Category Archives: Uncategorized

2015 Ford Mustang – Air Lift Performance – Part 1

Intro

We know what you’re thinking. “GrimmSpeed, you stand for detailed, meticulous engineering and high-end performance – what are you doing messing around with air ride stuff?” We know that’s what you’re thinking, because it’s what we were thinking, too. With that said, just as important to us as engineering and performance are experimentation, innovation and discovery. As those three things are what brought us to pursue the Mustang Ecoboost market, we thought it only fitting to continue on that theme and see what this air ride business was all about.

Our goals for the GrimmSpeed shop car were two fold. The first and most important is that it was to be used as a tool for the development of the GrimmSpeed product line. The second was to explore a new area for ourselves, learn more about the car and create something that’s interesting. We had no idea that the two would so easily mix.

At GrimmSpeed, whether it’s drag, track, drift, autox or show, we’re all car guys. We like to keep on top of major trends and form educated opinions – it’s part of what helps us communicate with our customers. In the Subaru world that we come from, internet broscience 101 clearly states that air suspension sucks because some other guy says so. Fortunately for you, we prefer to learn lessons the hard way. It was with this crazy idea that we got to work procuring an Air Lift Performance kit with their V2 management for our Mustang.

The Kit

Our shipment was delayed a few days, as the Mustang kit has been already been very popular for Air Lift. Upon arrival, I could barely get a single photo taken before the team tore into the boxes.

ALP_1_2000

The first thing that we took note of was the excellent packaging. As a manufacturer ourselves, we know that shipping heavy and valuable items safely can be a challenge and that the design process for those products isn’t over until we have packaging prepared as well. Air Lift clearly takes the same care in this area as we do, because everything arrived in excellent condition.

ALP_2_2000

The first box that we opened contained the compressor, AutoPILOT V2 components, the necessary wiring harness and a generous length of nylon tubing. The fit and finish of the AutoPILOT hardware far exceeded our expectations, not because we didn’t believe that Air Lift made quality parts, but because electronics like this often feel junky, even if they work just fine. Not the case here. The manifold feels extremely well made, with a billet aluminum lower and an injection molded cover. The handheld controller feels similarly substantial, but a nice rubberized coating and buttons that click firmly when depressed.

ALP_4_2000

The VIAIR compressor and all included fittings and tubing, while not quite as exciting, seem to be of the same quality. We really like that Air Lift includes a tubing cutter with the kit, to ensure that we get square cuts and don’t need to spend time troubleshooting that common issue after installation. We opened the rest of the boxes to ensure that the tank, front and rear assemblies were all present before we got started. The front and rear assemblies are exactly what we expected, having seen the quality of the V2 management hardware. The front struts look similar to most familiar coilover setups, but with a bag instead of a spring. The Air Lift S550 Mustang kit comes with integrated front camber plates that are beautifully machined with a red anodized finish. The rear back setup is a bit different, with a standalone bag assembly with features that capture the top and bottom once installed, to ensure that the bag stays in place. We gave each assembly, front and rear a quick inspection to make sure we didn’t see any obvious defects that would give us trouble down the road (we didn’t).

ALP_5_2000

ALP_8_2000

Installation

We’ll breeze through installation relatively quickly, as Air Lift has it very well documented in their manuals, which are printed in nice booklets and included with their products. The first thing that we did was get the tank mocked up under the parcel tray in the trunk and drill holes in the tank brackets and the tray in order to mount the tank exactly where we wanted it. There may be alternative mounting solutions that wouldn’t require drilling holes, but we’d prefer to spend the time and effort up front so that we can enjoy the finished product more later on. Retaining trunk space was important to us, so tucking the tank against the rear seats was an excellent solution.

ALP_3_2000

Next up was mounting of the manifold, wiring and running air lines. We mounted the manifold in a convenient spot above the tank using the included self-tapping screws. One installation note here is that the screws will not slip through the holes in the V2 manifold – you’ll need to allow them to tap the machined holes while they pass through. We used a cordless impact to do this, which saves your wrist and goes very quickly. This ‘interference fit’ made perfect sense after we got everything in place, as once mounted, the manifold was mounted very securely and wouldn’t shift around.

