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2012 Candy White 2dr Base Model GTI, or Abby as I call her

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Hi all, I've been slowly adding parts to my car since I got it brand new in 2012. Throughout that time (and to this day) the forums were always a great resource. I see the forums seem to be less active lately and hope to add my thread in here as my way of contributing back and being active.

This is a good time to start the build thread as I've recently passed 100k (120k as of last edits) miles and am fine tuning my stage 2 set up. I plan to keep this car as long as it runs, and if I can afford it I will even likely spend more than most to fix it in the event of a failure. Absolutely love this car.

The most important mod is maintenance, I've definitely stretched a few oil changes but I've gotten it changed consistently throughout the life of the car. Just submitted a sample to Blackstone Oil Analysis for their most thorough tests and got good news on all fronts from them (Results posted below).

Maintenance:
  • Oil Changes Every 5k
    • I've definitely passed that by a bit before.. Just make sure your level is in check and you aren't driving too hard when you are getting up there in miles. I used to do 10k intervals, but as I got closer to 100k miles and started adding more of these mods, I cut that in half.
  • Tires
    • I've chewed through about 6-7 sets. A tad high, but I don't like riding them down to the last mm of tread. Always rotate, balance, align as necessary - these are your contact patches with the road for performance & safety reasons.
  • Fuel Filter
  • Carbon Cleaning
  • Confirmed new revision of cam chain tensioner installed
  • 1 Wheel Bearing @ ~90k
  • Accessory belt @ 105k
  • 1 O2 sensor @ ~105k

My performance mod list:
(in order - starting at about 1,200 miles)
  • Unitronic tune
  • Autotech Intake
  • S3 short shifter
  • Audi R8 Coilpacks (changed 1x since then)
  • NGK Plugs (changed 2x since then)
  • Custom stage 1 intake (more on that to come)
  • ECS Solid Shift Cable bushings
  • Southbend Stage 2 Daily Clutch Kit
  • Autotech lower engine mount Insert
  • Cobb Acessport (Currently running custom Freektune, Ran the 'Stage1 High Boost 93 Octane' off the shelf tune for quite some time)
  • ECS Tuning 3" downpipe
  • EBC Yellow brake pads (Front & Rear)
  • Brembo OE Style Rotors (Front & Rear)
  • ECS Tuning: Engine, Transmission, Dogbone mounts
  • ECS Tuning Turbo Outlet Pipe
  • ECS Tuning Silicon Intake hose (just wanted to get rid of that ugly stock accordion hose)
  • Custom COBB Stage 2 flash from Justin @ Freektune
  • GFB DV+
  • ECS Tuning Turbo Muffler Delete (mates to already installed ECS Tuning Turbo Outlet Pipe)
  • ECS Tuning Throttle Pipe
  • Deka ETX-30L 21lb AGM battery

Accessories:
  • RCD330 Android Auto / Apple Car Play Head Unit
  • Dash Cam & radar detector with stealth cables hardwired from fusebox
  • Metal 'GTI' Seat lever inserts
  • Clear side marker set
  • Raceseng Topology Shift Knob
  • LED Everything I Can
    • dome lights, floor lights (red), rear brake lights, License plate bulb
  • Traditional yellow bulb for city lights (kept blowing LEDs)
  • Traditional bright white bulb for fog lights and side marker bulbs (side markers also kept blowing LED's)
  • 20% Ceramic tints on all windows but windshield (to this day one of my favorite mods to the car)
  • Southbend boost gauge + Column turbopod (basically, boost gauge mounted behind my steering wheel)
  • Euro-switch + trigger wire
  • Heated Blindspot Mirrors (blue tint)
  • WeatherTech Window Deflectors (dark colored)
  • I have a VAG-Com Cable so all coding most people want is done to mine
    • no beep on lock
    • windows open/close on hold unlock/lock on fob
    • brake lights flash on ABS activation
    • seat warmer memory (seat warmer stays where it was when turning car back on)
    • nstrument panel sweep
    • 5 flashes on comfort blinker
    • cornering lights (fog light turns on when turning wheel if not on already)
    • fog as DRL
    • some other things I can't remember at the moment - think I have a setting like fog lights with high-beams and others also enabled/altered

