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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Unreal's Focus ST Project: "Belle"

Welcome to the build page for my 2013 Ford Focus ST which I named "Belle" ("beautiful" in French).

A summary of installed modifications include a Quaife QDF41Z limited slip differential, Cobb Tuning AccessPort v2 ECU tuner, cp-e ΔCore inter-cooler, cp-e αIntake cold air intake, Ford Racing cold air intake "snorkel", cp-e QKspl 3" catted down-pipe, cp-e Austenite 3" cat-back exhaust, cp-e xFlex stage2 rear motor mount, FSWerks short shift kit, CFM valve cover breather, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels with Velossa Tech full custom center caps, Street Scene front splitter, Rostra LED projector fog lights, Redline Tuning QuickLift Plus hood struts and "ST" embroidered floor mats, Boosted Designs aluminum dead pedal, Optimum Gloss-Coat paint protection, 22ple VG1 and VM1 glass and wheel protection, 3M Crystalline window tint, and Visual Garage Shark Fin Antenna.

I will keep this first post up-to-date, so it will usually be newer than most of the other posts in my build thread.

Quick Access Index Links:

Here are the significant events for my ST in chronological order:

{Order Process / Tracking}

08-Jun-2012: First contact with dealer (Ian Riding @ Sun State Ford)
16-Jun-2012: Order placed with dealer (performance blue ST3 with moonroof)
18-Jun-2012: Order entered by dealer
20-Jun-2012: Retail order confirmed by Ford

Order, manufacturing, and delivery tracking done here.

29,825.00: Vehicle MSRP
28,293.20: Orlando region X-Plan price
30,475.29: Out-the-door price (x-plan price, tax, tag, registration, license plate, doc fee, everything)

{Build / Delivery}

28-Sep-2012: Received VIN#
05-Oct-2012: Able to view window sticker online
11-Oct-2012: Scheduled build day
12-Oct-2012: Actual build day
15-Oct-2012: Info in ETIS
22-Oct-2012: Original estimated delivery date (later revised to 26-Oct-2012)
24-Oct-2012: Actual delivery date

{Wheels / Tires}

27-Oct-2012: New wheels/tires mounted. I know a lot of people like to "plus size" their wheels to be fashionable, but I decided to "minus size" mine for practicality and performance. I went with 235/45ZR17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on 17x8, 5x108, 45et, high power silver, Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels using black Gorilla Automotive 21133BC small diameter acorn spline drive lug nuts (12mm x 1.50) and blue Amico metal valve stem covers.



I really like the way this custom wheel/tire combination looks, and the total unsprung weight is more than 20 pounds lighter than stock. As an additional bonus, the 17" tires are a little less expensive than the same 18" tires, even though the width and circumference are identical. Although I think the silver wheels look better, in retrospect, I may have preferred anthracite or graphite to help hide the brake dust that accumulates so quickly. Thanks to Chalon over at Perfect Circle Autosport for the special pre-order pricing and the patience to answer all of my questions. Also thanks to the guys at Tires Plus Kirkman Road who went out of their way to be extra gentle with the wheels when mounting the tires.

UPDATE: Now using the same lugs nuts, but replaced the black ones with gold ones. See the 07-Mar-2015 entry below for more information.

{New Car Prep Detail}

04-Nov-2012: Had a professional new car prep detail done which included a one-step polish with Sonax Perfect Finish, 22ple protective coating on the paint (VX1 Pro), trim (VR1), and wheels (VM1), Nanolex Ultra window sealant, 303 Aerospace Protectant for the interior and engine trim, and Leatherique leather seat cleaner and conditioner.

Here are some pictures of Belle at the detail shop:



















The pictures above are courtesy of Brian Guy @ AOWheels who did an outstanding detailing job. You can find a few more pictures along with a very brief write-up of the detail on his web page here.

05-Nov-2012: Here are a couple of pictures of pre-tint Belle.





{Window Tint}

10-Nov-2012: Window tint installed (3M Crystalline), with 70 on the six side windows, moonroof, and back window, and 90 on the windshield.

13-Nov-2012: A few pictures of post-tint Belle.







The Crystalline tint does a fantastic job of keeping the interior cooler, and protects the leather seats, dash, and my skin from the damaging rays of the intense Florida sun. However, if I had to do it again, I would go a little darker, probably 60 instead of 70 as shown in this tint simulator, but would leave 90 on the windshield to avoid legal entanglements. Thanks to Damien at Precision Window Tinting for his attention to detail and ensuring a flawless install.

{GoPro Promotion}

21-Nov-2012: Received GoPro HD Hero2 Motorsports Edition video camera as part of Ford's pre-order promotion.


{Rear Motor Mount}

07-Dec-2012: Rear motor mount (RMM) installed (cp-e xFlex stage2)

If you are only going to make a single modification to the ST, this is probably the one to do as it greatly improves the driving feel and traction under hard acceleration.


When I first installed this mount, I noticed some vibrations when starting the car and when engaging first gear gently. After about 450 miles those vibrations greatly diminished, and after 1000 miles they are gone. I love this mount and I am very happy I decided to go with it. It makes the car feel more solid, and with my particular setup and driving style, eliminates the 1-2 shift bang except under drag style acceleration, and then it is just a slight thud (not a bang). I am aware of the Ford TSB for the mounts, which includes the rear motor mount from the eFocus, but cp-e is the only company that has completely redesigned the mount to improve its functionality. Thanks to Rick at The Wrench Connection for helping me get this installed.

{Air Filter}

12-Dec-2012: High performance dual-cone air filter installed (Green Filter 7159)


This will probably be the easiest mod you ever do...probably took me less than 10 minutes. With this filter installed you can hear the turbo whoosh better when revving. Although you can hear a difference, it is subtle, especially from inside the car where it is almost imperceptible. I don't expect much of an increase in horsepower...just letting Belle breathe a little better in preparation for an upcoming full turbo-back exhaust.
UPDATE: Removed the Green Filter and upgraded to the cp-e αIntake (cold air intake). See the 13-Sep-2013 entry below for more information.

