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Saturday, October 29, 2011

German Castrol Syntec

If you are a car enthusiast, you have probably read about motor oil at some point. Which brand makes the best oil? Should I use synthetic oil or not? What grade of oil is best for my car? These are just some of the questions people constantly ask. I'm no motor oil expert, but I do trust BITOG (Bob is the oil guy) because he has taken so much time to experiment, test, and write about different oils. If you don't know him, please go to his website, and learn all there is to learn about motor oil.

With that being said, the choice of oil for my next oil change is based on BITOG and the recommendations of thousands of automotive enthusiasts: Introducing Castrol Syntec 0w30, made in Germany. (A.K.A. German Castrol or GC)

Oil on the left is made in Germany, and oil on the right is made in the U.S.A.

Look carefully at the back. It has to say "Made in Germany". No exceptions.

If it says "Made in the U.S.A.", this won't be the oil everyone is raving about.

Both of these are German Castrol. On the left is the new GC blend, the oil is gold in color. The one on the right is older GC blend, the oil is dark green in color. Blending the two together, if you somehow own both, is completely alright.

Some of the benefits people have found using German Castrol are: Increased fuel economy, improved speed and acceleration, smoother cold starts, and a quieter engine all together. Honestly I can't wait to try this oil, I've already used Mobil 1 and American Castrol Edge in the past, so I should be able to compare the oils. I'll tell you guys more about that later.

I know I've said that I'm taking it slow on spending on mods this season, but I'm actually suprised there is still so much to do, even if you force yourself on a budget. Here are some of the things you guys may see in the next couple of weeks on the Youtube channel!

STI OEM Lamco Boost Gauge lighting change.

Installing the RX Sponsored Oil Catch Can.

Subaru WRX STI engine oil and filter change.

I'm also getting really addicted to converting everything to illuminate red, I've already ordered some LEDs and resistors for the HVAC conversion. The I/C Spray button, HID height adjustment knob, window and lock switches, will all be eventually converted to red as well. I'm not sure about converting the Head Unit though, because I'm planning on getting an aftermarket one. However, if you guys really demand a video tutorial, I'll try to fit that into my schedule. I thought this winter would be boring, but I was wrong.

Oh, and I'm also gathering some money to get the new GoPro HD Hero 2, hopefully it will come during Christmas time. ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another Red Conversion

If you have changed your ignition ring light, you will definately want to do this mod. This mod only takes around 5-10 minutes of your time. When I ordered my ignition ring light on eBay, I paid a dollar for two lights. I looked online, and found out that the cigarette lighter and ashtray light uses the exact same #74 T5 wedge style bulb!

Much like my other tutorials, I always have additional discoveries that I think of after I finish modding and filming. If you are reading this, make sure you read the blog post corresponding to the video each time, because you will find some additional helpful tips or afterthoughts not mentioned in the videos.

For this mod, I realized I needed more clearance for reinstalling in the bulb. In the video, I removed the cigarette lighter power harness in order to twist the shifter panel out a bit more. However, it wasn't until I saw my own video that I realized I could have just put my car into a gear. Simple right? When you do this mod, make sure you set your gear box to 2nd, 4th, 6th, or reverse gear. This will grant you at least half an inch or more of clearance, and really that's all you'll need.

Other people have been doing this mod by unhooking the entire shift boot, but I don't think this mod calls for that.

The video quality at night is just terrible, but take my word for it, the ashtray looks way better illuminated red.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maintenance Schedule

Proper maintenance for every car is essential if you want your car to live a long and healthy life. Even simple things like keeping your tires properly inflated can improve fuel efficiency, and reduce the wear on your tires. At the end of the day, spending a bit of money keeping your car well maintained can, and will, save you more money in the long run. Here is a servicing schedule that I found on a Subaru dealer website. If you are planning on servicing your own car, like me, this will surely come in handy.

Keep this page bookmarked, or save this image if you want a copy of the servicing schedule.

There are a lot of benefits to maintaining the car yourself: Keeps the labor costs at bay, you get to know your car inside out, and although it will initially take more time, it will eventually become a fun hobby. I recommend that everyone should try servicing your car yourself, at least once in your life. I just got quotes for some parts from Subaru the other day, I will go pick up the stuff soon, and will be doing an oil change in a couple of weeks. Of course, there will also be a DIY episode on that as well. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

20 Dollar Tripod

As some of you know, I am very dedicated to improving my videos. I invested in a GoPro camera because I was tired of making videos with my iPhone. I invested in an external microphone because the built-in mic on the GoPro was terrible. My most recent investment is an aluminum tripod. I used to stack the camera on boxes, or got someone else to hold the camera.

With my own lightweight tripod, I can shoot better videos anytime, and anywhere!

I'm not making any money doing these videos, so I am always finding ways to crunch my budget, but at the same time deliver the best content I can produce. This tripod costed me only $20! It's actually pretty good too. It has every function you can think of, and maybe a little bit more.

A little leveler, nice.

Another leveler, plus a compass!

