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99 2.5 RS Coupe STM
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

Bought a new '02 WRX back in the day and sold it after a year so it's been a good 10 years since I've been in the Subaru game. So after a few months of browsing the car for sale classifieds on here and nasioc, I finally managed to pick up a coupe. Feels good to be back in the game. Picked up this one from NH 2 weeks ago and make the 1100 mile drive home with 0 issues. Car is a little rougher than what the add showed but now that I've bought 4 cars blind via forums that seems to be the norm.

Plans are to make a nice winter daily driver out of this for now till I can get my other project car up and running. She needs some work as the suspension is nearly blown, the rotors are warped and pulse under anything more than slight braking, and the clutch is pretty grabby.
 

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99 2.5 RS Coupe STM
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
First order was to get the brakes fixed asap so got a decent set of stock rotors and hawk HPS pads. Figured I would get a borla header at the same time to bring back the nice rumble I remember from my WRX days.

So the brakes and header showed up the Friday before Veterans day and I got around to starting the header instal Sunday evening. Ran into some severely rusted bolts holding the stock manifold to the cat so had to leave the car on ramps that evening. Came back Tuesday after work to finish the header and finally got that rusty bolt off with some dremel action. So got the header on finally around 10 pm and had to take the car out for a drive in the country to hear it and heat cycle the VHT header paint I had sprayed on.

Well about 2 minutes before I get home from the 30 minute drive I see a deer off on the right side of the road. As I get closer sure enough the dummy charges right for the middle of the road. Slammed on the brakes and swerved to avoid him and luckily just slapped him in the head with the passenger mirror.



Turn right around to inspect the damage and nothing to the body thankfully, mirror was dangling by the wire so I had to cut the wires to prevent it from dragging across the door. It shattered the internals pretty good and split the housing in 2. Deer was nowhere to be found so couldn't have hurt him that much. The worst part about it was that morning when i took the other car to work I noticed the drivers side mirror had a crack in the glass, guess it didn't like the 30º morning temps, which isn't even that cold either.

So guess I'm ordering both mirrors when I can find suitable replacements.
 

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99 2.5 RS Coupe STM
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Discussion Starter #4
So after finding a suitable set of white mirrors and having them shipped I pull into the garage to begin the brake job. Figure I'll start with the drivers front. Get the wheel off and caliper quite easily, go to take the carrier bolts off and the heads break loose off the bolts. I've had good and really bad luck in the past with broken bolts. Got 2 good pilot holes through the bolts this time though so might not be that much of a challenge to get the bolt shells out cleanly.

But I started poking around and realized now would be the perfect time for a WRX front brake upgrade since I might already have to replace the carriers. I'll just snag a set of WRX carriers or carriers/calipers if I cant find a set of early 02 carriers. Need to find out what SS brake lines I can use if I upgrade the front calipers to 03-05 WRX units so I can get this car back on the road. Any thoughts on the lines?
 

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99 2.5 RS Coupe STM
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Discussion Starter #5
2013 Winter revival

I guess it's been a while since I've updated this thread. Ended up picking up a complete set of WRX brakes (calipers, rotors, carriers) last winter and got those installed with the Hawk pads. Also managed to pick up a Prodrive Biletein/Eibach shock/spring package last winter as well. Got some 225/50R16 Continental DWS tires to go on the 16x7 wheels that came on the car. So with new brakes, shocks/springs, and tires the car was handling quite well. Unfortunately the drivers front shock was in need of some repair as the bolt on the bottom that holds the top of the inverted shaft secure is broken off and the strut clunks.

So pulled all 4 struts back out in September of this year with plans to send them to Bilstein to be repaired/rebuilt. Reinstalled the OEM struts so I can drive around this winter. With the Bilsteins on there and the OEM struts I still get some vibration under braking from the drivers front. The WRX rotors were used so either a slightly warped rotor or a wheel bearing issue. I'll have to get figure out the source and replace whats necessary.
 

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99 2.5 RS Coupe STM
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
MSD coil pack conversion

Car has been running good this winter, even on the stock bouncy struts its still a fun car to drive. I definitely have plans to swap in a STI motor and drivetrain to this car so I dont have many plans for the stock engine setup. I would however like to see if there is a way to improve fuel economy.
I've had many VW's in the past and one of my favorite engines is the 96-98 VR6 from the GTI's. I was involved with a MSD coil pack conversion for those cars and started looking into whether or not that same conversion could apply to the EJ253 in my 2.5RS. On the VW VR6 engine that conversion brought that car from a 26-27 highway MPG car to a 29-30 highway mpg car. If I could achieve the same results on my 2.5RS I would be more than happy since i seem to get almost the same 27-28 mpg each tank.

