sway bar entirely, whilst fitting a huge rear sway bar. All of the above are VERY ill-advised. By doing so, they are stiffening the rear by a factor of ~5x or more and doing nothing for the front. This does not encourage neutral handling, this greatly increases propensity to oversteer way earlier/easier than one should, which is just plainly foolish on a FWD car (or any car intended for true performance driving, as opposed to sliding/drifting). Furthermore, many folks underestimate the importance of the front sway bar. Many folks view the front sway bar as THE thing that creates understeer. While technically not wrong, it’s not that simple. In fact, when everything else is properly setup in relation to the front sway bar (there’s that word again – everything is “in relation to” when it comes to suspensions), the front sway bar will actually reduce overall roll much more than the rear sway (because roll is lateral momentum and there is significantly more weight in the front), will improve steering (turn-in feel and responsiveness), and making your car more stable WITHOUT increasing understeer propensity. This then means that running a fairly stiff front sway bar is generally a good idea, but that you then must compensate for this enough when stiffening up the back end in relation to the front end and in relation to its own rear-end factory stiffness setup (or else, yes, you will cause more understeer and somewhat poorer traction in the front, particularly on bad roads).

Again the key is to upgrade the sway bars in relation to the factory setup. So we must then know what the factory sway bar specs are, right? Well on a B6 Passat (and all Mk5 platforms) the front sway bar is a hollow 23.6mm diameter bar and the rear sway bar is a hollow 21mm diameter bar. In addition to being hollow they are also of fairly weak construction. It is not unheard of to sheer one in half from exuberant driving at a track. So how do we make our upgrade choices, in relation to the factory setup, to accurately create a setup that is neutral or slightly prone to oversteer? Well, we have our baseline specs for the factory setup so we need to do some heavy research on the aftermarket options and compare. Alternately, you could just keep reading because I’ve already done that ;). I eventually settled on a solid H&R 26mm front sway bar (set to soft) and a solid H&R 24mm rear sway set to hard. Based on significant research and phone calls I determined that the best approximation of the torsional stiffness increase of these bars compared to stock is a 130% increase in torsional stiffness to the front and a 270% increase to torsional stiffness in the rear. This highlights my earlier point about people who haphazardly upgrade to a very stiff rear sway bar without consideration to the front because they are solely focused on the measurement of the bar not the actual proportional increase in torsional stiffness in relation to the rest. Notice that my front bar has a larger diameter than the rear bar, yet the torsional stiffness in the rear is now quite a bit higher than the front is (even after taking in to account the fact that the front was originally stiffer on the factory setup). This is pretty much the ideal outcome. While I could potentially go a little stiffer in the rear without changing the front, or go a good deal stiffer in the rear while also increasing front stiffness proportionally, I have found no need and it is ill-advised to get carried away with increasing torsional stiffness. If you increase the stiffness too much it will start to reduce the independence of the suspension on either side of the vehicle during cornering and this is when you run the risk of actually reducing traction because when one end breaks loose it basically brings the other end with it OR, in the opposite case, if the outside rear tire has so much lateral force on it but IS able to maintain traction then the inside rear tire actually lifts off the ground which puts that much more strain on the traction abilities of the rest of the 3 tires still planted.

Anyway, what has making all of the above considerations and choosing my sway bar setup accordingly meant for my car? It means I have reaped the full benefits that a stiffer front sway bar can provide on a front-engined, FWD car while ALSO dialing OUT understeering in favor of a more neutral handling car with a slight tendency to oversteer instead when I’ve pushed it to an extreme limit (which serves as a good warning that will not rob performance driving as much and can be fun). This setup has made my Passat significantly more nimble and capable on the track than most people would ever expect of such a car and it absolutely demolishes back and mountain roads. It is very balanced and very fun!


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Front Lower Control Arms/Polyurethane Bushings

For those of us with B6 Passats we actually have a leg up on our fellow enthusiasts with Mk5 platforms in this area because the B6 Passat aluminum front lower control arms (LCAs) are actually quite a bit lighter than the stamped steel front LCAs of the Mk5 platforms. This is important because control arms (along with wheels, brake components, spindles/hubs, and plenty more) represent “unsprung” weight. The less unsprung weight the quicker your primary suspension, your struts/springs or coilovers, can react to ever-changing circumstances while driving and thus the better job they can do in keeping the tires maximally engaged with the road surface. Lower unsprung weight also contributes to sharper steering response and turn-in. So buying lightweight aluminum front LCAs is something we B6ers don’t need to do. In fact, Mk5 owners looking to minimize unsprung weight often replace theirs with B6 Passat front LCAs. They will also buy B6 Passat spindles because ours are also lighter weight. Replacing their front LCAs with those from B6 Passats is far cheaper than buying SuperPro’s front LCAs with polyurethane bushings pre-installed; I’m fairly certain that SuperPro’s front LCAs are literally B6 Passat aluminum front LCAs that have been polished for a high-luster haha. If they are any different the weight difference s negligible. I’ve actually compared them side-by-side. Not with a scale, but by hand, which is better than nothing. Anyway, point is, starting with lighter weight aluminum front LCAs is preferable and since I have a B6 I already had that covered. So all I had to do was buy the SuperPro polyurethane bushings that fit to the front position and the rear position (the bracket that bolts to the subframe). The latter of which had to be pressed into the bracket housing.

Not only are these bushings void-free, unlike the factory bushings, but they are significantly stiffer than the factory bushings, by some margin. I am fairly certain that they account for a decent bit of the stiffness/harshness the car has when encountering sharp bumps or divits in the road. However stiffening these bushings is fairly critical to performance in just about every area because these bushings, particularly the rearward one within the bracket bolted to the subframe, receive weight transfer from the car at pretty much every axis of movement; during acceleration and braking and during lateral movement while cornering. Therefore, stiffening these parts will contribute to more consistent and controlled reaction from the suspension system under changing conditions which will allow for some improvement in traction during acceleration/braking, but more so it will improve steering responsiveness and turn-in quite a bit. In effect, these bushings are SuperPro’s version of the popular WALK bushings (Whiteline Anti-lift Kit). They accomplish pretty much the same thing except SuperPro’s are a significantly cheaper option, are just as high quality (if not higher quality), and come with an unbeatable warranty.

One nuance to the above described benefits of the SuperPro polyurethane bushings for the front LCAs (again it’s particularly the rearward one in the bracket that bolts to the subframe), is that those performance advantages that I described are not just achieved by the actual stiffness of the bushings but also the fact that, like the WALK kit, those SuperPro bushings increase positive caster. Caster is one of the 3 main wheel/suspension alignment measurements/specifications. It is the least talked about typically. Most people understand what camber is, at least at a basic level, if nothing else thanks to the folks who drive around with wheels/tires on a significant slant (negative camber), and most people know about toe because bad toe alignment leads to the car wandering on the road instead of driving straight, as well as poor tire tread wear. But most people know very little about caster. I’m not an expert either, but I can explain the fundamentals. The best way I know how is with a visual explanation. If camber were depicted by drawing a vertical line down the middle of each tire while looking straight on the front of the vehicle and camber was negative if the top of that line slanted inward on each side (positive for the reverse), then caster is the same if you were to draw that line down the middle of the wheel/tire while looking at the car from the side; positive caster would be if you tilted the top of that line towards the rear of the car (and positive would be the reverse). Positive caster is always preferred for performance driving. Just like the other alignment specifications, it is measure in degrees. If I recall correctly, the factory caster specification for the front of the B6 Passat (and likely the Mk5 platforms as well) is approx. 7* of positive caster. The SuperPro front LCA bushing that is pressed into the bracket that bolts to the subframe can be purchased in a version that does not increase caster or can be purchased in a version that does increase caster. The degree to which the latter will increase caster depends on what orientation the bushing is pressed in at, as the hole in which the front LCA itself inserts is offset somewhat from the center. The bushing allows for a maximum of 1.5* more positive caster. This is enough to make some noticeable changes to driving/handling dynamics. More positive caster will typically increase steering effort which is, of course, something typically favored by driving enthusiasts, though not necessarily advantageous in and of itself. It will also, however, improve suspension reaction and steering stability at higher speeds and, most importantly, increase the steering angle which for better tire lean (better traction) in cornering.

Those are all the upsides of the SuperPro front LCA bushings. There are some downsides. Apart from the fact that they increase stiffness and decrease ride comfort, as already mentioned, they also should be serviced (lubricated) periodically. Technically they do not NEED to be but they should be. Again, this is particularly the rearward bushing that is contained in the bracket that bolts to the subframe. It can be serviced without removing the control arm itself. You can unbolt the bracket and slide it off the end of the control arm. This is handy since you then won’t have to worry about getting an alignment done just for servicing these bushings. You just want to lubricate them with some good synthetic silicone or lithium grease. If you live in an area where it gets below 40*F these bushings will make some creaking noises until they’ve been stretched out/warmed up a bit. If they’ve been serviced recently they may not creak until slightly lower temperatures. But if you live in an area where it gets below 20*F they’re going to creak no matter what and lubrication will only reduce it. It’s not that bad if they are lubricated. I find it perfectly tolerable given the benefits they bring to the table but, as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I’ve become less anal about these kind of things over the last couple years than I was originally. The thrill of driving a car that performs to the max outweighs the annoyances of creaks, vibrations, etc. as long as they aren’t very, very distracting or omnipresent.


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Subframe Bolts & Locking Collars

I bought the TyrolSport “deadest” subframe bolt/collar kit. There is a similar kit available from CTS Turbo for quite a bit less, even with the ARP bolts included (more on that later). Frankly they are probably pretty comparable but the collars on the TyrolSport kit seemed beefier and that was what swayed my decision (will also explain why shortly).

First let me explain the principle behind this kit. Due to the significant forces exerted on the subframe during driving, especially over bumps or holes in the road, and the fact that the shaft of the stretch bolts used to secure this subframe to the chassis are not actually as wide as the shaft of the subframe they pass through to reach the chassis, the subframe itself can shift somewhat if enough force is exerted on it. This will affect camber, and to an extent caster, alignment specifications. However, these issues only occur in extreme circumstances, like if you hit a significant pothole; more often, the subframe just flexes a bit momentarily. This causes a well-known clunking noise that many B6 and Mk5 platforms have and which VW released a technical service bulletin (TSB) for. It can also allow for some loss of feedback and responsiveness in the steering and overall planted-ness (if that is a word?) of the car since the subframe is connected to steering components.

This TyrolSport (or CTS) “deadest” kit is designed to eliminate that. It does so by provided bolt collars for the head of the bolts and the shafts of the bolts where they meet the chassis to bolt the subframe to it. The TyrolSport collars look beefier, as in they seem to be machined to tighter specifications and perhaps fill in the shafts, thus locating the bolts, better. This is speculation based on the pictures provided by each company for their respective products. I have not actually compared them side-by-side, physically, in-person. The TyrolSport kit includes APR bolts, whereas the CTS Turbo kit comes with them as an option. ARP bolts are specially machined bolts with significantly higher torsional, tension, and compression tolerances, than the factory bolts. They do not stretch whatsoever, unlike the factory bolts, so they can be removed and reused infinitely with no concern. You only really need ARP bolts for the rearmost bolts for the subframe as these bolts receive the brunt of the forces on the subframe and are most responsible for locating the subframe correctly, evident in the fact that VW took care to use special bolts for this location too (though not like ARP bolts).

To be clear, installing this “mod” is unnecessary unless you have that subframe clunk and can’t stand it. I think it makes a slight difference in the areas described above, and it definitely does get rid of that clunk, but otherwise it is passable on its own; however, if you are dropping the subframe anyway, to install a front sway bar or subframe dogbone mounts (coming up), then you may as well install this mod too.


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Subframe Dogbone Mounts/”Pucks”

I am going to refer to the subframe dogbone mounts as “pucks” not “mounts” since it describes what they look like well and there is also a subframe dogbone pendulum mount which connects between the two subframe dogbone “pucks” so the terminology can get a bit confusing if they are both referred to as “mounts”. I generally also refer to the dogbone pendulum mount as a dogbone pendulum “bar” to better describe what it is and avoid confusion.

