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XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I should have started a journal when I got this car but I didn't so I'm going to start retroactively describing what I've done to my car and then go on with my future plans.

I bought my 2014 5MT Crosstrek Premium with 127 000km in June 2020 for about 11 000$ CAD. Here's me with my quarantine beard after 15 minutes of ownership.
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I absolutely fell in love with this model as soon as it came out but it took me several years to save enough to buy one. It took me a very long time to name it but I ended up with Salty White Pearl, as a word play on it's color name (Satin white pearl) and because it's covered in salt 5-6 months a year due to me living in Qu茅bec. Since I live in french I actually just call it ''mon Crosstrek'' but social media rules state it must have a name... 馃槄

Before that, I owned a Chervrolet Cruze LT 2012 for about 3 1/2 years and a Mazda Proteg茅 LX 2003 for at least 8 years. I used to be the kind of guy who never opened the hood between oil changes and who would just raise the music volume when a weird noise appeared. All of that changed when I got my Crosstrek. I don't know why but like most people during the first months of COVID, I needed to invest myself into something constructive and this was it for me.

I have a background in scientific research (currently trying to finish my PhD in molecular medicine) so I have a pretty good understanding of maths, chemistry and physics. With cars, I find it very exciting to be able to feel the results almost immediatly and have control on what happens in the real world. It's also so expensive that it motivates me to reach out for more in the other aspects of my life, lol...

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The most important thing to me in a car is the stereo system. I'm a big fan of music and it is essential for me to enjoy my driving. With my previous cars, I was lucky enough to have a decent OEM sound system but the one in my XV was not up to par. All 4 speakers were blown and I had never seen such tiny magnets on car speakers before.

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So, I bought an aftermarket headunit, a Sony XAV-AX210. I chose it for several reasons: I like Sony products, Android auto compatibility, CD player (these are going extinct) and a physical volume knob (sounds stupid until you don't have one and need to quickly lower the volume by franticly smashing the screen with your finger). It's also compatible with the iDatalink Maestro RR (will be useful later).

One of the recurring themes in my build is financial limitations. While I have ''wasted'' money on many useless and/or unecessary mods over the years, my funds are limited and I often prefer DIY to PIY (pay it yourself). I have to make choices.

I installed a set of Polk DB6501 in the front
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Tweeters needed a bracket to fit in OEM location but I didn't want to spend like 60$ on that so I built my own with coroplast that I painted. Fully functionnal and unnoticable when the plastic cover is on.

Those were the parts where I invested in good quality. I complemented the setup with 50$ Blaupunkt speakers for the rear doors. Seriously with how bad the OEMs are, even those were a huge improvement. I also bought a chinese no-name 4 channel amp from amazon to give more power to the speakers. I did the wiring kit myself and installed it under the passenger seat. I also added a chinese no-name underseat subwoofer that I put under the driver seat. I used to laugh at people who had subwoofers in their cars, but after installing this one I never want to not have one again. Me likes the boom boom on the bum bum.

Overall I am very satisfied with the quality and volume of my system and I spent about 1000$ CAD on the project, including the wiring. The only thing stressing me out was how long would the no-name amp and sub last but that's another story.


XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The low quality OEM sound system also highlighted another problem in this car: lack of insulation. When driving, I could litterally feel the wind coming in from the door buttons. Driving was so noisy that the poor OEM sound system could barely hide it before distortionning. I looked at online solutions like dynamat and killmat and told myself: there's no way I'm spending 2-300$ CAD on insulation material, what a scam. I devised a DIY solution but I was worried about how the rustproofing treatment that I have to get every year would affect it, so I made this post discussing the whole thing plus my homemade insulation solution:

I didn't want to risk causing damage to the speakers, so I ended up buying speaker baffles, at the expense of bass frequencies. I have a sub anyway.

While I was doing my reading on car sound systems to help me decide what I wanted to upgrade, I also ended up trying some less conclusive stuff too...

After reading about how setups with very strong subs and amps used capacitor tanks to stabilise voltage, I bought this device from NRG, called an electronic voltage stabilizer. It didn't do anything and I found out that my system wasn't really strong enough to need any of that anyway. I ended up taking it off a year later.
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I also went with a grounding mod (Big3/Big4) because I thought it would help with sound quality. I didn't notice anything there but I did feel a better throttle response afterwards. I have nothing substantial to prove this though.

