V-dug's build thread for "redsled"


Go Kart Champion
Well, I've never done a build thread because I don't do these all-out, crazy builds that you see some guys doing on here or other enthusiast forums.

However, this is my third vehicle I've bought knowing I was going to be tweaking, tuning, improving, and overall enjoying the modifications I would be doing to it -- to improve it and make it my own.

As an aside, I love buying vehicles that have a large enthusiast community. Lots of great information to be gleaned, learn from other people's experience, and count on a good aftermarket community. My first such vehicle was the Subaru Forester XT, an insanely fast sleeper that benefits from being what amounts to a detuned wagon version of the STi (i.e. lots of aftermarket and OEM parts for it). The second was my wife's Toyota FJ Cruiser. Again, a large enthusiast community, lots of cool parts, get togethers and trail runs, etc. You should see my pics from driving 12-13k ft mountain passes at the FJ Summit!

So here I am with my first VW. I've done a couple of small things to it already, and have a few more coming in the next week. I'm only planning three or four big ticket items. I guess I'll first list what I HAVE done to it, then what I'm PLANNING to do to it. But the first pic will always be the most current pic.

OUTDATED, I need to get a new pic. But here's 10/2/12:

- 2011 VW GTI, Base Model.
- Tornado Red
- OEM Detroits
- Bought it 7/2012, 1 year old with 10k miles on it. Certified, so 4 year bumper-to-bumper warranty :)


(1) First mod, I unhooked the Soundaktor. Small, but it was the first step.

(2) Tint. Due to NC laws, I could only use 40% tint (visible light transmission tests at 33%, just above the legal limit of 32%. Pinnacle FormulaOne tint (40% light transmission, 47% heat reduction)

August 2012:

(3) WHEELS & TIRES! (VERSION1, street and track): RTX "Rennen" wheels. Cheap replicas (more info below). Tires are Kumho LE Sport (Max Performance Summer). Kumho LE Sport in stock size. These tires did OK for autocross, sticky on the street, but wore out pretty darn fast. Cheap and fast wearing.

WHEELS & TIRES! (VERSION2, track only): Detroits w/ Bridgestone RE-11 in 225/40/18 (extreme performance summer). I love the bridgestone family of autocross tires. Ran these for autocross for a year and then on street the next year when I got my RPF1s for autocross. Replacement is called RE-71R, and wear even faster :)

WHEELS & TIRES! (VERSION3, street only): Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 (Ultra high performance all-season). WOW, these are grippy tires for All-season tires. Mid-way between the next best UHP all-season and a good summer only tire. However, they wore freaking fast. I got 18k out of a set. However, treadwear warranty to 45k means I got a new set for half price!

WHEELS & TIRES! (VERSION4, track only): Enkei RPF1 in 17x7.5" size w/ Dunlop Direzza ZII (not Star Specs) in 225/45/17 (extreme performance summer). The Enkei wheels are 15.2lbs!!! There is a noticeable power to the ground difference with the lighter wheels. As for tires, I got the non-star specs on closeout to save $400. These are my autocross only setup.

(4) VAG-COM tweaks:
- Electronic Differential Lock (XDS) Strength: set to 2 (LOVE IT!)
- Windows: Roll Up/Down with Key
- Lighting: Fogs with High Beams
- Lighting: Fogs as Cornering Lights
- Lighting: Enable DRL Turn On/Off in MFI (2011+ Only)
- Instruments: Gauge Cluster Staging
- Adjusting Service Intervals (set to 5k)
- Lighting: Emergency Brake Flashing​

(5) Brake Pads - crossing this off the list 11/2012 as I put on a set of Stoptechs. Very happy with their performance so far, held up to one autocross very well. Holy brake dust batman!

(6) NewSouth Performance Redline boost gauge, column mount. This gauge is a GORGEOUS match for the GTI interior and is very, very fast. I installed it a couple days after Christmas and I'm loving it! UPDATE: still love how this gauge matches the interior perfectly. I do have to admin, however, that the needle movements are a little notchy and I have to tap it to get it to hit "0" after I turn off the car. A little nit-picky, but there it is.

(7) APR STAGE 1 BABY! @25k miles.
First Impressions: I have to say, Stage 1 makes crazy power. It will break loose in 2nd gear under WOT (just testing it). I'm very impressed and I don't see why anyone would want more power. OK, yes, I get the "mod bug" and I'm sure I'll get used to it, but this is more power than the car needs. Actually, I found myself saying "SH*T" when I was testing WOT!

