By on October 13, 2016

ford focus rs

I have a confession to make. I’ve never modified any car that I’ve owned. Not a cold air intake. Not an exhaust. Not a single bolt-on. Nothing.

I guess you could make a case that I modified my Mazda RX-8, but all I did was buy Koni Sport shocks (which are considered OEM replacement) and O.Z. Ultraleggera wheels (man, I miss those) to make it a better autocrosser. And I did buy the Trackey software for my Boss 302. But I’ve never done a single thing to a car that would cause a warranty to be violated. And as a “car guy,” I’ve always been completely okay with that.

That is, I was, until I saw an Instagram picture yesterday.

I’ve driven my Focus RS approximately 300 miles in the first week that I’ve owned it (which has equaled three tanks of gas), and so far, I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve enjoyed all the eyeballs it draws, and all of the questions from people who are seeing one for the first time. It’s fast enough that I can stoplight drag just about any car commonly found on the streets, and I’m getting good grip from the Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

But, dammit — I want it to be more bonkers than it is. I am fully aware that the FoRS has a sort of built-in “break-in” mode, and that it will unlock a little more power after the first 2,000 miles or so. I just don’t know if it will be enough to compete with my memories of my Boss 302. I want crazy. I want loud, raucous, and powerful.

And based on the dyno graph shown above, my good friend Matt Farah, along with the folks at Mountune, have found about an extra hundred torx for the low, low cost of $2,800 in parts and labor. Yes, that’s a lot of money for a car that already cost $43,000. But as I discussed my favorite film of all time, Tokyo Drift, with my friends James and Sid on the Reels and Wheels podcast the other night, I started to think that maybe modding cars could be for me, after all. Who didn’t love Han’s RX-7? or D.K.’s 350Z? or even Neela’s RX-8? If fictional teenagers from twelve years ago can modify their cars, why not me?

One of the reasons that I’ve never modded a car is because I’m virtually certain that the folks at Ford (or Mazda, Porsche, etc.) know much more about engineering than I do. I’ve known many people who’ve spent thousands on their cars only to end up making them worse (looking at you, Mustang owners). But damn if this tune doesn’t seem foolproof.

I don’t want to do anything that’s visually noticeable on the FoRS — the Nitrous Blue paint stands out enough for a 38-year-old dad, thanks. But more power? Earlier boost? How could this be a bad thing?

However, I know myself. I rarely do things anything less than 100 percent — sometimes more than 100 percent. I’m legit worried that I’ll end up with something that looks like, well, this:

So maybe I’ll just start with something easy, like a nice high flow induction kit. You know, nothing major. Maybe some RS center caps. Those are tasteful. And I’ll need a set of winter wheels and tires, so why not just have them double as my autocross/track wheels and get some O.Z.s, just like the ones I had on my RX-8?

Shit. Just take my AMEX number and be done with it, Mountune. Just don’t tell me how much it costs, okay? Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

82 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: To Mod Or Not To Mod...”


  • avatar
    Hi_Im_Will

    That stock torque curve looks very much torque truncated. Which means it’s probably that way to protect the transmission. You can mod it all you like, but don’t expect parts to last you 100k+ miles after.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      This, exactly this. And a complete void of the factory warranty. OEMs can easily tell if a vehicle has been “tuned” nowadays and deny a warranty claim even if the vehicle is restored to stock before being towed in to the shop.

      A “high flow induction kit” will not do any HP/Torque favors, and if anything will result in the motor ingesting warmer air.

      Rims and one-inch thick street tires wont void a warranty, but are certainly not a good investment and will not add value to the car.

      Heck, Bark might as well go with the fart-can exhaust (which supposedly reduces back pressure despite its residence behind a catalytic converter) along with a chrome tip that is good for +15hp and a “cold air intake” kit.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        “OEMs can easily tell if a vehicle has been “tuned” nowadays and deny a warranty claim even if the vehicle is restored to stock before being towed in to the shop.

        How so? Lots of VAG guys go back to the stock tune before getting warranty work done. And I can tell you that Audi, in particular, is very strict when it comes to warranties and modded cars. Just Google “Audi TD1” to see what I mean.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          VW can absolutely tell when one of their cars has been tuned. First there’s a flash counter on the ecu, and if that doesn’t do it a remote diagnostic read will reveal several hidden tells (no idea on specifics for those). Tuning companies that advertise easy flash backs are counting on customers assuming this means you just go stock for dealer visits. This might be fine for minor warranty stuff, but if something truly expensive breaks the dealer or company will look deeper, and the game is up at that point.

          The arms race is on for piggy back tunes now, and the tuners seem to be winning there. People are reporting successful warranty results after removing jb boxes for instance, despite vw heavily revising ecus specifically to thwart them.

  • avatar
    Ltd1983

    $60 apiece for the RS wheel caps!