Let me also bring up another term I’ll be throwing around a lot in this section: NVH. This stands for “noise, vibrations, and harshness” and it basically described the elephant in the room when it comes to upgrading these kind of parts. I touched on NVH briefly in one of my previous sections regarding the 034 Motorsport’s street density engine/trans mounts that I installed. Well, they didn’t make a significant impact on NVH but that is quite simply not the case here. You cannot get away with upgrading these subframe dogbone pucks without, at best, a moderate increase in NVH. The increase in NVH varies quite a bit based on what upgrade option you choose. Another thing that will determine how much of an increase in NVH you have is whether you have a manual trans or a Tiptronic/DSG trans; the auto trans vibrate a lot more to begin with and ANY upgrades to the subframe dogbone pucks will magnify that quite a bit so, for this reason, auto trans owners will experience much more increase in NVH with ANY upgrades to the subframe dogbone pucks.

Let’s start with the basics – why upgrade these dogbone pucks? – for those who are new to modding. Well, it’s actually one of the simpler explanations I’ll cover in this whole section. You upgrade them because the transmission and, therefore, to an extent, the engine itself is linked to them via the subframe dogbone pendulum bar. This means that if you stiffen the dogbone pucks you will reduce movement in the trans and engine. This means less wheel hop under acceleration, less lurch under braking, less lean during cornering, and also less trans/engine lurch when releasing the throttle (particularly nice when you are shifting if you have a manual trans).

I had a few paragraphs written on many different options too choose from for this upgrade but sadly this post exceeded the maximum allowed characters and that info was first on the chopping block since it didn't really directly pertain to my build. I'd be MORE than happy to add it in a follow-up post later at request though (saved in word doc for the thread). As for my choice: I chose the VWR dogbone pucks. These are literally aluminum pucks with a few rings/layers of polyurethane throughout the center to distribute and absorb some vibrations. And, yes, there are two of them; they do replace BOTH of the factory dogbone pucks, which means you do have to remove (or at least lower) the subframe to install the upper puck replacement. Due to their design and, of course, the fact that they replace BOTH of the factory pucks, they increase the stiffness, and thus the performance properties I described earlier, significantly. Let me put it this way: after I installed them, the amount by which transmission movement was decreased literally affected my clutch engagement point/behavior, particularly when starting out moving in first gear. There was suddenly even less margin for error/smaller window of pedal travel in which to apply throttle and take off in first gear than there already was with my sporty and stiff upgraded clutch/pressure plate. As you can imagine, the NVH increase was pretty substantial, but what you might not have expected is that it as wasn’t THAT bad! That’s because it was more situational than anything. It was NOT a constant, omnipresent increase in NVH when just sitting idling the car. In fact, it was really only noticeable during certain actions, like when operating the clutch to start out in first gear as mentioned, or like when turning the AC on because that creates additional load on the engine, transmitted through the trans which is of course linked to these upgraded pucks and the subframe itself. Those are really the only 2 instances in which I noticed much difference. It was a pretty significant difference to be fair, but since it was only in those instances I was not all that bothered. It also got slightly less severe overtime oddly. I was not expecting these particular pucks, due to their design, to “break-in” but I believe they did to an extent. I also probably go more tolerant of it with time, which can never be overstated.

Let me, again, emphasize though that the above will NOT be your experience if you have an auto trans; I strongly suspect that these will be quite a bit less civil if you have an auto trans. I also want to emphasize that, as explained in a previous section, I currently have an upgraded clutch kit designed to work with a factory dual mass flywheel (or in my case the Mk6 Golf R factory DMF). While explaining the design of the factory DMF is not really in the scope of this section, suffice it to say that it is essentially two flywheels bolted together with two large springs set around most of the internal circumference, and these springs compress as the flywheels spin during operation; the springs compression to absorb and dampen torsional forces and thus vibrations that would otherwise be felt in the car. Why am I bringing this up? Because my DMF is likely absorbing some of what would otherwise be increased NVH caused by the VWR subframe dogbone pucks. I don’t think it is a particularly large factor and this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend them to someone with a single mass flywheel (SMF) setup, but it is something to bear in mind as it is a factor. Lastly I would like to emphasize that I think NVH in the cabin will be worse in a Mk5 platform because the interior fit/finish/quality is better on the B6 Passat. It makes mods like these more reasonable.

I’ll end this section by pointing out a general caution. Stiffening these subframe dogbone pucks (and also the subframe dogbone pendulum bar itself) contribute particularly highly to increasing the vibrations that the transmission internals themselves experience. While nobody knows just to what extent this can actually cause harm over time, it is possible that it could contribute to shortening the life of certain parts. One part in particular I am virtually positive would be have a shortened lifespan due to this mod is the factory DMF for reasons that should be very clear based on the brief explanation of its function earlier in this section.


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The Result

All-in-all I’m pleased with the performance of this setup. The ride is definitely on the stiff side when encountering sharp bumps or divits in the road but it’s certainly tolerable. In all other road conditions/situations besides sharp bumps, this suspension setup is smooth and refined and leaves little to be desired. In fact, for a little while I was thinking it was stiff or not as refined as I was hoping but I’ve been in plenty of other setups on VWs since and pretty much every time I INSTANTLY re-appreciated my setup for its refinement. It’s the kind of ride that feels like it “belongs” if it were targeted to be a sportier, higher performance car than it is; whereas, a lot of other VWs I’ve been in have a ride quality and behaviors/noises that feel “out-of-place”, like they’ve obviously been modified (and not necessarily well). I believe that difference is attributed to all of the finer points of choosing suspension modifications that I have considered in my setup. All of these mods have performed as expected; they’ve contributed to tightening up the car and massively reducing body roll, tightened up steering response & feedback, steering turn-in, traction in all circumstances, and the pleasure of rowing through the gears, to the point where it is an absolute thrill to take this family sedan down back roads and a variety of twisties with surprising amounts of composure and speed. It is truly one of the things I enjoy doing most and I NEVER do not thoroughly enjoy driving this car!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Miscellaneous Mods/Parts


***Note: This post does not fit into an exact chronological time-frame as I frankly forget when exactly I did most of the below; these miscellaneous/minor items occurred over the course of the last few years




New shoes… Again, Again

I wouldn’t really classify it as a mod but I’ll kick this section off with the wheels I eventually replaced my OEM Black Karthoum wheels with. I really did like the Karthoum wheels but I wanted to get away from so much black and I wanted something that weighed less and had sufficient clearance for the calipers without the need for spacers. I chose Enkei M52 in “hyperblack” which apparently means a medium-silver shade to Enkei. Whatever it is, I love it. I really like the spoke design of these wheels. I like the fact that they are fairly light for an affordable 18” cast wheel (21lbs). These are 18x8” w/ ET45mm. Enkei has great quality finishes, a good range of wheels for any budget, and they are very strong for wheels in the price range of even their budget options. Most of their affordable wheels, like these M52, are typical gravity or low pressure cast in most areas but the areas that are most critical like the wheel lips and outer edge of the barrel are formed via rotary flow casting which yields similar strength as a forged wheel in those critical areas. By focusing on only those areas that really need the re-enforcement they keep the costs down but retain a strong wheel.


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Depo Smoked black front bumper side markers/indicators

For the longest time I held off on replacing the ugly/distracting orange front bumper side markers/indicators. I had no reason at all for holding off other than that it just wasn’t really a priority (as a rule aesthetics aren’t a priority for me in general), but considering how cheap and easy they are to replace I wish I had prioritized them much sooner because, despite being so simple, they transformed the front-end of the car.

There are a few different brand offerings out there for these, I went with Depo. Depo (using Helix as their distributor name) makes plenty of OE lights for VW/Audi so I trusted the quality. I replaced the factory bulbs with orange bulbs so that they could still function as turning indicators too.


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BSH Throttle Pipe

In truth, this was an impulse buy and nothing more. I didn’t expect anything particularly impressive, if at all, out of it and that’s pretty much exactly what I got. It was a cheap mod and stood at least some chance of improving throttle response and/or spool somewhat so I figured: “why not?” It comes with an integrated bung for DV relocation but I never made use of that while I was K03 (I preferred to keep the stock location) and, on my new turbo, I now prefer my relocation via a custom intake-to-turbo inlet junction pipe for the same reason: it keeps the DV boost recirculation action as close to turbo and intake as possible. The only feature of the BSH throttle pipe I may ever take advantage of is the integrated water-meth bung but even that is unlikely: if I need the extra fueling later down the road I will likely add a fifth port injector (more on all that in a future post on my big turbo setup, etc.). This mod does very little. I don’t recall noticing any difference from it, but then again I installed it nearly 3 years ago. Still, if it made any difference, it was negligible.


Spulen Silicone Brake Booster Hoses

I had one of those notoriously brittle brake booster/vac pump hoses crack on me a couple years ago. I decided to be lazy and instead of finding a local store to buy silicone hose for cheap from I ordered the pre-formed Spulen silicone hoses for this exact application. They are quality silicone hoses and they fit just right. Not much else to be said. Well, except that while I was replacing them the damned coolant flange that doubles as a vacuum hose pass-through down under the vacuum pump on the side of the block decided to crack when I removed the factory hose connection so I just bypassed it with hose barb fittings and routed directly to the brake booster, as seen below:


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Go Fast Bits (GFB) DV+

I’ve had the GFB DV+ for 3 years now on both my stock turbo setup and now my GTX2867R setup. I’ve also spoken at length with Brett from GFB (the engineer behind it) on both his product and many other subjects. I have quite a lot to say about Go Fast Bits/Brett and the DV+. First things first, Brett is a top-rate guy. Very knowledgeable, very personable, and very kind with his time. He let me pick his brain on many subjects. He's also very honest and, believe it or not, he’d be the first to agree with the not so well-known statements I’m about to make about the GFB DV+ below; in fact, the literature you get with the GFB itself will attest to exactly the following…

The GFB makes negligible performance improvement IF you already had a totally properly functioning (fully sealing) factory DV. The folks who get the GFB and say it made their cars faster or whatever are either suffering from a form of placebo effect or they had a DV that was leaking an itty bit (neither of which is uncommon). While the Rev D piston style DV is far more reliable than the old Rev G diaphragm style DV, it can develop minor leaking where the piston should seal. This is usually due to either age/wear or heavy abuse on setups running in excess of 26+ PSI. As for the GFB, the only technical performance advantage to it is that the progressive nature of the piston opening/closing as compared to the stock DV's binary (full open or full closed) nature, allows the GFB to keep sliiiightly more boost between shifts so when you're back on the throttle you get to full spool ever so slightly faster. On a K03 that spools almost immediately anyway this matters very little as it might shave off a 1/10th of a second of spool time, maybe. I track my car so I'm attentive to these things and I didn't notice a thing. I didn't even notice a difference before and after when I put it on my GTX2867R which obviously spools slower; but there were a couple other changes I made around that time too so it wasn't a perfect before/after test.

Bottom line: The GFB is a great product. It's well designed, it's clever, and it is made by a cool company. But the reason to buy is not for performance gains, it is because it is durable and you will not have to replace the DV ever again, even if you upgrade to a turbo that will make much more boost.

One more note: the GFB can trip up certain custom tuning software and throw boost-related CELs and behavior issues, probably because they don’t expect the result of the progressive nature of the GFB’s main spring/piston. I encountered this issue after upgrading my turbo and having a custom tune written by United Motorsport. The solution is simple: remove the main spring and the GFB unit will behave in the same binary full-open/full-closed way as the factory unit but will, of course, be stronger.

Now a more general note on DVs VS. Blow-off Valves: DO NOT run a blow off valve. They do nothing except make noise. They act much slower than electronic diverter valves and the ECU expects an electronic diverter valve for calculations it makes. The stock rev D diverter valve can hold the boost of a stage 1-2 tune and even some stage 3 just fine. If for some reason you want to upgrade anyway, replace it with a GFB to retain ECU control over the valve but to be stronger than stock. The reason you want to maintain the ECU electronic pulse-width modulation control over a DV unit (stock or GFB only) is because when the throttle valve closes and the motor is in overrun (translation: when you let off the throttle at WOT/high revs) back pressure develops in the turbo housing which reduces speed of the turbine and increases turbo lag for when you get back on the throttle. To combat this, the DV is opened by an electrical actuator which allows the air to blow back to the intake side to the turbine and maintain turbine speed. Then when the throttle valve reopens (when you hit the go pedal) the DV closes. These behaviors COMPLETELY rely on the pulse-width modulation (PMW) electrical signal from the ECU to operate correctly and that ONLY happens with the stock DV or the GFB DV+… so moral of the story is when you get a BOV or an analogue DV that doesn’t retain the connection to the ECU, you are robbing yourself of that design and performance/turbo spool advantage with the regular DV or GFB.