In my time with it, the car has certainly left me stranded a few times. I believe my numbers are higher than most…
  • 1 ECM failure
  • 4 or 5 water pumps (all warrantied)
  • 2 intake manifolds (all warrantied)
  • 1 fuel pump -will need to dig for the receipt on if high/low pressure, it was only one of them. (warrantied)

One day I hope to have the money for/time to find/these would be nice to have…
  • Rims that suit my taste & style
    • I already love the stock rims, but they are quite heavy
  • Budget yet quality sound system
    • hidden/non obtrusive sub, new speakers + tweeters, amps - I am actually a fan of the OEM head unit so I may keep it
  • Oil Pressure gauge
    • Not available on the COBB Acessport gauge view and it’s a good one to have. I'd much rather tow my car if I see an issue there than risk anything.
  • Sway bars/end links/Bushings
    • clean up the handling a little bit now that I have a bit more power than stock. Definitely feel the power affecting handling when working through a curvy road (keep in mind 100k of wear and tear).
  • Intercooler
    • Likely a drop in unit, I have my eyes on the CTS Turbo kit

As I chew through my latest set of tires (Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval AS) I am really feeling the need for some better performance there. Now that I have winter tires - I will be pulling the trigger on performance summers. I will likely be going with a set of Indy 500s

And now, some photos. I've attempted to arrange them chronologically as I could (starting with a photo of the GTI I had before this). Since I've never changed the appearance significantly I don't necessarily have much to look at other than a mostly-stock GTI. None of the photos are of my mods. If there is interest, I can try to dig up some photos of the mods as they were done.

The next time I have a moment to dig through photos and write up a summary, I will go into how/why I sort of made my own stage 1 intake for the GTI.

Feel free to ask any questions and I'll reply as I can!
 
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GolNat

Autocross Champion
Nice progress in 6 years and nice mods to come!!
 

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Bit of a maintenance weekend. Put in some fresh spark plugs (NGK: BKR7EIX) - my old ones appear to have been gapped way too big (.35). Swapped in some new ones at .28 and the car feels a bit more awake.
Old plugs pictured for reference:
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Spent Saturday night into Sunday morning working on swapping motor & transmission oil. First time changing the transmission oil on this car, definitely should have done it a while ago. Not any type of a noticeable difference so far, but its a maintenance item so it doesn't matter if it feels better or not anyway.
For anyone wondering I use Motul Specific - 5w40 & I used Motul 75w90 in the transmission.
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My brother installed a turbosmart DV kit which replaced his existing 42dd boost tap. While super clean looking, the included boost tap on my newsouth kit has never seemed too robust in my eyes. I jumped all over the opportunity to swap the 42dd one onto my car, I always had the OEM hose on me anyway incase of failure on the newsouth unit. Gauge seems a bit more responsive but it may just be me hyping up having gotten rid of a point of anxiety of mine.

Speaking of my brothers GTI - he found 5 loose boost hose clamps on his car. Turbo inlet & outlet pipes as well as another one I can't remember. Of course, this was after I dropped my car. So I raised it up, pulled off the belly pan, and found my hoses were all tight. This is all to say, some of you should go check your hoses :)

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As a stage 2 GTI owner in a state that has inspection, I am now wrangling with that pesky CEL. I have a CBFA to add to the fun. Tried a single o2 sensor spacer from 42dd, but now my car throws two codes
p2275: o2 Sensor Signal Stuck Rich; Bank 1 Sensor 3
p0145: o2 sensor circ. Bank1-Sensor3 Slow Response
I am...a bit past due for inspection.. so since I need to make sure I get this done ASAP I've ordered a mini cat for the o2 sensor. For those who don't know, it is quite literally a catalytic converter built into a spacer.

