UNDER WARRANTY - PART 1

As Nick said in his first Behind the Wheel post,

"A car is more than top speed, acceleration and looks. It is a hub of life experiences, culture and personality."

I've owned my 2015 WRX STI for nearly two years now. I've learned a lot about myself from driving that car. A big part of the experience comes from the Chitown Subarus community. I'm an analyst by nature and by vocation. I overthink everything. Soon after I bought the car, I showed up to a meet and started asking a lot of questions. Many of them revolved around what modifications I could make without "voiding the warranty". So many questions that the nickname stuck around.

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The answer, if you're curious, is both "a lot" and "a little". The uncertainty makes me twitch.

My intentions were good. I wanted to build the car to last forever. It was my dream car, after all. If I could just hit on the winning combination of aftermarket parts, I could finally relax and enjoy the car - doing donuts! Big launches! Sliding through corners! I'd drive it like a rally car, bro! Only...that's not how cars work, and that's not what happened.

I didn't know how to drive a manual when I took delivery of the vehicle. I had a three hour lesson a few weeks before, but I had largely forgotten it. A friend drove behind me as I limped and jerked the car home, 36 miles from the dealer. I stalled the car ten times that day, and discovered a flat tire the following morning. I was not the Batman, but I sure felt cool.

Soon after the break-in period ended I drove to another state to visit family. My cousin and I went out playing Ingress (by car) one night. As we were chatting and merging onto the highway, I gave the car full throttle for the first time. He stopped talking mid sentence. For a brief moment I was the Batman, and I sure felt cool.

Fast forward through many months of driving to work (boring), weekly meets (fun), and a whole lot of asking questions: I found myself running late to my first track day! I almost didn't go. The car had less than 4,000 miles on it, and I was nervous about committing my first warranty-voiding cardinal sin. The event was put on by the dealer that sold me the car. I thought this was surely entrapment, so I decided to take the risk. I called a friend and made up time on the highway. The WRX STI is an excellent car for going places in a hurry. The track day ended up being a blast. The car was meant to be driven fast. The three differentials in the WRX STI make for a unique situation: you can round a corner faster if you're on-throttle. Typically if a car isn't cornering enough, you slow down to make the turn. In the WRX STI, you succeed by accelerating through the corner. It's thrilling, but the commitment required is daunting.

I'd like to say I drove the car like I did in my dreams, but I didn't. I drove it to work some more (boring) and sometimes with friends on the highway, cruising home from CTS meets. There were some minor sins committed along the way. On one such occasion I decided to pass a friend and make my exit in style. I downshifted and sped away, but felt a little pop. It was so small I may have imagined it. I exited the highway, parked in my garage, and smiled. I sure felt cool.

The next morning, I turned on the car to see a butt of blue smoke in my rearview mirror. The odometer read 16,000 miles. My mind started racing. 

There are no motor failures in your dreams.