It's January, the time to make some New Year's resolutions. Whether you stick to them or not is entirely up to you. Having trouble thinking of one that doesn't involve shaking hands with the unemployed? Let us help you. How about finishing that pile of metal in your garage that used to be your car before you tore it apart and left it on jackstands? Good idea, huh? Well, we're even willing to throw some more assistance your way. When you run into a snag, you can always look for answers to your problems here in Technical Support. If you're as lucky as this meathead, Tyler Skinner, you'll even get the Inquiry of the Month prize, which is a blow-off valve from Performance Import Trends (866/639-8845, www.performance-trends.com). Happy New Year, sucka. Just remember to hit us up at pbskids c/o Technical Support, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, or e-mail us at [email protected]
Technical Support Inquiry Of The MonthQHello, pbskids. I just recently started getting into cars because I got a Subaru WRX for my 20th birthday. All of my friends already have fixed-up cars, and it seems pretty cool. I used to be a jock, so these are the cars that I'd make fun of when I was throwing the winning pass at a football game. I had a truck at the time and the cars just looked dumb. But, after I got my new car, I realized why those guys in high school were spending all their time fi up these cars. The ones that didn't still hate me for being their enemies have actually started to help me out. They are actually the people who referred me to your magazine for some help. I'm totally lost. I mean, my car is turbocharged, I know that much. But I want a lot more power out of it. My question is, should I upgrade the turbo on my motor? If so, what should I get? There's a big difference in price between standard bearing and ball-bearing turbos. What is that about? Am I OK going with something that's just a few hundred dollars rather than spending my whole bank account on a ball-bearing thing? Will it make enough power to justify the cost? I really appreciate your help and love your magazine, even though I've only been reading it for three or so months. Thanks.Tyler SkinnerPhoenix
AWe guess we should start by not calling you a meathead. So, uh, you're not a meathead. You're very fortunate to have a WRX as a fix-up car. Because you have a turbocharged car from the factory, you're working off a stronger platform right from the start. The internals of the motor are already a little bit beefier, which makes your task a lot less complicated. There are a lot of things you can do before you upgrade the turbo. By simply opening up the intake and exhaust, you'll be able to make quite a bit of power. Also, look to gain some more horsepower by fiddling with the fuel and timing. We did a story on the TurboXS U-Tec engine management with a few of its bolt-ons that added nearly 70 hp to the wheels. If you're looking for more than that, then it's time to swap out the turbo. Choosing a turbo is quite a feat. First you have to decide if you want to keep this a street car or turn it into something for the track. For the most part, street cars do better with smaller turbos for quick spool up. The trade-off, however, is that you'll probably notice that the powerband will flatten out or even die when you reach high rpm and speed. A larger turbo will be the complete opposite of that. It will spool slow and not bring in full force until around 4,500 rpm. These are recommended more for track racing or something that involves high speeds-not very practical for day-to-day driving. Of course, these rules only apply to turbos with standard bearings. When ball-bearings come into play, you're opening up a whole new world. You can bump up the turbo size and still manage to get it to spool up at lower rpms. It's quite a magnificent invention. Just think of how fast the wheels spin on a skateboard or, uh, your inline skates. There is one big setback with a ball-bearing turbo, and that is the price. You can look to spend at least double the cost of a standard-bearing unit. After you decide on that, figure out what specs you need. For more information, try ing HKS (www.hksusa.com), ITS (www.innovativeturbo.com), or Garrett (www.turbobygarrett.com).
QWhat's going on, pbskids? I just want to start off by saying you guys are the best. I'm not trying to kiss your ass or anything to get free parts, I'm being real. I got a hand-me-down car from my parents because I don't have that much money, but I want to fix it up. It's a '93 Honda Accord sedan and I'm thinking it would be a good idea to drop in a new motor or something. I know it's not the ideal car to play with, but it's all I have. Can I do a B16A or B18C? Those are the only motors I know of that are better than mine. What parts do I need to get? How much work is involved? Do you think I'd be able to take care of something like this at home? Thanks.Robert PetermanVia e-mail
ASeeing that we don't really work on cars because we're stuck behind a computer at the office all day, we had to Elton Lo at Raceline Development (626/292-7030, www.racelinedevelopment.com) to answer your question. Elton tells us that you should forget about the B16A and B18C. Look into getting an H22 motor out of a Prelude VTEC. Even then, you're probably not going to be to able to do a swap like this at home. Pretty much everything has to be changed or fabricated, such as the mounts, brackets, axles, shift linkage, and ECU. Then the harness has to be modified to work with the newer ECU and to send a VTEC signal if the car isn't already equipped with it. This is on top of buying the motor and transmission. We're guessing that a swap like this is going to cost around $4,500 for parts and labor. Of course, prices will vary depending on how willing you are to shop around.
QOK, I'm not going to say how much I like your magazine because I think that's dumb. You're cool and all, but not enough for me to worship everything you do. There is one thing about your magazine that stands out way more than the others, and it's that you do so much coverage on the SR20DET motors. I have one myself and I have a question for you. I've noticed that there are a lot of aftermarket exhaust manifolds that keep the stock turbo in the same position. Which one should I go with? Thanks.Jared ChristiansenSan Diego
AWe also noticed that there are a lot of these exhaust manifolds on the market. There are some cheesy ones you can pick up for $200 or so, but don't expect them to fit or last a long time. Cheap metal and weak welds won't hold up when the manifold gets hot, and it will with a turbo strapped on. The one we use on our project car is made by Espelir, and it will be available through Mackin Industries (562/946-6820, www.mackinindustries.com) some time soon. Most of the Japanese-made manifolds, like HKS and Signal, are much higher in quality and have been known to last through some major heat cycles. Another reason manifolds crack is the stress of having a turbo, downpipe, catalytic converter, and full exhaust hanging on them. The DC Sports (www.dcsports.com) manifold has a couple of brackets for reinforcement. And those are made in the US of A.