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2004–07 Subaru WRX STI year-to-year changes

Subaru Tecnica International, the automaker’s motorsports division, was founded in 1988. Today it’s still a small group of 120 enthusiasts responsible for Subaru’s race cars and high-performance STI models.
With a price tag of $31,520, the WRX STI launched in the United States for the 2004 model year, just two years after the WRX had finally reached America. Although the two look similar, the STI is a very different machine, packing a larger 2.5-liter engine, a six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, larger Brembo brakes, bigger BBS wheels and tires, and its unmistakable rear spoiler, which had been battle-tested by World Rally gods Colin McRae, Petter Solberg, and Richard Burns.
Thanks to 14.5 pounds of turbo boost, they were packing 300 hp from Subaru’s flat EJ25 four-banger, and magazine tests of the day clocked them to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. That’s almost a full second quicker than the EJ20-powered 227-hp WRX at the time.
This was the second generation (or GD generation) of the Impreza sedan, which launched in 2000, and Subaru didn’t make many changes to the STI during its four-year run. But there are a few key differences buyers should know about.

In 2004, the STI used the same 5×100 hub bolt pattern as the WRX, but in 2005, it changed to 5×114.3 and the STI’s BBS wheels were widened by half an inch. In 2006, the torque split of the all-wheel-drive system was also modified to send more power to the front. The original split was 35/65 but it changed to 41/59.
In 2007, the six-speed got slightly taller second-, third-, and fourth-gear ratios. Changes to the engine were very minor over the years, but they include tweaks to the wastegate actuator and ECU in 2007, and a later reflash fixed some hesitation issues.
Most of the changes were visual. In 2004, the STI wore clear headlamps and red taillights, but Subaru switched to a slightly darker smoked reflector for the headlamps in 2005. Big changes came in 2006, however, when Subaru ditched the “blobeye” design for the “hawkeye” design. Again the lights were tinted, but in 2007 Subaru went back to the clear lamps front and back.
In 2005, Subaru added small plastic body color flares to the rear wheel wells, and a year later the STI wore roof vane spoilers, which its designers cribbed from its rival, the Mitsubishi Evo. Later cars also got a small black diffuser under the rear bumper.

The door decals were tweaked, as well. The STI logo and Subaru Tecnica International text were on the same line the first year, but from 2005–07 Subaru Technica was stacked on top of the word International. If the car is wearing the wrong stickers, it may be a sign it has had some bodywork, but not always.
The STI Limited model was added for 2007, but just 800 were built, 400 in white and 400 in gray. These are the only STIs with leather upholstery. They also got heated front seats, a sunroof, black instead of gold brake calipers, and a slightly different wheel design. Gold wheels were not offered and Subaru replaced the STI’s signature oversized spoiler with a small lip.
“These are really hard to find that haven’t been thrashed,” says Witkin.
The driver’s seats changed slightly over the years, and the door panels got more armrest padding and more Alcantara in 2005. The heating and air conditioning controls and center stack were also modified that year.

Scott Oldham
19 June 2019

What Does Your Check Engine Light Mean

When your car's check engine light illuminates your dashboard, it's usually accompanied by a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. The light could be a minor issue, such as a faulty gas cap, or it could mean something more serious, such as a misfiring engine. In many cases, it means that you'll be visiting the car dealer to repair the issue and get the light turned off.
The check engine light — more formally known as the malfunction indicator lamp — is a signal from the car's engine computer that something is wrong.
Automakers started standardizing their systems with 1996 model-year vehicles under a protocol called OBD-II, which instituted a list of diagnostic trouble codes and mandated that all cars provide a universal connector to access this information. The connector is usually located under the steering column and is relatively easy to access. Before 1996, carmakers had their own engine diagnostic systems, primarily to ensure their cars were compliant with EPA pollution control requirements.
Check engine lights come in orange, yellow or amber, depending on the manufacturer. If the light begins flashing, however, it indicates a more serious problem, such as a misfire that can quickly overheat the catalytic converter. These emissions devices operate at high temperatures to cut emissions but can pose a fire hazard if faulty.