I am also seriously considering changing all 3 o2 sensors as the car - definitely at least the one that is giving me an error. As I said, a bit past due on inspection so I need to hit these codes with the heavy hammer and since the car already has 100K+ miles, may as well swap the other two while I am playing with the system and chalk it up to maintenance.

Absolutely itching to order that charge pipe kit from ECS. I already have a few other ECS parts installed that all seemed to be good quality so I am trusting of their work. Seems like the turbo muffler delete is sold out though, and I'd like to give myself a bit of time to save for that kit + sway bars at the same time so I might be perfectly OK with waiting.

While I am here writing in the thread - may as well also mention my intake woes. Looking to swap my home made stage 1 set up (write up on that coming one day) for a real intake. Always heard stage 1 is more than enough but I wouldn't mind getting a full system. Seeming like a battle between the unitronic & evoms intake for me. I know my DV has that issue where it whistles from a previous intake, so I will likely be ordering the drop in replacement from Turbosmart to install alongside my intake.

Hope everyone feels free to comment on and critique my choices & train of thought - don't mind hearing back from other experienced VAG owners.
 

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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
NewGuy Good stuff.
I would be interested in seeing the oil analysis report
Didn't know that was even a thing.

I've attached the report - seems like my numbers where mostly in line. I also took another sample this most recent oil change and will likely do so every 10k from here on out. Very good peace of mind for someone who drives like me :)
 

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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Aside from ordering that Minicat, I've also just placed an ECS order for my Turbo Outlet Pipe as well as a few small items including oil filter, accessory belt, cabin filter, and a few drain plug washers.

I went with the ECS pipe. Was debating between the Neuspeed but I have a few other ECS parts I have been very happy with so I decided continue to put the parts on my car. Nearly sure they are just buying out companies that are some-what good and putting their name on it anyway, which I am A-okay with.

Was going to order some more motul specific for my next oil change, but I decided next I'm going to get a cheaper oil and see if I notice any substantial difference. I am beginning to feel that as long as its not the cheapest generic oil, is fully synthetic, and hopefully is optimized for hard driving, that it's probably all down to splitting hairs after that. Especially considering I am changing every 5k where the oil barely has a chance to get used.
 

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Got a few boxes in so I decided to jack the car up last night after work. Had little motivation but the budwiser kept me company as I worked through a small to-do list.

Cleared my bulb out error for the rear LED bulbs I have - bye 18 from 03 to 1F seems to have done it.

Installed my Turbo Outlet Pipe
This was pretty straightforward. Once you have access it's not a terribly hard part of the car to work on. Took a short test drive and built about 20lbs of boost on a quick spin and nothing popped off so hopefully everything is done correctly :)

While the TOP was off, changing my serpentine belt took record time. Nearly sure it was under a minute and then a few more seconds of double checking to ensure it's all seated correctly.

Also got my mini-cat and new 3rd o2 sensor in (CBFA) - wasn't able to unscrew the 42dd spacer or the o2 sensor, so probably going to take it to a shop. I don't want to leave it a bit loose and have an exhaust leak or anything.

While I was under there, decided to address my small oil leak from the drain plug. Guess the copper washer I used was just a tad too big, I tightened the hell out of the drain plug but it was still dripping. Out with the motul, in with some Castrol 5w-40 - and the right sized washer, and seem to be in better shape now.

Thinking its time for an intake and a real tune...I've been thinking about reaching out to Freektune to see what they can do for the car. The Intercooler might have to come after some other interior & maintenance things I plan to do which won't be for quite some time.

Really wanting to step up the interior a bit, will likely get that OEM Android Auto head unit and thoroughly clean the carpets sometime soon. Will update when I settle on what the next round of mods are or if there are any questions.
 