Details: I did the fully loaded ECU, and got maps for 91, 93, and 100. I'll never use the 100, but it will be there for the next owner if they want it. I switched between 91 and 93, and there wasn't a huge difference in lower gears, but I noticed a difference in 6th on the highway. At mild throttle/medium boost (such as pulling around someone on the interstate), 91 feels as pathetic as stock did. But 93 pulls so much easier, even at the same PSI. So I'll likely leave it in 93 mode (had considered 91 just for the sake of babying it).​

(8) DEINSTALLED. 5/22/13 to 6/11/15. Southbend Stage 3 drop-in clutch installed! After going Stage 1, my stock clutch would sometimes slip, especially when colder. Wouldn't slip at all when the ambient temperate rose to 75 degrees or higher, but I didn't want to have to keep an eye on the RPMs every time I need to pass someone. I originally did a Southbend Stage 3 drop-in disk.

My impressions of it: it gripped VERY well, I never had any problem holding the power. However, day-to-day driving ease took a slight hit. This clutch has a very small window from not-engaged to fully-engaged. This makes for a less smooth driving experience. Also, some people describe it as "chattering", which doesn't mean a chattering sound but the fact it "shudders" a bit when engaging. This never went away for me, although the degree to which it does it depends on how much load you're putting on it, if you're on a hill, A/C on, etc. Finally, the stock clutch took hold near the top of the pedal, and this one was even higher. This also impacted ability to drive smoothly and predictably.​

The biggest problem by far was after the install I had intermittent problems with the car not wanting to come out of gear. Specifically, the clutch was not disengaging. I don't know that this was due to the SB Stg3 disk; in fact, being an intermittent issue really sounds like a spotty slave cylinder. Another option, Nothing Leaves Stock sells a shim for the TOB that is supposed to fix this very issue.

However, the slave cylinder and TOB are inside the transmission on these cars. That meant having to drop the transmission to do either fix. Not wanting to spend $600 in labor for something that might not fix the issue, and then have to pay it again, I decided to go with a whole different setup that should hopefully fix the problems once and for all. See "Build your own RSR kit" below.

(9) 12/21/13 @ 39k miles. Magnaflow catback exhaust! The install on this thing was simple. 45 minutes from the start of removing the old one to starting the new one. I do need to get back under it to adjust it a little.

Impressions? It's a little louder than I expected, but not bad at all. And it sounds GREAT when you get on it! After driving on the road for long periods, then driving around town, it's a little loud in the 2k RPM range. But in general, if you drive it easy you don't even notice it. Trust me, it's not bad: I've asked the wife and she hasn't been bothered by it at all. And she complained about the STi turboback I had on my Forester XT (though only about the way the exhaust buffeted at idle). So far, Im happy with the purchase!​

UPDATE 6/12/15: some days I do think about going back to stock. The Magnaflow is a little loud at times. I probably think about it a lot less now, I'm kinda used to it. The only time I can think of lately that it annoyed me was going up a steep mountain for a few miles at about 60mph. That meant lower RPM and more drone. Usually, I'm on the interstate at 75-80mph and it's not as bad, but can still be a little loud on some interstate hills early in the day. But I can't bring myself to go back to stock, it's just way too quiet.

(10) 6/11/15 @ 65k miles. "Build your own RSR clutch kit" aka "TT-RS Pressure Plate + TDI Clutch". To replace my Southbend Stage 3 clutch solution, to hold Stage 1 power, and to retain as much stock feel as possible, I went with the idea of sourcing all the parts necessary to build what HSTuning sells as the RSR kit. Audi TT-RS pressure plate, Golf TDI/R clutch, and new throw out bearing and slave cyclinder. As noted above, I was trying to remedy my car sticking in gear all the time with the SB Stg3 setup. That may have been due to a bad slave cylinder, but I only wanted to drop the transmission once more ($600) so I decided to do it all at once. Impressions:

I only have 150 miles on it so far, but engagement of this setup is much better than the SB Stg3. It's closer to the floor and smooth like the stock clutch it is! Sure, the pedal's stiffer, but (1) it's supposed to soften up after it gets broke in and (2) it's not that stiff; it feels right. Since I'm still breaking it in I can only comment on the feel, but oh what a feel it is! The SB Stg3 high engagement point and grabby-ness made smooth shifting and heel/toe a little more work; this new setup is so much easier and enjoyable to drive.​

(11) Stereo head unit (and now speakers, 3/16). Shortly after buying the GTI, but I forgot to log it :p. I put in a Pioneer double-din touch screen. Better than stock by a long shot, but my model apparently has the older processor or code issues that annoy me. Still it puts out a nice signal and has an 8 band equalizer. Added to that later (see Post #50) I replaced all the speakers and added a sub. My system sounds REEEEEEEEEAALY nice now! Great clarity, definition, and volume if I want it.