    And I thought Porsche had the market cornered on obscenely priced custom bits.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Mods are fun. But I’d steer clear of that tune until you are confident the bugs have been worked out.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Three tanks of gas? Are you standing on the go-pedal at max force 100% of the time (even at stop lights??)? Yow.

    As for modding, I’ve personally never been a fan of outward mods (to point, my best friend just sent me a picture of a BMW 3-series coupe he saw today that made my skin crawl and tears come to my eyes, and not in a good way. What people do to their cars…). However, tasteful (discreet) performance mods that are done without completing hosing the car? Yeah, I can get into that.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The trick is in finding tasteful, discreet exterior mods. Most are either Pep Boys or way too “Fast and Furious” for my tastes.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I saw a classic BMW M6 (first gen) the other day. Rattle can black matte, paint imperfections, horrible and cheap wheels, and it made me cry.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        That’s the treatment applied to all of the ’05-’10 6-series around here. They’re invariably driven by dudes with flat-brim hats, gym shorts, puffy water-weight creatine arms, and strong regional accents.*

        I can’t really imagine this being done to a first-generation car.

        *One of these guys lives within sight of me. His somehow sounds just like an F-body Camaro with an exhaust leak, and he also owns a black Wrangler Rubicon with red religious imagery (seems discordant but whatever,) and red-painted tire sidewall lugs. No accounting for taste.

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          Aaahhh yes, the flat-brimmed hat crowd. Were any Asian language character (Kanji) tattoos included in that gaggle? Because, you know, they are so spiritual and “deep”.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This is one of the benefits of a buy versus a lease – no way Bark (or anyone in his right mind, which may or may not include Bark) would have modded a leased car. That’s a recipe for all kinds of sadness come turn-in time.

    If you intend to keep it for the duration of the note, then mod away, I say!

    • 0 avatar
      andrewprice

      lol It is humorous you say that. I have a friend that is leasing a WRX and has modded it a lot. I think he plans on keeping the car, but if he did turn it in I am guessing he would remove all of the mods and sell them. I tend to agree with you though.

      https://www.youtube.com/user/LastHumansGarage/videos

  • avatar
    yamahog

    Yeah what could go wrong boosting torque considerably on a new car with a rear differential that probably has a low safety factor?

    Not to mention, all that extra area on the curve on the horsepower graph just means more and more and more heat. We’re starting to see the same stuff now with the Ecoboost stangs – an extra 100 ft. lbs of torque for at least 2.5 thousand RPMs over the stock motor – and people are really heating up their automatic transmissions and torque converters handling this. The amount of fuxking that people do to the lock up schedules just to get everything to work right is usually greater than the amount of time tuning engine.

    If you get the tune, you should consider the rear diff fluid cooler (whenever that comes out).

    At the very least, haters are going to relish the article, “I spent $X on a tune and blew up my axle and Ford wouldn’t warranty it and it cost $Y”.

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      “At the very least, haters are going to relish the article, ‘I spent $X on a tune and blew up my axle and Ford wouldn’t warranty it and it cost $Y’.”

      I won’t relish it, but do expect it. Pity to those who don’t understand the potential costs of performance mods and end up paying far more than they bargained for, including the inevitable hit on resale.

      “…But it’s got $10K in mods!!! All of which you’re going to eat, and then some…

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        That gnk rear diff was already caked or by ford themselves as the choke point. Ototh, that’s what they all say one way or another.

        To bark: GO FOR IT
        But do the mods one at a time to avoid mistakes. So many people bundle mods and then have no idea where that new squeek or vibration is coming from, I deal with this all the time. It’s usually something basic, like a bushing that shouldn’t have been bought or a big brake kit that removes wheel weights. The owner then ends up butthurt at the entire process. Besides, you’ll need to justify all these tax write offs with articles won’t you?

        That tune and intake seems expensive to me personally, but maybe the ford tuning community is just expensive. Also, new products are just as buggy in the aftermarket as they are in the oem side. You also want to make sure your vendor of choice isn’t on the brink of insolvency or didn’t hire a new engineer right before they developed your product.

