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2005 JDM WRX Wagon


Mikku
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I recently joined and have posted a few things here and there, but thought I may as well keep everything in one place. This thread will also serve as a record of what I do with my newly-acquired 2005 JDM Impreza WRX Sports Wagon. Before I get into that, time for a quick rewind and some background. I’m a fifty-something Brit living in Japan and a long-time Subaru rally fan (I saw Colin McRae win the Network Q RAC Rally in Chester back in ‘94). It was therefore only a matter of time before I gave in to temptation and in 2018 I bought a 2003 JDM Forester Cross Sports. I loved that car and the performance from the 2-litre EJ20 turbo, but got increasingly fed up with the competent but boring automatic gearbox, which the majority of Japanese cars, including Scoobies, are fitted with. After flirting with but failing to find a decent Forester STi within my budget, I decided to go in another direction, namely Impreza WRX Wagons. With similar-ish luggage space as the Forester (I race BMX, so need to get all my bike gear in the back), a manual Impreza seemed to tick all the boxes. I looked at a few cars before finally settling on a 2005 Hawkeye WRX in the iconic world rally blue. A 2-owner car with 111K km (69K miles) on the clock, it’s stock apart from an STi Genome rear box but is noticeably sportier, lower, lighter and louder than the Forester. Although they share the same engine, the 5-speed box brings the EJ20 turbo alive. Not that the Forester was slow, but the WRX feels so much faster. That gorgeous exhaust note no doubt helps but six weeks in and I’m still loving it! So what are the plans? Well nothing major tbh. I’m probably going to keep the engine fairly standard, at least for the moment, though have already bought a turbo timer (I had one on the Forester) and am thinking about a GrimmSpeed air/oil separator, both for reliability/longevity reasons. I am also planning to buy some bonnet struts to replace the archaic bonnet stay/rod. Cosmetically, I love the look of the car though have already had to source some replacement grill sections following an argument with some snow. I’m also planning a change to gold rims when winter's out of the way. Anyway, I'll update this thread with progress and pics as and when. It’ll probably be more of an owner’s blog than a project build thread, but hopefully it’ll still be worth a butcher’s. 😎

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  • 3 weeks later...

So my JDM Wagon came with an aftermarket Carrozzeria audio/navi system, as pictured below. If you have never heard of the name before, it’s a popular Japanese brand made by Pioneer for the Japanese market. This particular model was a top-of-the-range “cyber navi” that was manufactured in 2012 and fitted to the car in 2013. I know that because the navi history shows the first destination in August of that year!! It has Bluetooth, an SD card reader, a tv, a front camera as well as the normal CD and radio. And of course the navi. I’ve never had a navi before, let alone a Japanese one, so don’t know if this is normal but even when I’m not using it, it/she invites me to take a rest after I’ve been driving for 2 hours. She also tells me that I’ve been idling too much in traffic and to turn my lights on when daylight starts to fade. It’s like having my mum in the car!! Which is not a good thing, in case you were wondering. 🤪 Moreover, the navi is THE most counter-intuitive piece of technology that I’ve experienced to date. Not having English instructions (or being able to read a Japanese user guide) doesn’t help but man, it’s annoying. For example, if you change your mind after typing in a destination and pressing the green “go” button, I can’t work out how to stop the damn thing! You would have thought there’d be a red “stop” or “exit” button but no, nothing! All of which leads me to the conclusion that it’s going! Soon!! And will be replaced with something much more simple to understand and operate! Watch this space! 👍

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So after the excitement of buying nice, new but “unnecessary” parts, I need to turn my attention to some maintenance issues. Two in particular. First up is to fix what I think is “power steering whine”, which I seem to get every time I start up and run the car from cold. And it does get flipping cold over here! I’ve read lots about this whine on here and elsewhere, so will start off replacing the O-ring and go from there. This weekend I’ll also whip off the air intake duct to check out the upper suction hose (aka the power steering reservoir line hose??) to see if that needs replacing too.

The second job to investigate and hopefully sort out is the mechanical clunk that comes from the back end, usually when I pull away from standstill or come to a stop. Since I’m no mechanic, this will most probably be well beyond my skill level, but before I dust down the wallet and head to my local dealer, I want to get under the car to see if there’s anything obviously amiss to my untrained eye. I first thought it was the rear brakes but I’m now thinking driveshaft or suspension. It doesn’t seem to happen when driving, or at least I haven’t noticed if it does, so who knows!? 