(12) ECS subframe spacer/shim kit. Back in 2013 when I first took the GTI to Tail of the Dragon (318 turns in 11 miles) I discovered the subframe clunk. I was about half-way through my first run of the dragon and turn--POP, turn--POP, turn--POP. Scared me at first, then discovered on here that it's just the subframe shifting. I checked the subframe bolts and they were a little loose. Tightened them up, but it came back. The Tyrolsport subframe collars look like a good solution, but are a little expensive. I decided to try the ECS subframe spacer/shim kit, and I'm glad I did. For less than $30 it has fixed the problem. Even having the subframe dropped again (the second clutch job) they were re-installed and are still keeping the subframe still. Very happy with this purchase!

(13) Enkei RPF-1 wheels!!! I know I mentioned these above, but they deserve a separate call-out. I bought these in 2015 for autocross, and let me tell you - at 15.2lbs per wheel versus 29lbs for the OEM Detroits, these make a LARGE difference at stock power levels. They really do. Obviously I hope my driving has improved, but I've had my best overall PAX finishes since I've moved to these wheels. Top ten for every event except one (super long power course with combined clubs), which is great considering we have several national trophy winners in our group. If you're going to spend money on wheels, and want function > form, go for lightweight RPF1s. They only question is stock width (for autocross stock/street class), or wide for wider tires :)


(1) Suspension. For the purposes of serious handling, NOT looks. I had originally planned on doing suspension first, but this car actually handles pretty good out of the box. Possibly springs, Koni yellows, swaybars, anti-lift kit down the road.

Waiting on the suspension gives me something to look forward to. I'm afraid if I do everything to this car in the first year and get it all set up like I want, I'll get bored with it sooner. So spacing them out will keep me interested.

Also, with a tune I can switch back to stock mode and run stock class at autocross. Once I do suspension, I'll be in ST with no going back. I've got some learning to do since I'm used to AWD.

That's it for now. I'll update as things change, but this car won't be a mod whore, mostly because I have other demands on my income :word:
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Go Kart Champion
These are the wheels that are getting ready to go on RedSled. RTX "Rennen" wheels. They are cheap replicas of an Audi A8 Limo wheel, but styled with the machined/black treatment (OEM they were all silver).

They're about what you'd expect for really cheap wheels. There are dimples in the finish here and there, a few rough spots near the back of the spoke that should have been smoothed out but weren't. In the end though, they cost no more than a gently used set of OEM wheel, and I liked the look which is very unique. So long as they are structurally sound. I'm just not into the whole stretched scene, or BBS, or wheels that look like they came from the 80's. No offense to those guys, just not my style.

As for tires, I grabbed some Kumho LE Sport (Max Performance Summer) for my summer tires. I'm sure they won't do as good at autocross as the Bridgestone RE01-Rs I had on my Forester, but those tires were gone in no time at all. I needed something with better tread wear that was priced decently. After mail-in-rebate, these were $398!


Go Kart Champion
Have you got more pics of the car with the new wheels ?


Go Kart Champion
Here's a quick one I snapped right after I got them on. I have some better shots at home, I'll try to upload some more tonight as well as my impressions of the wheels.



Nicely done. Going anything in the power dept?

Ive found that the car has a great setup for daily driver and weekend warrior in the twisties. Love it.

Power had me wanting more. Everything else seems to be in line where i wanted it.


Go Kart Champion
I plan on doing a Stage 1 tune in the spring. I had originally planned to do suspension first, but was surprised to find the GTI in stock form handles nearly as good as my modified Forester did, so I'll wait on that.

It almost seems a waste doing a tune, as I spend most of my time around town driving like a granny, shifting at 2k rpm. This car is so smooth and easy to drive that it's enjoyable to take it easy. But every now and then there's a Kia or other random car that need passing :23:

Monday I was able to get out of the city and up into the foothills and tear up some of the old twisty roads I grew up on. I have to say, the GTI really felt at home on twisty roads and if I lived there I might not even bother with the power upgrades. It felt great. But with my daily commute being all straight line and interstate, I feel the need for more power on tap.
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Go Kart Champion
Review for "Rennen" wheels by RTX

OK, I wanted to give a review for this "Rennen" wheel by RTX. User RTXwheels is a fairly new seller on eBay, so I was a little hesitant to buy from them. Plus, the wheels were super cheap - too cheap it seemed.