{MyFord Touch 3.5.1}

16-Jan-2013: Updated MyFord Touch (MFT) from 3.2.2 to 3.5.1, including new A4 navigation SD card. This seems to be a slight improvement over the previous MFT version, and everything is working fine. However, there was one weird thing...the first time the car was started after the update, MFT displayed "building voice commands" for the music on the attached USB stick for at least 45 minutes and I had to shut it down. The next time I started the car, it finished building the voice commands almost immediately. Before upgrading, the 3.2.2 version had a weird glitch with navigation. After putting in a new destination, when the map screen came up, only the top half was displayed. The bottom half was blank. I tried switching views, zooming in/out, leaving nav and coming back and a variety of things, but the lower half of the map was always missing. I stopped to get gas and thought maybe the power off/on would reset it. No luck, still missing the bottom half of maps. While driving, I ejected the SD card and the MFT of course popped up a message that navigation was disabled and needed an SD card. I waited about 30 seconds then clicked the SD card back in. Success! The maps displayed and worked fine after that. Pretty strange, but thought I would post the issue and how to fix it in case anyone else has the same problem. After the upgrade, the 3.5.1 version has been working fine.

{License Plate Frame}

26-Feb-2013: Billet license plate frame custom engraved with "Belle" and UNREAL installed



{ECU Map v102}

03-Mar-2013: Installed ECU tuner (Cobb Tuning AccessPORT v2) with stage1 93 LT v102 map.



It may seem obvious to people who have used the AP before (or some other ECU tuner), but I was trying to do the first install with the motor running and it failed. It later dawned on me why the instructions were talking about battery level, and that I should try to load the tune with the car in accessory mode with the motor off (pushing the start button without engaging the clutch). In Accessory mode instead of On mode, the AP installed and loaded the map just fine. Took it out for a spin after installing the map and found no difference when driving gently, which is what I wanted, but wow what a difference when hitting it hard! Definitely more boost and a more audible BPV. Thanks to Alan at Edge Autosport for the special discount on this order and free next day delivery.

{Turbo-Back Exhaust}

13-Mar-2013: Installed a full 3" cp-e turbo-back exhaust (QKspl down-pipe + Austenite cat-back).


Below are a few pictures during the install.

The stock exhaust is removed...


New catted down-pipe installed...


I took the option for the black tips, and they are actually much darker than they seem in this picture...


From the other side...


Another angle showing how well the helmholtz resonators (stealth pipes) tuck in...


Looking straight into the tailpipes...


Here is a video I shot showing the cp-e turbo-back exhaust sound from inside the ST under a variety of normal driving conditions...


Once I get my stage3 install finished, I'll probably shoot a new video. I am really pleased with the sound. It is very subtle when gently cruising around and this was very important to me. However, when you drop the pedal, you are rewarded with a very satisfying, deep growl that is much louder for sure, but not too loud. Thanks to Rick and Dimitry at The Wrench Connection for their help getting this installed.

{ECU Map v103}

31-Mar-2013: Installed the Cobb stage1 93 LT v103 map. To get the new maps I updated the AP firmware, but then when trying to change maps to one of the newer ones, it did not show any maps. This was fixed by uninstalling the AP and reinstalling it, and then all of the new maps showed up and loaded just fine.

{ECU Map v104}

28-Apr-2013: Installed the Cobb stage1 93 LT v104 map.

{ST Floor Mats}

28-Apr-2013: Installed a set of Redline Tuning floor mats embroidered with the ST logo. Unfortunately they have discontinued these mats as they look very nice and they are much better than the stock mats.

(photo by RPhilMan1, but mine look identical)


{Hood Struts}

28-Apr-2013: Installed a set of the Redline Tuning Quick-Lift Plus hood struts.

The install was easy and there were no problems. I probably did not tighten the nuts down as much as I may have normally after reading the reports of people breaking them off, but I think they are tight enough. I want to thank flametail for the tip about routing the washer line, and to green_comet for the tip about putting towels down at the far side of the hood during the install.

Here are a few shots from the install...





This shot shows the reroute of the washer line...



This shot shows the washer line remounted to the underside after being rerouted...



The struts work well and I'm happy to eliminate the prop rod.

{Limited Slip Differential}

01-Aug-2013: Installed an automatic torque biasing helical gear Quaife QDF41Z limited slip differential.



There was one unexpected complication during the install that I have not seen anyone else mention. The Quaife LSD simply would not fit inside the ring-gear. Emory cloth was needed to trim the outer circumference of the LSD plate so it would fit inside the ring-gear. The freezer and heat-gun trick were not enough. It took about an extra 20-minutes to trim the plate down and it was still very tight going into the ring-gear, but its the only way it would fit. Other than this, the LSD install was pretty routine for a professional shop. I had some technical problems with my camera, so I hardly got any shots of the differential install. Below are the few pictures I have.

This is is the open transmission case showing the stock open differential...



Here is the stock open differential in the ring-gear. Fitting the Quaife LSD inside this gear is what I previously mentioned as a problem..



This shot shows the Quaife LSD. The plate at the bottom was too large to fit in the ring-gear, even with the freezer/heat-gun trick. The plate had to be trimmed using emory cloth and then it fit inside the gear just fine...



Sorry none of the other pictures came out as I would like to have shown you the LSD installed just before the transmission cover was put back on.