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On 2/21/2022 at 12:13 PM, Mikku said:

I want to get under the car to see if there’s anything obviously amiss to my untrained eye. I first thought it was the rear brakes but I’m now thinking driveshaft or suspension. It doesn’t seem to happen when driving, or at least I haven’t noticed if it does, so who knows!? 

Brakes tend to be a higher pitched clang metallic ting does sound like it could be suspension (check top mounts as well) or a link somewhere

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Thanks J! I've had a roll around under there and can't see anything that's obviously amiss other than some play in the sway bar end links (I think the bushings have seen better days), which gives me the excuse to buy some Kartboy replacements. However, I'm not sure that's causing the noise I'm hearing (which occurs when pulling away and stopping rather than going over bumps) and since it's now happening more  noticeably and frequently and I have a couple of long drives coming up, I've booked the car in for an inspection at my local Subaru dealer to see what they say. If it's a quick and easy fix then I'll have a go myself but if not, they can do it. I hate paying dealer rates but such is life. 🙄

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So I took the WRX to Subaru yesterday, taking the mechanic out for a quick drive beforehand, so he could hear the noise I was talking about. I also told him about the play in the rear end links. The diagnosis was that the left rear strut was sticking, so they gave that a good doing over, greased it up and that seems to have cured the problem, albeit for the moment. Reading about this problem online, I'm guessing that this will be a temporary fix but at least I now know what the issue is and can keep it (and the right strut) greased up through the year.

The mechanic also noted that the top radiator hose was bulging and the top of the radiator was starting to show its age, so they'll have to be replaced over the next few months. Along with those rear end links! Onwards and upwards! 👍

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Switched out the winter wheelset today and whilst I was there, I lifted up the dust boots on the rear struts and smothered the shafts with lithium grease. Hopefully that will keep them quiet for a while. 👍

The "new" gold rims look the dog's danglies!! 😎

Impreza 21.jpg

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Fitted the WC Lathe Werks knob to the stock shifter, just to see how it feels and... I flippin' love it! Looks great, fits the hand well and even seems to have improved the shifting feel a little, despite being lighter than the stock knob. Can't wait to see how it feels with the Kartboy short shifter! 👍

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WC Lathe Werks 2.jpg

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After a few "issues", I managed to fit the Kartboy short shifter today. Only had time for a quick drive but it feels great with the Lathe Werks knob, which is now a little lower than before. 😎

WC Lathe Werks 5.jpg

WC Lathe Werks 7.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Also replaced the incomprehensible Japanese navi/audio system for a slightly more understandable head unit. This has given me more storage space and I can also change the display colour to match the red of the instrument panel and dials. Sorted! 👍

Carrozzeria 3.jpg

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Had to park in Tokyo the other week and wouldn't you know it, the only space left was next to a younger, longer, heavier relative! 😁

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Have ordered a few parts from FastWRX in the US. Pics to follow as and when the box arrives! 👍

In the meantime, here's a couple of pics of my favourite two toys! 😍

BMX & WRX.jpg

WRX & BMX.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Am still waiting on my delivery from the US (some of the goodies were out of stock), so I picked up this STi Genome strut brace/bar to keep me going! I've read about clearance problems with a/c lines, so after I've cleaned it up I'll have a go at fitting it, possibly this weekend. 👍

Genome strut brace 3.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Haven't got round to fitting the strut brace yet but have received my box of goodies from the States, as well as some rally-esque mudflaps from Blighty! 😎

FastWRX box.jpg

FastWRX parts selection 1.jpg

Mudflap front.jpg

Mudflap rear.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Haven't fitted any of that yet BUT did finally get round to fitting the Genome strut brace!  And the sharp-eyed will have noticed something else under the bonnet!!

Genome bar 9.jpg

Genome bar 8.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I bit the bullet and junked the 17 year old, stock suspension and replaced it with an HKS Hipermax set of coilovers!! Man, what a difference!! I can actually feel the struts doing their job and the car now handles like a sports car rather than a bouncy sofa. With its lower stance, it also looks better too! Very happy!! 😁

HKS 1.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
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  • 1 month later...

Am currently considering an upgrade to either one or both of the sway bars, but whilst I go around in circles with that, I've just replaced the T10 parking light bulbs with some PIAA LEDs. Crappy daytime pics but the difference is still obvious.

New and old bulbs.jpg

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