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Old 19th October 2007, 22:19   #1
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Default What it takes to own a modded ride - Part II. The dark side!

For those who have missed out on the happy moments, here is a re-cap. What it takes to own a modded ride Part I.

Disclaimer: Kindly proceed only after you have read Part I. Writer is not responsible for the lack of connection with the subject at hand you would face if read otherwise.This is a rather long rant. If you are a busy person, turn back now.

I am sure you all would have heard the phrase "two sides of a coin"? Well the art of modding your car is very much like a coin. Except that you need a LOT of coins to mod your cars. And when coins are not enough, be prepared to shell out some (relative) crisp ones as well. It just doesn't stop there. Extend your arm and very soon you will realize that you would have to forgo your leg as well. Maybe a kidney too. Do note that during this period your brain is the only organ that needs to be intact and yet not functioning.

Modding has two sides, heads (happy side) & tails (dark side). Most men know what side they wish to be. It goes without saying they would pick the happy side anyday. This side of the coin means:

1. You stay happy by being satisfied with a stock car.
2. Or you just follow the herd and play safe with minimal mods.

Unfortunately, I belonged to neither. Call it my foolishness, my stupidity. Or in plain words a zeal to do something different, to achieve something out of the ordinary. Oh, utter rubbish isn't it? Come on, I didn't find any other excuse to console myself . But so harsh is the truth of life, that it almost shakes you off your feet, your beliefs and most importantly the way you look at life.

Does god exist? You begin to wonder! If he/she does, would he/she (just to save myself from being called a sexist) let you face this pain? Perhaps not. Perhaps yes? But isn't there a simpler way to teach you the fact of life? Without having to rip your heart apart with every passing moment, taking the air out of your lungs, choking you to a death that seems to last an eternity! Have you experienced such pain? I have. Want to know how? Read on........

For those of you who know me either through this forum or personally, know my passion for my car. At times I have been made fun of, laughed at, booed at for this madness. At other times, people have appreciated this madness, given me hope to go ahead & achieve my dream. However absurd it may have sounded. I did in all my capacity try to do as much as I could. Or atleast I thought. But now when I look back at the horrid times, I begin to wonder. Wonder Why? Why ME?

Ok, I think thats enough of the crap. Lets get to the point.

1 month prior to Speed Run 2007, Bombay: I had a spare NOS kit lying at home for quite a while. Since someone ordered it with jet sizes ranging from 120-250bhp, I was promised to get jets made in the sizes I required. In the meantime, I was told that some of my friends put together lost bits of the NOS kit trying to pass it on from one to the other. End result, the person who had the custody of the NOS replaced some of the parts that were lost & I was asked to pay to get a set of jets made.

A week later, NOS is installed. Head mechanic takes it for a trial run & tests NOS. I am on my way to pick up my car & to test NOS on it for the first time. On reaching the garage I am told I was lucky not to have blown my engine. Due to imperfection of jets made & the bigger plumbing on the kit there was excess dosage of NOS fired. Luckily for me only the spark plugs I had imported (Zex plugs for NOS applications) bore the brunt and two out of four cracked. I was told I was only lucky to get away with that much, others had blown their heads. Whew, breathing a sigh of relief went back home that I was not the one to have done the first test. Had something gone wrong I would have been blamed and no one else. Even if it meant, it wasn't my fault.

2. Speed Run 07: Car was ready, on the last minute. Memo & me set off driving down to Bombay. The engine was built in such a way that it would run with no issues on 91 Oct or so I was told. I must admit that we drove all the way to Bombay with the engine "pinging" from 2,000-3,500 rpm. I was quite wary of the fact that this could be harmful for the engine, but memo kept arguing that the sound was not pinging but sound from the loose exhaust hitting the underbody. When I was challenged on the wealth of knowledge about engines when compared to my friends I kept quite thinking the 3 brilliant brains must be right and me wrong.

We reached Bombay only to figure out that the engine was indeed pinging. Switched to 97 Oct fuel, and the pinging stopped only momentarily. One day before the drag my car had overheating issues. Culprit was the radiator fan sensor that had gone kaput. Car did quite well on the practice run at Speed Run. On the way back to the hotel, I drove the car and found there was something wrong. Everyone dismissed my claims saying I was cribbing inspite of being the second fastest on the grid during practice.

Next day we hit the strip & completed the run much to my disappointment. We had not only clocked a much slower timing, but the other day we had gone a good 0.2 secs faster by only revving to 5,000 rpm. This time though the car was revved upto 6,750. I think it was not such a good trip overall, which only got worse a tad later.