        I can’t wait to read about this.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      In b4 the haters, I would expect the rear differential to throw some fuss before the rear axles. I misspoke in that last line.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Ford will be releasing their own warranty-approved RS tune soon:

    autoblog.com/2016/10/12/ford-performance-focus-rs-upgrades-official

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    “One of the reasons that I’ve never modded a car is because I’m virtually certain that the folks at Ford (or Mazda, Porsche, etc.) know much more about engineering than I do”

    That’s such a cop-out. Fact of the matter is that cars are always designed and built as a compromise to meet average customer satisfaction and to comply with laws. There are lots of ways to improve upon a car with aftermarket parts that may or may not void a warranty and/or break a law. It has nothing to do with OEMs being somehow smarter than the rest of us.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Engine tunes (when done by reputable specialty shops) are one thing. But many if not most other mods — especially brakes and suspension — tend to make the car worse if not done by the OEM. Chassis engineers have a lifetime of experience getting it right. 99% of modders’ knowledge comes from reading something on a forum thread.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Okay, lets keep this simple. Say I buy a new car and decide that I want to put an aftermarket exhaust on it. Pretty simple and safe mod, correct? So I do a little research and find a reputable company that designed a manufactures a mandrel bent exhaust system made from high-grade stainless steel that, A-fits correctly and looks great, B-sounds fantastic, C-provides a small bump in HP, D-will outlast the rest of the car due to its material construction, E-has zero effect on emissions and will not violate any state or federal laws.

        So where’s the downside? Am I better off just sticking with the stock exhaust? I don’t think so…

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Downsides of aftermarket exhaust:

          1) Drone, usually right in the RPM range where you are when you’re cruising on the freeway in top gear. Most of the cars I’ve owned have had multiple aftermarket exhaust options, but either 0 or 1 of those options have no drone.

          2) More flow usually boosts top-end power, but if there is a significant reduction in backpressure it can reduce low-end and midrange torque.

          3) How often does it really fit as well as OEM? Seems like most of them need a bit of shoving and tweaking to fit, and the tips often look mispositioned even when they’re installed correctly.

          4) Make sure that none of the hot gas will discolor or melt the rear bumper cover.

          You may well find the exhaust to be worth these downsides (although whether your neighbor does when you leave at 6 a.m. is a different question). But they are downsides, they are things that the OEM engineers have to (and will) sweat, while the aftermarket provider may or may not have thought any of them through.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Okay, so now I’ll be more specific. My daily driver is a 2016 Audi A5 with the 2.0T and a manual transmission. Before that, I had a 2011 version of the same exact car. I put aftermarket exhaust on both cars.

            The A5 comes with a whisper-quiet exhaust system. I hated that I couldn’t hear the exhaust system on my car, especially with a manual transmission. So I ended up researching different exhaust systems available in the aftermarket. My goal was to get an exhaust system that I’d be able to actually hear, without being loud or have any drone. It also had to be high grade SS throughout. It also had to fit properly. And that’s exactly what I got. My aftermarket exhaust is nowhere near as loud as the stock exhaust in a Coyote Mustang, but I can still actually hear it. It has zero drone at any RPM. The neighbors wouldn’t even know that the exhaust is aftermarket because it’s simply not loud or objectional in any way. And it fits BETTER than OEM. My OEM system didn’t have the tips perfectly centered in the rear valence, but I installed the exhaust system on both cars myself and both fit better than the OEM. Oh, and no burn marks anywhere on the rear bumper or valence.

            So in my example, not one of your downsides applies. I ended up with a superior exhaust system that looks better, sounds better, and allows for better performance. And since we’re talking a turbo engine, I’m not worried at all about backpressure. In fact, I wouldn’t worry about backpressure on a naturally aspirated engine either. It’s not like you’re going to burn the valves on a modern vehicle. This isn’t the 70s.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I did the same on my 328i wagon as White Shadow, for the same reasons. Though in my case, I bought BMW’s own Performance Exhaust. Performance Intake too – both fully covered by the factory warranty, to the point that BMW even changed the air filter under maintenance warranty.

            Only downside is the cost, which was vaguely ridiculous at nearly $2000 for the pair, installed by me. Factory fit and finish, because of course it IS factory.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Frequent car modder here-

        Power is easy to figure out, most reputable tuners can do it and if you wait a year after a car is out there will be plenty of off-the-shelf data. On a tuner car, hit the forums. Everything will be dyno tested by an owner eventually, and the community will note the most reputable tuners when you need to optimize the ECU calibration.

        Brakes are easy too – bigger is better (more heat capacity), as long as you do the math for piston sizes on the new moment arm. Basically anything you buy from Stoptech has this math already done for you. Beyond this, pad choice is really for the owner to make based on their usage. I don’t know any 2 people who do track who agree on an optimal pad setup for the S2000, because everyone drives differently and prefers different brake feel.

        But suspension? That’s black magic. Straight Damper replacements from Koni or Bilstein are fine, but nowadays are roughly equal to OE on a performance car. Springs are garbage and a huge unknown given most have progressive rates, and 99% of coilover setups under $3k are garbage. Over that price point you’re buying track-only stuff from Moton or Ohlins, and with ride height changes you’re messing with suspension geometry too. Your best bet is OE, OE in-house tuning (TRD, Mugen, Ford Racing, etc.), or pay out the ass at a full race shop.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Suspension really isn’t black magic. Most currently avilable suspensions have been around since the 50’s or more in some form or another, and any info is on the internet. Thnaks to a lot of platform sharing and cost cutting most ‘normal’ cars can be ugraded with OEM parts even (probably not the top of the line RS though). The only problem might be availability of straight bolt on parts for a brand new car.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            When I say that, I really mean the maintaining proper suspension geometry on a lowered car, camber curves on compression, motion ratios, and shock valving and tuning. There are very few non-engineers who really know what they’re doing in that regard, and it’s why getting good stuff aftermarket is so expensive.