Under hard acceleration around a sharp corner, like a ninety degree turn from a complete stop, the car seems to launch harder and with a lot less wheel spin. As I recall, this previously would have caused lots of wheel spin on the inner wheel and multiple tugs on the steering wheel. It still pulls the steering wheel, but now feels smoother, more like one long tug instead of several short ones. It also inspires more confidence as it feels more controlled. For straight line acceleration, the butt dyno tells me it is slightly faster, but now if the wheels break loose, they both do so at exactly the same time, and both regain traction at exactly the same time. It feels a little weird at first to me, but I like it, as it once again feels more controlled. As it has been raining for part of every day for almost two months now, most of my driving has been on wet or damp roads. With the LSD it feels like I have even better wet traction. I already love the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires I have, but with the LSD it seems even more planted around wet corners, particularly high speed on/off ramps from the Interstate. It also seems like there is less brake dust accumulation on the wheels, probably as a result of the e-diff not having to work as much with the mechanical diff there. Sorry I don't have any hard facts to give you, just my impressions. Hopefully with a little time, there will be others out there who can post things like before/after lap times, before/after quarter mile times, etc. Thanks to Rick and Ron over at The Wrench Connection for working with me to get this installation completed, and to Chalon at Perfect Circle Autosport for the great promo price. I also have to thank Oscyp for his fantastic installation write-up which was invaluable for getting this done.

UPDATE 08-Jan-2014: I have received several questions about the LSD, and the thing people seem to be most interested in is... "Is an LSD worth the cost?". I would say if you only use your ST to commute back and forth to work, you are wasting your time and money on an LSD. If you track your ST often and/or race seriously, the LSD is a definite must. Remember the ST-R model includes an LSD from the factory...I think it is this Quaife unit, but I'm not sure. For Auto-X, an LSD will most likely change your class, so factor in what you will be competing against if this is your main concern. If you rarely track your ST, or never track it but drive hard often (non-competitively), then I would suggest you not bother with an LSD until you reach stage3. Different people will have different needs/wants, but from my perspective, the first thing to change is the RMM, then the FMIC. After that it comes down to preference. An LSD will definitely give you better traction when it comes to wheel spin, but otherwise you will need better tires, suspension, weight-savings, etc. for better traction. Also be aware that with the LSD you can absolutely break the tires loose and spin them like mad...it is just with the LSD they either grip together or spin together...you still have to use proper throttle control. If you are taking corners at high speed, you will still need to exert a considerable amount of effort to maintain the line you want, but it should be a smoother line around the corner now. The additional traction should allow you to accelerate sooner near the apex and carry higher corner exit speeds. In my experience, an LSD will not eliminate torque steer, but it will reduce it and make it easier to manage. I am certainly no expert on the subject of differentials or racing, so keep that in mind when reading my comments above. The other thing people frequently ask about is installation. If you are comfortable opening a transmission, then you can certainly install an LSD yourself. Essential reading is the install write-up done by Ocsyp. I believe he is working on creating a video which should help even more. If you will be paying a shop to do the install, expect to pay between $500 and $1000...probably closer to $1000 unless you are already on a first name basis with the guys in the shop. Choose your shop carefully! Understand that many shops that specialize in transmissions will refuse this job, as many do not like to open a working transmission and install parts you supply. I suggest you ensure you have a shop that will do the install before you place an order for an LSD, especially if you live in an area with a lack of quality shops. If you expect to put in a new clutch and/or flywheel, and will have a shop do the install, I suggest you have it all done at the same time, which should provide a significant savings compared to doing them separately. I hope this information helps if you are trying to decide whether to install an LSD.

{MyFord Touch 3.6.2}

05-Aug-2013: Updated MyFord Touch (MFT) from 3.5.1 to 3.6.2. The install/update had no problems. Touch response is so much better now. I had to pair my phone again (which it did quickly), but it kept all the radio station presets. Seems to be working just fine.

{1st Oil Change}

05-Sep-2013: Did my first engine oil change at 7815 miles today. I used Castrol GTX SynBlend 5W-30 which was on sale at Walmart for $16 for a 5-quart jug (plus I got the required extra quart). Also picked up a Motorcraft FL-910S oil filter. Thanks to brn for his great tutorial on changing the oil yourself. Everything went smoothly except I was initially unable to unscrew the old oil filter by hand. I tried to use my filter wrench (pliers type), but there was just no room for it. Fortunately, with more effort, I was able to get the filter off by hand (using both hands). The Oil Life Monitor (OLM) did not indicate it was time to change the oil yet, but I felt it was time. I reset the OLM once everything was complete.

{Cold Air Intake}

13-Sep-2013: Installed a cold air intake (cp-e αIntake).


Sorry the lighting is a bit off in these picture as I took them in my garage at night. However, these shots should give you a good idea of what it looks like.

I could not wait for a performance blue version of the αIntake, so I went with race red which I think matches the ST logo on the engine cover very well. I love the contrast of the blue and red together.

Here it is installed...





Closeup on the intake tube...



Closeup on the filter and water-resistant pre-filter. The pre-filter is kind of like a condom for the filter to provide a little extra protection...



This shot shows the cold air inlets from the front snorkel which connect at the top and bottom of the airbox...



Another angle of the αIntake...



In case it is not obvious from the pictures, the airbox is covered with a clear acrylic or plastic of some sort, so it is not open on top. Besides the two cold air inlet pipes, the airbox is slotted on the side furthest away from the engine, so Belle should be able to breathe much better now. As with all cp-e products I have installed, I'm impressed with this one too. Bonus, it looks great! Thanks to Rick and Jim at The Wrench Connection for their assistance with this install, and a special thanks to Rick for letting me use his inversion table while my back was all borked up.

{ECU Map v105}

18-Sep-2013: Installed the Cobb stage 1 93 v105 map.

{ECU Map v106}

01-Oct-2013: Installed the Cobb stage 1 93 v106 map.

{1st Birthday}

12-Oct-2013: My ST was born (built) on this day exactly one year ago. Happy Birthday Belle!

{Inter-cooler, charge pipes & CAI snorkel}

23-Oct-2013: Installed upgraded inter-cooler (cp-e ΔCore), aluminum charge pipes (cp-e HotCharge + cp-e ColdCharge/METHCharge), and cold air intake "snorkel" (Ford Racing CAI).



This inter-cooler is much bigger than the the stock one, and looks to be of higher quality too. Everything fits great, but the cold pipe area was really tight and took a little patience to get into those small spaces to connect the pipe and tighten the t-bolts. It's worth noting the hot and cold pipe kits come with nice t-bolts to replace the underwhelming stock worm gear clamps. The inter-cooler and hot side pipe went in with no issues. Here are some pictures of the install.