Driving back to the hotel where we were put up, I was sure 100% that there was something wrong with the car. The engine was not anywhere near to what it had been on the Pune-Bombay expressway. A few minutes later we realized that the headgasket had gone kaput. Took out all the plugs and cranked the engine & water oozed out of the 4th (or was it 3rd) cylinder. The car was to be driven down to Bangalore the next day, but now it had to be left back at Bombay till the transporter we had arranged for could find a truck. Car landed in Bangalore 15 days later IIRC.
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Old 19th October 2007, 22:19   #2
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Back from Speed Run: Engine was open and problem identified. It was a leaky headgasket that was the culprit. Note that I had two headgaskets running at that time. One week later I was delivered the car with a bill of 8,000. I was happy that the troubles were over. I was asked to stick to 97 Oct ONLY and I did.

Even after 4 days of using only 97 Oct the car didn't stop pinging. There was a temporary solution found for this issue. I was asked to use higher octane gas. ~ 102-104 Oct. And I did. Each litre of fuel cost me around 82 bucks. I suffered for two months having to carry extra cans of petrol wherever I went. I had to forgo going on long trips with family, due to scarce of 97 Oct fuel available. Infact, this car had become quite hard to maintain with fuel being so heavy on your pockets. Note that during this whole time, the car was never as quick or close to what it was on day 1. I kept complaining that there was something wrong but no one would pay heed to my words saying "I am out of my mind" or "I crib anyways".

Until one final day when my car started to bellow white smoke. You know what that means. Don't you? I was asked to keep on driving until that time the car doesn't stop by itself. The aim was to see what would give up so that next time we could make sure the same mistake didn't happen. We went to this tbhp Nandi Hill drive. I can say I was quite embarrassed with the way my car moved. Literally. I went back home and decided that I had had enough of this & I wanted my car to be reliable and quick and not the way it was.

3 days later, I am informed that headgaskets are gone again (each costs 2k), 1 valve is bent & piston ring land is damaged. Now the culprit for this I am told was the excessive dynamic compression. Since my pistons were 3mm above deck height. I asked questions to the person responsible for the work and I am told "It was all my (refers to mclaren185) fault" that I had forced my tuner to fit in all parts that I had bought.

Truth was, yes I did go ahead and buy parts (not all which I was asked to buy) because I got a good deal on them for future use with my turbo. Later I was told, it was ok. Let me quote the exact sentence "I have it all planned, don't worry. Your car will be very very quick". When that comes from a friend whom you trust, well there is not much of a second thought one would give. When I was quite angry that this had happened twice in a matter of 3 months I was told to go easy on the CR and that it would be dropped. So now, from running the ingenious idea of having the pistons 3mm above deck height it was back to having pistons at deck height. My forged conrods were swapped with the OE ones to achieve this. The bent valve was replaced, piston ring land re-welded and car readied. New performance cam went in to overcome the loss in power due to decrease in CR. Another bill of 9,000 was attached with the delivery of the car. Plus 33k for the cam.

5 months down the line I can remember driving the car hard for more than 10 mins ONLY once. The twin city meet we had at Yelagiri. In the last 5 months the car has been nannied around most part of the town at under 2k, with some spirited driving done only at mid-night on my return to my house from Ashoka, a 1-way journey of 4 kms that lasts all of 3-4 mins. The car has been on maybe 4 long trips. From the day we landed from Bombay in January, till date the car has run only 9,000 kms. Now consider that I drove the car once to Yelagiri (450km), once to CBE (1k kms), once to Munnar (1,500 km), once again to Salem (1k km), twice to Chennai (2k kms). That accounts for approx 6,000 kms from long trips. Meaning the car had traveled only 3,000 kms in 8 months of city driving. 80% of it sobre and 2k rpm shifts.

I had been facing erratic idling issues for quite a while. Everytime I stepped off the gas the engine would die. It made driving very difficult, plus once again the engine didn't sound right. So I sent the car to another tuner friend of mine for analysis. I had asked him to open up the engine and just check thoroughly to see if there were any issues. Initial reports are shocking. Until one point where I can't believe myself. Here is what actually happened.

1. Piston rings miraculously developed excessive gap. And 2 were damaged. The importer whom we had bought the stuff from says "There is no way those rings (made of some special material, can't remember its name) would have given up unless you fired excessive NOS or run on excessive boost over 2 bar. I sat and wondered in amazement. All that the car had run since these pistons & rings were bought was a high compression setup. Nothing more, nothing less.