Deciphering the Code
Some drivers may confuse the service required or maintenance required light on the gauge cluster for the check engine light. These warning lights are unrelated. The service required light just means the car is due for an oil change or other routine care. It is not an indicator of trouble like the check engine light is.
Your local mechanic can usually diagnose the problem for about $75. But there's a way to preview what the problem might be. Do-it-yourselfers can buy inexpensive code readers from an auto parts store or online that connect to the onboard diagnostics (OBD) port and search for the code's meaning on websites such as Engine Light Help. Modern systems will display the code in an app on your smartphone.
How to Turn Off the Check Engine Light
Most code readers will allow you to turn off or reset the check engine light. But this action alone does not actually repair the underlying problem. In many cases, the light will simply come back on later.
Mixed Signals
But even with the code and its meaning in hand, a do-it-yourself interpretation can be a little tricky — even if you are mechanically inclined, said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for Edmunds.
"My wife's car started running poorly, and there was a check engine light. My code reader detected a code for the cam angle sensor. I thought about buying the sensor and installing it myself. But if I had, I would have wasted time and money because it turned out that the sensor was fine. Instead, mice had gotten under the hood and had chewed some of the wires leading to it," said Edmunds.
What Could Cause the Check Engine Light to Come On?
CarMD, an automotive telematics company, published a list of the 10 most common check engine codes in 2018, along with their estimated cost of repair:
1. (tie) Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) 
1. (tie) Replace oxygen sensor(s) 
3. Replace catalytic converter(s) with a new OEM catalytic converter(s) 
4. Inspect for loose gas cap and tighten or replace as necessary 
5. Replace ignition coil(s) 
6. Replace evaporative emissions purge control valve 
7. Replace mass airflow sensor 
8. Replace evaporative emissions purge solenoid 
9. Replace fuel injector(s) 
10. Replace thermostat 
Occasionally, the check engine light comes on when nothing is wrong with the car, said Steve Mazor, chief automotive engineer for the Auto Club of Southern California. It could be a temporary problem caused by a change in humidity or other factors. In such cases, the light should go off by itself after a short time.
Don't Ignore That Light
Mazor says that some people freak out when they see the check engine light. "They just put a piece of black tape over the dashboard light and keep driving," he said. But Mazor adds it's important to address problems indicated by the light promptly. Ignoring them could lead to larger, costlier problems later.
If the light comes on, Mazor suggests the driver should check the gas cap. A loose gas cap sends an error message to the car's computer, reporting a leak in the vapor recovery system, which is one aspect of a car's emissions system. If the fuel cap is loose, tighten it and continue driving. Even so, it will take some time for the light to go off, he says.
What should you do if the check engine light comes on and it's steady rather than flashing? The most obvious answer is to get the engine checked by a mechanic. But many people do nothing, perhaps fearing an expensive repair bill. Some drivers with older vehicles may want to squeeze out as many remaining miles as possible without visiting a service garage. But before they can pass their state's vehicle inspection, they have to get the light turned off. And a state inspection is a good motivator for dealing with the problem.
As Dan Edmunds points out, the system is primarily designed to continuously monitor a car's emissions system over the life of the car. However, he notes, "The engine and the emission control system are so interlinked that the health of the emission control system is a good indication of the general health of the car's engine."
Good Backup Plan
Mazor says that even an inexpensive check engine code reader could be useful for car owners, even if they aren't mechanically inclined.
"If the mechanic gives you the same information, at least you know they are going down the right road," he notes. Edmunds agrees, adding that a code reader provides car owners with one more data point to help them talk with their mechanic and avoid costly or unnecessary auto repairs.