Bumper cover off, headlights out, grille shutters and old inter-cooler removed...



Inter-cooler installed...





Partially re-assembled and showing the Ford Racing cold air intake "snorkel"...



Close-up on the Ford Racing cold air intake "snorkel"...



The hot side aluminum pipe...



The cold side aluminum pipe...



I just got this in today, so that is all I have to report for now, other than I'll be updating the Cobb Tuning map to stage3 as soon as possible. Thanks to Rick and Jim at The Wrench Connection for their help with getting this installed.

{ECU Map stage3 v106}

23-Oct-2013: Installed the Cobb Tuning stage 3 93 v106 map. I finally completed the hardware side of a stage3 install and updated the ECU side with the new map. Even though the motor was already warm, I noticed right after installing the stage 3 tune that it was idling at 1500 RPM. A few revs later and it was back down to the normal spot around 900 RPMs. I will not be able to go for a ride tonight, but I hope to have some impressions of the stage 3 tune in the next few days.

{1st Anniversary}

24-Oct-2013: Today is the one year anniversary of when I took delivery of Belle. Even a full year later, I'm still obsessed, and look for excuses to take Belle out for a fun drive. I may be showing my age by posting this song from the 70s, but it conveys the feeling...


{Symposer Delete}

09-Jan-2014: Removed Active Sound Symposer (Breedt Symposer Delete kit)

(photo by go46ball)


This kit allows you to completely remove the sound symposer and all of its associated tubing, The symposer is definitely not needed once you install a cold air intake and turbo-back exhaust. It includes a plug that goes in the firewall where you disconnect the symposer tube, and a block off plate for the intake where you disconnect the other side of the symposer tube. Install is pretty simple and instructions are included. Since the wrench sizes are not mentioned in the instructions, be aware that you will need a short 8mm open wrench to remove the 3 bolts on the intake side, and a short 1/8" allen wrench to remove the screw that attaches the symposer to the side of the battery box.

{ECU Map stage3 v200}

01-Feb-2014: Installed the Cobb Tuning stage 3 93 v200 map. I do not currently have the AccessTuner Race (ATR) software, so another member that does have ATR took the OTS stage3-93-v200 map and set it up with [email protected] and [email protected] then sent me the map file. Unfortunately this did not work as the map was locked to the serial number on his AP. Although maps created with ATR can be shared with other people that have ATR, they cannot be shared with people that do not have ATR.

{2nd Oil Change & Spark Plug Change}

20-Mar-2014: Did my second engine oil change today at 12,661 miles, 4,846 miles since my last change.

I used a new oil, actually a revised formulation, that I had not previously seen. It is Pennzoil Platinum Pure Plus, which is a full synthetic that uses a GTL (Gas To Liquid) base oil. It is derived from natural gas rather than crude oil. Here is a picture I took in my garage of the 5-quart jug (before I exchanged the 5W-20 for 5W-30)...



I plan to have a UOA done by Blackstone Labs on my next oil change to see how this GTL based oil holds up. If you are interested in more information about this new oil technology, check out the Q&A with Pennzoil and their promotional video below.

Pennzoil Q & A: Bob Is The Oil Guy


Technical Data Sheet (PDF): Pennzoil Platinum Pure Plus 5W-30

The Oil Life Monitor (OLM) did not indicate it was time to change the oil yet, but I changed it anyway and reset the OLM once everything was complete. In case you forgot, put the car in accessory mode (press the Start button without pressing any foot pedals) then hold down the brake and gas pedals until the display indicates the OLM was reset.

During this oil change, I replaced my ramp set and now use the Race Ramps 2-piece RR-56-2. This ramp set is much better than any ramp set I have previously used. Once I have the ST up on the ramps, I remove the lower half of the ramps for better access to the underside of the car, and the incline is only 10.8 degrees (compared to 17 degrees for my previous set).



Since I'm talking about tools, I found my foot/lbs torque wrench was out of range for smaller jobs, so I added a Tekton 24320 inch/lbs torque wrench to my tool set for things like the oil drain plug (and spark plugs) and it works great. Certainly a better quality tool than I expected for the price.



While I was already working on the car, I also installed Denso ITV22 spark plugs to replace the stock ones.



The ITV22s came gapped at .030, but I re-gapped them down to .028. To make the plug removal/install process easier, I used this spark plug socket...

CTA Tools 2380 10-Inch Long Magnetic 5/8-Inch Spark Plug Socket


This made the plug change super simple. Since there is no extension on my socket/torque wrench, there is zero chance of the spark plug socket coming loose from the extension. The magnet is very strong and there is no chance of the spark plug falling out of the socket.

Here are the factory spark plugs I pulled out...



They seem to be pretty decent, though a little darker than I expected. For reference, all of the stock plugs I pulled out were gapped at exactly .031. The new plugs are one-step colder and seem to be running fine with a .028 gap. I'll just have to wait now and see how the ITV22 plugs look when I check on them later.

{LED fog lights}

27-Mar-2014: Replaced the weak stock fog lamps with high-output Rostra LED projector fog lights. I ran out of time and energy to aim them, but I did get them installed, and did so without breaking any of the tabs on the black plastic fog light bezels. If anyone has a better way to do this, let me know, but here is how I got the bezels out. I used a Lisle 35260 fastener remover and wedged it onto the non-tab side and leveraged it a bit to bend the fixed non-tab part back a little. I then wedged the fastener tool on the side with the tab and leveraged it to release the tab. Next I wedged a 1.8mm slotted precision screwdriver over the tab and pulled the fastener tool out so now the screwdriver was holding the tab open. I did this with all 5 of the tabs before trying to remove the bezel. Once all the tabs were released by screwdrivers, I pushed the bezel out just a little (you have to push on the tabs), then went to the front side and used the fastener tool to gently pull on the bezel and it popped right out. There are also 3 tabs right by the fog light, but those come out easily with just a little maneuvering. It probably took me over an hour for the first bezel while I was determining a strategy, but probably about 20 minutes for the second bezel. I got access to the backside of the bezels by removing the lower engine cover (under the oil filter) and the lower bumper cover (under the headlamps). On the passenger side I also had to remove the 10mm bolt holding the horn bracket so it could be moved out of the way.