Spark Plugs/Coil Packs

I used NGK BKR7E and BKR7EIX plugs (experimented with gaps @ between 0.026-0.032) up until very recently. I used them while I was on stage 2 tuning with factory turbo and also for some time after I had my GTX2867R setup. I’ve recently switched to BKR8E. I’m not going to belabor this subject… I think everyone in this community knows by now that if you’re tuned you run 1-step colder plugs and if you’re stage 3 BT (not K04) you may consider running 2-step colder plugs, blah blah. And you should lower the gap on your plugs, blah blah.

Frankly none of this is, strictly speaking, necessary if you have a good tune and good engine running conditions as-is. A stage 1, stage2, or even K04 equipped VW will not run the risk of overheating even the stock 6-heat range plugs although it is definitely more ideal for to run the step colder (7-heat range) plug especially in the case of a K04 setup. You do NOT want to go 2 steps colder unless you’re running a high powered BT setup with a lot of boost and cylinder pressures. The cost of running a plug that is TOO COLD is that deposits will develop and eventually spark strength will suffer. 1 or 2-step colder plugs are just extra icing on the cake to help with the combustion temps as these plugs can resist heat better which will contribute to stronger spark and reduced combustion temps.

What is probably just as, or more, important to note is something not so many people realize about the spark plug electrode materials used. A lot of people assume that the Iridium plugs are the highest performing since they are by far the most expensive. Not the case. You’re just paying for the fact that iridium is a more expensive rare metal and that these plugs last longer. Copper is actually the strongest conductor out of the 4 plug electrode materials (nickel, platinum, iridium, and of course copper). The NGK plugs ending in “E” (e.g. BKR8E) are the copper-cored plugs; the ones ending in “IX” are the iridium-cored plugs. Both are great. All of the above aspects of choosing plugs for tuned VWs are not obligatory, they are just more or less ideal.

The story is pretty similar when it comes to the R8 red-top coil packs. These coil packs do technically produce a stronger current (resistance is 5.3ohms compared to around 3.3ohms for stock coils), but this difference is negligible in just about any setup. Actually, running the R8 coils makes it MORE important to run a lower plug gap due to that higher resistance. But in any event, it would take a much more heavily modified setup than even mine to stand to benefit from the R8 coil packs on their own merits. Otherwise the coil packs are effectively the same. They are no more or less reliable than the NEWEST revision of OEM black-top plugs (but they are much more reliable than the older revisions).


TyrolSport Master Cylinder Brace

In the quest for even firmer and consistent brake pedal feel/feedback to prepare for track days I decided to install the TyrolSport master cylinder brace. I was aware of this mod long before I finally decided to install it; what swayed me was a good friend and track enthusiast’s positive feedback on it.

Unfortunately, after installing, I must say my feedback is NOT positive and I wish I had continued to take a pass on it. Long story made short, I got very little noticeable improvement from it. HOWEVER, it is important to recognize that my friend has a Mk6 GTI and I have confirmed by observational testing, on a couple different cars as a test sample, that far more flex occurs for the master cylinder of the Mk5/Mk6 under brake application/master cylinder piston travel than does on the B6 Passat; in fact it is minimal on the B6 Passat. This accounts for why my friend raved about the brace and I found it very underwhelming. I only thought to test this after the fact though and I had to make some modifications to the bracket (more on that in a moment) so I can’t return it. Figure I may as well just keep it for whatever small good it may do.

I should make an IMPORTANT NOTE for anyone considering the TyrolSport master cylinder brace with an APR short shifter kit… you will need to modify the TyrolSport brace by cutting off a corner of it to allow the APR side-to-side shift relay full range of motion. The APR short shifter kit is unique in that it is the only (that I’m aware of) short shift kit that has a side-to-side throw reduction via replacing the side-to-side shift relay as well. The APR side-to-side shift relay is chunkier than the factory one and during shifting it will get caught on the TyrolSport master cylinder brace, completely prohibiting you from shifting properly. The solution is simply to use an angle grinder or similar to cut off a portion of the master cylinder brace. This modification in no way interferes with how the brace is installed nor how it functions. See the pics below…


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Custom Bracket For CAI

This one doesn’t really warrant any pictures or special attention, I’m only bringing it up for whatever good the subject may do for readers because I’m not the only one who’s run into issues in which the cold air intake pipe will smack a hard-line to the master brake cylinder when hitting bumps or during heavy braking. When this happens the feedback can be felt through the brake pedal and it is very annoying. Lots of people confuse it for issues with their brake booster and such. Some companies include a bracket with their CAI kits to prevent this. The Forge “Wintake” did not so I just fashioned my own using some basic items from the hardware store and taking advantage of the unused bolt hole that VW kindly provided on the factory battery tray. So if you are reading this and you have strange vibrations through your brake pedal under heavy braking or especially when on bumpy roads, it might be your CAI pipe smacking your master cylinder…


Integrated Engineering Billet Aluminum Valve Cover & Catch Can Kit

This was probably one of my more lavish and unnecessary purchases, but only in retrospect. At the time that I installed the IE billet aluminum valve cover (which necessitated a different catch can setup than what was my current BSH setup), I had a practical reason for doing so. Sometime in early 2017 my motor began developing the classic rapid oil burn issue that the FSI platforms are known for (to the tune of 1 liter per 1K miles, or worse, depending on how I drive – more boost means more burn). I am going to discuss the several different causes of rapid oil burn on the FSI in detail later on under the “Miscellaneous Maintenance” heading, but for now I will just say that I had already ruled out a couple of the simpler causes and the next cheapest/easiest one to rule out was the valve cover itself. This is because the factory valve cover for the FSI motor has an internal plate/seal that is designed to prevent oil from inside the head from being sucked into the passageway/channel that travels from the front PCV to through the valve cover (internally) and back to the rear PCV. If this internal plate/seal fails then the pressure in the PCV system will suck oil into it and down through your boost loop. What oil remains after it passes through the turbo and intercooler will burn up on your intake valves.

So, that said, I was facing getting a new valve cover as my next step to continue ruling things out. I basically figured I may as well upgrade it to the IE billet aluminum one because it completely deletes the front PCV and rear PCV locations, thus eliminating any possibility of the issue I explained above.

The IE valve cover functions only as a valve cover and, therefore, requires rerouting of the PCV and catch can setup quite a bit, hence why IE has a version of their catch can kit that is designed for their valve cover too. It is worth noting that if you already have a basic catch can setup for the factory valve cover then switching over to the IE valve cover does not necessarily require you to buy their catch can setup specifically for their valve cover; you can absolutely customizing your existing setup with parts from the auto store. This would entail finding the proper AN fittings/joints/junctions, hoses, clamps, etc. to run a hose from the IE valve cover outlet on the top and another from the top of the oil filter housing assembly together into a T-junction with a outlet hose that then runs to the catch can; the catch can then has an outlet hose that runs to the turbo inlet (where the factory rear PCV breather used to connect).

I decided it would be much simpler and look much cleaner to pony up the money and just buy the IE catch can setup.

You’re probably wondering if my oil burning issue was resolved… NOPE. But I had to find out if the factory valve cover was the issue one way or the other and this was the most surefire way to do so and also upgrade to one that I could more readily trust to hold up long-term to the increased heat and pressure that would result from the eventually turbo upgrade that I was planning for eventually. Without further ado, here are some pics…



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BSH Heatshield For CAI & Engine Bay Cosmetics

I wanted to replace the teeny factory heatshield between the exhaust manifold and Forge CAI with a larger and nicer looking heatshield so I picked up the BSH powdercoated heatshield which probably does a marginally better job at deflecting heat from the CAI due to its larger size (it stretches all the way back to the firewall). The effects of these kind of heat shields are probably not all that significant; the engine bay is going to get hot and parts are going to heatsoak when you come to a stop regardless. I did not test before-and-after intake air temps so I don’t know if this BSH heatshield makes any difference at all but it can’t hurt. I imagine it would be quite a bit more effective to wrap the CAI pipe in heat reflective wrap, which I will likely do in the near future.

I also picked up the Porsche 911 coolant reservoir cap and an ECS black anodized aluminum oil dipstick to clean up the engine bay a bit. The blue factory coolant reservoir cap and orange factory dipstick are quite distracting. The dipstick tube itself remains orange and I may paint it at some point but it isn’t nearly as noticeable/distracting as the dipstick itself was. I’m not generally one for cosmetics which is why it took me awhile to get around to these but eventually some things need to be done haha.

The coolant reservoir cap and the oil dipstick can be seen in the pics from the above section about the IE valve cover/catch can setup. The BSH heatshield can be seen installed below


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Magnetic Drain Plugs for Engine Oil Pan and Transmission Drain Port

These hardly warrant a section, I’m just mentioning them because of my dedication to being comprehensive in this build thread. May as well not ruin it now. I think the purpose of these is pretty clear, the magnets help pull out tiny metal shavings in the oil from normal engine/trans wear so that they don’t get circulated and cause additional wear. I bought Dimple brand magnetic drain plugs that I read about on Ryan Jacob’s build thread. They are supposed to use much stronger magnets than your average cheap magnetic drain plugs. I tested this and it appears to be true. How big of a difference this really makes in the application itself is hard to say. It can’t hurt and they definitely do pull stuff out of the oil. Whatever good they can do is worth the few extra bucks.


Vantrue N2 Front/Rear Dash Camera & Power Management System

I eventually picked up a dash camera. There are no shortage of reasons for having a dash cam on-board; not only can you record those more adventurous drives and hang on to them but obviously it is very useful to have something that can prove irrefutably that you were not at fault in an accident or that somebody hit-and-ran in a parking lot or similar.

To be able to perform well in all these scenarios the dash cam would need to having a “parking mode” (motion/sound triggered recording while car is off), have as close as possible to 360 degree coverage, have high resolution recording, and have decent night vision. It would also have to be fairly inconspicuous and be able to be wired stealthily. Lastly, there would need to be a system in place that would prevent the cars battery from being drained past a certain point when the car is parked and the dash cam is set to record events (motion or sound triggered).

The Vantrue N2 camera, paired with the VicoVation Power Plus management system, were the perfect answers to all of these needs. The Vantrue has a forward and rearward facing camera on the same device/body (not a separate secondary rearward camera like many others). This was a large part of why I chose this camera; I did not want to tear up my perfect-condition headliner to run power cables to separate camera in the rear of the car. Another advantage to the rearward facing camera being on the dash cam itself is that it gives a much wider degree of recording coverage from that location since it can see out the side windows too. The downside, though, is that it doesn’t have quite as good of a view out the rear windshield, but it is still perfectly sufficient to prove if someone was driving recklessly behind you or to have a recording of your friend eating your dust in a race hahaha.

The Vantrue also records in 1440p resolution (if only front camera is enabled) and 1080p resolution if both are enabled. The camera records at 30 frames per second. These are pretty great recording specs for a little camera. I’ll say that preferably the FPS would be 60 instead of 30 but that would be asking a lot. Not many dash cameras record at 60 FPS and the ones that do are even more expensive than this one already is and don’t have some of the other features I liked. It also features infrared night vision. The quality of the night vision is not phenomenal but it is definitely sufficient.

The intelligent “parking mode” allows the camera to detect motion (it is very sensitive and accurate to the slightest movement at surprisingly long distances) and also detect sound or vibrations near the car. Any of these events trigger the camera to record front and rear video for a configurable duration of time.