            A good suspension, even just for going fast, is a lot more complicated than just stiffer=better.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Not necessarily smarter, but OEMs have the facilities and budget to do heat-soak testing in Death Valley, and cold-start testing in the Canadian Arctic, and durability testing, and emissions testing, and so on.

      I used to have a chipped car that ran rough around freezing, but ran OK 10 degrees higher or lower. It also ran too rich at WOT, as evidenced by soot coming out of the exhaust. Those problems went away when I went back to stock.
      This was a cheap, paid-off second car. I wouldn’t want to chance an aftermarket tune on a $40K car that still belongs to the bank.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Does it depend on the Dyno? On their web page, the B3 package (which is what is APPARENTLY discussed here) claims +69 lb-ft – not quite 90. And it’s $1200, not $2800. Or did he pay $1600 for installation + custom tune? Not saying it’s a bad thing, just trying to understand exactly WHAT he had done..

    Interesting that they also already sell a Quaife to replace the front diff, AND a gearbox upgrade to handle all that power. AFAIK, STis come with an LSD in the front, and their gearbox is considered good up to ~500 hp/tq. (I’m considering both an RS and an STi as my next car – if the RS had about 3 more inches rear legroom, it might be in the lead..)

    • 0 avatar
      mattfarah

      For clarity, the parts installed on my car are as follows:

      Mountune Intercooler Upgrade $999.00
      http://www.mountuneusa.com/mountune-Intercooler-Upgrade-Focus-RS-p/2536-ic-ba.htm

      Mountune RS B3 Upgrade pakcage $1299.00
      http://www.mountuneusa.com/COBB-Accessport-V3-ECU-Flasher-Ford-Focus-RS-B3-p/ap3-for-004b3.htm

      Mountune High Flow Lower Intercooler Pipe $249.00
      http://www.mountuneusa.com/mountune-Lower-Intercooler-Hard-Pipe-Focus-RS-p/2536-hp-aa.htm
      Mountune Quick Shift $199.00

      http://www.mountuneusa.com/mountune-Quick-Shift-Ford-Focus-RS-p/2536-bsa-aa.htm

      Mountune Sound Suppression Chamber $59.00

      http://www.mountuneusa.com/mountune-Sound-Suppression-Chamber-Focus-RS-p/2536-ssc-aa.htm

      Mountune Gearknob $69.00

      http://www.mountuneusa.com/mountune-Gearknob-p/2364-gk-aa.htm

      Total $2874.00

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        @mattfarah – Your “one take” vid of your RS made me a believer in this car. Unfortunately, I’m out of driveway space and my wife’s patience when it comes to adding cars to the fleet. One can dream, though.

  • avatar
    Bazza

    It’ll be interesting to see how the RDU holds up to power mods. If I ever buy turbo again, especially *this* turbo, I expect to be able to tweak similarly to Mountune (bare minimum) without drivetrain parts exploding prematurely. If the torque management system or tuner has to adjust F/R bias to protect a brittle RDU then it kind of defeats the purpose.

    Anyway, I hope it works well and returns reasonable reliability. Most power mods introduce some increased risk of failure so your definition of “reliable” may vary.

    Edit: Just because Ford is releasing their own tune doesn’t mean the parts can safely handle it long-term. Ford can easily eat the cost of in-warranty repairs on a low-volume model.

  • avatar
    vtecJustKickedInYo

    Mountune is a fairly conservative company, my only reservation is the engine is already fairly stressed and the turbo was mapped very well the stock boost pressure from the dyno graphs.

    ECU’s can no longer be flashed back to stock for dealer work like in the mid 00’s because manufacturers have installed eproms that go from 0 to 1 (unmodded to modded) the second the ecu is flashed with non-factory software.

    I’d say add a catback and downpipe first if the RS feels too reserved for you, downpipes void warranties, but thats only if you roll up to the dealer with it installed.

    After the warranty goes up, chip the RS for mad boost!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Of course you should mod. I am pretty sure I am getting a Camry SE V6, and if I do I’m going to modify it, just as I’ve modified every car I’ve owned up to this point.

    *EDIT* Engineers are generally pretty smart, but not always (see: BMW). And more importantly they are bound by regulations and cost. So there is always room for improvement.