Originally Published on Edmunds.com
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New vs. Used Car – 6 Benefits of Buying a Slightly

Other than your home, your car might be the most expensive purchase that you ever make. I love nice cars, but I also try to manage my finances responsibly. As a result, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that a new car is an unnecessary expense.
Sure, you can find overpriced used cars and bargain buys on brand-new vehicles, but it’s not just the sticker price that makes a new car a waste. The associated fees, subsequent costs, and losses in value (i.e. depreciation) add up to thousands of dollars over the first few years of new car ownership. This is especially bad news if you end up upside down on your car loan.
On the other hand, a “slightly-used” car – one that’s only around two years old and has under 30,000 miles on it – can help you keep cash in your pocket without sacrificing quality. Below are 6 benefits of buying a used car (in like-new condition) over a brand new one.
1. Used Cars: Lower Price Tag, Less Depreciation
Remember the old adage that a new car loses thousands of dollars in value the moment you drive it off the lot? It’s still true, and it’s why used cars are better bargains. It’s also why you can buy a 2007 Porsche for the price of a 2011 Honda. Someone bought the Porsche for $50,000 and now it can be yours for $25,000.
Think about the average price of buying new. Figures from CNW Marketing Research show that the average price of a new car in 2008 was $25,536 before taxes and fees. That car could now be worth around $13,000. Would you rather be the original buyer, who lost $12,000 or $13,000, or the second buyer who saves that much?
If you buy a car that’s one or two years old, it’ll still depreciate, but you’ll lose less money less quickly. And you’ll avoid that big initial hit that the previous owner took.

2. Sales Tax on New Cars  

Every ad for a new car glosses over the tax issue. Many state laws subject new cars to state sales tax, but not used cars. In Georgia, for example, if you buy a used car from a private seller, you won’t owe any sales tax at all. Comparatively, the sales tax that dealers have to add to the price of a new car can be thousands of dollars. Don’t underestimate the savings, and research your state’s laws on the subject before you make a decision. 

3. Falling Registration Fees  

In most states, the rate of your annual registration fee is based on your car’s value and its model year. In Colorado, for example, registration fees fall dramatically during the first few years after a car is manufactured. The rate is highest in the first three years, and then levels off after five years. If your state has similar rules, you can save about a thousand dollars by avoiding the new car registration fees and buying a car that’s at least three, or better yet five, years old.

4. Useless Extras on New Cars, Cheaper Features on Used Cars

The oldest trick in the dealer’s book is to install additional dealer options. They’ll add a pinstripe, a protective film, or the immortal “anti-rust coating,” but new car buyers who want these add-ons can easily get them for a much lower cost from an after-market installer. Regardless, these changes don’t add a dime to the car’s resale value anyway. When you buy used, you may not get every feature you want, but you certainly won’t end up paying extra for things you didn’t ask for.
On the other hand, when you search for specific features that you do want in a used car, like a sunroof or navigation system, you’ll pay far less than the original owner did. Instead of needing to decline a dealer’s expensive navigation package with fees and surcharges, you’ll be able to afford the built-in features.

5. Dealers and Their Crazy Fees 

As if paying $500 for rust-proofing isn’t bad enough, dealers hit new car buyers with shipping charges, destination fees, and “dealer preparation.” These fees feel even worse because unlike the unnecessary, unwanted pinstripe, owners have absolutely nothing to show for these charges except a lower bank account. When you buy a used car, you’ll have to visit the DMV to pay tag, title, and registration fees, but you won’t deal with any of the nonsense that dealers add.
Instead of caving to dealer fees and buying new, you take on a more powerful role when you’re in the market to buy a used car. You have a much better case for negotiating when you can tell a private seller you might just walk away from their old car. If they bought new, they’re not going to know everything you know about the benefits of buying used. They’ll be eager to keep you at the negotiating table.

6. Condition 

Nowadays, cars are built to last for at least 100,000 miles, so you don’t have to sacrifice reliability and overall condition just to get a good deal on a used car. You can get a used (or “pre-owned”) car that’s scratch-free and in excellent mechanical shape. In fact, if you know anything about cars, you should be able to find one that is in “like new” condition.
However, if you’re not comfortable under the hood, you can rely on the certification programs and extended long-term car warranties that most car makers offer. When you buy a used car at a manufacturer’s dealership, you’ll know that they’ve inspected the vehicle and that it meets the strict requirements for certification. The biggest benefit you might find is the manufacturer’s warranty for used cars. Toyota, for example, offers a seven-year 100,000-mile warranty on certified used vehicles. This kind of peace of mind is crucial when buying a used car.