The camera itself installs via a little attachment that clamps to the back of the rearview mirror (which I bought separately) and can be powered by one of two ways. It can be powered by the cigarette outlet on the center console or, for a cleaner install, it can be hardwired to the nearest fuse box using add-a-fuses or similar methods to wire it to an empty fuse slot with constant power (for the parking mode) and accessory power (for normal recording mode when car is being used). I elected to hardwire mine without hesitation because having a loose cord going to the cigarette outlet would have driven me nuts. Before I got the VicoVation Power Plus power management system I had purchased a cheaper power management in the form of a little guy that I wired in-line between the camera and the fuse slot for constant power. The device was designed simply to cut power to the camera if the car battery drops below 11.8V so that if I have the camera’s parking mode enabled in a place where there is a lot of movement, triggering it to record very often, it won’t kill the battery. However, I found out the next time I went to detail my car while having lazily left parking mode on that the cheapo power management device did not work, or perhaps 11.8V was too low for the battery to have enough juice to turn the car over. Some light research suggested that 11.8V would be okay but that’s not definitive. Plus I have an AGM battery and they tend to run higher voltages. So… enter the VicoVation Power Plus. This unit allows for configurable voltage cut-off so I could now cut power to the camera if the battery dips below whatever voltage I want (12.2v is now my go-to). It also has temperature sensors which allow for power cut-off at a configurable temperature which is handy in the Summer. It features some other configurable settings like a timer too. Most importantly though, it has a toggle switch that allows you to switch on constant power or cut if off. This means that instead of screwing around with the tiny buttons on the camera itself to turn parking mode on or off I can just leave it on all the time and flip a switch on the VicoVation device to control whether parking mode is on or off. So if I’m parking in the garage at home or where I trust people I just leave it off, whereas if I am parking at a store or elsewhere I just throw a switch and get on my way.

I strongly prefer mechanical work to electrical work but this installation was straightforward and pretty impossible to get wrong as long as you have some basic electrical know-how. Basically, you mount the camera, tuck the power wire into a space under the headliner along the windshield to the driver’s side A-pillar, remove A-pillar and run the wire down through a gap in the dash down to the driver’s side fuse box in the dash, connect the male cigarette plug to female cigarette plug adapter (included with VicoVation unit), then wire the VicoVation power wires and ground to respective fuse slots (constant and accessory) and a ground source. DO NOT: try to eliminate the bulky cig plug adapter unit and wire the camera directly to the VicoVation line because the camera takes 5V and the power line into the VicoVation is for 12V (hence the cig adapter). I ALMOST made that move because the adapter is chunky and harder to stuff away securely in the fuse box but luckily I had that epiphany before I snipped anything! I don’t think the install necessitates more than that as far as a DIY goes but I’ll post pictures of some of the steps during the install (this is one of the only things I remembered to take pictures of during install!)…


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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Miscellaneous Maintenance & Troubleshooting


***Note: This post does not fit into an exact chronological time-frame as I frankly forget when exactly I did most of the below; these miscellaneous maintenance and troubleshooting items occurred over the course of the last few years




Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Pump Filter, and Control Module

This was a good example of maintenance/replacements I did 100% preventatively, not because I had any actual issues. I don’t have any DIY pictures; I only bring it up as a means to inform people of a few things.

Firstly, the older revisions of LPFP control module for the FSI platforms and early TSI platforms is well-known to inevitably fail. In fact, in case you missed the memo from VW, there is a recall on this part and it can be replaced for free. However, that recall wasn’t issued until a couple years after I did this maintenance. I replaced the LPFP control module with the newer revision which is a bit more robust, internally, and has a heat-sink on it, externally, because the killer of this part is heat. It heats up naturally by virtue of the current running through it but more so because it is trapped under the rear seats where there is no airflow and little space for heat to escape.

I also replaced the LPFP itself as well as the fuel filter. For those readers with B6 Passats, your filter is actually integrated with the LPFP itself. The assembly consists of a separate upper half and lower half that are combined together within the fuel tank. The pump and a majority of the componentry is in the lower half and the filter unit is integrated into the upper half. For Mk5 platforms the upper half contains very little as the filter is NOT integrated into the upper half; rather, the filter is in-line post-fuel pump. Hopefully this picture makes that clearer to see.


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If you’re having fueling issues, fuel related CELs, or similar, and you suspect the issues stem from the low pressure fuel side then the way you can confirm this is by logging data via VCDS or similar. Ideally your low pressure fuel supply should be between 5 – 6.5bar at idle and able to sustain the same pressure range at wide-open throttle and high RPM fuel demands. If the pressure is any lower than 5bar this is suboptimal and fuel supply related issue may occur. If the LPFP duty cycle is over 90% to supply suboptimal or even lower end of the optimal pressure range then you have a slowly failing LPFP, a weakening LPFP control module, or a clogged up fuel filter. The sensor that reports low pressure side fuel pressure is on the HPFP and reads the pressure supplied before it is increased substantially by the HPFP. This means that if your low pressure fuel supply is suboptimal then ANY of the parts I’ve mentioned could be the culprits. Starting with the LPFP control module is generally the best idea as it is the easiest to replace and does not involve opening the gas tank. The fuel filter is usually the next best idea, followed by the pump itself lastly since it is the most expensive part by far.




Axles and Ball Joints

At somewhere around 80k miles my passenger side outer axle boot developed a small tear and started slinging some grease onto my suspension components, wheels, and a bit on my calipers. Axles are pricey and at the time I was between jobs so I wasn’t in the best position to be dropping several hundred bucks on replacements. I came up with an improvised solution in the meantime that you can see below which actually held up so well at containing the grease inside the boot that I was able to hold off for a few months.


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Again, I only bring up the subject because it is an opportunity to discuss axle replacement options. Right out of the gate I must point out that there is more to what makes a good (or even decent) axle than its strength, durability, and reliability. The axle must also be perfectly balanced in order for vibrations not to result during operation; if any particular area of the axle, from one end to the other, is lighter or heavier than OEM it can result in vibrations ranging from hardly noticeable to obnoxious, depending on how unbalanced the weight distribution is. It doesn’t matter if the axle weighs the same, overall, as an OEM axle, that weight has to be the same in all the same places as, obviously, the entire axle rotates.

Cheap axles like the ones you’d get at the local auto parts store typically do not pass muster on those criteria. Mid-tier products like Raxles may. I can’t speak from experience on those particular axles though so I won’t claim one way or the other. All I can say is there is too much disparity in experiences from people I know and in information online for me to have personally been comfortable buying Raxles. They have a good reputation as a company, but for this particular application there was too much disparity. Some of their products for other applications may be better. Top-tier products like those from Drive Shaft Shop are the only ones I would trust to be OEM-grade. Drive Shaft Shop makes very, very high end custom driveshaft components for some seriously impressive race car applications so I would have no problem trusting them to design a simple axle to the OEM weight/balance specification for an 02M/02Q VW transmission. Drive Shaft Shop boasts upgraded, stronger axles for this application. There are several “levels” they offer for varying levels of power. Their “level 2.9” axle is supposed to be rated for “500HP” but I have to take exception to using HP to as the measuring stick for durability because HP, technically, isn’t even real. HP is mathematically derived from torque, relative to a given RPM, and is therefore a theoretical figure. Torque, however, is a real and observable physical force. Torque is twisting force and, as such, any components that are subject to rotation – which is almost every component of the drivetrain and most components of the bottom-end of an engine – are subject to torque. Torque is the real measuring stick of what those components, including axles, can handle. But most aftermarket manufacturers rate their parts by HP anyway, which is unfortunate because it is more generalized and less accurate. In any event, the DSS level 2.9 axles are obviously strong and you’re probably thinking I bought those and recommend them because I went into all this detail but you’d be wrong.

I actually just replaced my axles with another pair of OEM (remanufactured) axles. A remanned axle is just as good as a brand new one. VW will only use axles that are in perfect physical condition and just need rebuilt axle boots for a reman so it’s almost exactly the same as if the parts were greased and booted new from the factory… except you pay less. I was able to get OEM remanned axles for around $850 (including a $350 core charge) and then ship my used ones back for a return of that $350. After shipping I spent about $550 on the pair of axles which is fair. But here’s the main reason why I’d recommend getting OEM axles EVEN IF you have a pretty high-powered build… what a lot of people don’t realize is that the OEM axles are actually very strong! The previous generation of VWs with the previous generation of transmission (the 02J) were pretty notorious for weak axles that could NOT hold up to the torque output of bigger turbo upgrades, even K04 turbos in some cases. That is absolutely not the case for the OEM axles for 02M/02Q transmissions. The OEM axle here is well known to hold up to around 450 ft-lbs of torque for plenty of time as long as they are not being utterly abused with frequent/hard launches. I know a laundry list of guys running more powerful setups then my own current GTX2867R setup on OEM axles. So the OEM axles are basically as strong, or nearly as strong, as the DSS level 2.9 axles. In fact, the OEM axles are so well known for their robustness on higher-power builds that I have to call into question just what separates the DSS level 2.9 axles from the OEM; I have to wonder if they aren’t pretty much the same. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure either way. It may come as a surprise but, for once, I didn’t do a deep dive for info from the manufacturer to figure out what’s special about the DSS level 2.9 product other than that it comes from a company with a good name for custom work. I was content to just save myself $450 over the DSS axles and buy the OEM remanned axles. Moral of the story, unless you have a very high-powered build pushing over 450CTQ (which would mean likely over 500BHP) then you don’t need to seriously consider anything other than OEM axles.


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I also replaced my ball joints at the same time I replaced the axles but there isn’t much to say on those. Went with OEM as well. I considered SuperPro replacements since they allow a small amount of adjustable camber and since I don’t have camber plates I still had no adjustability to camber in the front. However, I’m not looking for much negative camber and the -1 to -1.5 degrees in the front that I have as-is is sufficient for my purposes and preferences. Also, word on the street is that the SuperPro ball joints don’t fit with ST-40 calipers anyway.


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Oil Filter Housing Assembly and Oil Cooler Gaskets

The oil filter housing assembly – specific to the FSI platform – is the multifunctional part that bolts to the engine block and, in turn, has the oil cooler and the oil filter housing itself attached to it. The oil filter housing assembly also has the oil separator integrated into it at the top, where a PCV breather hose runs from the assembly up to the front PCV (on cars with factory PCV), to a PCV adapter plate for cars with standard valve cover and catch can, or straight to the to the catch can on cars without a standard valve cover (like mine).

This is an item most folks have to do at some point if they own their B6 Passat/Mk5 FSI platform long enough. The gaskets fail and/or the oil filter housing assembly itself warps slightly over time from frequent hot-to-cold/expansion and contraction cycles from normal operation. I had only a very small amount of oil seepage from the bottom-right (driver’s side) corner of mine. Due to the cost of an OEM oil filter housing assembly I took a gamble and only replaced the gaskets, not the housing itself, because I was fairly sure the housing was not warped. Thankfully I was correct. My research showed that the aftermarket, much more affordable oil filter housing assemblies are not to be trusted.

There’s not much more to say on this subject because I think just about everything else to be said is covered in the below thread where I did actually write and post a DIY. Myself and some other forums regulars weigh in on the subject their so it is a good source of info.

https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8968905-Any-DIY-s-on-replacing-oil-filter-housing-cooler-on-Mk5-GTI-FSI




Hunting the Cause of Oil Burning

If you’re reading this far into my build thread chances are you already know that the FSI, and to a lesser extent the TSI, platform has a serious drinking problem. These cars love to burn up oil. Even absolutely meticulously maintained cars like mine eventually succumb to this issue. The amount of oil burn ranges drastically from barely noticeable to enough that you need to add 1L of oil every 1K miles. In extreme cases I’ve heard of it being even worse than that. VW says that up to 1L per 1K miles is “normal”. In a way they are right, it has become normal. But that’s only because of just how many different sources of the issue there are, at least on the FSI (which I know better). Almost every FSI is bound to develop this issue at some point. So, yeah, it has become normal but it definitely shouldn’t be normal. While I generally try not to presume to know better than VW, in this case I think they are full of it when they say it is normal and they know it is not normal, nor should it be.

Anyway, the silver lining is that aside from burning a hole in your wallet and requiring you to be very diligent about topping off your oil, the issue is fairly innocuous. Most of the causes of this issue do not have any major side-effects (with some exceptions as you will see). Below are THE 5 causes of noticeable oil burn on the FSI motor (I can’t speak authoritatively on the TSI motor).

1) Bad front PCV: failing check valves within the front PCV (it has two) can result in the PCV behaving differently than intended under boost and vacuum which may result in greater quantities of oil being pulled through the PCV system.

2) Bad valve cover internal splash plate/seal: this seal, which is integral to the FSI valve cover, separates the open space of the head from the pass-through channel from the front PCV to the rear PCV breather that routes though the valve cover. If this seal fails oil from the head will be sucked into the PCV tract.