ALP_12_2000

We mounted the compressor in the spare tire area; since our Mustang didn’t come with a spare, it was a perfect fit. The lines off of the compressor are relatively short, so we made a harness that allowed us to easily extend the wiring to the AutoPILOT harness. We went a little overboard (as we do here at GrimmSpeed from time to time), but most DIYers would have no trouble crimping some connectors to do the same. Just be sure to use the proper gauge wire.

ALP_13_2000

Now for the fun part. We ran the airlines to the front, first. With the back seats folded down, removing the plastic interior bits was actually quite easy. We tucked the front lines down each side of the car, just under the carpet with the rest of the factory wiring harness.  In the front on both sides of the car, is a nice rubber grommet with a small nipple on it that’s unused (see photo). We clipped the end of that nipple off (from the wheel well) and then fished a piece of welding wire into the cabin, so that we could locate the grommet and pull the airline back through. It was a tight fit, but that’s how we know it’ll be sealed nicely from the elements here in Minnesota.

ALP_7_2000

With the airlines up front, we went ahead and installed the front strut assemblies. One thing to note is that camber adjustment appears to be very difficult from the engine bay once the struts are in place, so make your best approximation before installation. This is also the time to set your ride height, so be sure to follow Air Lifts instructions in doing do. One thing that we noticed immediately while handling the front struts is how much lighter than the factory equipment they were. Our initial assumption was that the air ride would be heavier, but it seems that the lack of steel springs might more than compensate for the added compressor, tank and management.

ALP_6_2000

The rear setup requires a little bit of basic assembly prior to installation. Here is where I was able to find one of only two very small issues during installation. The steel perches that are to be bolted to each bag have a plate welded inside of them that would block a socket from reaching the head of the bolt. Air Lift was kind enough to add clearance for a tool in this area, but because the plate is welded at an angle, I was still not able to get a socket onto the bolt without it getting stuck. Perhaps it was just my socket, but in any case, it was quite easy to just use a standard box wrench.

ALP_10_2000

Bolting the bag into place was where I got stuck again, as the manual instructs you to align a feature on the bag assembly with a notch in the upper spring perch. Our car didn’t have that notch and although I was sure I’d be able to approximate its location, I called Air Lift’s support line anyway. I was very quickly directed to somebody that was able to answer my question and got right back to work – awesome customer support!

ALP_11_2000

Booya! All struts, shocks and bags are in place, air lines are hooked up and secured such that they won’t be getting in anything’s way while we thrash on our Mustang and we’re ready to rock. I filled the tank using our shop air compressor to save time and let the auto calibration do its thing. After that, we swapped to our Velgen wheels and Mickey Thompson tires, which are a much more aggressive fit, and dialed in our presets.

ALP_14_2000

The wheel setup currently on the car is a 20×10.5 in the rear and a 20×9 up front. Tires are Mickey Thompson Street Comps in a 305/35/20 and a 255/35-20. We’re able to air the car out completely without any modifications to the fenders or wheel wells and the fender liners are still in place.

ALP_16_2000

Performance

Here’s the fun part – performance. The word ‘performance’ can have a number of different meanings and we’ll attempt to cover each of them here. First of all, the performance of the Air Lift Performance kit, with respect to how well it functions, is excellent. We’d never worked with an air ride setup before, but with a careful installation, we were up and running with zero issues. The AutoPILOT management is just sophisticated enough to offer multiple preset ride heights and other features, but is simple enough that it should be very reliable.

ALP_18_2000

Having put a thousand miles or so on the car since the installation, our definition of performance, given our intend use for the car, is how well it performs all of the tasks that are required of it on a normal day. We have the preset bag pressures at a height that is perfect for driving around town, but if we find ourselves needed to drive into steep parking lots or onto a dyno, two button clicks are all that’s required to lift the car above stock height. Two more button clicks after you’ve parked at a local GTG and the car’s stance commands attention and curiosity from everybody around. Equipped with the Air Lift kit, our Mustang does absolutely everything that’s asked of it on a daily basis.

We had the opportunity to rent out a local test track and spend the day beating on the car. The purpose of this was primarily to test some of the product offerings that we’ve been developing, but the added bonus was a full day of putting the Air Lift system through its paces. It was only a couple of laps before I entirely forgot that there was anything ‘abnormal’ about the suspension on the car. It felt firm, handled beautifully and to an enthusiast racer like myself, the car didn’t seem any more or less prone to being upset by sudden changes in direction, bumps in the track, etc.