Final Word 

New cars smell great, but how much is that scent really worth? By looking beyond the sale price and considering the total cost of buying new, you can get a better idea of how much you are really going to pay for the privilege of being the first owner of your next car. You might have to spend a little extra time on research, but from the initial price to the long-term costs, you’ll thank yourself for buying a slightly-used car that’s in good condition.

Originally Published on moneycrashers.com
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Meet Dominator Fore, the Storm-Chasing Subaru Fore

Extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer, of the upcoming National Geographic show Category 6, talks up his trusted (and dented) ride.

When Subaru trended on Twitter recently, Reed Timmer saw it as an excuse to post a picture of his 2018 Subaru Forester. The sapphire wagon looked like it had been tied to a post and left outside as a dare to mother nature. If this were a matter of neglect, the neighbors might have placed a call to rescue the Forester from a bad situation (or tidy up the street).
But the Forester took its hits in the line of duty. Timmer, who lives in Golden, Colorado, is a storm chaser. "Saw my first tornado in October of '98," he said, "and been storm chasing nonstop ever since. I've seen over 700 tornadoes, dozens of hurricanes, about 40 tropical cyclones, flash floods, lake effect snow, blizzards. I just love to chase it all."
It didn't take long for Timmer's work to leave its mark on the Forester's sheetmetal. "A week after I got it, I took it into baseball- and softball-sized hail down in Colorado Springs. Blew the windows out, covered it in dents." Then he drove it into Arizona's monsoon and haboob season, the Subaru's boxer-four engine forced to inhale copious detritus. "The dirt has little baby Scorpions and fungus [in it], so you get something called valley fever when you breathe it in." It's possible Timmer's lungs look like his car.

Such storms are how the Subaru earned its name: Dominator Fore. The wagon is the fourth in a line of custom-built Dominator storm chasing vehicles, its golf ball dimples inspiring the second half of the name.
The Subaru is the only car among the Dominators, though; its precedents are heavy duty pickup-truck-based tanks covered in sheetmetal armor and double-pane Lexan windows, created to survive ground-zero encounters with tornadoes.
As opposed to being a specialist, Dominator Fore is a multi-tool for storm-chasing. Hurricanes, for example, need a small footprint and quick reflexes. "You can maneuver in there and stay clear of the debris paths, and use vehicles or big concrete structures to park downwind to protect yourself."
Timmer's put 120,000 miles on the Subie in two years. "My comfort zone is sleeping in my car, so when all that [Covid] uncertainty happened, I just hit the road." He travels with his Yorkshire Terrier, Gizmo, and they chased just about every storm the rest of us are trying to forget happened this year.

Timmer said he's had no mechanical issues with his ride. "It seems like any hailstone will leave a mark on a Subaru, but the engine is incredible." He said he goes though "about four or five windshields per year," and the only painful bills come from replacing headlights and taillights. "Those Subaru light fixtures are like the most expensive part of the entire vehicle."
The reliability is a boon for his temperament; in the past, he didn't pay much attention to maintenance. He started storm chasing in his first car, a 1985 Plymouth Reliant, followed by a 1991 Mercury Topaz, then "a 2002 Chevy Lumina that was held together by duct tape." He didn't change the Lumina's oil "for like 25,000 miles, and I ended up leaving it on the side of the road near the Kansas-Oklahoma border in the middle of the night on the way back from a storm chase."

Dominator Fore gets much better treatment. "I bring it to the Subaru dealership in Colorado quite a bit, and they're just appalled."
Timmer leaves the exterior au naturel on purpose. "Emotionally, I associate a storm chase with every dent or mark that's on the vehicle."
The only modifications made so far have turned the Forester into an Ecto-1 for hunting weather systems instead of ghosts. There's an anemometer on the roof, and a couple of aluminum panels to replace a sunroof and a window blown out by giant hail. Inside, Reed stores ground-based and launchable probes, model rockets with sensors in their nose cones, and a model rocket launcher.