The bezel removed with all tabs intact:


The spot where the bezel was, with the stock fog light...


The stock fog light removed...


With the new LED projector fog light installed...


Fog light turned on...


With the bezels re-installed...


Both fog lights on...


Just eyeballing them in the evening light, they appear to be aimed too low. After aiming them properly, I'll post some night pictures.

{ECU Map stage3 v202}

31-Mar-2014: Installed the Cobb Tuning stage3 93 v202 map. I'll post my impressions once I've logged some drive time with it. As a reminder, you should uninstall the AP from the ST before you update the AP firmware. After updating the AP firmware, install the AP on the ST with the desired v202 map. The AP uninstall, AP firmware update, and AP install went smoothly and with no problems. While the AP was connected, I checked for DTCs and none were reported. I had heard people say that once you disconnect the symposer and install the delete plate it would throw a soft code (DTC triggered but no CEL). Not sure why, but the symposer delete has not triggered a DTC on my ST, and I've had the symposer disconnected for almost 3 months now.

{Tire Replacement}

11-Oct-2014: I had considered getting wider tires at 245/45ZR17, but decided to stick with 235/45ZR17 Michelin Pilot Super Sport. These tires really are amazing and worth the price ($161.43 each, delivered to my door, including road hazard). I bought them from Tire Rack and had them mounted at Tires Plus Kirkman Road.

Here is Belle getting fresh tires on all four wheels...



{2nd Birthday}

12-Oct-2014: My ST was born (built) on this day exactly two years ago. Happy Birthday Belle!

{A5 Navigation Map Update}

17-Oct-2014: Updated the navigation map version to A5. I took a chance with an eBay vendor named stockholm4104 and ordered the A5 SD card using PayPal for $43.98 including shipping. The package arrived a day earlier than promised and everything looked good. Before installing A5, I went out for a ride and found several roads that were not in A4. These are roads that were built approximately one year ago. I took out the A4 card and installed A5, then checked the same roads. No difference at all unfortunately, and the new roads still do not show up. When I got back home, I checked Navteq Maps (here.com) and I can see the new roads show up online, just not in the A5 update. However, the only area I checked was near the north side of Magic Kingdom. I checked MyFord Touch system settings, and it now shows the map version as A5, so it does recognize the SD card correctly.

(photo by ST2Focus, but mine looks identical)


You may have a different experience, but none of the new roads in my area were added in A5. I'm not sure how to tell what new Points Of Interest (POI) for my area were added, so I cannot comment on that yet. They must have done some kind of data optimization in A5 because navigation loads faster now, so that is a nice improvement.

{2nd Anniversary}

24-Oct-2014: Today is the two year anniversary of when I took delivery of my ST. Even after two years, I'm still in love with Belle.

{ECU Map stage3 v300}

21-Nov-2014: Installed the Cobb Tuning stage 3 91 v300 map. Before installing this tune I checked for DTC codes and found P23DB. This code is a result of disconnecting the symposer and does not generate a MIL on the dashboard. After installing the v300 map, the DTC was gone, but it will probably come back. I also reset the ECU and KAM after loading the map. As a safety precaution, I loaded the 91 octane map, even though I always use 93. I did not have time to take the car out for a run tonight, but I will do it this weekend.

{Dead Pedal}

17-Jan-2015: Installed dead pedal from Boosted Designs. The pedal is made of metal with several rows of low-profile rubber grommets. Here are a couple of pictures of it installed.





Super easy five second install. Remove from shipping bag and place where you want it. It comes with the necessary hoop and loop strips already attached to the backside so it is ready to go. The hook and loop strips work great and keep the pedal firmly in place on the carpet.

{Valve Cover Breather}

21-Jan-2015: Installed a valve cover breather from CFM. I looked at several colors, but decided on wrinkle black. This breather has a check ball so it does not effect vacuum, a baffle to keep oil from spewing out the top, and a filter to catch any fine particles when venting excess pressure.




Here is the check ball / baffle unit installed in place of the oil filler cap.



Here it is with the filter cap on.



I'll update again later with my impressions after I've put a few miles on it.

{2nd detail and coating}

23-Jan-2015 through 26-Jan-2015: Brought Belle to Brian Guy at AOWheels to have a complete detail. For the interior, cleaning the leather with Leatherique Pristine Clean, then treating with Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil. For the paint, wash, clay, 1-stage polish with Rupes UHS Easy Gloss, and coat with Optimum Gloss-Coat. For the wheels coat with 22ple VM1 Rim & Metal. For the windows, coat with 22ple VG1 Perfect Vision. For the engine, light general cleaning. Besides being a very talented detailer, Brian is also a very cool Guy (pun intended). Here are some finished and in progress pictures from the detail.











Belle looks great and I am very pleased with the results, but only time will tell how well the Gloss-Coat holds up.

{Short Shift Kit}

31-Jan-2015: Installed the short shift kit from FSWerks. The short shift plate is well designed and easy to install.

Here is the plate installed on the shift arm, but before the new ball joint was installed.



I decided to go with 30% reduction for now and this picture shows that.



A close-up with the shift cable installed on the ball joint.



Almost done now with air box back in place. I decided to clean and oil the filter while I had it out.



After wrapping up this install I took the car out for a test drive. I love the shorter throws and it still has a very smooth feel. I have to admit, I was not used to the shorter throws for the first few shifts and had brief moments where I was afraid it was not properly in gear. That was just in my head though because I was so used to the stock feel. It took me a minute to adjust to the shorter throws. I got used to it quickly and only regret I didn't get this sooner. Quality product, easy install, great shift feel, all positive. Way to go FSWerks!