Next week's video has already been shot and edited. It will be another DIY tutorial. Eventhough it will be a simple one, I'm pretty sure you guys will enjoy it. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend Project - RAV4 S.O.S.

Sunday morning, 9:00 AM, I woke up and started working on the family's Toyota RAV4. My mother had recently had a small accident. Although she wasn't hurt, I couldn't say the same about the car. The paint was scratched, and the bumper was dented so bad that the fog lights became tilted. It took me about three hours to remove the bumper, fix the dent, and install everything back into place.

Before: The bumper is dented, scratched to the core, and even coming off.

After: The bumper is re-aligned, the huge dent is 95% removed. The paint will be a story for another day, if I ever get to that.

It was extremely cold that morning, at 40 degrees my fingers were frozen to the bone while I was figuring out how to remove the bumper. It was relatively easy, since all bumpers are held onto cars pretty similarly. There are always bolts on the top, bottom, and the sides. I started off by removing all the plastic inserts and bolts on the top. Then I removed every bolt on the bottom. Next I removed the inserts and clips holding the fender liner in place, peeled the liner back, and looked for bolts holding the bumper to the fender. When you remove the bumper, make sure things like the fog light harnesses are disconnected from the bumper. The removal process took me about an hour and a half. Sadly I couldn't find any documentation on how to remove this bumper online, otherwise I'm pretty sure I could have cut that time in half.

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun doing this. Other than my own cars, I have never really worked on somebody else's car. The good news is, it saved my parents a couple of bucks, and they were pretty happy about it too.

I can't wait to start modifying more complex stuff on my STI. Incase you guys were wondering, "Why isn't Jagan getting into the good stuff yet?!"

Be patient guys, I have long term plans for this beast, they will slowly unfold.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Altezza Tail lights

Altezza style tail lights has become one of the major exterior modifications to many car enthusiasts. Originating from Toyota/Lexus, these lights are best explained as cylindrical sectioned off lights in a clear lens housing. These lights are very popular in the JDM scene, but has also slowly made its way into the EUDM, and the USDM scene.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people who like the look of them. I can accept them on cars that come stock with Altezza style tail lights, but sadly not on my STI. I wouldn't shoot off an arm or a leg to replace them though, but I much rather prefer something from the 04-05 WRX STIs.

The lights on the left are simple, clean, and functions without looking too flashy. The lights on the right are my stock tail lights. Although I have seen worse, I would still prefer the 05 style.

This is really just an idea I've been bouncing around in my head. Obviously everything costs money, and the 05 tail lights aren't exactly cheap either. People sell a used set for $200 a pair. They know most 06-07 STI owners prefer to switch to the 04-05 tail lights. Supply and demand is a bitch.

With that being said, I know everyone is entitled to their own tastes, so let's make this more fun. I always want to reach out to you guys, and I always enjoy hearing your opinions, both good or bad =D. You've seen enough of my pictures, and videos to really know what this car looks like. Question of the day: "If you owned a black Subaru WRX STI, which tail lights would you prefer on your car?"

Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section of the blog, or leave a message on the Facebook page.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dunlop Winter Tires

It feels like winter might get here sooner this year. It's only mid October and it's already below 40 degrees! For people living in colder climates, winter tires are a must, not only for snow, but for those freezing days of ice covered tarmac

This is the first year I have had winter tires on the WRX STI. I must say, tires totally changes the ride. Since the winter tires are much softer, you can imagine the ride is a lot nicer too. However, it does come with a huge drawback: Reduced grip. Although the tires are just being broken in right now, there was a definite noticeable drop in grip. Spades said on the initial test drive he could feel the car losing traction through the corners, while the stock Potenzas could take the same corner with an additional 10-20 MPH.

Winter mode enabled. Time to rip up some snow!

After he drove the car, I took it out for a spin, and it did feel like a completely different car to me. After these tires are broken in, I will probably feel a bit more comfortable driving with them. Right now, I am going to be taking it easy. We will complete the review on these winter tires when and if it snows.

See you guys next year.

As for your summer wheels, make sure you take the time to pick out any rocks and pebbles from the tire tread. I would suggest taking some time to clean your wheels from any brake dust, and grime before storing them away. Also, remember to label your wheels for a tire rotation. People use different labeling systems, it's important you pick out your own system, and live by it.

My system is to label where the wheels came from. When installing them again, I will decide where they go. Using masking tape is a simple and clean way to label your wheels. Some people prefer chalk, take your pick.

With the new wheels on, make sure your tire pressure is in the recommended range. After driving your car for a couple hundred miles, make sure you re-torque your wheels incase any lug nuts came loose during driving. Drive safe!

Monday, October 10, 2011

MZ needs a bigger crew

It's always sad for car enthusiasts when winter slowly approaches, especially for people living in the colder climates. The ambient temperature is so much colder, and the daylight hours get shorter and shorter. This is already becoming a problem for Machine Zealots. Normally, it takes us an average of 20 hours to film, process, edit, and then upload an episode. However, because of the limited daylight, we had to dedicate two days just for the shooting process this week. We are still currently in editing mode for this week's episode, but we have already used more than 24 hours!

