My holiday weekend adventure in wrenching

Last week I got a package dropped off by the Fed-Ex Santa, containing a stainless steel 3" down pipe for an Ecoboost Mustang. Since I had the week off of work, I tried to install it on my car.

This thing is a work of art, with some really pretty welds and high quality pipe in use. I did a bunch of research online about installation of this thing before getting started, and aside from a few tools (isn’t that always the case) I figured that this was well within my skillset. It had to be no more difficult than swapping an intercooler, or cat-back exhaust, and I’ve done both of those jobs myself.

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Install went well, if a bit slowly using only hand tools for some really tough to get to nuts/bolts. I took my time and got the old one out, the O2 sensors swapped over and the new one installed in a couple of hours, but ran into one little problem. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the exhaust flange on the pipe to seal completely to the back of the turbo. Frack. I cranked and cranked, but could not get that gap to close. In the effort, I even sacrificed some blood to it (Mustangs like the taste of blood). I took it to a performance shop (that happens to be a block from my house and open at the time) to have them double check and make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Nope, they couldn’t get it tightened down either...

The conclusion was that there’s an unplanned for lip on the exhaust studs on the back of the turbo. I conferred with the manufacturer and even shared all of these photos with them to get their agreement. Right now they’re trying to figure out what may be different about my car, since they’ve successfully installed this on others without running into this issue.

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After I got the stock downpipe back in place and buttoned up, I’d spent over 6 hours on this supposed one hour job. I’m sore in some weird places from being on my back under the car on stands for so long, and the fact that I am completely unused to manual labor. (my job is on computer screens.)

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As I looked over all of the parts post-mortem, I noticed a couple of things.
1) the stock setup uses a completely different kind of flange and gasket, allowing more room between the turbo flange and downpipe flange while still sealing. I’ve seen this on a couple of available aftermarket units, that have a higher price point.
2) the provided gasket has holes the same size as the down pipe flange.
3) it looks like I pinched the gasket in one of the flange holes. This wouldn’t have been readily apparent from the outside, so neither I nor the professional mechanic I had look at it would have seen it. Meaning... This could be my fault.

Oh well. I’ll circle the wagons on it the next time we get a warm-ish day and try one more time.

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Full disclosure: the downpipe manufacturer wanted me to write a review of their product so badly that they provided one to me free of charge. This is not that review.

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