{Front Splitter}

07-Feb-2015: Installed the front splitter from Street Scene which I purchased from Spool Tuning while it was on sale. This fiberglass splitter comes unpainted and needs a little prep work. I wanted it to color match, so I sent it to Samuels in Sandford to sand, primer, paint, and clear coat. I also had it coated with Optimum Gloss-Coat by Brian Guy at AOWheels. The install is actually very easy. Spool Tuning has a video of the install here. I put the 3M tape behind the screw holes. My son held the splitter in place while I clipped the panel push pins in, removed the tape film, and pressed the bumper and splitter together. After that, I drilled five additional holes and installed the screws provided in the kit. Here are a couple of pictures showing the panel push pins and the screws.




Here it is installed.





I think the splitter looks great, but I'm even more careful now to avoid hitting or scraping it. I plan to add the Street Scene side splitters too, but I'll have to wait until my mod account has more funds. I also want to get a rear diffuser, and the Roart one from RDC looks pretty good, but costs even more. The addiction never ends.

{Photo Shoot 1}

08-Feb-2015: It was a beautiful 77 degree winter February day in Orlando and I decided to take some pictures of Belle. Sorry for the cell phone quality, but it is all I have. These were all taken in the general vicinity of the Sassagoula River at Disney World.










{Gold Lug Nuts}

07-Mar-2015: I decided to keep the wheels I have, but replaced the black lug nuts with these gold ones. The effect is subtle, but I like the little splash of color better.






{Shark Fin Antenna}

21-Mar-2015: I was part of the third Shark Fin Antenna group buy. It took quite a while from order date to delivery date, but it did eventually arrive. Here it is freshly installed.





{3rd Oil Change}

28-Mar-2015: The oil life monitor (OLM) gave me an alert on Thursday, so Saturday I did my third engine oil change at 20,285 miles, which is 7,624 miles since my last change. Once again I used Pennzoil Platinum Pure Plus 5W-30. This full synthetic oil is not based on crude oil, but derived from natural gas instead using a GTL (gas to liquid) process. I did collect a sample to send off to Blackstone Labs, but I made a stupid mistake which I'll share with you so you can avoid it. I did not have the sample bottle right next to me when I pulled the drain plug. I had the empty collection bottle in the garage (car was in driveway). By the time I pulled the drain plug, got out from under the car, grabbed the collection bottle and got back under the car, the stream was weak enough that it came in contact with the oil pan. I'm afraid that may skew the test results based on whatever contaminants may have been on the oil pan, but I'm going to send the sample in anyway. I'll post the lab results once I get them.



I did not take a picture of it, but please note that the CFM valve cover breather was bone dry...no trace of oil. Below is a picture I took when I installed it more than two months ago, but it still looks just like this...



As a reminder, to reset the OLM, put the car in Accessory mode by pressing the start button without touching any of the pedals, then hold down the brake and accelerator pedals until the screen indicates the OLM reset is complete.

I was originally planning to also change the cabin air filter, but after stopping at three different auto parts stores (Walmart Auto, Advance Auto, and AutoZone), I found out none of them carry one for our car. I even stopped at a local Ford dealership (Tropical Ford) and they had none in stock, but they wanted $25 for it, so I wouldn't have bought it at that price anyway. I wound up ordering one on Amazon for less than $15 dollars with free shipping, and I'll probably install it next weekend.

{Cabin air filter change}

05-Apr-2015: Finally changed my cabin air filter. It was pretty gross after 20k miles. The filter you need is a Motorcraft FP-70.



Here is the dirty old one.




Although it is not particularly difficult to change, its location was poorly designed. If you need it, here is a 90 second video showing the process...


If you want something with a lot more details, then try this 26 minute video...


Going forward I plan to change the cabin air filter every time I change the oil.

{Black Stone Labs oil report}

21-Apr-2015: As mentioned previously, during my last oil change I took an oil sample and sent it to Blackstone Labs to have it analyzed. Here is the report.



According to Blackstone, the engine is doing great, and they recommended the next oil change interval at 9,500 miles. Based on this information, I am glad I chose Pennzoil Platinum Pure Plus oil and will stick with it. Not sure if this has anything to do with the Gas To Liquid (GTL) oil base compared to a crude oil base, but I like the results.

{Wheel corrosion cleanup}

14-May-2015: I recently had to take a wheel off, but even after removing the lug nuts, the wheel did not come off. It took a long time and a lot of effort to break the wheels loose from the hub, but I eventually got them off. I found considerable galvanic corrosion between the aluminum wheels and steel hub. Here is what I did to fix it.

I purchased this set of brushes including stainless steel, brass, and nylon brushes. I spent about 5 minutes with each brush, about 20 minutes of scrubbing per wheel. I actually only got one wheel done today before it got too dark, but between tomorrow and Saturday I'll get the rest done too.



Here is the hub before doing anything, after brushing, then after coating with anti-seize.





Here is the wheel before doing anything, after brushing, then after coating with anti-seize.





It looks much better now and I expect the wheel will not stick to the hub next time I attempt to remove them.

{Custom wheel center caps}

26-May-2015: Not very long ago I was considering changing up the look of my ST, and my first thought was to change to 5-spoke wheels. After further consideration, I decided to keep my Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels, but still change the look. The first step was to replace the black lug nuts with gold ones.



I like how the gold lug nuts look, but wanted something more, so I contacted Dan @VelossaTech about creating some unique wheel center caps. I described what I wanted and sent him a high resolution picture of my avatar that I wanted on the caps. Dan did a couple of CAD drawings for me to review.





I wanted to see a gold logo on a black background and Dan quickly sent a new CAD drawing.



The third CAD drawing was my preference. I sent Dan one of my Team Dynamics center caps so he could take fitment measurements and create some prototype caps. He actually sent me three numbered prototype caps of slightly different sizes. I installed each one, took pictures, and noted which one fit best. I asked Dan to make some changes, like shortening the length of the screws, and moving the screws further from the edge of the cap. We also discussed the height of the cap, the height of the logo above the cap, and epoxy coatings. Dan took all of the feedback and created a fourth prototype cap. Here is a profile shot of that cap...