More upgrades are on the way, including Lexan windows, "a rocket launcher with pan-and-tilt capability on the roof, and I'd love to make it float, too." Timmer's two fabricator friends who keep him rolling, told him perhaps an already-waterproofed Watercar Panther might be a better idea. "But down the road I'd like to have a vehicle where, when you're chasing a hurricane and storm surge flooding comes in, you could just drive into the flood and it would behave like a boat and you could go rescue people that need to be rescued and we could continue to measure our data."
Asked what he might replace the Subaru with, "at some point storm chasing is going to have to go electric," he said, and when it does, "one of those Cybertrucks looks pretty awesome."
Until that Tesla is ready, Timmer expects to drive his current rig until it dies. "I want to modify the Dominator Fore into an all-purpose all storm vehicle. If it survives another storm season, that is."
He recently finished shooting a new show for National Geographic called "Category 6," and based on Timmer's plans for 2021, Vegas might put long odds on the Subaru's survival.
"The most fun," Timmer said, "is when it's just you in the middle of the night with an F4 tornado coming at you that you can't see, and then all the lights go out and [an exploding] transformer illuminates the whole thing, and it's just you out there with that tornado and you know if it hits you and throws the Dominator Fore into a field, no one will probably know for a couple of weeks."

Originally Published on CarAndDriver.com
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A Subaru expert shares ways to keep your vehicle i

Here in Camden, New Jersey, at Subaru of America headquarters, our employees are under a stay-at-home order, like many others throughout the country. While we’re not driving, we don’t want to forget that our vehicles need a health and wellness check as much as we do. Much like people, cars don’t like to sit for extended periods of time, so here are a few tips for maintaining your car while we all practice social distancing to keep everyone safe. 

Learn About Your Vehicle 

We’ve heard all about your newly acquired bread-baking skills during this shutdown, but while you’re waiting for your latest loaf to rise, take some time to read your Owner’s Manual.
Owner’s manuals may not make exciting reading, but they’re packed with valuable instructions, information and warnings. Get acquainted with your Subaru, and learn what those buttons do and what those dings and dongs are telling you. Learn all the nifty features you didn’t even know about and how to customize settings for vehicle personalization. 

Clean It Up

Now that you’ve binge-watched everything on Netflix, take the time to give your Subaru some love. Get outside, enjoy the nice weather and clean your car (at an appropriate social distance from your neighbors, of course). It may seem counterintuitive to clean your vehicle when you’re not driving it, but it’s a satisfying job and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Insects, tree sap and bird droppings left on the car can damage the paint, so wash them off using a light detergent. Do not use strong soap or chemical detergents. Make sure to clean the wheels and underside of the vehicle to get rid of dirt and the last remains of winter salt. For added protection, give the car a coat of wax.
Vacuum and clean the interior of your car and find that missing french fry hiding under your seat. While it probably still looks fresh from the fryer, it isn’t a good idea to eat it.
The interior of your Subaru is surprisingly water- and airtight. If you leave it sit for an extended period with the windows closed, you’ll probably notice that the air inside has gotten stale. After you start the car, turn on the air conditioner for a few minutes with the recirculating button turned off, and roll down the windows to let fresh air flow throughout the interior.
Clean the glass inside and out, and don’t forget the mirrors.

Keep Critters Out

The bonus of keeping the interior of the car clean is that it’s less attractive to critters like field mice (bad) and squirrels (worse). We’ve even seen small animals get inside vehicles used daily, and they can wreak havoc.
Squirrels can get under the hood and make a mess with leaves, stuffing them in every available nook and cranny, or chew through wires. That’s particularly an issue when the vehicle is left outside, but it can even happen indoors.
You’d also be shocked at how many photos we’ve seen online featuring rodents that find their way into dog food stored in the garage and then squirrel it away (See what we did there?) in the airbox that houses the air filter. If you have dogs, store their food away from the car.