The wheels themselves are a replica of an Audi A8 Limo wheel. The original wheel appears to be silver painted rather than machined faced with black accent. However, I love the machine/black look. I was also looking for something unique (not really feeling the 1980's wheels in the Vdub scene) that wasn't ricey. This wheel is 25.0 lbs (I weighed it myself) and is 18x8 with a 45 offset. Being my first aftermarket wheel experience on this car, I was surprised at how far out they come. The top of the front wheels are level or just a mm out from the front fender (the rear are a few mm inward). And of course the bottom of the wheel sits out even further. Also, the stock size tire (225/40/18) on a 8" wheel is slightly stretched. Didn't realize they would be, but it isn't very noticeable.

Original Audi wheel (I just provided the link since the pic is too big):

What I found out about RTX from a bunch of googling is that they are a wheel wholesaler out of Canada and have been in business for many years. A few more mainstream companies and/or Canadian tire places sell a few of their wheels. Based on this, I felt a little less like they were a fly-by-night eBay seller. From my understanding, not a manufacturer, just a reseller of wheels. They also recently revamped their own website which lets you browse and pre-view wheels, although the graphics are that great.

Still, the wheels were rather cheap. $469 for all 4, including shipping. And honestly, I can say you get what you pay for. The wheels appear to be structurally sound (I've only had them a month so far), which is what matters to me. The area that is lacking is the finish. I'll also have to see how well they hold up long term. That being said, I still like the unique look and the finish is good enough for the price. Especially considering you'd pay as much for used OEM wheels that might not be in perfect condition either. So I'm a satisfied customer, though not blown away.

I do love the looks though! Now, for some close-up pics. You might have to zoom to see the imperfections. In fact, from standing distance you won't see any of these:

Wheel out of the box. Includes a painted gray center cap that doesn't match the machined look. :iono: So I popped my original VW center caps in. [EDIT] The OEM center caps fit just fine, however the opening is slightly smaller than stock so it bends the retaining tabs on the caps. So you'll want to pick up a second set for your OEM wheels if you plan on needing center caps on both sets. I picked up another set from Keffer for the same price as ECS had them at.

You can see some of the spots in the finish along the edge of one wheel. Almost like bubbles in the clearcoat that collapsed.

The black painted sides of the spokes were not a smooth, mirror surface. You can't really tell this from a distance. This particular one had a more pronounced gouge on the rear part of it that I captured:

On this one you can see a spot of clearcoat pitting (in the middle, not the big spot, that was just cardboard) as well as how the transition of the edge from machined to painted is rough and not done extremely well.

Finally, one spoke had a very fine black etch across the machined section.

I'm not trying to scare anyone off from these wheels. If you need something cheap that looks unique, go for it. But just understand you're not getting OEM quality at these prices!
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Ready to race!
I shift at 2-2.5k for daily driving. Great gas mileage.

Also, get the tune sooner than later. You won't regret it. I'm mad at myself for waiting the 2500 miles to get it done

I have the same car as you and it's just plain sexy. Best color in my opinion! And 2door looks better on the hatch. Congrats!

Check my build thread for what it'll look like with no wheel gap.. Nice wheels btw


Go Kart Champion
I usually shift at 2K too. People drive slow from stop lights around here anyway. I like the wheels, I've never seen them on a GTI. RTX seems like decent quality, but for that price you can't expect perfection. I think I'll look into RTX more. Nice car :thumbsup:

P.S. Any pics of the Forester or FJ? :D


Go Kart Champion
im not sure if your were joking or really meant this, but do you really shift at 2k?

At least half the time I do; with all the torque down low that's still enough to leave most people from a stop light. But it depends on my mood. Like Friday, I forgot my bike helmet and had to drive back home to get it in a hurry, and got behind too many grandmas....I was hot dogging it more than usual.

P.S. Any pics of the Forester or FJ? :D

Yeah, I'll either post up some pics or links. The Forester was sweet, and I still miss the power and grip. Makes me think I'll want to upgrade to an R in the next couple of years...or an STi! And the FJ is a nice beast. Driving it after driving the GTI all week is more challenging at interstate speeds!
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Go Kart Champion
My previous ride:

March 2009 calendar shot winner:

Tail of the Dragon this past May. It's not actually that low, it was compressed from a sweeping turn to the right:

Last photoshoot before I sold it at 126k miles.


Go Kart Champion
And a quick pic of the FJ from the 2012 FJ Summit in Colorado :) Lift, skid plates, rock sliders, Goodyear Duratracs for aggressive tires, etc.


OK, had to google to figure out how to embed youtube videos on this forum. Honestly, who thought it made more sense to just use the video identification number and NOT the URL to embed? Only car forum I've been on that does that.

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