3) Bad turbo oil seal: pretty much self-explanatory

4) Bad intake valve stem guides/seals: oil will be allowed to leak through to areas of the engine it shouldn’t be and burn-up; if this is the cause of your oil burn and IF you have a catch can installed you may find that the contents of your catch can is almost straight oil because the oil will leak down only to be pulled in by the lowest portion of the PCV system that doubles off of the oil filter housing assembly unit with a breather hose routing back up to the valve cover (or straight to the catch can if you have an aftermarket valve cover). In either case the next place the oil goes is into the catch can. Whereas on a factory setup it does not.

5) Bad piston oil control rings (NOT compression rings): let’s be clear, there are different kinds of piston rings. When piston rings lead to oil burning that is an indicator of oil control ring failure first. It does not mean the main piston rings (compression rings) are failing so it does not mean performance loss or noticeable misbehavior of the engine. It also does not mean your engine is going to fail soon. It can lead expedite piston wear but it is not an immediate or even near-term death sentence unless the oil control ring leakage is pretty severe.


Most often oil burn is a result of #1 or #2, if disappearing oil is your only sign. If you had #3 you'd know it and you'd have a lot of blue smoke from the exhaust under heavy throttle. Also your turbo would be on very borrowed time and possibly start developing some unsettling noises due to suboptimal lubrication. You may also notice blue smoke under throttle with #5, depending on the severity. So if you rule out #1 and #2, then #4 is the most likely after those. #4 is quite common too. So, basically, if you have oil burning issues replace the front PCV and replace the valve cover with a new one. If neither works then expect #4.

I’m positive the source of my oil burning is #4. I’ve ruled everything else out. It’s been going on for 2 years now (out of 5 years of ownership) and has worsened slowly. When I first noticed the issue was developing I was only adding about 0.5L between oil changes (every 5K miles). Now I’m adding about 2L every 5K miles. In the case of all of the 5 causes I outlined, the harder you drive the car the worse the oil burning rate will be. There is a very noticeably higher burn rate if you drive at high RPMs and high boost often, due to the nature of the failures/mode of the oil loss.

I have accepted this and just keep my oil topped off religiously. It will get dealt with inherently when I do an R&R on my head and build my motor. I’m basically just waiting for the right time.




Monitoring Gearbox Troubles & Gear Oil Selection Info

A few years back I did the first gear oil change, pretty much just because. I ordered OEM gear oil, drained the old gear oil (looked fine), put the new gear oil in, done. Then two weeks later I happened to realize that the gear oil I ordered wasn’t technically the correct type. It was OEM VW gear oil but somehow it was incorrectly listed for my car on the site I ordered it from. I rushed to get the right gear OEM gear oil to replace the technically incorrect gear oil. I was absolutely appalled at what I saw when I drained the technically incorrect gear oil after only 500 miles of driving… there was a ton of small brass flecks in the oil. I call them “flecks” because they were quite fine, definitely not “shavings” by any means. Confirmed not just by color but by the fact that the flecks were not magnetic (brass is not magnetic).


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I told myself: “alright this definitely doesn’t look good but only so much damage could have occurred to the gear syncros in 500 miles, so I’ll just put this correct OEM gear oil in. Run if for another 500 – 1000miles and then to a hot drain to flush out any remaining brass and I’ll be good to go.”

Wellll… it looked exactly the same the next time I drained out the CORRECT gear oil. There was no less brass, in fact possibly more. I thought I was screwed.

Fast forward 3 years and it is still happening. I’ve drained my gear oil 4 times since then, 2 of which were more CORRECT OEM gear oil and 2 of which were with other brands (more on that later), and with increasingly long intervals between drains, and I still have the same amount of brass in the oil every time. And yet I have absolutely no issues with the transmission shifting, gear engagement, etc. It hasn’t changed one bit, it is flawless.

This is one of the only things I have experienced in my time developing this car that I simply cannot explain to this day. It has gotten to the point where I question whether what I see really is brass even though it so plainly is. I just can’t fathom how that much wear could not result in issues, yet I also can’t fathom what else it could be if it isn’t brass (and the fact that there was none in the first drain of gear oil I ever did, prior to putting in the incorrect gear oil). To make thinks even more convoluted, I later found out after intense research that the “incorrect” gear oil I ran for 500 miles was very nearly the same gear oil as the “correct” oil in all of its properties. So while it was technically not correct, part number for part number, it was hardly any different and it was totally fine that I ran it for a couple weeks. So using that gear oil couldn’t have even been the catalyst for this issue. The whole thing is bizarre and there is too much discrepancy to make a conclusion.

At this point I’ve just let it go completely. Even though it looks like there is clearly a problem, there is clearly NOT a problem because my gearbox hasn’t changed behavior one bit in those 3 years.

I’ll use this section as an opportunity to share my advice on gear oil selection, which comes from both experience and loads of research (as always). First things first, VW specifies 75W-90 gear oil for their 02M/02Q gear boxes which comes across as pretty disingenuous when their own gear oil which is supposedly a 75W-90 is actually nothing even close to that viscosity. In fact, it is about half the viscosity. Just like with my engine oil, I have sampled several of my gear oil drains to send to Blackstone labs for analysis, including both OEM and non-OEM gear oils, and the OEM gear oil ranges about 6-7cst whereas the typical, real 75W-90 gear oil ranges between 12-15cst. You can tell it is thinner just by shaking it around in a bottle compared to a real 75W-90. So one might think that the OEM gear oil is to be avoided since it is so thin but every one of the millions of 02M/02Qs on the road with owners that don’t care to maintain their cars that well and haven’t had their gear oil changed once in well over 100K miles would beg to differ. While I’ll admit that the OEM gear oil is worryingly thin, it is a good gear oil and the proof is in the pudding as they say. While I don’t fully buy into VW’s lifetime factory fill claim for their gear oil and I wouldn’t let it go forever, I do concur that somehow despite its viscosity it is a long-term gear oil and VW knows best of all what to put in their gearboxes.

And with that said there is pretty much no reason to buy an actual 75W-90 from an aftermarket brand. Because about the only reason you would do so is for increased lubricity and wear prevention even under high heat, if you feared that the OEM gear oil would be getting so thin it would be sacrificing wear prevention when it gets hot enough (which causes it to get even thinner). But we’ve pretty much established that is somehow not a concern for the surprisingly thin OEM gear oil. Its effectiveness must just come down to its chemistry (which I have zero qualifications to comment on), since the physical observations like viscosity clearly aren’t as significant as one might think in its case. Want a couple more reasons NOT to buy actual 75W-90? Well, if it gets remotely cold where you live you’ll have terrible, notchy shifts in the Winter until the gear oil heats up and thins out. I found this out first hand when I briefly gave Amsoil MTG 75W-90 a try. Also, technically, thicker gear oil means more resistance for gearbox parts which, technically, means an impact on transmission output; emphasis on technically because this is truly just a technicality and in any practical circumstances, outside of the most extreme race car considerations, this would not matter nor be remotely noticeable.

However, if the thinness of the OEM gear oil just scares you anyway OR if you track your car and expose it to extreme heat and demands that could possibly froth a thin gear oil at high RPMs, resulting in poor lubricity, then you could settle for a middle ground. I’ve been using Redline MTL 75W-80 which Blackstone reports a viscosity of about 10cst for. This is a good middle ground that does not result in notchy shifts ever and will not be incredibly thin when it heats up like the OEM gear oil would. I’ve been satisfied with it for the last 1.5 years.




Turbo Wastegate Preload Issues & Loose Exhaust Manifold

Somewhere around 2 years ago, when I was still on the factory K03 turbo and APR Stage 2+ tune, I ran into an issue that perplexed me for awhile but that I ultimately traced down to an issue with the turbo internal wastegate actuator system and was able to solve by adjusting the preload on the actuator rod/arm. Generally speaking you do not want to mess with the preload for the wastegate actuator but in certain circumstances you may. You just need to be sure they are the right circumstances and that you know what you’re doing. For both of those, it is absolutely critical that you have a very quality data-logger like VCDS because you’ll be relying on it completely to diagnose whether you need to adjust the preload at all and to dial in your adjustments properly.

This will be a rare case where I save my fingers some typing and just provide you with a link to one of my other threads because I have explained this in the utmost detail already on another thread. In this thread I discuss proper data-logging techniques, data interpretation (specifically regarding boost curves and boost control behavior), wastegate actuator principles, and plenty more. Seriously, if you have any interest in learning how to log and interpret logs for boost data then it’s worth a read. The thread starts off with me on the hunt to figure out the nature of the issue (which wound of being two separate issues) because I opened the thread as a diagnosis thread, not a knowledge-base thread, at first. So follow the directions at the TOP of the first post in bold font in the link below, it will give you an overview and direct you to the correct post to skip all the stuff you don’t need to read and get to the good stuff later in the thread.

https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8740569-Strange-zip-whistle-ish-noise-from-around-throttle-pedal-during-throttle-blips-(rev-match)-and-sputtering-noise-at-WOT-only-Seemingly-NO-boost-loss-or-vac-leak!


The second, separate issue which was a bizarre zippy, whistling noise that occurred during brief throttle inputs (such as when rev matching downshifts), turned out to be an exhaust manifold leak. There were literally no other symptoms, no typical symptoms of an exhaust leak, especially not one as large as I found. I wound up, by luck, feeling around and finding out that I had a loose exhaust manifold stud and another one completely missing. Got a new stud and new bolts, tightened everything down and that took care of that issue. Not much more to say there. Nothing to wax eloquent on for this one.




ST-40 Caliper Rebuild

Last year, in prep for track season, I rebuilt my ST-40 calipers that I originally purchased used from Ryan Jacobs, aka HYDE16. They were almost 3 years old when I bought them from him and almost another 3 years old by now so I figured a rebuild was in order, especially since both Ryan and I used them heavily.

When it comes to rebuilding OEM style slider calipers I’ve heard mixed things. Some techs say they don’t advise it because rebuilds have a decent chance of failing. Not necessarily upfront either; just not lasting. I’m frankly not sure how much truth there is to that. Other techs and folks I know have done it plenty of times with no issues. But there can be no disputing that rebuilding a race caliper like the ST-40 is not only completely intended but also quite easy, by design. I should emphasize that it is easy if you have the right tools, whereas it can be a massive PITA and probably go bad if you don’t. This is absolutely one of those jobs that demands the right stuff. For starters you obviously need replacement pressure seals, which go inside the piston bores and seal in the brake fluid, and replacement dust boots, which go in at the top of the bore and keep brake dust and debris from getting inside the bore and damaging the pressure seals/pistons. You typically do NOT need replacement pistons unless you suspect one is damage (typically only possible from overheating from track use or from being scratched if a dust boot completely fails).

Otherwise you’ll just need proper brake parts cleaner and brake parts assembly lube (it is important you use brake parts assembly lube NOT brake fluid or generic lube for the pressure seals and pistons). Finally, you’ll need a race caliper spreader, wood working clamps (more on that in a minute), and compressed air. Those are the more rare items that not everyone has but which make or break the job.

After removing the calipers from the car the first thing you’ll do is use the race caliper spreader (just a caliper spread that can contact and spread all pistons at once because you can’t retract one piston at a time without another sticking out more). You’ll use it to retract all the pistons into their bores at once so that remaining brake fluid inside comes out the hole where the brake line bolts to. This is so that during a later step, involving the compressed air, you don’t have a bunch of brake fluid flying out at terminal velocity. So at this point the calipers should look like this:


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Next you’ll use one of these wood working clamps which you can buy at most hardware stores. Avoid the plastic ones, they may not be strong enough. Opt for the ones with metal frame and slides like this one:


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If you have a 4-piston caliper like my ST-40s then you’ll need 3 of those because at any given time you’ll be clamping down 3 of the 4 pistons while you blow out the 4th with compressed air. Since these clamps will be clamping onto the caliper body you’ll want ones with soft pads on the clamp ends so they don’t mar your finish. Setup will look like this:


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Then you’ll use your compressed air gun with a nozzle on the end to fit it tightly to the hole on the caliper where the brake line bolts to. And, yes, if you hadn’t realized earlier, I wasn’t talking about the compressed air cans, I meant an actual air compressor. The end result will look like this when they are all pushed out far enough that you can pull them out by hand. It is a good idea to put a brake pad or something like that right in front of the piston that is going to be popped out at any given time because it will come out with extreme force. WATCH YOUR FINGERS!