He also changed the connection tabs on the back of the cap so the metal clip was no longer needed. Here is a comparison of the clips on the original Team Dynamics cap (right) and the fourth prototype cap (left).



This prototype fit great and looked great, but I suggested a few minor changes. Dan took this feedback and created the final center caps. They are packaged great in a sturdy cardboard tube...



...stuffed with peanuts...



...and tucked into bubble wrap...



Here are the final wheel center caps. They turned out fantastic!



Here are a few pictures of the caps installed on Belle.

Side view...



Front wheel...



Rear wheel...



Wheel close up...



I am very happy with my one-of-a-kind center caps! I also want to mention during this whole development process, Dan was very patient, responded to all of my queries quickly, and was very easy to work with. I'm looking forward to seeing what interesting new ideas other people have for their center caps, or any other Velossa Tech projects for that matter. Their web page is still a work in progress, but since it should be up soon, here is the link.

Velossa Tech Engineering

{Balance / Rotate}

24-Oct-2015: While doing some maintenance on the wheels, I accidentally knocked off a couple of wheel weights. Although it was not out of balance by much, I decided to go ahead and get it taken care of. In fact, I had all four wheels balanced again to be sure the ride was as smooth as possible. While Belle was on the lift, I had the tires rotated too. Once again I would like to thank the krewe at Tires Plus Kirkman Road who were very friendly and helpful, especially for being so early in the morning (7:00am). They also were very interested in the ST and asked a lot of questions about it.

{4th Oil Change}

20-Mar-2016: Did another engine oil change on Sunday, Belle's fourth. Mileage shows 27,320 miles, which is 7,035 miles since my last change and almost the same interval as the previous one too. As with the last one, I used Pennzoil Platinum Pure Plus 5W-30 full synthetic...a full five quart jug plus about twenty-eight ounces from a sixth quart. I collected a sample to send off to Blackstone Labs and I'll post the lab results once I get them.


For previous oil changes I had been using a large, relatively flat drain pan, then pouring the oil from the drain pan into a disposal/recycling jug. This time I found a better method that works perfectly with the clearance on Race Ramps RR-52-2. I drained the oil directly into the disposal/recycling jug, a 12-quart RhinoGear Dispos-Oil topped with a FloTool Hand-E quick fill funnel. It fit perfect and there was no mess. Since the funnel is right under the drain plug, the oil does not get blown around while draining, even on a windy day.


{Cabin Air Filter and Wiper Blades}

27-Mar-2016: Changed the cabin air filter (Motorcraft FP-70). I got it on Amazon for less than $12, including free shipping. This is the correct cabin air filter even though the Amazon site claims it does not fit a 2013 Focus, just ignore that. Be sure to note the air flow direction when putting in the new filter so it has the correct orientation (air flow arrows on the filter should be pointing into the cabin when installed).

I also changed the windshield wiper blades. Got them on Amazon for less than $28 for the set.

Motorcraft WW-2802 Wiper Blade -Driver (left) side
Motorcraft WW-2803 Wiper Blade -Passenger (right) side

As shown above, the blades are side specific as they use an asymmetrical spoiler/deflector to help hold the blade down when traveling at speed. The stock wiper blades that came with the ST when I bought it lasted for three and a half years, so I'm sticking with them.

{ECU Update ~ Cobb stage3 v320 (91)}

15-May-2016: Installed the Cobb Tuning stage3 91 v320 map. Before installing this tune I checked for DTC codes and did not find any. I did not reset the KAM after loading the map as I believe the ECU continually learns, and the Cobb map notes did not mention this was necessary. I have been happy with the 91 octane tune so I am sticking with it for added safety, even though I always use 93 octane. So far the v320 tune seems to be fine. I'm still using the V2 AP since it works great, though of course it is missing some features that the V3 AP has, mostly related to display/monitor.

{Appearance Maintenance}

To maintain the appearance of my ST...

Three 5-gallon wash buckets with lids and grit guards, making sure to keep the wheel/tire cleaning tools and wheel/tire bucket separate from the other two buckets (rinse bucket and wash bucket).

To provide cleaning and lubricity during the wash process, I use Chemical Guys Mr Pink car shampoo...

...sprayed on using a Gilmour Foamaster cleaning gun...

...connected to a NeverKink water hose, then wash gently using Griot's Garage micro-fiber wash mitts...

...dipped into a bucket with Chemical Guys Glossworkz gloss enhancer and paintwork cleanser.


To help protect my hands and keep fingerprints off the car, I used to wear Black Lightening nitrile gloves, but I have switched to Black Advance nitrile gloves, which I like a little bit better, and they are less expensive too.

To wash the tires, wheels, and wheel wells, I'm using a wheel/tire brush set from Mother's, brushes to clean the barrels of the wheels from Griot's Garage, and to clean the lug nuts and calipers a hog's hair brush.

When drying the car, to help prevent water spots/etchings from standing water and leaks from door/window seams, front grille, lights/reflectors, and other locations you cannot reach by hand, I blow out what I can from the crevices using an Air Force Blaster Sidekick from Metro Vaccum...


...then wipe down with plush 660 gram micro-fiber towels which have been sprayed with Optimum Instant Detailer and Gloss Enhancer...

...then lightly buff with standard 350 gram micro-fiber towels.

As needed, I wipe the interior and exterior trim with a slightly damp microfiber towel that has been liberally sprayed with 303 Aerospace Protectant, then lightly buff off any excess with a dry microfiber towel.



I do not like the look of shiny tires at all. I like them to just be clean and black, with only a light sheen. For that, I finish the tires with a light coating of Optimum Opti-Bond tire gel.