On day one, I was the only person working on the episode. On day two, both Puyang and Spades kindly dedicated their time to help out. It really helped me direct the shots better and faster with Puyang being the dedicated cameraman for day two. I have been wanting to bring in another friend to join the show, I feel that a bigger crew will improve the overall content quality, and speed up the production process. He has been very willing to help out, but our schedules just never quite match. I will introduce him if he eventually joins the show.

Jagan discussing the acting sequence with Spades.

As always, a thumbs up from Spades is always a good sign.

Puyang and Spades waiting for Jagan's instructions.

As you will see in the next episode, the weather was extremely hard to work with. I got in cloudy shots, sunny shots, and foggy shots. At some point in our shoot, it even started to rain! I have this idea that I've been tossing around my head for a couple of weeks now, I might break the show down into seasons. I might consider implementing it this year. We'll see though.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apex Performance Sponsorship

After months of hard work, I am proud to announce that Apex Performance has kindly decided to sponsor Machine Zealots! This means, more parts, more mods, and more DIY videos for you guys!

Here is a list of brands that Apex Performance currently carries:

ACL | ACPT | ACT Advanced Clutch Technology | ADVAN Wheels | AEM Electronics | AEM Induction | Aerocatch | Aeromotive | aFe Power | Agency Power | AGP | Air Spencer | AMR Performance | A'PEXi | APR Performance | Aquamist | ARC Japan (Abbey Road Company) | ARP| ATE | ATi Autotech Interiors | ATP Turbo | Autometer | AutoPage Remate Starters | AVO Turboworld | Axxis | BC Racing | Beatrush | Black Lightning (mechanics gloves) | BlackTop Aero | Blitz | Blouch Turbo | BLOX | BorgWarner | Borla | Bosch | Brembo | Brian Crower | Bride | Buddy Club | Bully Dog | Carbign Craft | Carbing | Carbonetic | Carillo | ClutchMasters | COBB Tuning | Cometic Gasket | Competition Cams | Competition Clutch | Corbeau | Cosworth | CP Piston | Crawford Performance | Crower | Cry02 | Cusco | Davies Craig | DBA Disc Brakes Australia | DC Sports | DeatschWerks | Defi | DEI (heatwrap) | Denso | DiabloSport | Driveshaft Shop | Drop Engineering | Eagle | EBC Brakes | Edelbrock | Edge Racing | Eibach | Energy Suspension | Enkei Wheels | Epic Engineering | Exedy | Ferodo Brakes | Fidanza | FiveO Motorsports | Fluidampr | Forced Performance | Forge | Fujitsubo | Full Blown Motorsports | Garrett | Gates Racing | GoFastBits | Goodridge | Gorilla Automotive Products | GReddy | GrillCraft | GrimmSpeed | GSC Power Division | GTSpec | H&R Suspension | Hallman | Hans Device | Hawk Performance | Hella | HJC | HKS | H.O.A. Imports | Hotchkis | HyperTech | INGS+1 | Injen | Injector Dynamics | Innovate Motorsports | Invidia | JE Pistons | JIC Magic | K1 Technologies | K&N Engineering | Kaminari | Kartboy | Kelford Cams | KICS Project | Killer B Motorsport | KING Engine Bearings | Koyo | KSTECH | KYB | Magnaflow | Manley Performance | MB Gauge Pods | MBRP | Megan Racing | Mishimoto | Mitsubishi OEM | MODE Racing | Moroso | Motive Products | Motul | MSD Ingition | MSI Competition Components | Mugen | Muteki | NGK Spark Plugs | NISMO | NRG Innovations | ODYSSEY Batteries | Ohlins | Okada Projects | Omni-Power | Option Racing | Perrin Performance | PLX Devices | Power Enterprise | PowerSlot | Process West | Prodrive Wheels | Progress Suspension | Project Mu | Prova Japan | PST Driveshafts | Pyrotect Helmets | RallyArmor | Race Ramps |RC Engineering | Recaro | Redline Oil & Fluids | Samco | Seibon Carbon | Skunk2 Racing | SPAL Automotive | Sparco | Spearco Intercoolers | SPEC Clutch | SpeedBleeder | SSR Wheels | Stance USA | STi Subaru Tecnica International (JDM & Group N products) | StopTech | STRI Gauges | Subaru OEM | SuperChips | SuperPro Bushings | Swift Suspension | Synapse Engineering | Takata | Takeda Attack | Tanabe Racing Development | Techna-Fit | Tein Suspension | Thermo-Tec (heatwrap) | TiAL Sport | Tokico | Tomei | Turbonetics | TurboSmart | TurboXS | Turn-In Concepts | Varis | Venair | Vibrant | Volk Racing Wheels | Walbro | Weapon R | Whiteline Suspension | Wiseco | Work Wheels| Zeitronix | ZEX Nitrous Oxide Systems

They literally carry brands from A-Z folks, and I am very excited to start working with them. If you guys have any aftermarket needs, take a look at this list, and contact them for the best prices!

Welcome aboard Apex Performance!