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I had some parasitic sound (alternator whine) in my speakers. I don't know exactly where it came from, maybe poorly isolated components from my chinese amp, but adding a ground loop isolator solved it.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Then came a round of mostly aesthetic/ light utility mods:
Crooked shift knob extension with aluminium shift knob(removed since)
interior lighting strip
footwell LEDs
replaced halogen interior lights with LEDs
put a shitty inclinometer (removed since I don't offroad)
replaced 12v socket with real cigarette lighter
backup camera
cheap yellow LED fog lights
trunk organizer box
trunk mat (not OEM)
aluminium crossbars from amazon that I painted black
convex blind spot mirrors
Weathertech front mats with cheap rear mats (I rarely have more than 1 passenger). I also bought Subaru stickers to replace the Weathertech ones on the mats so they look a little more OEM.
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And then I very cheaply blacked out my chrome with plasti-dip
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I also replaced my OEM horns with hellahorn Sharptones because I found the volume to be too low. Turns out one of them was unpluggued... The covers were yellow but I repainted them black.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First round of ''performance'' mods.

Lighweight pulleys:
Like any newbie googling how to make more power, the first thing I fell upon was lightweight pulleys. Lurking on forums let me know that people are divided wether it's good or bad. I ended up doing what I though would be the best of both worlds. Since I knew I might be trying to force too much power out of this engine, or just floor it too much, I started by investing into something that I thought would help extend the life of some of my drivetrain components. I bought a fluidamper crank pulley, wich is heavier than the OEM one but supposed to help the engine run smoother. I also replaced my alternator and waterpump pulleys with aluminium ones to gain benefits similar to a lightweight crank pulley. I noticed a little improvement in throttle response.

Then, I installed a Borla S-type exhaust that I paid way too much for.
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Can't complain about the product, though. Sound was very nice and 2 1/2 years(30 000km) of usage and salt had absolutely no effect on this piece of stainless steel. I also felt a small improvement in performance and gas mileage but nothing measurable. It is now removed as I recently installed a new setup.

Since I had heard about the oil consumption issues on my model, I bought an oil catch can to reduce the damage and have a way to measure what's coming out of the engine. It ended up being absolutely useless. I know it's a hot subject but my intake tube and throttle body had always been clean and the can would collect almost nothing. I never took it out, though. Doesn't hurt anything and it didn't clog last 2 winters.
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I replaced my intake air filter with a K&N pannel filter and THAT noticably improved throttle response. It got me excited so I bought the SSD intake tube (removes baffles and flexible joint but keeps OEM airbox and MAF location). Other than the sound I never noticed any difference from this piece of metal. I think to this day it is still my biggest waste of money. Looks good, though!

I installed Crawford's billet power blocks and those are pretty much the only thing that can make a real difference on how the car works without having to re-tune.
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XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
At this point, I started getting in touch with people who actually knew a thing or two about Subarus, and started putting my money into mods that would make driving more fun for me.

Replaced OEM rear swaybar with a Whiteline 20mm.
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I discovered a Canadian company called GNP that sold urethane bushings and such for my car so I went with them as much as I could:
Rear endlinks
Differential carrier bushings
Transmission crossmember bushings
Pitch stop mount

Just the swaybar alone made all the difference in the world. No more wobbling at every curve. Plus, solidifying the drivetrain bushings made the shifting and throttle response more crisp. After that, it stopped feeling like I was falling down the stairs every time I would launch the car.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

With my first winter with the car coming up, I had to equip myself with a set of winter wheels and tires. 1 year prior, I never would have thought that I would buy alloy wheels in my life, even less that my first set ever would be winter wheels (according to some this is a crime) and even EVEN less that those would be gold colored. But I did and oh did I NOT regret this decision! Got some 16x6,5'' RSSW Velocity (reps) for cheap but they were still lightweight (about 18lbs) and put Michelin x-ice 215/65/R16 tires on them. I also bought color-matching Subaru logo stickers for the center caps for an OEM-like finish.
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Seriously, it was hard to go back to the heavy OEM wheels with oversized (225/60R17) tires come spring. I really felt a good drop in performance once I put the heavy wheels back on.