After reading what people up north have to deal with to wash their car in the freezing cold, and other people commenting about having a beer between wash steps, I thought I would mention I do things a bit different here in Orlando. A big problem here is that the car shampoo and water dry up incredibly fast in the sun. In the afternoon in the summer, we are talking less than a minute. Of course, this not only leaves ugly water spots on the car, but it etches into the paint and can cause permanent damage. To prevent this, I go out on the weekend about an hour and a half before sunrise, turn on my exterior house lights, and setup the buckets and wash tools I need. I got a great tip a while back to position the 5-gallon buckets (which are very heavy when full) at the corners of the car. This completely eliminates the hose getting hung up on the tires when trying to pull it around to one side or the other, or worse, dragging the hose (with grass and other contaminants) across the paint. Anyway, I start with washing the wheels and tires, but do not dry or dress them obviously. Next I wash the paint. After every washed section, I rinse the entire car, not just the section just washed. After everything is washed, I use the Sidekick to blow off most of the water, paying particular attention to the front grill, all lights, door handles, side mirrors, the crevices between the doors and windows, and the wheels. By now the sun is just coming up and I finish the drying process by spraying an instant detailer on a slightly damp (but definitely not wet) microfiber towel. Remember that damp microfiber towels absorb more than dry ones. Strange but true. After wiping/drying with the damp sprayed plush microfiber, I finish by buffing lightly with a dry standard microfiber towel until the instant detailer really shines. I found out the hard way if I start too early, I cannot dry the car due to so much humidity in the air. I have to wait for the sun to come out or the car will be wet again a few seconds after I wipe it dry. I can't wait too late though or the car will get baked by the sun and dry before I can wipe it down. Once the car is completely dry, I put the gel dressing on the tires and I'm done. Time to hit the shower and head out for a nice Sunday brunch with Bloody Mary's.

The wash technique I use is fairly similar to this one...


Every few months, or as needed, I do a leather cleaning and conditioning with Lexol.



After cleaning, I apply the Lexol conditioner liberally to a 350 gram microfiber towel, then wipe the seats down. They look quite wet and will leave wipe marks when drying, but that is expected. I let it sit on the seats that way out in the sun for about an hour. When I come back, I use a new clean 350 gram microfiber towel that I thoroughly wet and wring out until it is just a little damp. I then wipe down the seats again with the clean damp towel, only one section at a time, then immediately buff with a completely dry microfiber drying towel. This produces a clean, soft, matte finish.

{Wrap-Up}

I really love my ST and hope to enjoy it for many years. I also hope you find the information in this thread helpful whether you already have an ST or are just thinking about getting one.

-Unreal
 

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Looks fantastic! I'd love a full side shot to show those wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Those original pics were taken indoors at night (last night). I'll try to get and post a few daylight pictures this week, including a full side shot. I'll take a few more shots and post next week after I get the tint put on.

Regarding the wheels...yes, each wheel is more than 5 pounds lighter than the stock wheel, so reducing unsprung weight by more than 20 pounds helps. I'm sure opinion will vary, but I also like the look of these wheels much better than stock. Did the FSTN pre-order deal here.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Here is a side shot showing the wheels better, but using cell phone camera.



 

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Sweet!! Car looks amazing! Love the wheels! If I get to the point to where I can afford a set, I'm getting the anthracite!
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
How do you like those Pilot SS? I have them on my 335i and love them.
Amazing tires. The grip is fantastic. Could not be happier. I'm sure it could be debated, but I think they are an improvement over the already very good stock tires. Plus I got them on sale...all 4 for only $706.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Man, those wheels make the car look like it needs a drop...
I've thought about that, but as a DD I really don't want the ride any firmer than it is. I will reconsider later when there are more options available, and more feedback from people with their experiences.
 

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I'm not one for dropping, really - not sure it's worth the cost, for one - but it's odd to me how the wheels look smaller in those pics than those of the 16" Sport Edition CDs on someone else's car. Maybe it's the rubber?

Anyway, didn't mean to insult your wheel choice or anything, those 1.2s are awesome.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm not one for dropping, really - not sure it's worth the cost, for one - but it's odd to me how the wheels look smaller in those pics than those of the 16" Sport Edition CDs on someone else's car. Maybe it's the rubber?
Could be...the tires are different. Spoke patterns can also have an effect.

Anyway, didn't mean to insult your wheel choice or anything, those 1.2s are awesome.
No insult perceived, no worries there.
 

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Very nice, and a great name! Like the wheels, but as an offroad rally guy, no, it doesn't need to be dropped. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I'd like to see the post tint pics. How do you plan on avoiding all those tickets lol?
If you are referring to the windshield, I doubt anyone will be able to tell it has 90 tint on it. It seems almost clear, but still blocks UV which damages the leather and other interior bits, including your skin, and blocks heat. Full specs here...

http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=66666UuZjcFSLXTtnxf6oXT6EVuQEcuZgVs6EVs6E666666--

Crystalline tints are the "CR" entries. You can also find a simulator that shows how dark/light the various tints are here...

http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Window_Film/Solutions/Markets-Products/Automotive/Automotive_Simulator/
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The stock floor mats are so thin, cheap, and small it is ridiculous, so I bought some Lloyd's Ultimat replacements. They are definitely much higher quality than stock. However, they are the exact same size! I was hoping to get better coverage, but that is not the case. The Lloyd's web site does not have pictures of the actual mats, so buyer beware as I learned the hard way. If you are looking for exact replacements, just with better quality, then you should be fine. If you are looking for better quality and coverage, then look elsewhere. It is so disappointing that the mat does not cover the dead pedal area, so my foot is still resting on (and wearing out) the stock carpet there.

Does anyone have recommendations for a quality replacement carpeted mat with better coverage? I do not need all-weather mats as we only have one season here in Central Florida, so please only carpeted mat recommendations. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Hah, thanks Holden. I have had the car three weeks and it got rained on for the first time this weekend, so I want to get it cleaned up before I put up some new pics post-tint. Of course, it doesn't really look much different since I went with 70 tint everywhere (except 90 on the windshield), but I definitely notice a difference in temperature and reduced glare with night driving.

Still looking for comments regarding the floor mats from my previous post.
 
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