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I don’t have any more pictures for the rest, but that this point you’re basically just going to remove the pressure seals from the bores and then use a fine mechanics pick to pick out any baked on remnants of the pressure seals from the groove they sit in within the bore. If you don’t do this the pressure seals will not seat perfectly flush and the pistons will not install correctly later OR they will tear the new pressure seals while trying to re-install the pistons. Next you thoroughly clean the bores. If they are particularly dirty use brake parts cleaner, if they are not then use a clean, lint-free cloth to clean them out. Then you remove the old dust boots from the pistons, clean the pistons thoroughly, and lube them with brake parts assembly lube (do not get it on the dust boot though). Lastly, you lube the new pressures seals with the same assembly lube, install them nice and flush into their grooves, and then slide the pistons back in all the way. The pistons should slide in with minimal effort from only two fingers. You should NOT have to push hard or use any tools to slide them back in. If you do then you didn’t lubricate the seals correctly or you didn’t clean their grooves out enough so they seals are not as flush as they should. If you persist with trying to ram the pistons down you will damage the pressure seals.

That’s about it. You may be wondering how I can give such specific recommendations… well, I forgot to clean out the pressure seal grooves at first and had exactly the issue I just described so take my advise if you actually find yourself doing this rebuild on a similar caliper. And, again, don’t bother trying to do this without access to an air compressor and the proper tools to keep the other pistons clamped down.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
A Definite Turning Point


***Note: Late Spring 2018…




Rear Suspension Upgrades

I figure it’s about time to kick-off a post with some picture heavy content instead of a bunch of blabbing. I’ll just highlight what I did with the rear suspension briefly. I gutted the entire rear suspension, including subframe, all at once to install Powerflex race density (90A) rear lower control arm polyurethane bushings and race density (90A) rear trailing arm polyurethane bushings, as well as 034 Motorsport adjustable rear upper control arms w/ 90A polyurethane bushings and 034 Motorsport adjustable rear toe arms w/ 90A polyurethane bushings. Actually that’s not technically true because originally I installed Spulen adjustable rear toe arms w/ pillow-ball spherical bearings instead of the 034 Motorsport adjustable rear toe arms so you will notice the Spulen toe arms in the pics below. I did this only because the 034 Motorsport toe arms were on back-order at the time and I was not being patient. A few months later I replaced the Spulen toe arms with the 034 Motorsport toe arms. I did that for 2 reasons: firstly, bearings are notorious for getting noisy eventually and requiring service – admittedly in can take awhile – but I wanted to get ahead of that and, secondly, I wanted consistency across all parts in terms of stiffness and allowable deflection, which the 034 Motorsport rear toe arms w/ 90A poly bushings accomplished. These are nitpicks and frankly I probably could have left the Spulen for who knows how long, but my OCD got the better of me.

While I had everything off I cleaned it all up with solvents and wire-wheeling (where applicable) and painted everything that was stock with gloss black paint (yes I know the paint job turned out pretty **** haha).

I’ll share my impressions afterward; let’s get to the pics…


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As you can probably tell from the pics, some of those bolts were very stubborn and quite corroded. Heat and PB blaster were my friends for this job, but even so I had one of the eccentric bolts for the lower control arms start to shear on me. I had to angle grind the head off the bolt and then punch out the other end. It earned its place on my shelf along with the M14 triple square rear caliper carrier bolt I mentioned in an earlier post.

As for the mods themselves, well there isn’t really all that much to be said. I didn’t buy the 034 Motorsports parts for the adjustability frankly. There’s plenty of alignment adjustability in the rear from the factory so the additional adjustability range is just a bonus. No, the reason did all these installs was primarily just to stiffen up the rear end and get rid of the slop that exists due to soft, voided factory bushings. These mods certainly accomplished that. The rear in feels much tighter and more composed in cornering, but most importantly it isn’t vague anymore; I can actually feel what it is doing. I don’t think that these mods inherently made the rear end capable of being chucked around corners any faster than before. Rather, they give me the ability to better feel what the rear end is doing and, therefore, have better confidence and ability to chuck the rear end around a corner faster. So they don’t inherently improve cornering speed, they grant the driver the attributes needed to be comfortable and controlled with higher cornering speeds.

The rear end is surprisingly quiet in all conditions and situations except when it is cold out. But pretty much all poly bushings squeak when it is cold out. I barely drive the car in the Winter anyway so this is of little concern to me, personally.




Track Alignment

I’ll mention my preferred alignment specs (for alignment geared towards spirited street and track driving) but first I should cover what exactly the alignment specs represent and what they accomplish depending on how they are set, because I find that this is something a lot of people pretend to or genuinely think they understand well but really don’t.

Toe: Let’s start with toe. Toe is arguably the most important alignment spec, especially for a FWD car. Strategic toe adjustments have the ability to greatly change the handling of a car for turning into corners, mid-corner steering and throttle input, drag levels on straights, and tire wear. Toe basically gets involved in everything. I’ll primarily focus on the effects of toe on the front/driven wheels, but a majority of the same principles apply for the rear wheels. Toe-in (or positive toe) is when the front point of the tires point inward, towards one another, and toe-out (or negative toe) is the opposite. VW factory specifications call for slightly positive toe. That’s because cars with a bit of positive front toe tend to track straight even with slight steering inputs, so essentially this popular specification choice for street cars is a safety measure for drivers. However, this is counterproductive for performance driving because it means the car is less eager during turn-in and requires more steering input with less feedback through the wheel. On the flip-side, negative toe makes the car more eager and responsive during turn-in and steering inputs. Too much toe out, however, makes the car overly eager to initiate changes of direction and even the slightest input in the steering wheel will do a lot more than you expect it will.

I experienced this first hand right after I performed all the above suspension work because my rear end had significant toe-out (about -2 degrees) on each side and it was almost dangerous to drive. Granted no-one in their right mind would have that much negative toe, ever, but I'm using the example to illustrate the point. With that much negative toe, the back end wanted to step out of line of the front-end in virtually any scenario other than going in a perfectly straight line, and even then I could feel it wanting to go somewhere else. I can’t imagine how bad it would be with that much front toe-out.

So as you can see, as with most things, toe specifications are a balance. You don’t want too much of either. And to further illustrate that point, I should point out that everything I just told you about toe is completely the opposite once you are in HARD cornering (so we’re talking most likely just on the track now). That’s because under HARD cornering your inside tire is unloaded significantly and its role in the behavior of the car now, from an alignment standpoint, is minimal. Now it’s the alignment spec of your outside tire that matters and if the outside tire has toe-in then it will now be more resistant to understeering through the corner and be more responsive to steering input, whereas when both tires are fully planted it has the opposite characteristics. The reverse is also true for toe-out when the outside tire is the one that is under a majority of the load/contact patch with the road.

And that is why most FWD track car drivers prefer to have their toe zeroed out. While toe can be used to change many characteristics of how the car behaves in cornering and even how it puts the power down under cornering (particularly important for cars that steer and put power down with the same tires), ultimately there are always cons to having one or the other, toe-in or toe-out. Zero toe avoids this and it also ensures one very important thing: zero toe means you won’t have drag on the straight which means you won’t be scrubbing speed potential and that is important for lap times.

Camber: Alright let’s talk camber now. I think most everyone knows what the camber alignment spec represents thanks to the kiddos who run obnoxious amounts of negative camber, not realizing (or perhaps not caring) that too much negative camber is terrible for performance driving. Simply put, camber is the top of the tire leans towards the inward toward the car (negative camber) or outward away from the car (positive camber). It is highly uncommon to see positive camber. Most cars have a small amount of negative camber, up to -1 degree, from the factory.

Just like toe, the behavior and impact of camber is different when driving straight or lightly cornering compared to hard cornering. It’s only natural and logical since the suspension geometry itself is changing. Camber ultimately controls the amount of contact patch the tire has with the road surface. When driving straight, the tire has the most contact patch when camber is zeroed such that the wheel is completely perpendicular to the street. As soon as you begin cornering, especially cornering hard, that changes because the outside wheels gain positive camber while the inside wheels technically gain some negative camber, but during hard cornering the alignment of the inside wheels is not so important since they are unloaded compared to the outside wheels (same as in the toe explanation). This is why SOME degree of negative camber is desire-able because it will counteract the positive camber gain on the outside wheels when the car is leaning in a corner, with the idea being that during heavy cornering the outside wheels are actually relatively close to zero degrees of camber and thus the tire contact patch is the greatest it can be.

Of course you don’t want significant negative camber because then your contact patch in straights is very poor, which affects not only ability to put power down but also braking performance as the tires contact patch is critical to holding up to heavy braking too. For this reason, FWD track drivers typically have minimal negative camber in the front at -1 to -1.5 degrees max and a bit more in the rear. Rear camber angles range from -2 to -4 degrees absolute max. With some experimentation, I tend to now stick with about -2.5 to -3 degrees in the rear max. That’s because while what I said about the inside wheel alignment not mattering so much during heavy cornering was mostly true, it’s not entirely true. There does come a point where if you have so much negative camber (beyond -3 degrees) statically, then when that inside wheel gains even more negative camber from the car leaning into the hard corner, it is basically doing absolutely nothing and then ALL the demands are placed on the outside wheel/tire instead of a majority. That can overburden your rear end grip and you can have counterproductive rear-end handling and decreased grip in ALL scenarios.

Some advanced drivers leverage that tendency on purpose for FWD cars because they actually WANT the rear end to kick out. When the rear end kicks out enough that their front end is not pointed in the direction they want to head out of the corner then they punch the gas and if they have an LSD installed it will tend to pull them out of the corner in that direction. I do not currently have a LSD so I can’t take advantage of this strategy, but that’s coming eventually.

Caster: Finally, I’ll cover caster, though there isn’t as much to say here. Caster applies to the suspension behind the drive wheels and essentially is determined by the strut/shocks orientation; whether the top is more forward than the bottom (negative caster) or the top is tilted more rearward than the bottom (positive caster). VWs have quite a bit of positive caster, even compared to most other FWD cars. Mine is even more so due to the type of SuperPro bushings I have in my front lower controls arms (which I covered in post #9). I have about 8.5 degrees of positive caster. Positive caster essentially inhibits positive camber gain mid-corner, so it indirectly translates to better contact patch during cornering. It’s by far and away the least impactful of the 3 alignment specs.




Track Wheels/Tires

I had pretty strict criteria going into the search for a track wheel/tire set so my options were pretty narrowed down from the start. For starters, I was strongly against rolling my fenders to fit an especially wide setup because I am a big fan of the B6 Passat’s body lines as they are and I did not want to stand a chance of ruining them, nor of potentially cracking the beautiful paint. I also am not quite at the point where I’m entertaining or really interested in spending money on wider fenders or other significant body modifications so I had a certain maximum wheel width and offset to work with right from the get-go. Of course I also had maximum wheel weight (of 20lbs. / 9kg) in mind.

Additionally I had a pretty low budget in mind because, after all, these were going to be primarily track wheels and I tend to prefer spending more money on the rubber than the wheels anyway. So already my criteria were narrowing the options down.

Originally I was looking at 17x9” wheels. Particularly from a weight and dimensions standpoint those would have been ideal. However, there were two problems: firstly, I couldn’t find any 17x9” wheels that met my criteria and looked even halfway decent – and I wasn’t even being that picky about the looks considering these are track wheels – and secondly, the assortment of tire sizes for 17x9” wheels in the categories of tires I was looking at were lackluster. That latter point about tire selections is a massive factor in why I ultimately couldn’t go with 17x9”.

I started looking at 18x9”. There were a few options available that mostly met my criteria but not enough. Some were the right dimensions and weight but simply too expensive to justify. Others were affordable enough but not quite the dimensions and weight I needed.

Ultimately I settled on Motegi MR140 18x8.5 E.T 45mm, weighing in at 19lbs. (8.6kg.) each and costing only $650 for the entire set. These are a decent enough looking wheel and they hit all my criteria perfectly. There ONLY downside to these wheels is that being an 18x8.5” the absolute widest tire I can run is a 255 wide – which is fine in itself since that is most likely what I was going to get on the 18x9” anyway – but on the 18x8.5” the 255 wide is slightly bulgy instead of squared or slightly stretched which is preferred for performance driving.