Maintain the Engine and Transmission  

A vehicle can generally sit for weeks with no problems, but you’re better off driving it a couple of times each month. Taking a vehicle out for a drive and getting it fully warmed up gets the fluids moving through the engine, transmission, brake and steering hydraulic systems and climate control system. It will also ensure that the battery recharges.
If it’s not possible to drive, let the engine idle for about 30 minutes outside, making sure it gets up to normal operating temperature, as indicated when the blue thermometer on the instrument panel turns off or when the needle is in the middle of the range for models with a temperature gauge.
The acceptable length of time to let the engine idle may be bound by local laws and regulations. Check your local rules before idling for an extended period. If you can’t go for a drive, practice your parallel parking skills. 

Top Off the Fuel Tank and Check the Oil  

If you can get out, a good destination for a drive is a gas station. Topping off your fuel will help prevent moisture from accumulating in the tank. While there, you can check your oil level and tire pressures and fill both if needed. 

Keep the Battery Operating  

When a vehicle sits, its battery will slowly lose charge over time, and it’s not because there’s something wrong with the battery. Keyless entry, memory seats, radio memory functions, the security system and many other features of your Subaru vehicle draw tiny amounts of power even when it isn’t running.
As with the other engine functions, it’s best to drive the car to charge the battery, but you can let the vehicle idle for 30 minutes once a week as an alternative. To help the battery fully charge, don’t just rely on the daytime running lamps that come on automatically; turn the headlamps to the “ON” position. (If you're idling a Crosstrek Hybrid, be sure that the vehicle is in the “Ready-ON” position.) Refrain from unnecessarily cycling the ignition on and off and locking and unlocking doors – doing this will activate the vehicle’s computers, straining the battery’s stored energy since the computers can take up to 20 minutes to shut down.
And as mentioned above, the acceptable length of time to let the engine idle may be bound by local laws and regulations. Check your local rules before idling for an extended period.
If the battery is completely dead, you may need a jump-start or to have the battery charged before it can start the engine. If the vehicle requires a jump-start, it is suggested that one hour of driving or idling might be necessary to provide enough charge to start the vehicle again without jump-starting it. 
Don’t Forget About the Tires

While starting up a vehicle occasionally is aimed at keeping the battery and drivetrain healthy and operational, it’s also important to consider your tires.
Start by checking your tire pressures, as tires can slowly lose air even without a puncture. There is a label inside of the driver’s door opening that lists the recommended tire pressures for your vehicle. If you can’t make it to a gas station and don’t have a compressor, a bicycle pump can be used to inflate your tires.
When a car is parked for an extended period, the weight of the car is pressing down on the same spot on the tires, which can lead to flat spots that you’ll be able to feel when you drive. Driving the vehicle will bring the tires up to their normal operating temperature and help get rid of any flat spots.
If you can’t go for a drive, just back out of your spot, turn the car around and back in. That will rotate the wheels enough to prevent the weight of the car from resting on the same parts of the tire.
Park Properly   

Close all doors and windows, and for automatic or CVT-equipped cars, make sure the vehicle is in park. For keyless access and push-button start cars, make sure to store the key fob more than 7 feet away from the car. The key fob generally needs to be within 7 feet for the car to recognize the key, but a little added distance doesn’t hurt. For traditional key-operated cars, do not leave the key in the ignition.
Use the Parking Brake the Right Way
The parking brake is operated by a cable or an electric motor that clamps the rear brake pads or shoes to the brake rotor or drum. If you’re leaving the vehicle for a long time, the parking brake can cause the brake pads to adhere to the rotor or drum surface, especially following periods of rain or high humidity.
If you’re going to drive the vehicle periodically, you’ll disengage the parking brake anyway. But if you’re not, cycle the parking brake off, move the car slightly and set it again, making sure that you don’t walk away from the vehicle at all while it’s running.
Stay Safe
Engine exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas which is dangerous, or even lethal, if inhaled. Never run the engine in a closed space, such as a garage, except for the brief time needed to drive the vehicle in or out of it. Avoid remaining in a parked vehicle for a lengthy period of time while the engine is running. If that is unavoidable, use the ventilation fan to force fresh air into the vehicle.
We’re Here for You
Giving your vehicle some love during this time by following these steps will help keep it maintained and ready to go when you’re able to drive again and plan your next road trip.  