I couldn't afford buying 2 sets of wheels and tires in the same year, so I plasti-dipped the OEM wheels at least to give them a better look. I tried to do a good job, though. Only painted the silver parts to keep the glossy original black paint, otherwise it would have looked cheap.
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I was stupid enough to go play in a sand pit like a week later, and some of the plasti-dip peeled off. After I repaired my mistake, the plasti-dip held on for the whole season. I can't comment on longer lifespan because I changed my setup the next year.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
2nd round of light utility/ aesthetic mods:

Got window deflectors
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Got LED backup lights and honeycomb overlays. (LED backups were to compensate for the slight tint)
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Added a tint strip on top of my windshield + tinted the lower rear reflectors (they still work at night although less than before).
Made an EZ-lip. After seeing how many people broke their real lips in the winter snow, I absolutely don't regret going the cheap rice way. I hit a racoon with it and it didn't even break.
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Installed rocklights/underglow (Removed now since I ripped the wiring in dirt roads and honestly I used them like 3 times to show to people).
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Added a front licence plate cover that says ''Subaru''
Added a ricer tsurikawa
Installed ''fleur-de-lys'' decals for my rear quarter windows.
Painted A, B and C pillars in black
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XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hit my 1 year ownership anniversary with another somewhat controversial mod: LOWERING SPRINGS
I don't care how many people think they're funny saying: You should have bought an impreza. This is way better.
Stock crosstrek: 8,7''
Stock impreza: 5,7''
Lowered crosstrek: 7-7,5''
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I used RS-R springs and had them profesionnally installed( No sketchy spring death trap for me) and the car was aligned afterwards. It made the Crosstrek feel like a car and not an SUV, which is what I realised I wanted after driving the car for a year. No more wobbling in curves, no more wobbling when passing a van on the highway, my mechanic said it feels like a go-kart. Most of those I've seen doing extensive work on this platform ended up saying that handling mods are where the fun is at, I agree. I can still take the occasionnal dirt road without any problems, suspension still extends as much as before.
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Added sway bar bracing
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Replaced trans mount with a Group N mount. I figured that my trans crossmember bushings were almost useless because the movement would be transferred to the soft OEM trans mount. Combined this upgrade with a kartboy short shifter + front and rear shifter bushings. That really tightened the shifting experience, making the car 1 notch more fun to drive.

Tried to slightly tighten the front suspension with front endlinks but this one screwed it up a little. Because of the lowering springs, geometry was off and it made the driving experience much harsher. They looked like this after install:
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And this is after 1 year, I should have bought adjustable ones.
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With all the electronics that I added to the car, I needed some wiring management, so I tried my luck at DIY Model Years 2012 to 2017 - Battery post terminals and...

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
During that summer, I kept going through my unsatiable thirst for mods.

I added a very ricey Wink mirror, such a nice improvement. Dead angles don't exist anymore as I can see everything behind me, including rear passengers. Can't live without it now.

Replaced my clutch and brake lines with braided stainless steel ones to get maximum responsiveness from pedals. I also painted my brake calipers in black and added a master cylinder brace.

Replaced my OEM radio antenna with a shorter one.

Added Perrin steering column dampers and the results were so much more than I expected. I never knew how much effort we put in keeping the steering wheel straight until I didn't have to. I can now drive on the highway with a single finger holding the wheel and every other(regular) car I drive feels like crap.

I wanted to get rid of the chrome in my headlight housing, so I did a DIY open in the oven and painted them like I wanted. Never had moisture issues.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Then came fall 2021. For a while I was thinking at stopping there with my car mods, as I had already improved the driving experience a lot. But some people will say it: this is an addictive hobby. Instead of doing the reasonnable thing, I started diving into more and more complex stuff.

I always found my seats super incomfortable, so I tried to do a cheap swap. It WAS cheap (total cost 120$ CAD) but it took me so much more effort than what I was ready to give to this project...