No I don’t mean absurdly stretched like the kiddos do. I mean a slight, almost hard to notice, stretch. The reason for this is that a taught contact patch is more efficient at generating friction/heat and thus greater traction on the kind of tires run for track driving and racing than is a less taught contact patch. I deemed the slightly too wide 255 width tires on the 18x8.5” wheels more or less a non-issue though because in the end I still have a pretty large contact patch and the sidewalls of the kind of tires I was looking at are extremely stiff which means that despite these tires having a slight bulge they should hardly have any rollover under cornering, if at all.

On that note, the criteria I was considering for tires made the selection fairly straightforward as well. I wanted the absolute best performance I could get in a tire while still remaining street legal so that if on occasion I wanted/needed to use the tires on the street I could. I also had to consider that there are certain classing rules and stipulations for cars running non-street R-comp tires too. So for these reasons I was searching within the “max performance summer” tire category, the stickiest category of street-legal tire. In this category you’ll find legendary tires like the Bridgestone Potenza RE71, still considered the stickiest, best performing street tire of all-time, with good reason. In fact, some speculate that even though the tread compound is given a 200AA A treadwear rating, that the compound is closer to an R-comp. This is plausible as the RE71 wear incredibly fast, even compared to other tires in their category. That is the primary reason I did not go with those legendary tires; not only are they quite expensive, but they wear very fast, sometimes fast enough that you can’t get a full season out of them if you hit the track a handful of times.

I elected to go with the new Hankook Ventus R-S4, the successor to the very popular R-S3. I had never used the R-S4 at time of purchase, but all the research I did suggested that these tires could nearly match the dry performance of the RE71 but wear extremely well compared to any similar category tire. After using these tires for awhile now, I can attest to that fact personally. These tires might be rated as a 200AA A treadwear tire but they do not wear like one. That is because when the compound is not hot from heavy use it remains fairly hard and resistant to wear. Not surprisingly then, these tires need an extra-thorough warm-up lap to get some heat in them or they won’t perform nearly at their peak. What is incredibly surprising though, is that EVEN when they are heated up they still wear incredibly well; these tires are practically immortal to heat. Their outstanding dry traction even in the face of a low-wearing compound is accomplished, in part, by a very aggressive tread pattern/design, and therein lays the one concession this tire makes; they are dreadful in wet conditions. Standing water would be extremely dangerous and even a damp surface is not particularly safe with these tires. I was caught in the rain on them once and while I didn’t feel completely unsafe, my confidence was shaken and I had to be cautious. But how often does one really intend on running a tire like this in the rain anyway? For me, it’s a non-issue. I’ll take any max performance summer tire that can survive multiple track seasons and street driving and still give it all in dry performance, even if it means poor wet performance.

Anyway, without any further ado, here are some pics of the setup…


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Race Brake Pads & Fluid

I can keep this section pretty short because I’ve said basically everything there is to say on pads and fluid in post #8 under the headings “Notes About Pad Upgrades” and “Notes About Brake Fluid” where I discussed necessary details for considering both street and track applications.

I chose Porterfield R4 pads, the race pad version of the Porterfield R4-S pads I came to love for street use. Porterfield already provided the R4 in the proper pad dimensions for my ST-40 calipers but not in the right dimensions for my factory rear calipers; Porterfield was kind enough to do a made-to-order shipment with a very quick turnaround time.

Both through research, and now personal use, I can say that the Porterfield R4 race pads are a flexible pad in that they cover a lot of key areas and needs well without sacrificing much. Firstly, their optimum operating temperature range is 400F – 1450F (204C – 787C). This maximum temp. range is only marginally lower than some of the most hardcore race pads readily available, and still PLENTY high enough for heavy track use, whilst the minimum temp. range is a few hundred degrees lower than pretty much all other comparable race pads. That few hundred degrees makes a significant difference in how quickly these pads are ready for full stopping power compared to other race pads. These pads get up to temp very quickly. They also boast very consistent bite and performance throughout the entire heat range and at varying levels of braking force, making them predictable and easy to modulate. This comes at the expense of only one thing that SOME track drivers like; these pads don’t have a particularly hard initial bite. I personally prefer the consistent bite though because it means I can better predict when I need to get on and off the brakes than if my pads give a false sense of stopping distance by biting really hard initially and tapering off, but it comes down to personal preference.

The typical routine for a track day involves swapping the R4 pads in BEFORE I leave for the track so that the R4 pads, which on the street rarely get up to temp, will be operating in full abrasive mode (as described in post #8) and will clean the pad material deposits from my street pads off of the rotors prior to getting to the track. This is important for consistent performance of the R4 pads. All the tracks I go to are within 70 miles of either my place or a friends place in CT which isn’t enough to cause any significantly increased wear to the rotors, despite the fact that when the R4 pads are NOT up to temp. on the street they are harder than the rotors. If I had to travel much further than that I would swap the pads at the track and have to use a practice lap to polish the rotors with the R4 pads. After the track day I basically do the same in reverse; I drive back to my place or my buddies with the R4 pads on to polish off their own pad material deposits so the rotors are clean and ready to accept a new bed-in of pad material from the street pads after I swap them back on. I swap the track wheels/tires on at the track though typically, although considering how well the Ventus R-S4 tires wear this is really not necessary (a few hundred miles on the street is nothing to those tires).

As for fluid, I use Castrol SRF. As said in my post #8, Castrol SRF is king of track fluids for folks who don’t want to flush their fluid every or every other track event. That’s because it has an outstandingly high wet boiling point. Its dry boiling point is nothing to sneeze at either, although some higher tier Motul race fluids have higher dry boiling points. But if you don’t want to flush your fluid multiple times throughout the Summer the Castrol SRF is the way to go. It is very pricey, but if you buy from FCP Euro you can literally return the used brake fluid and get the same fluid new for free. They literally let you warranty used brake fluid and get replacements, so you can essentially buy Castrol SRF once and have a lifetime supply. They are based out of CT so while I was up there for track season I stopped by and they explained that this business model pretty much only works because it keeps customer loyalty and the word of mouth helps too… so spread the word! Really cool guys by the way.




Track Density Motor/Trans Mounts

Alright, so let my just cut right to the chase… there are good reasons that I chose to call this section “A Definite Turning Point” and while the rear suspension upgrades were one, the major one is these mounts; it probably won’t come as a surprise, but when I replaced my 034 Motorsport street density motor/trans mounts with track density mounts (Torque Solutions 75A poly mounts) I basically ruined the nice, balanced refinement I had with my Passat between a pretty pleasant street car and a pretty capable track car. These mounts crossed the line. While I can, and have for the most part, gotten used to these mounts myself, there is no denying that this car is no longer pleasant on the street for anybody but myself (and that’s just because I love driving it so much I can overlook just about anything)

In larger gears (e.g. the lower gears) like 1st and 2nd gear I can hear literally everything the trans is doing at low to medium speeds and throttle input. I’m talking I can hear the gears and input shaft spinning and I can hear the gear syncros interfacing with the gears when I downshift to 1st gear and begin decelerating afterward. Only if I give medium to heavy throttle input in those gears would the engine and exhaust sound drown out what I hear from the trans. If I were to lug the engine at all (not that I do) it would probably vibrate my teeth out. Okay, now I'm exaggerating a bit with that last one. But when starting from a stop, during the brief instant that I pass into that clutch engagement zone and add throttle, and then as I fully release the clutch and get on the throttle, the vibrations are pretty bad. I recall that when I first installed these mounts it literally changed how I get going in 1st gear. It literally changed the way in which I had to use the clutch to get started such that the window of engagement seems even narrower then it was before on this fairly heavy clutch. The race density trans mount removed every bit of slop that was left. I do recall this was also the case, to a far lesser extent, when I first installed the VWR subframe dogbone mounts.

Okay, now the good… well, at least the vibrations aren’t obnoxious in smaller, higher gears and at higher RPMs (past 4K). Everything smoothes out pretty well up there so at least highway cruising isn’t bad. And of course this car never felt so locked down and solid as it did after I put these mounts in. It’s basically what I described in my post about the 034 Motorsport street density mounts but x5 (the good and the bad). So the final pro is that, just as with the 034 Motorsport mounts, engine noise under heavy throttle is amplified and sounds even more “angry”. The engine actually sounds pretty nasty (in a good way) now for a tiny 4 cylinder.

You’re probably wondering, why I installed these in the first place or why on Earth I kept them in considering I have mostly negative things to say about what they did. Well, here’s why…


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That’s actually not my 034 Motorsport engine mount, it’s my good buddies. His failed first because he put more track days on it than I had at the time. But seeing how loose his engine was after that crack and how bad that could have been if it had gotten any worse, I decided to get out ahead of the problem and upgrade mine before anything bad happened. When I pulled mine out they were pretty much fine, but I realize I had to make this change to the race density mounts if I intended to track my car at all consistently. So the answer to you hypothetical question of why I chose to do this to my car, why I chose to effectively ruin what was a nicely refined car, is that I really had no choice. I wasn’t about to let this stand in the way of doing what I enjoy most with the car, what I spent all this money up to this point to be able to do with it.

It’s still perfectly street-able and it’s not really that bad once you get moving and out of the lower RPMs/gears. I’ve gotten used to the vibrations, except the initial ones when starting out from a stop which are the worst, it’s just that I have to give a heads-up to new passengers so they don’t think the engine is about to blow up the when I start out from a stop HAHA. That’s fine, I don’t have many passengers in this vehicle anyway. These mounts were basically a small concession I had to make for the larger objective of my car. And, yes, that objective changed significantly over the years.

The last hypothetical question might be: “well why did I choose torque solutions?” Well, frankly, because they were by far the most affordable and because for the most part mounts are mounts. If you’ve read this far into my thread you know by now I’ll spend a pretty penny if there is an appreciable significance to the design that justifies its cost, but when it comes to motor and trans mounts that really isn’t the case. It’s a thing that mounts to the chassis on one end and the motor or trans on the other, with a medium in-between, typically made of either rubber or polyurethane. There may be some slight design variations from mount to mount that impact their ability to articulate a bit irrespective of the rubber/poly bushings (I’m thinking mainly of the redesigned version of 034 Motorsport’s track mounts), but when it is all said and done the vibrations are going to be obnoxious no matter what. It just comes with the territory. I’ve been in other VWs sporting almost every other kind of track mounts on the market, and some that were made custom, and they all have pretty much the same results. So I chose Torque Solutions since they are the simplest (yet effective) and most affordable design.

Here are some shots of installation, for some reason I forgot to get an after-picture of the trans mount though, oops…


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Dogbone Pendulum Mount Discussion

I am still using the factory dogbone pendulum bar (not to be confused with the subframe dogbone mounts/pucks which are VWR). The reason for this is that despite how all the dogbone pendulums out there are marketed, they DO NOT fit properly for the B6 Passat. The B6 Passat shares its dogbone pendulum with the Mk2 TT, NOT the Mk5/6 Jetta/GTI. The B6 Passat’s dogbone pendulum is slightly longer and this means the bolt holes don’t line up unless the engine/trans were to be pulled into line to force the fitment. If that were even possible, especially on my stiff motor/trans mounts, it would be a very bad idea for a number of reasons not worth going into.

So, that said, I’m writing this short section to warn readers who’re also owners of a B6, as well as to give a sort of “stay tuned” notice because I’m working with a guy on getting a custom pendulum bar machined.

At this point there is so little movement with my engine/trans that the factory pendulum bar is probably barely an inconvenience, but by the same token I suspect that putting in a stiffer pendulum bar is probably not going to magnify vibrations much beyond how they already are. If it does, well, I’ve already ruined the cars refinement so might as well finish the job.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
More Powaaa

COMING SOON!!!...

This is the BIG one, the big turbo build post... Expect significant detail on various performance engine/turbo parts, intercooling, turbo characteristics, wastegate & boost control info, tuning info, data-logging, lots of stuff that isn't coming to mind at this moment too, and of course a "future plans/what's next" section!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
One Un-planned “Upgrade”


***Note: Summer 2019…


I was hoping to fit the below the below feedback about the Grams Performance 70mm throttle body I installed into post #10 since this was basically a miscellaneous upgrade that I installed more out of opportunity than as part of a specific goal or project, but unfortunately it put that post well over the character limit HAHA. So, I’ll encapsulating my feedback on it here as a standalone post.