All this while I was given an impression that due to the forged crank & conrods I had purchased the engine suffered two re-builds. That if I had stuck to my tuners initial plan of just putting in the pistons alone it would have sufficed without ANY reliability issues. Its only very recently that I figured out that running ONLY pistons would have been equally detrimental for my engine as well. As the pistons would still have come quite a margin above deck height. Its only because I bought a forged crank that was much shorter than the OE one we could manage to get the pistons back to deck height. So I was told we were all set after the second re-build and that I would have no more issues forever.

Looks like reliability was short lived, lasting all of only 5 months (for two months I kept cribbing about these issues with no one to look into the issue at hand). And to add to that here is a list of parts that miraculously failed on my car which came to the fore front in the last 15 days.

a) Piston rings.
b) Engine block walls damaged as well. Need new sleeves.
c) Cam end bit to be replaced. Cause for erratic idle.
d) Injector set damaged. Two injectors not functioning.
e) Car had been for two scheduled services in this 8 month period yet somehow fuel filter, oil filter were never replaced.
f) Gearbox on opening was found lack oil, infact I am told it was BONE DRY. Which means there was no re-fill during the two services either.
g) Which meant I have to replace my differential which has suffered damage.
h) Need to replace gear ratios, since some of the teeth were worn beyond recognition.
i) Engine head is showing signs of a stress fracture with no guarantee on when it could give up.
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Old 19th October 2007, 22:21   #3
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So all in all, in the last 1 year I have spent 2.5L on modding my car and another 40-45k only on re-building my engine thrice. During these 9 months of torrid times, car has been idle at garages for over 2 months or so. Parked at home without using it for another month. It doesn't end here, stuff I had bought for over 1L are all rendered useless now and labour charges amounting to 28k, headgaskets amounting to 14k had to be changed all gone down the drain as the entire thing had to be sacrificed on.

And during these times, I have been told about a million reasons on why my engine suffered such horrendous times. Some of them being:

1. It is my driving. Pedal to metal. Engine can't take it. I can vouch that during the period of the first two rebuilds the car was driven hard for about 500kms in total. Pune-Bombay expressway, Nandi Hills drive.

2. Then there were news doing the rounds that I was attempting something that was never done before and hence everyone expected issues like this to crop up. Truth be told, before my engine was opened I was assured "Everything is planned, don't worry". From no issues would be faced, today I am standing with 3 rebuilds done in a period of 8 months in under 9,000 kms. Maybe I was just forgotten to be told "You have an un-reliable engine".

3. Then there was this another theory doing the rounds that engine had issues because I had "forced" my tuner to put in conrods & crank I had purchased. Truth is, yes I bought it. I asked if they "could" be used or would I have to wait till my "turbo setup". I was told the build would be done with pistons, crank, conrods all put in to achieve the max benefit. And that it was all under control. Sadly, it wasn't.

Final analysis proved that it were the pistons ONLY to be the culprit. And not the crank & conrods. During second re-build conrods were replaced by OE to bring pistons back to deck height and yet I had another engine failure. Had I put back the OE crank pistons would once again come above deck height and warrant the use of two headgaskets.

4. And this one takes the cake. Now, my dad is being blamed for the engine rebuilds saying that he filled 87 Oct fuel on the car. Truth be told, I had the first rebuild without my dad even driving the car. Second rebuild occurred inspite of using 100 + Oct fuel only. I brought this bit of news to my dad's notice and he said "I think the person needs to get a tight slap from me".

