Saturday, 19 September 2015

Car Audio Extravaganza!

Coming soon to Badgertronix is a car audio video series getting decent sound out of the family Ford.

The car is used for long trips, with plenty of time spent in areas without radio reception so a decent stereo is handy to help the time pass.

The factory headunit is a single cd, double DIN Sony thing with Aux in hidden in the glovebox. Sound quality is fine, but lack of iPod or Bluetooth inputs meant having to crack out CDs which isn't ideal in 2015.

So what do I want?

  • USB, SD Card and/or iPod input - to get the tunes on the deck brah
  • Reversing Camera - it's a double DIN hole so might as well fill it with a screen.
  • Bluetooth handsfree - why not
  • Decent sound quality - upgraded speakers, possibly an amp, surface preparation.
  • Stealth install - nothing visible apart from the headunit. System designed for Go and not Show

The Plan

This upgrade is going to happen over a period of time with updates and reviews on the effectiveness of each step. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was an awesome car audio solution in a Ford Focus Wagon. The first part of the project is vaguely called 'Surface Preparation'. The car has no rattles, is well screwed together but there is a bit of road noise especially noticeable in the cheap seats at the back. First step is to reduce that noise and provide nice dampened surfaces for the system to work in.

  • Butyl and foam based sound deadening sheets are available from Dynamat and other companies. This is a heavy self adhesive material used to line doors, boot spaces and other areas to reduce road noise and vibrations. Provides a much better environment for your system to work in.

Next I'll look at the options and get moving on the install.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

VW Audi Parts in NZ

When it comes to running a VW or Audi in New Zealand finding a decent car is one thing, finding parts is equally troublesome.

Once you've found a nice car that isn't a dodgem (aka automatic) you'll probably want to do some of the long overdue maintenance. Your average Kiwi will stretch to oil and filter changes but not much else from my experience.

The biggest problem is finding parts at a reasonable price.

As an example, a rear wheel bearing for a MK3 Golf is $53 from a local specialist for a Febi one. The same part costs $20 delivered from the UK. No wonder European cars are seen as luxury and expensive here.

Of course some things have to be bought locally. Here are some of my buying strategies for parts and how I get a good deal.

My VR6 cost $900 so I'm not too worried about running genuine parts. However I do stick to OEM quality wherever possible. That includes using brands like Febi, MANN, Hengst, etc.

First of all register on this gives you access to the parts catalogue and the all important parts info.

Once I have the part number I head over to my favourite eBay seller karpartsandmore

If it's available from here that's as far as my search will go. Great service, cheap shipping and I know it will turn up within a week.

If I can't get the part from there then micksgarage is the next place to look. They stock a few other brands including Mahle and Meyle both of which I've had good success with. You can either search by OE part number or do the vehicle lookup. Both options work pretty well.

MicksGarage have some great prices. Shipping always used to be charged at $9 and provided you didn't order anything bulky or heavy that's how much you paid. For heavy orders you would end up paying an additional $20-$30 shipping depending on weight. That's annoying as it seemed to delay despatch by a day but still usually worked out to be good value. They've recently changed their shipping policy to include a New Zealand specific shipping charge of $14.50 and free shipping for over $250. I've yet to test the new system but hopefully it has simplified the purchase process.

Other options include Eurocarparts or GSF but then you get a problem with shipping. Neither offer easy options for international shipping and when they give you a quote the rates are pretty steep. Both have really great sales from time to time.

The workaround for that is to use NZ Posts YouShop that is a super efficient re-delivery service. It opens up possibilities for ordering from Europe and the States. My VR6 cooling system refresh came from UROtuning using YouShop. That was great until they managed to leave something off the order I ended up getting the missing part from the VW dealer at huge expense.

VWPartsInternational and OEMandMore are also great to deal with for certain VW bits and pieces.

J&R for CV joints via YouShop and various other eBay buys. Latvia and Poland based sellers often have good price factory parts. The Green Spark Plug Co are good for sparkplugs and ignition leads,

So long as you can plan ahead and keep stock of key spares you can save a fortune by shopping smart overseas.