Internet searches for anything with MSD + (Subaru, Impreza, 2.5RS) turn up just about nothing, get a few people asking a question in a forum with no answers or simply that I cannot be done. Well yes and no. It turns out the ignition on the 2.5RS is very similar to that of the 96-98 VR6, both are distributor-less ignition on a waste spark coil pack with built in igniter. It's because of the built in igniter that most people seem to give up.

The closest coil pack MSD that works well for our cars is the 8239. Its intended for late 90's Dodge/Mitsubishi cars and looks identical almost to our coils so I ordered one from Summit Racing to see how it would work.

When the coil arrived I went out and sized it up and it is a close but not an exact fit. The stock coil pack is slightly wider than the MSD coil pack so I can only get 1 of the 3 bolt holes to lineup. I'll have to build an adapter plate but for now it rest on top of the manifold just fine for testing purposes.





I'll post more as I get some testing done and get her fired up with the new coilpack system.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
MSD coil pack conversion



Got the bracket fab'd up and painted, looks awesome in red! Made this bracket with a friend that shifts the coil back about 1/2" to the passenger side. Uses counter sunk bolts to attach to the manifold and is threaded so the new MSD coil pack can bolt down to this. Lifts the coil pack a good 1/2 over stock but there is still plenty of clearance to the hood and plenty of slack in the plug wires to allow for the minimal shift to the passenger side.


Got everything wired up with temporary electrical tape/twisted wires for a test, it runs! So much for MSD not working on a Subaru.

Since our stock coil packs have the igniter built in you will also need to get the MSD 6302 igniter. I have a 6304 on here because this was borrowed from my VR6 project and it needs the 4 channel igniter for the extra 2 cylinders, but the 6302 will do the same thing. You can see I also have my MSD DIS-4 hooked up and resting on the brake booster, again borrowed from my VR6 so it needs the 4 channels, but a DIS-2 would work fine as well.

Going to install the braket under the coil pack later and tidy up the wiring harness and figure out a permanent way to mount the DIS-4 ignition and the igniter. The big advantage with this 40,000 volt ignition system is that I can now run a .060" plug gap for a much hotter spark and that is where the extra 2-3 MPG will come from. I have no idea what mileage the old plugs have so I picked up a new set of NGK laser platinum plugs and I'll install those here shortly with the gap set to .060.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
MSD coil pack conversion

Got the new coil pack bracket mounted and started cleaning up the wiring.



I was unable to find a wiring diagram for the wires leading to the factory coil pack so with a little trial and error I found the following:

Black= ground
Yellow/White = +12v
Red/Green = Channel 1 (cylinders 1/2)
Blue = Channel 2 (cylinders 3/4)

I left myself a good 2-3 inches when I cut the connector to the factory coil pack if I ever need to re-attach it for some reason.



You will need to to connect the red/green wire to the channel 1 input on the MSD igniter, and the blue wire to the channel 2 on the igniter. The MSD igniter needs to be grounded and I chose to ground it to chassis rather than route it to the old coil pack ground, so I simply closed up the factory ground wire and tucked it back into the wire loom. The Yellow/White +12v wire will connect directly to the center +12v terminal on the 8239 coil pack. The output from the igniter will go to the respective inputs on the coil pack for channel 1 and 2.

My wiring is slightly more involved since I am also wiring in my DIS-4 ignition box. The DIS-4 electrically goes in between the igniter and the coil pack. I still need to find a good place to mount the rather large DIS-4 box and have settled on mounting it above the brake booster. I will build another bracket of some sort to mount it there next. The igniter I will mount behind the driver side shock tower. The igniter is rather small and will simply mount to any existing screw hole.



Next I will be installing and gapping the new plugs and may as well changing the valve cover gaskets since they are leaking and It's all in the same area.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maintenance

Along with valve cover gaskets I decided to do the timing belt & water pump since I got no receipts with the car and I have no idea of the condition of the current belt. Found a nice place to order parts from, rockauto.com had great prices on a gates timing belt kit and valve cover gaskets and a few other misc parts (thermostat, water temp sender). Motor mounts are thoroughly shot so I also picked up a complete set of STI group N motor mounts from fastwrx.com, another great place for parts. Since I was removing the header in order to lift the motor to get the mounts out, I figured I would tackle the broken stud the previous owner left me. I ignored it last time because I was installing the header in my driveway in 30º weather.