Conclusion

None of us are professional race car drivers and none of us are ‘bout dat static life’. We consider ourselves to be pretty normal, open-minded car guys. We approach evaluation of our products and others with the goal of providing constructive criticism in order to help improve. In the case of the Air Lift Performance kit on our 2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost, for our purposes, it’s nearly perfect.

ALP_15_2000

ALP_17_2000

Winter Mode – Rally Armor UR Mud Flaps

It’s not very often that we go out of our way to give a tip of the hat to another manufacturer’s product, but from time to time, there’s a product or service that we feel is deserving of our praise. This week, that product is from Rally Armor and it’s their model-specific urethane mud flap kits. At GrimmSpeed, we pride ourselves not only on engineering top-notch products, but also on creating an experience for the user that is second to none and that’s exactly what Rally Armor has done with these kits.

RA2

Here in Minnesota, it’s no secret that our winter months can be devastating to a car. The roads are frequently covered in snow, slush, ice or some mixture of the three and in all of those cases, there’s plenty of salt. The body shape of most Subarus is such that the front wheels, even traveling straight down the road, anything and everything at the side of the car. This leaves a nasty mess of salt across most of the car, making it look filthy and harder to clean. The best part, thought, is that they also seem to prevent the formation of large ice chunks in and behind your wheel wells, which can cause serious damage if you don’t kick them off before they freeze solid (and make a serious mess on your garage floor).

‘Winter Mode’ for most means a set of snow tires and fresh wiper blades. For most of the GrimmSpeed team, it also means mud flaps. Whether you appreciate the aesthetic or not, they make an excellently functional addition to a car that sees harsh winters, gravel, mud, etc.

RA3

Knowing that I wanted to protect my 2015 WRX as well as I could, I went ahead and ordered the black urethane kit with grey logo. They arrived quickly and were packaged very well. We take a lot of care in our packaging at GrimmSpeed and it’s easy to see that the folks at Rally Armos do the same, complete with a packaged by sticker just inside the box. Each component was nicely protected by plastic, paper or both and printed instructions were included.

RA4

Installation on the floor of the shop took 30min or so. No fancy tools, no lift, no previous experience with this kit. The brackets make perfect sense and install easily and securely. I especially appreciated how there was no modification to factory parts required. The included hardware replaced a couple of the factory clips, so I just put those in the hardware bag, labeled it and tucked it into the bottom of my toolbox. The mud flaps themselves are thick and durable, contoured perfectly for the application and feature slotted mounting holes for adjustment based on preference and precise bracket location.

RA5

In closing, I should probably note that we don’t sell Rally Armor products, nor do we have any sort of vested interest in their success. We’re simply passing along what we think is a functional and inexpensive product that meets a certain need perfectly. I’m very much a DIY person myself, and 6yrs ago, I may have attempted to hack together my own kit with cutting boards or some other nonsense, but for how quick and easy these were to install and the quality of the components, this kit is an absolute no-brainer!

RA1

If you’d like to see us review other products in a similar fashion, let us know! Cheers!

The Gift of GrimmSpeed – 2015 GrimmSpeed Gift Guide

Finding a holiday gift for the car guy or girl in your life is sometimes easier said than done. If they’re anything like us, then their automotive wish list is endless and ever-changing. Here at GrimmSpeed we hope to make things a bit easier by walking you through any product-related questions you might have, with some expert advice along the way. Give The Gift of GrimmSpeed this season and don’t hesitate to call or email us so we can help you make sure your favorite Subaru enthusiast gets exactly what they want this holiday season.

Gifts under $50

  • GrimmSpeed Apparel and Swag – A t-shirt, fitted hat, keychain or pair of license plate frames would make an excellent gift or stocking stuffer for the Subaru fan in your life!
  • Exhaust Gaskets – These might not look like fun to you, but to a Subaru owner, high quality exhaust gaskets are essential, especially if they’ll be installing new exhaust components this winter!
  • Bounty Hunter Sponsorship Kit – Challenge him or her to take part in the GrimmSpeed Bounty Program. The kit includes a shirt, sticker pack and registration to compete in fun challenges to win GrimmSpeed store credit!