Then, I installed an equal lenght header (4-2-1, catless) from Supercircuit in Malaysia. New header were a lot lighter than the old one and still fit with the OEM plastic trays without melting anything. The header came with an O2 defouler. Supercircuit told me that it keeps the P0420 at bay on models from Malaysia but it kept coming up on mine. I suppose it's due to different ECU programming.
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That gave me a slight performance improvement but at this point I needed tuning to potentialize all the work I had done untill then. After debating between several options, I decided to buy a Tactrix cable with the SubaruEdit suite and try my luck at learning how to tune. I will get back to this later as it's still a work in progress. The biggest challenge is the lack of platform specific information but I'm getting there and hopefully we can gather a community of people sharing their methods so this becomes more popular.

I added stripes on the car and I really like the look
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In preparation for the winter, I decided to do something I don't think anyone else has done: Putting an LSD in the rear diff. It was all part of my plan to gradually take on more and more complex mechanical tasks in order to improve myself. I learned how to rebuild a diff and was lucky enough to find an R160 case with a 4.44 pinon and an AP suretrac mechanical LSD in it. This has become one of my favorite mods yet. It makes the car drive like an ATV when you floor it on loose ground. Soooo much fun for sliding in the snow and sand.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Both my old Mazda and the Crosstrek rev pretty high on the highway (3000rpm at 100km/h and going towards 3500rpm at 120km/h). It makes the throttle control way too sensitive, is noisy and not very fuel efficient. I always wondered what it would be like to have a 6 speed transmission.
Last winter, I was almost at 150 000km and my clutch needed to be replaced. I figured that if I did the job myself, the savings I make in labor costs could be put towards a new transmission instead.

After doing some research, I decided to go for a 6 speed from a 2015 forester. Why not from a more recent Crosstrek? I was worried that modifying gear ratios would have an effect on the load/RPM relationship and that I would have had to retune AFR, timing and/or AVCS duty cycles to make it work right. The gear ratios on the Forester almost the same that I already had except for the additionnal 6th speed.

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I tried to clean it up a little and I changed the axle seals.
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Did the job at a friend's garage. Had to do it twice because I installed the crank position sensor plate in reverse... Let's say I learned a lot during this. New transmission cost me 680$ CAD at 83 000km and I sold the old one for 350$.
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I had to change my shifter assembly as well since this old transmission was a solid link and the new one was cable but good ol' Subaru everything fit perfectly like it had always been there.

I added some aftermarket components during the swap:
ACT lightweight flywheel (streetlite)
ACT clutch (SB2-HDSS)
Shifter stop (DIY)
Shifter cable bushing
Cobb short shifter plate
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One nice thing I discovered with the short shifter plate is this: If you look at the picture below, it is a schematic for the Perrin short shifter adapter and it compares the difference with the WRX 2015+ shifter plate. You can notice on the WRX shifter plate, there are 2 dots underneath the pin that attaches to the cable. On the Forester 6speed transmission, the pin is actually located on the middle dot. That means that short shifter plates have an even bigger impact on shifting for these shifters than the WRX they were intended for.
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I ended up chosing the Cobb model because it is weighted and has 2 positions to ajust if the shifts are too short. Lots of reviews said shifting gets very harsh if the system is unweighted (knob, plate...).

Overall the results were as good as I expected. I can now drive at about 2700 RPMs at 115km/h on the highway and exhaust drone stopped. I have a little flywheel chatter if I upshift in low RPMs but it is to be expected with that setup. I am hoping that my Fluidampr crank pulley helps mitigating this. The combination of clutch and flywheel is very drivable in the city and/or traffic + adds the potential to have a lot more fun in spirited driving.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Changed my brakes and rotors for OEM rotors and stoptech brakes. They work very well.

Bought a new set of summer wheels and tires. With my winter set I bought good tires with rep wheels, this time I did the opposite. I wasn't sure which kind of tires I wanted, between summer tires and perfomance all season tires. I went with the cheapest summer tires that I could find. At first I was weirded out by how wide the grooves were, but I ended up really loving them when it's raining because they never aquaplaned. Grip is also super good, with my suspsension setting I just cannot loose grip in a curve. And ohh did I try to.