    You do need to have some kind of plan and reasonable motivation though. Without that, you are venturing down an endless rabbit hole of CC charges, squeaks + rattles, exhaust drone, check engine lights and frustration. I second the notion that you should wait a year or three before messing with tunes. Bolt ons like intakes and the like seem pretty safe though.

    • 0 avatar
      cirats

      To sportyaccordy: I was a little late to the game reading and chiming in on your question the other day about other cars you are cross-shopping but put in a reply this morning describing an Infiniti you might be interested in. If you are interested in more detail, maybe we can catch up. I think I read you are in the Southeast – I am in Charlotte, NC. Would love for this car to end up with someone who would appreciate it.

      PS – RWD over FWD every day of the week!

      PPS to moderators – My apologies if this violates any terms of service, etc. Feel free to delete if it does.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Do you have a link to the car? I don’t want to exchange contact info in public.

        • 0 avatar
          cirats

          I just put an ad on Autotrader the other day. If the following doesn’t work, you ought to be able to find it with a search. It’s the only manual ’08 G35 sedan with 68k for miles around. My contact info is on the ad.

          http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=28211&endYear=2017&modelCode1=G35&showcaseOwnerId=578835&makeCode1=INFIN&startYear=1981&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=25&showcaseListingId=428315808&mmt=%5BINFIN%5BG35%5B%5D%5D%5B%5D%5D&listingId=440952916&Log=0

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      “I am pretty sure I am getting a Camry SE V6…”

      Condolences.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’ve never been huge on mods. I lightly modded (Chip and cold air intake) a BMW M a few years back and really loved it, but in general, there are limits to what I like. I’ve never done any mods to my 911, although I have considered a new exhaust. I am also ok with factory mods, such as BMWs or Porsches performance add on.

    I always think of it in terms of resale. I know that as a shopper, a handful of mods is a turn off. I skipped almost every 911 that had a mod beyond wheels and/or exhaust. I can’t be more specific because it depends on the car, but anything beyond minor and I’m going to move on to the next car when I’m shopping.

    • 0 avatar
      Nostrathomas

      I’m pretty much the same, I like my cars as close to 100% stock as possible…including wheels. When looking at new cars, I consider it a flag if the wheels are off-brand, or period incorrect (ie. when you see old SC’s with Turbo Twists).

      The biggest flag is chrome wheels of any kind.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Factory mods are in a different category from others. They are almost never a red flag for me.

  • avatar
    EAF

    If you wanted more power you should have bought a more powerful car. Leave it stock, keep your warranty and reliability intact.

    Now continue driving the hell out of it and enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      In his defense, older turbocharged cars left a lot on the table in terms of power potential. Fuel maps, boost maps, etc. tended to be very conservative. In effect, you *were* buying a more powerful car, you just had to wrench and tune a little to get it.

      It’s fairly obvious that today’s stock tunes run closer to the edge, but better computers and more exact fuel delivery allow you to do just that. While I would like the capability to turn up the wick, I agree with the sentiment that you buy the stock horsepower you’ll be happy with without mods, and later if MOAR POWR is called for then it’s just icing on an already excellent cake.

      • 0 avatar
        andrewprice

        They leave power on the table generally to avoid reliability issues and to keep down system components (especially those that are carried over from less performance oriented versions of the same vehicle) from failing prematurely. That is the thing about a stock car: it is designed to have a lot of power and work reliably. As part of that equation all of the components have to be able to withstand the level of speed, performance, and vibration the car will be outputting for XXXXXX number of miles in all sorts of weather and environmental conditions.

        Once you start to exceed those stock values then things like the clutch plate or brakes may start to wear excessively as they attempt to cope with extra power/speed (and resulting heat) that are being thrown at them. If you modify the suspension then the tolerances and resilience of the interior trim become an issue as you are subjecting them to a levels of harshness and vibration they were never designed for; ultimately resulting in cracking, breaking, and/or creaking. And sometimes there are simple things that you would never have considered before that start to illustrate the limitations of stock components; as was demonstrated when people starting modding the Fiesta ST and found that the motor mounts allowed the car to smack itself in the face under hard acceleration.

        Basically, you have to remember that engineering is all about designing something to handle specific loads in a cost effective and reliable fashion, and that cars like the Focus RS are engineered around a price point. We do not over-engineer parts because that increases complexity and cost. Also wherever possible we try to use existing components because again that increases the costs associated with design and production.

        Could we make the car better than it is? Yes, of course. In a world where we did not have to worry about the final cost to consumers, reliability, production schedules, or the design budgets: we could design much better vehicles. However, then they would cost a lot more and we would probably not start off with a more pedestrian platform like the Focus to begin with; a platform which inherently limits the total performance window of the vehicle itself. However, that is not the world we live in and instead as engineers we must work around those limitations and turn out the best possible product at a price point that is actually obtainable to the end consumer.