I did not upgrade to this part with the goal of seeing any gains from it but because I was experiencing some issues and codes that I attributed to issues with my factory throttle body. It turned out that these issues were electrical and that the factory throttle body was mechanically sound, but that’s neither here nor there; I addressed that after I had already upgraded to the Grams TB and I decided to keep it anyway.

So what’s my feedback on the Grams TB? Well, given the nature of the part, talking about the Grams TB involves talking about air intake volumes which, in turn, involves talking about fuel trims so before you’ll be able to fully appreciate my feedback there are some aspects of ECU behavior that you’ll need to understand thoroughly. I’ll cover that specific ECU behavior after I briefly overview the function of the TB itself for anyone who isn’t totally familiar.

The TB has a valve/plate inside which can be closed, open, or any degree of position in between. The position of the throttle valve determines the amount of air that gets through the throttle body and into the intake manifold for combustion. On these vehicles there is no physical connection between the throttle pedal and the throttle body; the driver operates the throttle pedal to a certain position and the ECU interprets this, then sends a signal to the throttle body which opens the throttle valve to the appropriate position/angle with electronically actuated motors. The throttle body is equipped with multiple sensors to command what angle the throttle valve should be at and whether or not it did indeed reach that angle.

Now, we can’t talk about air intake related ECU behaviors/decisions without talking about fuel trims as well. The ECU uses a host of sensors to determine how much air and fuel are needed for optimal combustion relative to the throttle demand of the driver at any given time (and some other conditional variables). As you know, the throttle valve angle determines how much of a given amount of intake air can pass through for combustion at a given interval of time and the ECU knows that angle thanks to the throttle position sensor (TPS) on the TB. The ECU then uses mass airflow (MAF) data, which reads air intake volume in grams per second, to know how much total intake air volume is available at the same interval of time. The ECU then combines this information to determine, very accurately, how much air volume will be present for combustion past the intake valves per open stroke of the engine (which of course involves calculations from the camshaft position sensor in regards to engine timing too but that’s outside the scope of the current discussion). With this information the ECU can determine how much fuel to inject. ECUs for turbocharged cars will also use the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor to further refine the calculations for air/fuel ratio (AFR) but the MAF is still the primary driver for those calculations of air intake volume.

The ECUs job isn’t done there, here is where the complexity of the ECUs decision making is truly neat. The ECU even further refines the fuel injection necessary for an optimal AFR at any given time by processing data from the bank 1 (pre-catalyst) oxygen sensor (O2 sensor). The primary O2 sensor will report to the ECU whether the AFR was too rich (more than enough fuel) or too lean (not enough fuel) and then the ECU will take immediate corrective action on the fuel injection with a “short-term” fuel trim. The O2 sensor of course reports on the results of the correction as well and any further correction occurs, so on and so on. This, of course, is all happening at lightning speed so AFRs can be corrected in fractions of a second in any driving conditions. The speed at which the ECU acts on all if this sensor data is truly amazing (at least to a tech nerd and software engineer like me). But we are still not done yet, the ECU has another ace up its sleeve. Thanks to machine learning principles (as we call it in the software field), the ECU is capable of learning from the short-term corrections it has to make and adapting a long-term adjustment based on the short-term corrections. Once the ECU has compiled enough data to adapt a long-term fuel trim it will use that fuel mapping instead of having to constantly take corrective action. As fast as the ECU can make short-term trim adjustments, it is still much more ideal and safer for the ECU to correct the AFR by injecting exactly the right amount of fuel for combustion upfront. Of course, just as the suite of sensors (primarily the O2 sensor) help the ECU optimize its short-term trim, the same is true of the long-term trim; so the long-term trim gets more and more accurate with time.

So… how does all this tie into my feedback on the Grams TB? Well, right out of the gate I’ll say that I had reservations about buying the Grams TB over another factory TB replacement. For starters, the factory TB is NOT an air flow restriction on even very, very high HP builds (much higher than mine). That’s not to say that the greater size of the Grams TB (70mm diameter compared to 56mm diameter of the stock TB) cannot be beneficial for making more power on a setup that is already maxing out air flow. It just means it is entirely unnecessary for making huge amounts of power. Also, since a given throttle valve angle of the Grams TB is nowhere near the same as the factory unit, due to the size of their inlets/valves, the Grams TB is going to allow a good deal more air (up to 25% more based on its size) into the intake manifold and the ECU is technically not going to know this. If you were following along with my description of how the ECU uses all of the data I discussed, then you will realize that at the point that a given amount of air is occupying the intake manifold and flowing into the combustion chamber, the ECU has consulted data from the MAF and the TPS sensor (and to a lesser extent the MAP sensor). None of these sensors give the ECU the ability to recognize that the Grams has allowed more air in for a given throttle valve angle. So initially, the ECUs fuel injection calculations will be off. While the ECU’s after-the-fact adaptability through the data from the primary O2 sensor is phenomenal, it is not without its limits. The ECU can only take correction action via fuel trims up to certain amounts. The tables loaded into the ECU have prescribed limits on how much the ECU can adjust the trim by to correct AFR.

I was tentative as to whether or not the ECU would reach that limit before being able to properly correct for the Grams TB. Explicit tuning adjustments could, of course, correct that but since I wasn’t looking for power gains out of the Grams TB at the time I was not interested in adjusting my tune just to make the Grams work. That said, the only benefits I was hoping to gain out of the Grams TB that are advertised (and supported by several user reviews on forums) was faster throttle response – as in faster reaction from the electronic motors in the TB to my input at the pedal – so that I could better modulate throttle, as well as a more robust unit to replace the cheap factory unit which uses a primarily plastic-backed throttle plate.

My feedback… is pretty mixed. I’ll start with the good. The best part is that my concerns about the Grams TB possibly requiring specific tuning changes, despite being advertised as “plug n play”, were misplaced concerns. In fact, the ECU adapted to the increased intake air volume very, very quickly. After installing the Grams TB, I performed a capacity discharge by disconnecting and touching the battery leads together for a few mins to clear the ECU of all of its fuel trim memory. I then performed a throttle body adaptation via VCDS software. Lastly, I went for a drive to log some data (also with VCDS). I drove reservedly, minimal throttle, for a bit and then slowly increased to brief pulls with moderate throttle, and finally full pulls to redline with wide-open throttle (WOT). At every increment I had my co-pilot watching the AFR related data for signs of lean conditions. By the time I got to doing the WOT pulls, the ones where I would most expected to see potential lean conditions, the ECU had already adapted sufficiently and was injecting enough fuel already so I never went lean. Not once. So, in my experience, the Grams TB is plug n play, as far as AFR impact goes. There may be edge-cases wherein if the ECU has to make drastic corrections to certain parameters then the Grams TB’s presence and its role in changing equations may put those corrections outside the prescribed range for certain data tables so that the ECU can NOT make the right correction and instead slams the throttle valve shut to protect the engine. This would essentially be chalked up to a drive-ability concern but, again, this would be an edge-case and should not happen on a car that is running properly and has a good tune. I believe those edge-case conditions I described are what are behind certain users’ reviews on the Grams TB not being plug n play; so, essentially, in my opinion I think those users' cars (or more likely tunes) were not working optimally from the get-go, but the Grams TB exacerbated that to the point where there was an actually noticeable repercussion. Therefore, the Grams TB gets incorrectly blamed when, in fact, the user was just not aware that there was an underlying suboptimal factor at play.

The only other good thing is the Grams TB looks nice and is, indeed, much more robust than the factory unit in every way that I can observe.

Now the bad… throttle response is not really discernibly faster. If it is it is very slight. It is hard to say why my experience with throttle response after installing the Grams TB is different than many other users who have reported very noticeably faster throttle response and throttle modulation ability. It could be that they are suffering from a form of placebo effect. God knows that is very prevalent in the community. It could be that they had aged TBs with internal motors that were not acting as quickly as usual so, by comparison, the Grams felt faster. It could be that their reports are true and it simply comes down to factor specific to their cars compared to mine (e.g. my larger turbo and slower spool masks the throttle response benefits). I personally doubt that particular reason because despite the fact that my spool has some delay I can still definitely detect that reaction of throttle response and would, therefore, be able to tell if it was improved. But I guess the point is that there could be factors at play that no one can really identify. So it's hard for me, or anyone, to predict whether YOU would stand to benefit by better throttle response if you were to install a Grams TB. I can only say that I definitely did NOT. I may have gained a tiny bit of power up top but, again, if I did it is slight and within the margin for error of being mistaken. Frankly, if someone else had installed this part on my car unbeknownst to me and I was to go for a drive I wouldn't know anything was different. So basically all I got out of this, for now, is a nice looking and (seemingly) more robust part.

I suspect all of the above regarding the minimal-to-no power gain and the fact that I didn't need a tune revision could be different for others who are pushing further limits than I am. Currently I'm only @ 22PSI on my GTX2867R. If I were pushing 30PSI with dramatically more air I imagine adding this TB would have more exaggerated impact on the necessary fueling to compensate and may, at that point, require some tuning adjustments. Of course that would also mean I’d get more out of it in terms of power gains in the upper RPM range from increased flow. So that’s probably the silver-lining here; while I didn’t get much benefit out of it now I may yet someday get some benefit out of it when I’m pushing my turbo to its limits.


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Discussion Starter #16
really really SAWEEET! Awesome and extremely competent job well done!
Thanks! Stay tuned because the thread is still a work in progress, not nearly caught up to the present status of the car. But full mods list on first post is the present list I will be catching up to with later posts. Expect same level of detail on turbo and tuning selections, intercooler, and other goodies.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
No promises but I'm going to try to get the next section of the build thread out this weekend if time permits. That may take me into the BT build portion of things but if not it'll get everything else from where I left off with the suspension work leading up to the BT build out of the way so that BT info will be what's left. And, of course, that's the big feature event!
 

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I am following you man ! Can appreciate your attention to detail!!, what do you do for a living? would love to do this on a B6 or B5.5 ,been keeping my eyes out for a "project car" to trick out,but so far corrosion /salt damage ,(N.E. Ohio) has hampered my efforts so am looking around Atlanta/Montgomery corridor ( I am Auburn grad.) so know area.... and NO salt.....keep up good work....no great work!!!,regards Chief
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks Chief, yeah I tend to a little detail-oriented, sometimes too much haha. Was always one of those things but I'm in software engineering so it's also part of the job, can't turn it off! Figured might as well apply it to a build thread to be helpful to others and also just to sort of document it for myself because I love working on this project so much I figured I'd probably enjoy writing about it too... I was right.

As for your project car, unless you have a particular affinity for the B6 (which I would understand) or if you're keeping the upfront cost of the car itself in a certain budget, then I would recommend not getting a B6 because both the FSI and TSI engine platforms available for the different years of the B6 generation have significant problems. The Gen 1 and Gen 2 are plagued with issues and I'd quite honestly take the FSI over the Gen 1 and 2 TSI any day of the week; the FSI is underrated and reliability issues are exaggerated (because a lot of people just don't take good care of them). However, the FSI has the most problems making good power, it has the most hurtles to overcome in that department. The Gen 1 and Gen 2 TSI both have superior fueling potential on factory parts and the heads flow about 24% better by their design (and that's NOT just because of the small improvements to the runner flap design, the head itself flows better). The answer then, is the Gen 3 2.0T TSI. It is more reliable than either and it makes gobs of power very easily. If you could pick up a B7 with the Gen 3 TSI I'd recommend that wholeheartedly. Aesthetically it may not be quite as pleasing but it's still a looker and it's still a beautifully surprising sleeper. You could make more power with less hassle than I've been through to crack 400bhp on my B6 (in fact, right to my point, I'm stuck at 400bhp for the time being exactly because of fueling inadequacies that wouldn't exist on a TSI, which I'll get into in a later post for the build thread). The upfront cost of the vehicle itself is the only downside of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I haven't gotten around to the new section I was teasing yet (hopefully will have the time over the Holidays) but I did put some time into significantly revamping the section on my clutch kit decision (post #7) because I realized it was just too half-assed on the details of why EXACTLY I came to the decision I did (the research I did on the brands available, individual components, clutch friction materials, etc.). So for anyone interested... have at it!
 
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