This article was originally published in SubaruDrive.com
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What is an ASE Certified Mechanic

An ASE Certified mechanic is a mechanic who has fulfilled the voluntary requirements for certification by the US National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Mechanics who have ASE certifications are generally viewed as better candidates for employment by companies that hire these workers, such as auto body shops, car dealers, and bus yards. Certification can also be reassuring for individual consumers who want to ensure that their vehicles receive work from competent, highly professional mechanics.

To become ASE certified, a mechanic has to demonstrate at least two years of work experience and pass at least one specialty test. ASE testing is offered twice a year to candidates who are interested in certifying. When a test-taker passes the test, he or she becomes an ASE Certified mechanic, with a requirement to renew every five years. Mechanics can take tests in a wide variety of systems, such as heating/cooling systems, brakes and suspension, or drive train.

Mechanics can also pursue Master Certification. An ASE Certified Master mechanic has taken a series of subject tests to demonstrate competence in an array of vehicle systems. This certification is offered for automotive, collision repair, engine machinist, medium-heavy truck, school bus, transit bus, and truck equipment areas of specialty. Each area includes a number of exams that must be successfully passed by the candidate in order to achieve this status.

Going to an ASE Certified mechanic can ensure that a car gets the service it needs from a technician who has demonstrated commitment to professionalism, continuing education, and proper training. The mechanic backs his or her services with a commitment to ethical practices, which distinguishes mechanics with this certification from those who lack formal certification. Having certification does not necessarily mean that a mechanic will be better or more skilled than one who does not, but it does mean that he or she has met a minimum standard of practice and takes the work seriously.

ASE certifications have been offered since 1972, and it is becoming increasingly standard for mechanics to have them in order to work. Consumers should be aware that, even if only one mechanic in a shop is certified, the shop may display the ASE seal. Consumers can always ask to see the specific certifications held by mechanics in the shop, which will list the names of the certified mechanics and their areas of specialty.

Originally Published on WiseGeek.com

2018 Subaru WRX STi review

The Subaru WRX STi is back, but can it recapture the popularity the older models enjoyed so much?

For many people the WRX is the epitome of Subaru. Standing for World Rally Experimental - the WRX and its rallying success transformed the Subaru brand from a company famed for workhorse 4x4s loved by farmers to a firm synonymous with performance and handling. However, the market has changed and in recent years and the WRX’s shining light has waned.
The Subaru WRX STi is the latest in a long line of family friendly performance cars from the brand, and can trace its roots to the Impreza, which achieved huge success in rallying.
There have been estate, hatchback and coupé bodystyles over the years, but the current WRX sticks to the four-door saloon format made famous by the original Impreza, while the turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine and permanent four-wheel-drive system maintain the same tradition.
While the Impreza WRX STi has a loyal following, the arrival of a new Impreza means it's not long for this world - and Subaru has released a limited Final Edition version to celebrate its passing.

Engines, performance and drive

Fire up the Subaru’s four-cylinder boxer turbo, and you get a familiar offbeat burble from under the bonnet, while the car gently vibrates to the tune of the engine. You have to manhandle the WRX STi to get it going, due to the heavy gearbox, clutch and steering, although once on the move it’s easy to live with. 

If you want to get close to Subaru’s claimed 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds, you need to be pretty brutal with the clutch, yet we managed 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds with a bit of mechanical sympathy in our tests. 

In corners, the Subaru’s permanent 4WD system comes to the fore. It delivers tremendous amounts of grip, even in wet conditions, and gives you confidence to push the car hard, even on the twistiest roads. Yet the WRX demands precision if you want to get the best out of it. Approach corners too fast and the nose will wash wide.
However, take a more measured approach and the STi turns in sharply, while the rear moves sideways a fraction, helping straighten the car and maximise the all-wheel-drive traction on the exit of a corner. Only the steering gives cause for concern, as its meaty low-speed weighting gives way to a light and vague feel as you go faster.
Unfortunately, the Subaru’s ability comes at the expense of comfort. The stiff suspension sends bumps into the cabin, while engine noise at low speed is only surpassed by tyre roar on the motorway. Subaru fans will say this is part of the WRX STi’s character, but the Leon is just as capable on country roads, yet you wouldn’t think twice about taking it on a longer journey.