Gifts $50 – 100

  • License Plate Relocation Kit – This is one of our most popular gifted products! Moves your front license plate to a less prominent location and eliminates the need for holes in your bumper.
  • Alternator Cover – An excellent GrimmSpeed-branded ‘dress up’ item that typically replaces the less attractive factory cover. Available in red, black or stainless steel.
  • Electronic Boost Control Solenoid – This is another very popular gift! Although most enthusiasts already own one, if your Subaru/Mitsubishi/Mazdaspeed nut is planning on getting tuned anytime soon, it’s a must-have!

Gifts $150 – 400

  • Catless Up-Pipe – An excellent way to free up pre-turbo exhaust flow and remove the restrictive factory cat. Also available with an external wastegate option – be sure to get the correct one!
  • Air Intake System – This seems to be at the top of everybody’s list this year. An upgraded intake system reduces restriction and allows for more power to be made during tuning. It also enhances the sound of the vehicle.
  • Air Oil Separator – Another very popular gift, available in red, blue and black. Be sure to check on which fitment is needed!

Gifts $400 and up

  • Downpipe/J-Pipe – This is the starting point for an upgraded exhaust system and is the piece that generates the greatest performance gains. Available with a number of options, you may need a couple of hints on this one!
  • Top Mount Intercooler – For that very special person in your life, a GrimmSpeed Intercooler is the cream of the crop where intercoolers are concerned. Rated to high horsepower figures, it’s an excellent fit for nearly all applications.
  • GrimmSpeed Power Packages – Available with a wide range of options, GrimmSpeed Power Packages offer a fully engineered system of modifications, designed to enhance the performance of your vehicle to a number of different degrees. A PERFECT starting point for a new enthusiast.

If you have any questions about items that are on the GrimmSpeed Gift Guide or our website, please contact us directly at sales@grimmspeed.com!

Restriction in the Stock BRZ/FR-S Intake – Introduction

grimmspeed intake testing brz frs
This photo shows placement of one of the fittings for pressure sensing.

When we began thinking about designing an intake for the twins, we first wanted to evaluate the claim that “the stock intake is good enough.” Its general knowledge that in the last ten years or so, that factory OEM intakes have become very good in design, and are often difficult to improve upon. There are several ways to evaluate this claim, and we wanted to start out with looking at the design of the entire intake as both an overall system, as well as the sum of all of it’s parts.

Inspection:

A visual inspection doesn’t tell an absolute truth about the system, but it does give you a place to start evaluating. The first source of restriction you’d look for is sharp or abrupt entry points. Air entering a pipe without a flared entry (think velocity stack, or a funnel shape) produces a restriction, compared to one that does have a flared entrance or transition. Just the same, when air has to traverse a larger and larger angle bend, there is an increase in restriction. The same can be said for when air has to pass over surfaces that are not smooth, etc. All of these situations add restriction, which can be measured as a drop in pressure. The ideal case to move air from point A to point B would be a perfectly smooth, straight length of pipe, and even that will have a pressure drop as the length of the pipe increases.

So from a visual standpoint, lets break apart the sections of the intake: There is a snorkel, front of airbox, air filter, rear of airbox, MAF housing, intake elbow, and throttle body. The entire system can be looked at as being the area before the snorkel (behind the bumper cover) to just passed the intake elbow (right at the throttle body). Measuring the difference in pressure between these two points will give you the overall restriction of the system. But in order to identify where the weaknesses in the system are, one would be more interested to measure the difference in pressure between components in the system. For example, to measure the restriction the air filter has on the system, you would measure the pressure before and after the filter. And if you add up the pressure differences between all parts of the system, it should equal the overall restriction.

Back to the visual inspection of the system, what do we see as a potential problem area, and why do we want to choose these locations to test? The first part of the system that air sees as it enters is the snorkel. The inlet of the snorkel looks good; there is a well formed velocity stack that has minimal extra material from being molded. It’s a slight oval shape, roughly 2.25in x2.5in. About 10 inches down the air’s path, the snorkel starts to make an approximate 90 degree bend to it’s exit. The bend is very smooth, and all the while the shape is transitioning to a flatter oval, while at the same time increasing in overall cross sectional area. At the point where the snorkel transitions into the air box, it is roughly 2in x 5.7in. The snorkel contains two resonators along the first section, in two different sizes, each containing a small drain hole at their lowest point. The snorkel is sealed to the air box with a strip of foam that interfaces the outlet of the snorkel to the inlet of the front airbox.