Moral(s) of the story:
1. Don't be the one to do "a first" on your car. Just follow the success path of someone who has been there, done that.
2. Do your homework, and stick to what "you" want from your car and not what "others" think is best for your car.
3. When your tuner says "I have everything under control, expect worse things to come and be prepared".
4. High compression is not the way to get max power on a NA engine. Its the least reliable way.
5. When your tuner says "Why you bother, I will handle it" when you ask questions beware that you are the only one who will be blamed for any shortcomings later on.
6. Never do any mods, that you don't understand.
7. No matter how good a tuner is, he will never accept his mistakes. Rather you will be blamed.
8. Professionalism is what is lacking in the tuning circle in India from my experience.
9. A.S.S is very important in the art of modding your car too. Without it, you life is HELL!
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Old 19th October 2007, 22:27   #4
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Latest news is my suspension is bust in about 9,000kms. 1 track day, 1 Nandhi Hills drive, 1 Sathyamanglam Ghat section, Pune-Bombay Expressway, Yelagri. These are the only times the car was pushed hard into corners. Need to get that replaced as well. So re-build this time is soon hitting the 50-60k mark now. Will keep updating this as I move on.
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:07   #5
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I think you need to add:
10. Put oil in your engine and gearbox while running.
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:10   #6
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Quote:
Moral(s) of the story:
1. Don't be the one to do "a first" on your car. Just follow the success path of someone who has been there, done that.
2. Do your homework, and stick to what "you" want from your car and not what "others" think is best for your car.
3. When your tuner says "I have everything under control, expect worse things to come and be prepared".
4. High compression is not the way to get max power on a NA engine. Its the least reliable way.
5. When your tuner says "Why you bother, I will handle it" when you ask questions beware that you are the only one who will be blamed for any shortcomings later on.
6. Never do any mods, that you don't understand.
7. No matter how good a tuner is, he will never accept his mistakes. Rather you will be blamed.
8. Professionalism is what is lacking in the tuning circle in India from my experience.
9. A.S.S is very important in the art of modding your car too. Without it, you life is HELL!
These 9 points are gonna save lots of people from burning their pockets.

Even though my car is bone stock, i've seen modifications being done on Wolf's VTEC and the one thing that has kept him satisfied, is the fact that he takes complete charge when it comes to making crucial decisions.

Despite all temptations, he's left the internals of his engine, untouched.

Shan2nu
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:10   #7
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man o man, mcl dude , you've been through quite a journey. I just read the whole of part one and part 2 (this thread) and I must say you've had a lot of passion and ofcourse guts doing what you did

Didnt really know you were in so deep, when we went for the yelagiri drive - i did hear you hit 230 but needed to stop every 10 mins to check things out

i am sure you have learnt lot of things out of this experience and you have done a tremendous job of putting it down for all of us who may one day be interested in modding their current/future cars.

Thanks for this great wealth of info and advice which comes out of both parts of this thread and hopefully your baleno will be back in good shape soon

good luck,
j
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:19   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shan2nu View Post
Wolf's VTEC and the one thing that has kept him satisfied, is the fact that he takes complete charge when it comes to making crucial decisions.
I think the word you're looking for here is responsibility.
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:19   #9
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Erm.... completely off topic. But my home is not a hotel. Had it been, I would have been quite rich. Quite the opposite to where it gets you by doling out freebies.
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:33   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v1p3r View Post
I think you need to add:
10. Put oil in your engine and gearbox while running.
I think that it is the responsibility of the mechanics whom i entrust my car with, to look into these details inspite of giving them clear cut instructions to follow the guidelines set by MUL for servicing of cars. If i were to check and recheck every work being carried on the car, i don see a need to send the car to a garage at all.
Besides the point, when my engine is sucking in oil everyday inspite of adding oil, goes to show the workmanship rather than my inability to take care of my car.

PS:I seem to have lost count of how many boxes of engine oil i have purchased during this time. Infact, my last but last service was carried out with the oil that was left over from all the cartons i purchased over the last 3 months or so.

Last edited by mclaren1885 : 19th October 2007 at 23:37.
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:38   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
I think that it is the responsibility of the mechanics whom i entrust my car with, to look into these details inspite of giving them clear cut instructions to follow the guidelines set by MUL for servicing of cars. If i were to check and recheck every work being carried on the car, i don see a need to send the car to a garage at all.
Besides the point, when my engine is sucking in oil everyday inspite of adding oil, goes to show the workmanship rather than my inability to take care of my car.
Personally, I never go away from a service station without verifying that every job on the card has been completed to my satisfaction. I think, being a car lover, that is the least I owe my car.

Anyway, do continue. This is a real eye-opener. Why don't you give us the names of your 'friends', tuner, importer, and present tuner?
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:43   #12
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Quote:
I think the word you're looking for here is responsibility.
Nope, Responsibility is when you allow something to be done (that you're not sure about) and blame yourself should something go wrong (you just end up feeling miserable).

Charge is when u listen to everything your tuner has to say, decide for yourself if it really needs to be done and still blame yourself should something go wrong (only this time, the blame will be justified).

So far, all of Wolf's decisions have worked in his favour.

Shan2nu
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:53   #13
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I bow to your superior knowledge.
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Old 19th October 2007, 23:57   #14
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Quote:
I bow to your superior knowledge.
Better late than never.

Shan2nu
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Old 20th October 2007, 00:10   #15
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Mcl, I can empathize because I've been there done that.

Which is why today I firmly believe in the adage:

If you want something done right, DO IT YOURSELF.
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