Here you can see the present, broken exhaust stud:


Tried all my usual tricks and even my stud remover could not get this one, just not enough to grab onto. Ended up hauling the car on a trailer to a buddies house to weld a nut on. 3rd try worked, we found a washer that was the perfect size and welded a much larger nut onto the stud so as to get a weld on the top and sides of the stud.



Felt pretty good getting that stud out of there, made it worth all the trouble of hauling the car around for 1 bolt.

I should have the timing belt and new valve cover gaskets on this weekend so I can get to road testing the MSD ignition upgrades.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Yes it drives! I got a little carried away with the maintenance and found more parts to replace. That and been involved in some collision repair and spraying some parts for a friend. They got hit by someone with with no insurance so I got to learn some body repair and how to spray new parts, exciting times.

My other project project car is coming back to life finally and the DIS-4 was intended for the nitrous setup on that car so I'm not going to use the DIS-4 on the Subaru anymore. I've put about 15 miles on the car so far with the MSD coil pack and the plugs gapped at .060" and it drives great, but I just made a lot of changes so I cannot attribute them to the ignition jus yet until I get more time and data.

I have another weekend or two until this respray and body repair is done but I will definitely finish up the Subaru over the next few weeks and post the results here.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Still busy with other projects, have 75 miles on the new coilpack so far and car runs great. Been busy trying to polish the glass headlight lenses and remove the scratches in the side windows from worn guides. It's a real pain to sand/polish the scratches out of glass. I'll have more pics up tomorrow since I will actually get a chance to work on the Subaru then.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
235 miles so far on the new coilpack and scangauge is showing 29-30 mpg with an average of 75% city miles this tank. That's a solid 2mpg increase.

Been busy with lots of projects lately, one of which being repairing the heavy scratches in the side windows from worn guides. I finally got an effective method down. Here you can see how heavy the scratching is , I have 3 sets of these long scratches on each window. Scratches in glass are quite hard to photograph actually.



And here is after stage 2 of the 3 stages of sanding. Still have the final standing and the polishing stage to go, but quite a drastic difference so far.



You can see the scratches are completely gone and the glass is nice and smooth again. I'll have more pictures soon of the finished work.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Got my headlights put back together with the new shrouds for the projectors.
Still need to finish polishing the lenses, sanded them to smooth them out and remove some of the road rash.





Now that the headlights are back in I can get back to finishing the windows and finally put some miles on it for my proof of concept ignition modification.
 

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Can't wait for the next few updates! Looking good now man, how much did you spend so far for the ignition mod? If it really does give a great boost in mpg, and isn't too costly I would love to do the same!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I didn't get a chance to take picture yet but the front scratches are 95% gone on both the passenger and drivers windows. Don't think I can get them 100% since the windows were neglected for so long on my car, the scratches were very deep to begin with unfortunately. I'm quite satisfied though as its no longer a major distraction while driving.

As far as the ignition mod goes it was about $140 for the coil pack and the igniter and $40 for the mitsubishi/dodge connector. I probably could have found that connector cheaper because I just went to the local Mitsubishi dealer since they had it in stock and I didn't want to wait.

I was chasing some electrical problems that were giving me a P0130 (front O2 sensor voltage out of range) codes and it took me 2 months to figure out. In the meantime the ECU was stuck in open loop or closed loop at +38% fuel trim so I actually got 22-24 MPG since my update in April. Wound up I forgot to reconnect the ground that goes right next to the ignition coil (it was hiding under the plate I made for the MSD coil pack. Hooked that ground back up and the 10 or so mysterious electrical problems I was having suddenly disappeared and the MPG shot back up to 28 with only half a tank running with the good ground. I'll finally get a full tank with the new ignition setup so I can start to get some real results back.

In the mean time busy building a crib for my son so might be another few weeks before I get to post some more news. I'll get pics of the windows again though.
 

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Thanks for the write up! I been looking for days for the solution to my miss fires at high load. Can’t believe calling MSD directly they couldn’t help me with this but you did it on your own. Old thread, do you still have the RS? I’m gonna have to look into why my forester is getting such trash gas mileage as well. Should be mid to high 20s I’m getting very low 20s driving like a granny on the highway
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for the write up! I been looking for days for the solution to my miss fires at high load. Can’t believe calling MSD directly they couldn’t help me with this but you did it on your own. Old thread, do you still have the RS? I’m gonna have to look into why my forester is getting such trash gas mileage as well. Should be mid to high 20s I’m getting very low 20s driving like a granny on the highway
Sold my RS 2 years or so ago now, it was slowly dying of cancer and I never had time anymore to work on it now that I'm a father of 2 autistic boys.
 
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