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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Fun stuff since the last update - this one will be short as there is not much of an update to give but definitely another mile stone.

Went to replace my spark plugs the other day - as I was taking one out I realize it was broken entirely and the threads where stuck in my head while I had the rest of the plug in my hand. Towed it to my mechanic who was able to pop the threads out with a left handed drill bit real quick.
I guess this is an example of what I was expected to pull out of my head, and what I actually pulled out :)

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Now back on track - just ordered my tune from Justin @ Freektune. Sent in my entire modlist & such in the email already so now hoping to make some progress by Tomorrow if possible, if not Monday. Will be sure to report back during the tuning for others to see what the process is like.
 
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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Itching for my tune since I ordered it yesterday, being very impatient awaiting my email of more power.

Last night I replaced zip ties for spring clips on my boost gauge hose as the zipties were getting a bit brittle - also added an inline filter for fun since I had it laying around.

Replaced the O ring on my oil dip stick as well as the O ring/gasket under the oil fill cap as they have a few years under their belt now.

Also went ahead and unplugged my Soundaktor. I have been meaning to do it since I got the car really but I have just never gotten around to it. I must say, definitely not a huge difference but I do feel that I notice its a bit quieter in the car now. Then again my car already has mounts and clutch chatter so I am not the best test case.
 

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Ok so the tune is finally done and has been on the car for a bit of time so I can review the process & results.

Overall, took about 8 weeks. Bit of rain delays on my part for logs, overall usually took about 5-7 days for a new revision from Justin which is exactly the expectation he sets from the start.

Whether or not I am right or just ignorant I may never know, I have much more peace of mind knowing that my car has a tune custom tweaked for its own needs. On top of that, its also undeniably faster.

I never took any baseline virtual dyno logs but so far I've seen consistent averages of about ~235hp and ~280tq. This is over about 20 pulls on a few different stretches of road over 2 days. This is while spiking at about 21-22lbs of boost.

I am hoping to get some better logs now that I have confirmation the tune is done and I am not paranoid the car will blow if I try to really push it.
 

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Its been some time since I've given an update here. I can finally move some long time wants from the "wish" list to the "done" list.

Backing out of a parking spot about 3 years ago, a car turned the corner just as I looked the other way during my triple check and they didn't see me either. Nothing bad, but I've had hairline cracks on the top of my rear bumper for years now. I've also been getting more and more rockchips on my hood which started to rust.

I tackled my hood myself with a paint pen, but it sort of looked just as bad - only without the rust. Finally pulled the trigger and dropped the car off at a body shop to get those things fixed up. Got some progress pics and its obviously looking brand new again.

This might be the motivation I needed for some new rims since mine have a bit of wear & tear on them from a few instances of carelessness.

I've also gone ahead and installed a GFB DV+ which I must say I love. Definitely holds more boost, earlier and sounds awesome when I do let off. I took a ton of logs when getting my tune done so I've got good reference points on the old set up & new one.

I've also popped in an RCD-330 I got from a chinese retailer on Ebay. Absolutely in love with my car in an entirely new way once again. Having android auto has been great, I was never a fan of touch screen radios but my phones interface in my car was too tempting to pass up.

I ran the numbers with some friends recently and I've definitely spent more than the car is worth on it in the past 2 years but I love this thing so I will keep on keeping on (For reference - I value the car at about 6-7k).
 

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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Another periodic update to document some changes.

After 7 years of admiring everyone else's front ends, I finally went ahead and got my lower insert color matched on my front bumper. Between this new front end & my last post going over the rear bumper, the car is looking brand new again.

I pulled the trigger on a cheapo amazon tow-hook plate holder for my front plate. It was legitimately $16 or something. Between some serrated lock washers, lock-tite, & anti-seize, it has been doing the job just fine for a few months now.

I am currently running some winter steelies & tires I picked up from a Jetta owner for $200 - nearly brand new General Artimax Artic tires were great all winter. Absolute night & day difference between winter tires in the snow & all seasons.