Friday, 4 September 2015

New Dashcam

I've been using a G1W-C dashcam for a little while and it has performed well but with a few issues. These include the times when it doesn't record anything, the gaps between clips (which is always when the action happens) and the lack of a SOS/Save button to save the current recording.

Video quality has been great day and night and even help get a dangerous driver off the road:

Looking at a camera for the other car I came across the Dome G30B from Gearbest. Now the Dome range of cameras seems to be getting good reviews and this model comes with a rear view camera. The car this camera is destined for doesn't have the best rear vision so this camera will hopefully help out on that front.

Here's a side by side comparison of the 2 cameras in dull daylight. I think both cameras provide decent quality video, the G1W-C looks clearer but I prefer the colours of the Dome unit.

This is the second attempt at getting a side by side video. With the first attempt the Dome camera didn't record anything. Even on this attempt it only recorded half the journey. I'll have to figure out if this is a problem with the camera, the memory card or me not reading the instructions.

Once I've used the Dome G30B for a while I'll do a full review but here's a quick comparison:

If you want to buy a Dome G30B click on the link below:

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The VR6 Story

The VR6 has been in the fleet for just over a year now. It wasn't a planned purchase, more an opportunity I couldn't turn down.

The car was listed on an auction site with the starting bid set to $900 NZD. Despite lots of questions and views there were still no bids. So with a minute to go on the auction I bid at $900....and got the car.

It's an ex Japan car with one New Zealand owner. It had no Warrant of Fitness but the previous owner had listed what it had failed on - ABS, engine mount and a few other things. When I picked up the car the airbag light was on. That was fixed with a replacement clock spring. Reset the ABS light and took it for a warrant. It failed , as expected, but on a completely different set of items than expected. All it need was a couple of tyres and a rear wheel bearing so later that day the VR6 was back on the road!

Unfortunately I suffer from automotive OCD do so set about getting the car up to my standard. I ordered new suspension bushes, engine and gearbox mounts, full set of filters and spark plugs and have the car a birthday. The fuel filter on the car turned out to be the factory original and some nasty black stuff poured out of it.
 Of course all these parts came from the UK or Ireland as sourcing anything locally is stupidly expensive. The week long wait for car parts to arrive is always torture.

There seemed to be a slight coolant leak from the electric water pump. Brittle with age one of the flanges was cracked. A replacement genuine one came from Latvia. The pump and a few litres of G13 coolant and all was well. 

The ABS light came back on and a trip to the local scrap yard yielded a new ABS computer, miscellaneous trim parts and a near new inlet hose from the two VR6s that were being broken.
Summer was approaching and the air con wasn't working so that was next on the list to sort. The system held pressure but the compressor wouldn't kick in and the fans weren't going. Replaced the fan control module which was rusty and falling to pieces. 
AC still no go after the change but the afterrun water pump now worked as it should. Working through the wiring diagram I traced a wiring fault between the AC switch and fan module. Once repaired the air blew nice and cold!

After driving the car for a few months there started to be a few drops of coolant on the drive. Looked like one of the coolant hoses from the crack pipe to the oil cooler. Ordered the whole crack pipe and thermostat housing and associated hoses from UROtuning and changed them out. 
After spending hours contorted in the engine bay replacing parts I was gutted when the dripping of coolant continued. Turns out the oil cooler has sprung a leak and had to wait another week for a new one to come from Dublin. Swapped out an inner CV joint as well.

Ignition leads, serpentine belt and valve cover gasket were brought over from the UK when family came to visit.

I've also upgraded the stereo and speakers and retrimmed the headliner.

The car is running great although being 17 years old there are a couple of jobs to do. There's a leak from one of the output seals in the diff. It doesn't leak much and will be dealt with when I drop the transmission out to do the timing chain. Ideally I will be doing a manual conversion at the same time. The timing chain is pretty quiet but will change it for fun. Rear axle beam bushes should get changed at some point and there's a scuff on the bumper I want to repaint.

It's a great car that makes an awesome noise and uses less petrol than you think it would.