        Now, if you did more limited performance mods, drove the car conservatively most of the time, and only used the extra power on occasion… then yeah you might be fine. In that case you are not exceeding the the original design specs at a high enough frequency to damage the underlying systems, and we generally allow a certain tolerance buffer to account for potentially unforeseen conditions. However, if you are getting 100 miles to a tank because you are holliganing the thing around constantly: then you are start to dramatically increase the risk that components will fail on you prematurely because you are subjecting every part in that system to forces that they were never totally designed to withstand.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    I like to go through a set tires before I start modding. It gives me a good baseline of the car. Plus I don’t want to void the factory warranty on my GTI.

    After the warranty is up, I’m going either JB Tune/APR Stage 1/Cobb.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    Remember, a racer’s strength flows from the Force. But beware. Horsepower, torque, better handling. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Bark… Bark… do not… do not underestimate the powers of the tune or suffer your brother’s fate you will. Bark, when gone am I… the last of the racers will you be. Bark, the Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned, Bark.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Like I stated in your original RS article.

    Did you buy the right car?

    I would drive it around for a while getting a feel for the car. Do more research, then make a decision. You might want the SS after all.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    When I asked my dealer to confirm that the Mountune kit for the FiST was warranty-friendly and available through Ford dealers, they looked at me as one would a massive idiot, and claimed to have never heard of Mountune or anything like that.

    After I promised them that I wasn’t crazy and they looked it up, they then clarified that it was available through dealers certified to sell Ford Performance parts, which they are not, and implied that they wouldn’t be too happy seeing a car so modified darken their service department’s door.

    YMMV. Make sure your dealer isn’t like my dealer if you’re hoping you can get pieces of your powertrain replaced hassle-free under warranty if you blow them up on this tune.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      Moral: you need to find another dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @Higheriq, ding ding ding

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          I’ve so far used them only for free oil changes so I’ll probably do that if I do modify it. I’m just saying there’s no guarantee a dealer convenient to you will know what to do with one of these Mountune/FP factory-approved tunes.

          Also, I had that conversation with them when I was buying the car. I’ve since realized it’s basically fast enough, unless you just want to do highway pulls.

          Now, Ford Performance brake cooling ducts, I’d buy those.

  • avatar
    fvfvsix

    Bark – you’re already a 38-year old dude driving around a Smurf Blue car that appears to be ludicrously good driver (yes, I’m jealous). I say you can’t go wrong with a few tastefully done mods, especially since Matt Farah has kinda already paved the way for you. Do it. Do it now. You gotta make every year on this earth a memorable one.

  • avatar
    John

    Having a fair bit of experience “experimenting” with mods, I think you are looking at modding backwards. Here is the way I’d suggest:

    1. Mod the chassis – will the brakes, chassis, etc. be able to handle the planned extra power/speed?

    2. Mod the “reliability” components – will the cooling system, lubrication system, clutch, – others have mentioned the rear differential – be able to handle the extra power?

    3. Once you’re sure you’ve done 1 and 2 adequately, mod for more power.

    Have fun!

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I vote for “leave it alone” with the exception of a factory backed ECU tune, and even then, I wouldn’t do it.

    The Focus RS is already modded like crazy, it’s just that Ford did the mods.

    350 hp from a 2.3L, .98g skidpad, near 12 second quarter mile, smurf blue paint, AWD, launch control, chassis engineered by Ford Germany, super stiff sport mode…….

    The car is already nuts, it doesn’t need anything else IMO.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    The OEM guys do know best, when it comes to making the best possible compromise. Modifying a car usually means skewing that compromise in the direction that suits you best personally. Do you nees the comfort that your car has today? If no, you can start doing suspension changes, making it lightweight etc. Do you like the reliability that your mechanicals have today? If you do, stay away from any heavier modifications to that etc. Any modification that improves one thing will take away something else, at least as long as we are talking reasoable sums of money. Throw all the money in the world at it for 10 years and you can end up with a Veyron. Do it quickly on the cheap by yourself and you end up with a honner/ricer lawnornament.
    In the big picture modifications only really make sense economically if you want something tht is just not available. If all you want is a faster car, one is most likely available, if you just want a larger, smaller, greener etc. car, one is almost always out there already, and it’s usually cheaper than modding your current car.
    And, if you want a better Porsche, just wait a year or two.
    But, if you want something truly unique, modification is the only option.

  • avatar
    BlythBros

    “One of the reasons that I’ve never modded a car is because I’m virtually certain that the folks at Ford (or Mazda, Porsche, etc.) know much more about engineering than I do.”

    They also have more experience with the platform than the tuners do. But, Ford is in the money making business, not the performance car business. Even a car like the RS is designed with cost and ease of assembly in mind. Items like the cast intake that Matt installed on his car might provide a small improvement at a cost that Ford didn’t think would be justified, or maybe it would be more difficult to install at the engine or vehicle plant than the plastic production piece. It certainly costs more than the production piece.