The Final Edition model is no faster than the standard car, but comes with a completely electronic, rather than an electro-mechanical, centre differential, allowing you to tune the aggressiveness of the diff. Subaru has also fitted the Final Edition with more potent, six-pot Brembo brakes, new 19-inch alloys and tweaked damping.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

If you’re going to own and run a WRX then you’ll need to stomach some pretty hefty running costs. For starters, if you choose one as a company car, emissions of 242g/km place it in the 35 per cent tax bracket meaning near £4,000 tax bills for a higher-rate earner. 

Depreciation and insurance will cost you a lot, too, while you’ll have to pay £475 a year for your tax disc, and lots of money on fuel. Having said that, excluding any track driving we recorded a surprisingly frugal 26.4 but with no stop-start you’ll struggle to match that in town, while keen driving will cost you at the pumps.
The WRX needs servicing every 10,000 miles and while Subaru dealers don’t have prices for the new WRX yet, past experience suggests servicing won’t be cheap, although the firm’s dealers rank highly in Driver Power, so you should at least get good service. 

However, unlike the rest of the range, which comes with a five-year warranty, you only get three years/ 60,000 miles of coverage on the WRX.
Interior, design and technology
Just looking at the Subaru WRX STi lets you know exactly what you’re in for when you get behind the wheel. The four-door body has a similar silhouette to one-time arch rival the Mitsubishi Evo X, with a bluff nose, functional bonnet scoop, stubby rear end and huge rear wing all shouting about its rally car heritage.
Up front, there’s a gaping grille and a trio of air intakes in the front bumper, while the C-shaped daytime running lights add some class. Blistered wheelarches house dark grey 18-inch alloys, although they do look on the small side when compared to some of the larger offerings on rival performance cars.
At the back there’s a black plastic diffuser and two pairs of exhaust pipes, just in case the other racy add-ons don’t scream road-racer enough for you.

While the Subaru looks the part, build quality could be better. There’s a tinny feel to the doors when they close, while the vast rear wing wobbles disconcertingly when the bootlid is slammed shut.

The stereo has a dot-matrix display, while the screen on top of the dash which displays trip info and torque distribution is reminiscent of a nineties computer game. The diff control switch is exactly the same as the one from the last Impreza WRX, too, and the pink STi lettering on the dash adds another retro touch.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Open the Subaru’s boot, and you’re greeted by a 460-litre space. There’s a high floor, thanks to the 4WD running gear underneath, while the narrow saloon boot opening means it’s harder to access than hot hatch rivals.
A four-door layout swings practicality back in the WRX STi’s favour, and a long wheelbase means there’s more legroom in the back, too. The seats are finished in leather and Alcantara, and add a sporty touch.
Climb inside, and the Subaru pays homage to its ancestors with a cabin that feels rather old fashioned. There’s nothing wrong with how it’s built; it’s just that the hard plastics and shiny switchgear look dated. 

Up front, there’s reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel and a wide range of seat adjustment, too. Rear visibility is blocked a little by the large rear wing, although Subaru doesn’t offer rear parking sensors or a camera as options.
Reliability and Safety

Like Toyota, Subaru has a first-class reputation for building cars that are strong and durable. The WRX STi uses technology that can trace its heritage back to Subaru’s world rally cars, so it should prove robust and able to stand up to the rigours of hard use, especially if you plan to take it on track days. And you can expect first-class service from Subaru, too, as the company finished fourth out of 27 car makers in our Driver Power 2017 brand survey.
The WRX STi features seven airbags, while the four-wheel-drive system adds confidence in wet weather. It uses advanced electronics and a mechanical centre diff to distribute power, so the Subaru shouldn’t face too much trouble in poor conditions.
When it comes to safety the WRX comes with side, curtain and a knee airbag, plus Isofix, rear child locks and a full complement of rear seatbelts and headrests. Hill hold and stability control are standard. You also get a Thatcham approved alarm and immobilizer. 

Originally Published on AutoExpress.co.uk
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