The front face of the airbox is angled at the bottom, and contains a circular emboss. Both features are in place to maximize area before the filter, while still clearing the radiator and fan. There is also a large resonator to the left of the entrance. The front airbox has a hole at it’s lowest point just right of the entrance, as does the large resonator, both for drainage purposes. The inside of the front of the airbox is very smooth across all surfaces. The only noteworthy point from a flow standpoint is at the entrance. The half of the entrance below the snorkel has a smooth radius flowing towards the filter. However, the half above the entrance is abrupt, and looks different than you would expect from viewing it from outside the box. Outside the box, just above the exit of the snorkel there is a hump which looks to exist as an area to smooth airflow going towards the filter, but just the opposite appears to be true as there is a void here. One can only assume this is for strength, or some phenomenon that is hard to explain.

The air then flows through the filter, which is not your typical paper filter, and has only 14 large ribs. I am unsure of the media of the filter, but it is similar to a fabric like cotton. The ribs on the front side are longer than those on the back to increase filter surface area.

After the filter is the rear of the airbox, which contains mostly smooth transitions, with a taper at the opposite side to the exit that should promote flow towards the MAF housing. The only noticeable source of restriction in this piece are several protruding ribs that run lengthwise in the rear of the airbox, however small. The exit of the airbox is technically the mass air flow, or MAF, housing. The entrance to the MAF housing appears to have been optimized, as it is one of the most important parts of the entire engine. The rear face of the airbox has a section “dug out” to smooth the transition into the MAF, and the opposite side of that feature has a molded plastic velocity stack. Immediately at the entrance is a plastic matrix that is commonly referred to as an “air straightener.” This is specifically put in place to help the MAF provide the most accurate reading as possible by modifying the flow of air before it. The thickness of the pieces of this matrix is 2mm, and the diameter of the entrance here is roughly 68.5mm. The entire MAF housing is only about 70mms long, and places the MAF sensor about 25mm, or about 1in after the air straightener. The inner diameter at the MAF sensor is 70mm, and the diameter at the outlet of the MAF housing is about 72mm. So there is a taper through the entire section, albeit minimal.

At the exit of the MAF housing is the entrance of the intake elbow. The entrance to the elbow is just under 3in in diameter, and has an immediate 90 degree bend. This bend is very tight, and has a centerline radius significantly under 3in. This most likely means that the diameter of the cross section does not stay a constant 3in as the bend progresses. There are ribs on the outside of the part for strength, but they do not exist on the internal surface of the elbow. There is a tube exiting the elbow for the sound tube, just opposite of the intake elbow’s entrance, and a resonator toward the bottom of the engine bay, both located directly on the bend. Immediately after the bend is a roughly 2.25in long flex section. This section contains 5 smooth ridges that exist on the inside of the tube, and extend outwards of the tube less than .125in. After this flex section is a 5in long straight section, smooth on the inside, with ridges on the outside. This terminates at the entrance of the throttle body.

Based on this visual assessment there isn’t much to expect in the way of restriction. From the entrance of the system to the exit, we expect to see a restriction from: 90 degree bend of the snorkel, air filter, decreased size (in comparison to the air box volume) of the MAF housing, the tight 90 degree bend on the entrance of the intake elbow, and the flex section located right after the previous bend.

See Part 2: The Equipment to Continue

GrimmSpeed Sponsors The 48hrs of Tristate Drive

grimmspeed 48hrs of tristate

GrimmSpeed is excited to announce that once again, we’re sponsoring The 48hrs of Tristate Drive in New York and New Jersey. A great deal of information, routes and registration are all available at the official website (see below). The charity this year is Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer. There will be a raffle held at the Subar of America Headquarters in Cherry Hill, NJ on Friday and the more money you raise for the charity, the more tickets you get for the raffle! See details below.

  • Date: January 17-19, 2014
  • Registration & Info: http://48hrs.info
  • Cost: Drive Donation to Charity is $100, Passenger is $75

Please visit the website and contact Mike and the rest of the 48hrs committee with questions or to get involved!