Now that I have winter tires, it is time to get my first set of nice summer rubber put on the stock wheels. Should be a pretty nice difference when I launch between the tires, clutch & mounts. Can't wait to see how it puts the power down.

Looks like I am closing in on about a year with my custom e-tune from Justin @ Freektune. No issues on that front - car has been acting just fine since the first base map was flashed and now since my final revision has been on here its been great. I do wish there was a way to get some better MPG, but I would have to get another tune to optimize for that and I am not sure its worth it just yet.

Next on my list is probably an intercooler and possibly some suspension refreshments. Car is coming up on 120k miles now, so a few replacements in that area are not out of the ordinary. I'm sure I will come up with one or two other changes to make in the engine area at the same time as the intercooler install - after those changes I will likely go ahead and get another tune made for the car.
 

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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
Pulled the trigger on & installed the ECS Turbo Muffler Delete (the one that fits right to their Turbo Outlet Pipe, which I already had installed previously), and the ECS Throttle Pipe kit.

At this point my intercooler piping from Turbo Muffler Delete to Throttle Body is completely upgraded - only part of that system left to upgrade is the intercooler.

Amazing how much of a difference that piping made. Certainly not much more noise coming from the car, but pulls quite a bit harder from the lower-end right to the mid-range and I didn't' get a chance to push it beyond that.

Installed the Throttle Pipe n about 30 mins, took the better part of about 9 hours for the Turbo Muffler Delete. Took my time and went step by step - found the n75 valve needed to be unscrewed and secured to another area which was a little-documented step that was a huge PITA. A better mechanic than myself could probably have gotten this all done within 3 hours. Super happy with the way it turned out.

Fresh oil change and pulled another sample to send out to Blackstone for analysis. Last one was 20k miles ago and I'd like to get another checkup.
 

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mkv_martinez

Go Kart Champion
I've never made a post in this thread about my detailing - I think the forum could use more detailing content so I will go ahead and do so below.

Went ahead and 'installed' Glassparency on my car last weekend
I went ahead and polished my windshield using a Rayon pad on my 6" DA and some CarPro glass polish after hitting it with Paint Prep, Iso Alcohol, diluted APC, & claybar to get it nice and clean down to bare glass. Removed a few waterspots and cleaned up any bonded contamination - glass was totally naked.
Now with Glassparacy hopefully there is much less glare at night - supposedly Rain-X induces quite a bit of glare; a problem I've always had and Rain-x is a product I've always used.

The car is also now fully swapped over to an Sio2/Ceramic based protection system. I used to be into synthetic sealants, but now between all the ceramic soaps, spray waxes, and detail sprays; it only makes sense to switch over. Before winter I used Griots Garage Liquid Gloss Poly Wax all over my car and even the body shop guys commented while doing my front end after an entire winter of wear & tear how it was waxed like nothing they've ever seen before and was slicker than anything they've used. They've actually recounted that story more than once as they are close friends. Anyway; since winter has ended I've used the Griots Garage Ceramic 3-in-1 Wax after washes and the gloss, slickness, and self-cleaning properties and absurd.
To anyone who isn't sure what self-cleaning properties means or how ceramic coatings/waxes work - definitely type some of those words into youtube to check it out. Much, much easier to blast dirt and road grime off the paint with just a hose now, leaving much less contamination to get caught in my sponges and scratch anything.

Additionally, I've applied some Adams Brilliant Glaze to the inside of my windshield and the clarity is great - not dust, debris, or grime really sticking to the glass. Should make keeping it clean much easier and also hopefully help fight the glare-problem.

I've attached a photo for reference of my soapy-water beading off the car while washing. I've maintained coats of wax before, but I've never seen this. This is a photo of what the car looks like after foaming. Before, foam would stick and dwell for as long as I needed. Now....
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