Enkei TS-5 17x8'' 5x100 offset +45
Zeta Alventi 235/50R17

Just like my winter set, those wheels are lightweight as well (18lbs).
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My only issue is that they don't fill the tire wells enough to my taste, I should have gone with 235/55R17
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XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Summer 2021 aesthetic/light utility mods:

Installed a dual dashcam
Put some amber Lamin-X on my fog lights
Installed a power station(12v, USB, voltmeter) in the hatch for camping or other needs.

I wanted to do something with the steering wheel for a while but a swap looked very expensive. I went with a suede kit from East Detailling and was glad that my boy scout sewing skills finally got to use.
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Since I'm getting into learning how to work with the ECU, I wanted to be able to monitor some parameters but I didn't want to add tons of gauges or spend a fortune on a multigauge. And sorry for those who like it but I think Scangauges are very ugly, hard to read while driving and limited in the amount of info it provides. My solution: Idatalink Maestro RR. Wiring was a huge mess, though. I don't know why but even though the instructions said: 2014 XV no navigation, the wiring looms and instructions were wrong at a couple of places. Had to repin/rewire some of the connections in order to have everything working.
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Works really well and allows to have ALL the gauges and keep an OEM look.
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I was still trying to find ways to help my car breath better. After some reading, I decided to try the velocity stack mod
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I noticed absolutely no difference except that I got 1 step closer to sounding like a shitbox. Turns out as I am learning my way with the ECU, AFR at WOT are super rich and OEM O2 sensor can't detect anything below like 12:1. It doesn't matter how much airflow I can add, as long as I can't measure actual AFR up top or I don't lean it out, the ECU won't be able to adjust.

I was really annoyed by the lack of lighting in the hatch at night. I installed Rav4 LED trunk lights to solve the issue.
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Installed a rear fog light that does reverse but not the kind that flashes every time you brake. I can't imagine how annoying it must be to follow this in traffic.
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XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Lower bumper bar was pretty roughed up by years of getting hit with rocks. I decided to give it a coat of fresh paint


I wanted a sports grille for a while but didn't feel like paying for it. I made a custom grille for both bumper sections instead and I am pretty satisfied with the results. I have a paint kit with my actual color code for touch ups so this winter when I get to borrow a friend's garage for a day, I'll paint match the upper grille frame.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Handling Mods:
Had my local mechanics replace the upper rear trailing arms bushings with whiteline. I was advised against using the megan racing trailing arms with pillow ball joints because apparently they aren't a very good company and those would make too much NVH. Can't really comment as I have no expenrience with either.

Since I have my car, I noticed some asymetry in my rear suspension. The left wheel is closer to the rear bumper than the right one. That causes some very rare rubbing that ended up eating one of my mudflap bolts. Car was aligned correctly but that always bugged me. Could it be that my subframe has shifted with time? I bought rigid subframe collars (magic collars on Ebay) to ensure the subframe would always stay centered. At the same time, I replaced my engine mounts with group N because I noticed how soft the OEM ones were when I swapped my trans.

The rigid collars didn't really correct the geometry of my rear suspension but the combination of both mods did ''something'' right. I can't really describe how or what does a difference, but immediatly the car felt right. Is it in my head? Maybe but I hope not.

XV Crosstrek 2014 Premium 2.0i 6MT
252 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·

I really liked my setup, catless equal lenght headers, stock front and mid pipe, borla muffler. I only had 2 problems with it. 1) It popped a little too much to my taste during downshifts but I thought I could maybe change it through tuning.
2) The name Borla was written on my muffler tip and I was worried about getting fined by the police because they are very intense in my province.
However, I came to discover during the summer that my exhaust was leaking. Upon inspection, I found out that my mid pipe had rotted on both flanges.
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OEM replacement or repair costs were not something I wanted to spend on. Instead, I bought a TSUDO 2,5'' stainless steel catback exhaust and I will sell the Borla muffler so the whole thing will end up costing less than having the original pipe repaired.
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Right now it's installed, sounds way better and quieter than my exhaust leak. The 2,5'' gave it a deeper tone. I will eventually post a video of how it sounds. The only stock element I have left on the exhaust is the 2,25'' front pipe with secondary cat. We'll see how long that lasts 馃槄
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