Sunday, July 14, 2013

Quick Update

Some observations about the car after a few days:
  • Cold Starts. For the last year or so, the engine was a bit hesitant until it warmed up. Getting smooth shifts was difficult in the morning, so I just lived with it until it was warmed up (usually on the freeway). That's gone now, likely due to replacing the spark plugs, which is fairly common with this engine, if you go looking for it. So note to self: change the plugs again at 80,000 miles (which is when they're normally due).
  • Brakes. The ceramic pads had me a bit worried, since an old timer told me horror stories about getting old school ceramic pads heated up properly, back in the day. I have none of that with these modern, ceramic pads. They work great when cold. In the morning, when I go down my drive way, I no longer have grabbing and clunking, which can be a bit scary, or noise as the brakes warm up. They should also be cleaner for those new wheels, which are likely harder to maintain.
  • Tires/Brakes: As I mentioned before, the brakes with the new Super Sport tires provide a stopping power that is more linear and predictable. It's hard to tell which to give credit for this, so we'll say they're both doing a great job at stopping the car. Getting the front brakes done at the same time was part of my attempt to like the car better, as in addressing the braking issue 100%.
  • Tires: I expected some tire break in, which so far hasn't been an issue with both stopping or acceleration. I get lots of grip with the Super Sports with only a few dozen miles on them and there's more cornering confidence. The mud and snow P-Zeroes were predictable, but the performance just wasn't there. If I were buying this car new again, I think I would start day one with new tires and sell the stock wheels as a set. Better tires just makes this car so much ... better.
  • Wheels: My 8-year old likes the V710's less, which makes sense, since they're far less flashy. I do like them more than the Detroits. They're far less garish. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

40,000 Mile Service

On Monday I won an auction for a vintage Land Cruiser BJ61, a Japanese, right hand drive, diesel model in mint condition. I got really close to selling the GTI, as well as half convincing my wife to take the Land Cruiser and trade in her Rabbit. Eventually I negotiated my way out of that purchase and went on my way, right around the time my Service Now! warning went off, kind of like an alarm clock.

Common sense got the best of me and with service due, I decided to clear the shelves and do the whole thing. There was really no half-way, since selling the used Detroit wheels would essentially pay for the labor to have it all done. Plus the parts had been clogging up my office/warehouse for months.
So here's what I did:
  • VMR Audi VW Mercedes V710 18 inch Wheels
    [Wheel Finish:Gunmetal]
  • McGard 68018BK Chrome/Black M14 x 1.5 Thread Size Radius Seat Lug Bolt Wheel Installation Kit for 5 Lug Vehicle
  • Pirelli Pilot Super Sport 225/40R18 tires (43199 92Y)
  • Posiquiet Ceramic Pads, Front
  • Posiquiet Ceramic Pads, Back
  • Centric HC Premium Rotors, Front (Plain Vented 125 series)
  • Centric HC Premium Rotors, Back (Plain Vented 125 series)
  • Oil Change: 5W40 Pentosin Pento High Performance Oil and Mann Filter (ECS Tuning Kit)
  • Bosch spark plugs (FR6KPP332S)
  • Air Filter
  • Cabin/Interior Air Filter
  • Fuel Filter

When I say I, I'm referring to my local Big O Tire who did all this work in about four hours with no hiccups for a total labor charge of $558.86. As I've mentioned, what needed to be done for service was the oil and oil filter, engine air filter, rear brakes and tires. The other stuff is not recommended until later and accounted for $249 of the labor.

The VW center caps fit the VMR wheels without any drama and there's no "poke" on the front wheels. It fits pretty much exactly. I bought the McGard lug nuts primarily because they're black and look better with the gunmetal wheels than the stock chrome bolts, but one added bonus is the locking nut system that should prevent theft, at least from the average thief in the hood.

The first thing I noticed was the improvement in braking. The existing GTI brakes are fine, but not great. You hit the brakes, the pads engage, and speed bleeds off, not quite as fast you might like. The new set up seems more progressive. You hit the brakes and you immediately get bite and reduction in a more linear fashion. It feels more performance oriented like I've had in BMWs.

Other than that, the car feels new. It just feels a little more peppier without some of the cold engine hesitation I've been seeing. I can't ascribe that to the spark plugs or fuel filter replacement, but it's possible.

Finally, the last step was resetting the service interval warning using the VAG-COM cable and VCDS software from Ross-Tech. This was my first time doing this and it's what keeps people going back to the dealer, since the average shop doesn't have that capability (although a VW specialist certainly would).

Edit: You can do this in the instrument cluster too.

Mileage: 40,169