    As for tuning the engine software, Ford is more than aware of how much power its engines can produce with software tweaks – but they have to consider the durability of the engine with each power addition. The piston rings, wrist pins, pistons, connecting rod bushings, rod/main bearings, and head gasket are all designed to a certain load target and durability target. The aftermarket companies likely don’t have the budget to test a significant (or any) engines on a test stand for lifetime durability. Now, with Ford Performance tunes, you might be tapping into that durability knowledge – I’m not sure if they work directly with the powertrain engineers or just make a risk assessment and eat whatever warranty they come across. Either way, I’d recommend going with a Ford Performance product over a third party (and maybe you could find out how closely the two work together before committing to the parts).

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    This is ultimately why I bought a Scat Pack instead of an RS. I looked hard at the RS. I used to dream of owning the euro Focus back in the early 2000’s when I had a 5 speed ZX3 in Malibu Blue. So this car should have been a shoe in for me, especially in the color your purchased. But in the end, the ridiculous power and feel of the Scat Pack was too much to resist. The car is an animal. I tell you this, I dont miss my Boss 302 at all going to the Scat. As an aside, I cant even imagine owning a Hellcat, its probably too much motor IMHO.

  • avatar
    TTCat

    Been driving modded right from original purchase Mk1 TTs for almost 16 years now, 135K miles were put on the first one before trading, my current TT is at 122K miles.

    I have never had any issues due to mods, but then TTs came severely nerfed from Audi, so the mods brought the cars back up to where they should have been from the factory, but still well within the operational envelope for reliability (I know, scoff if you must, but drop-dead reliable these cars have been for me)

    Now on the RS, I get the impression it’s engineered much “closer than the line”, and it already provides pretty scorching performance, so I probably wouldn’t do a thing…

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    A very dear friend of mine spent his early years slinging wrenches on his brother’s Formula Atlantic and hooning the crap out of his Cougar and Fox-body Capri. I asked him once, why didn’t he get behind the wheel? To which he replied that he was too aggressive, had no fear, and he’d kill himself. Which…was true. Life and kids happened to he and his brother. The racing stopped and the fun cars went away. Then, he sold his business and opened up his own shop. The Formula was being restored, and he built a Factory Five Cobra – no expense spared. No donor car, everything came out of the Ford Performance catalog. He was quite often asked why he drove too fast, why his snowmobiles were modded to hell, why his Excursion sounded like it was running flat out at Talledega, and why he dumped so much coin on the Cobra. Life is too f’ing short he said, too short to waste on s***y cars and what is broke can always be fixed (of course having access to a shop to straighten out the frame of a rental car that was slammed up against a stone wall helps). He worked his ass and died way too young. You’re 38, and earn enough to provide a good home for your kids, and have coin left over to afford the RS. Do it! Follow Farrah’s lead and have fun. Its only money and you’re responsible.

  • avatar
    nvinen

    I’ve never modded a car before either but yesterday I paid a (large) deposit to a tuning house in preparation for having mine done.

    My car has a factory supercharger but no intercooler. I’m having an intercooler fitted along with a new, smaller supercharger pulley, new catback exhaust system, larger fuel pump and injectors, larger air filter and a tune. The guy who’s doing the tune is very experienced and has done many cars like mine before.

    I figure that the engine I was supplied with was very conservatively designed and the intercooler will give a lot of scope for tuning while keeping it reliable. I told the guy that I don’t want an overly aggressive tune. He still says he reckons I’ll end up with at least 670 horsepower at the wheels.

    I would have been much more reluctant to go ahead with this if there weren’t already a number of cars with identical engines and mods driving around for the last few years without blowing up or if I felt that it was really pushing what the vehicle is capable of. I know the ZF transmission is rated for more torque than my engine currently produces and the LSD has to be replaced periodically anyway. So I figure it’s pretty safe. The guy also offers a short warranty on his work.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    I wouldn’t do anything irreversible. How often have you heard the complaint about not being able to find an unmolested Civic Si, Integra Type R, or whatever else? Bark specifically stated that he partially rationalized his purchase based on resale; if I’m buying one of these in 2, 5, or 15 years, I’m going to have a preference for the most bone stock example.

    Also, wouldn’t modding it change your autocross category? Might not be worth it just for that reason.

  • avatar
    andrewprice

    Given Ford’s somewhat dubious reliability stock… I would categorically avoid anything that might potentially void your warranty coverage. Thankfully Ford’s Performance division seems to have you covered and will be offering tunes and other aftermarket accessories that should allow light modding without having to sacrifice your warranty in the process. Cosmetic mods for the most part should be fine, as long as they don’t impact the overall structure of the car to the point that any service center might become circumspect to any warranty claims you might have down the road.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2016/08/05/mountune-ford-focus-rs-official/

  • avatar

    Mountune is legit. Do it dude.

    • 0 avatar
      andrewprice

      I would agree if that is truly what he wants and it will not void the warranty. However, if whatever mod might negatively impact your ability to have any flaws, defects, and/or repairs covered by the manufacturer… I wouldn’t. Or at least I would wait until it is out of warranty and the car has been worn in a bit to do that. Matt Farrah has multiple vehicles to go to in the event one breaks (which also means less wear and tear on his), will likely tradesell the car he bought before it becomes an issue, generates revenue from modding it (helping to offset any repair costs), and I imagine has more resources at his disposal than Bark does (no offense intended there) to cover increases upkeep costs that such mods might incur.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Juke Nismo? Mod away – the things friggin ugly anyway.

    RS & Golf R have a kind of purity.

  • avatar

    You’ll shoot your eye out.

    Or rather, you’ll void your warranty and when you start breaking drivetrain parts after adding better tires you’ll be SOL.

    Also, you know you’re gonna autocross this – you won’t be eligible for street-class competition (probably in BS against the C5 Vette, S2000 and M2) – you’ll be moved straight to prepared or street mod (bend over, grab heels).

    If you truly don’t give a shit about autocross then wait for Ford’s official, warranty-honoring tune. It’s been delivering acceptable gains for their other boosted cars.

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    After reading Bark’s article I have a hard time believing that he’s never modded before. Or maybe he’s never had this much money to spend.
    (By the way how is your retirement plan doing?)

    Signed
    Old Fart who may be able to retire when he reaches 70.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    I’ve always found that it is much easier and cheaper to buy the car that does what I want it to do, rather than buying a car that doesn’t and trying to make it do what I want.

    Of course, sometimes that’s not possible, especially with resto-modding an old car (which is why I have spent the last 6 years tweaking the fuel injection I put on a 1960’s Jaguar) but it’s a lot nicer to just drive what you want without messing around.

  • avatar
    Zane Wylder

    Love when people say OEM does best… http://www.mustang6g.com/forums/showthread.php?t=56367&highlight=sandbag

    Here’s the last part of the first post:

    “Nearly half of the area is blocked, fin density and surface area are minuscule, the only advantage is strength for weight here, It’s like they used a design for a water to air heat exchanger and built it out of aluminum. This is a major restriction, and one that does not provide an airspeed increase like a venturi.”

    We talked about the detrimental effects on an engine and he said, “if you were sitting in traffic for like 10 minutes on a warm day, the road opened up and you were to give it gas, this would actually heat up your air charge and could cause DET if you had low quality fuel, I don’t think you could pull timing fast enough”.
    I told him about the blown motors on this forum and he asked me how many had stock intercoolers. As far as I’m aware no engines have blown with upgraded ones! His exact words “I would expect a cooler of this size and design to support 250 hp at relatively low boost. At 310 and 18 psi on a small turbine like this, this is a danger to the engine”.
    “The Primary concern developing this part was cost, nothing else, not even performance. The thing that really jumps are the end tanks, unless they are used in something else that is highly space limited, they could have been designed much better at no additional cost or complexity to manufacture. I bet Ford produces these at around $10-12 a unit, they could have made it much better at 0 cost unless they had tons of these cores and end tanks lying around,” (as far as I can tell this intercooler is Mustang specific) and the could have nearly doubled the efficiency by spending 25 cents a car more, but that is a bean counter issue, well over $1million in profits over the lifespan of the car. The only way this passed hot weather certification was by avoiding boost.”

    My advice is simple; find what the weak links of the FoRS are and fix them, simple as that

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I’d at least wait for the “automatic” 2,001 mile power increase.

  • avatar
    Chris from Cali

    I’d say mod away, especially if it builds huge tq/hp numbers on the cheap. My only concern (if I had an RS) would be that trick torque-vectoring rear end… Word is that it has a 350 lb-ft limit. Obviously Matt has put more power/torque down than that, but who knows how long it lasts?

    I had a fairly modded Evo VIII and it was damn near bulletproof (and a hell of a lot of fun!). Other than that, I’ve limited modding to wheels/exhaust/intake, etc. Like Bark, I’m always nervous of voiding that priceless warranty. It’s the reason I haven’t touched my Golf R (another car with big potential, but possibly fragile drivetrain).


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: 0. What kind of Continentals? 1. What octane are you planning to use?
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: No! They hate Tesla as a company!
  • Rocket: Panasonic, yes, but with completely different technology. Plus, Panasonic seems to be an unhappy partner in...
  • brettc: It’ll probably just be me, so if it does happen I’ll take my time on the way back and make a...
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Chinese based government backed car firm like they did for Volvo!

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States