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DrGubi’s Build

4904 Views 29 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  drgubi
DrGubi’s Build

Figured I’d make one of these since I intend on modifying the car a good deal in coming months (I’m having fun now before I start a new job). A couple months ago I knew virtually nothing about how an automotive works or how to modify it/the effects of doing so. I think you can all agree knowing how to maintain and modify an automotive is an incredible skill. So I basically set out to teach myself via YouTube, CruzeTalk, and straight up trial and error (that’s the BEST one). Here I’ll post my updates and any pitfalls I encountered along the way. Any recommendations and input are always appreciated! Also if you have any questions about certain modifications feel free to ask!

Current Car Info: 2012 LT Crystal Red 1.4L Turbo w/ approx 81K miles

Modifications in Order of Date Performed (those without pics will get them soon):

Motor trend floor mats

Maxracing Short Aluminum Antenna

Pioneer MVH-1400NEX Stereo w/ CarPlay


Repaired/replaced trunk latch

ACDelco Iridium Spark Plugs

ACDelco Ignition Coil

Plasti-Dipped Front and Rear Emblem

Touched up hundreds of chips, scratches, rusting at the bare metal level (WHY is this thing a magnet for rocks????)

Spyder Projector Headlight Installed
Spec-D DRL LED foglight Installed
Plasti Dipped Wheels Gloss Black
Painted Brake Calipers Red
De-rusted front rotors and rear drum brake housing
Cougar Motor LED low beams
Magnaflow catback exhaust 15070
BNR 93 octane tune
PCV fix kit V2
Replaced throttle body gasket
Replaced valve cover and gasket

In Progress Modifications:

Planned Modifications/Repairs (in order of when they’re happening)

18” rims with new tires
Transmission fluid change @ 100K
LED hi beams
LED front turn signal lights
Spyder LED taillights
Blend mount for radar detector
Black side marker covers
Install backup camera
Install coilovers
Larger fuel injectors
BNR GTX250 Turbo (only once/if mine bites the dust)

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Headlamp Automotive lighting Light Vehicle Bumper


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My compliments to you, I especially like the look of the Pioneer in the dash. As far as the wheels, I was in a similar boat a short while back and bought a similar setup(18x8 40mm Velox Apex Metallic Black) and love it. The 18's fit so nice and look so good and I'm a fan of that style wheel where it's spoked and gloss painted. Go for it!
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Wheels and tires ordered! I’ll be picking them up in the next couple days, installing, and then getting an alignment. Yesterday I replaced the water outlet and inlet hose due to a coolant leak, and then did a full coolant flush (took roughly 5 hours because I’m a noob and suck at removing hose clamps).

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Today oil was changed and replaced with Mobil-1’s annual protection full synthetic 5W-30 and a 257A filter. Supposedly good for 20K miles but I’ll be replacing at 10K regardless. Utilized a fluid extractor to get the job done in roughly 10 minutes. Next I replaced the camshaft actuator seals as they were leaking oil previously.

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Currently conducting a trial run of SRI vs CAI vs stock air box w/ intake resonator delete + KN drop in filter. This came about after noticing how incredibly high my IATs were at idle. On a 70 degree day my IATs would be over 100 degrees, where they should be within 10 of the ambient temperature. I would prefer as little heat as possible so that my car performs more efficiently (given that colder air is denser) and that extra heat is generally bad for the longevity of things, such as my turbo.

So the SRI was returned, and stock airbox with aforementioned modifications was added. Immediately better throttle response was noted. Engine noise died down, LTFTs were picture perfect +/- 1.56%, and IATs were at max 12 over ambient temps. However in the name of taking things further I went and installed a genuine CAI from Injen after. The only piece of information I can reliably present is that my IATs at idle are now 6-8 above ambient, an even further improvement. Beyond that however I cannot comment, as the insane turbulence produced by the awkward bend in tubing of the CAI has thrown my MAF sensor into a tizzy and made my fuel trims jump into the +20% range. Most aftermarket intakes I’ve learned lack an air flow straightener that our stock air box contains to ensure the MAF accurately reads the air that passes it. To counter this I purchased an airflow straightener precisely to fit my Injen tubing before the MAF sensor at the link below:

It will be arriving Thursday and being installed immediately with some sort of epoxy. If I’m correct this will rectify the turbulence and give my car similar trims and performance to my stock airbox modification but with the added benefit of 1. Looking cool and 2. Even further lowering IATs.

Until then I should also mention, I tinted my windows to 35% and I got new wheels! 18x8 Helos with 225/45ZR18 Ripken Raptor tires. They feel a tad heavier, but my car also feels glued to the ground with a notable improvement in handling. However now my car is higher off the ground and it really makes me think I should lower it... TBD. Land vehicle Vehicle Chevrolet cruze Car Chevrolet

And on top of that I installed Spyder LED tail lights, which look amazing. I will say the connector for the trunk lights was lacking and I duct taped the **** out of it to ensure it won’t come off, but rest assured this is plug and play and can be installed in about 30 minutes.

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Since now my headlights, fog lights, license plate lights, and tail lights are all LED... I’ve gone and ordered LED for all the other exterior lights. So on Thursday I’ll be receiving:

1. LED Switchback front turn signals
2. LED red rear turn signals
3. Resistors to prevent hyper flashing
4. LED back up lights.

Aaaaand that’s a wrap for now.

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Update on lighting:

LED switchback front turn signals came and look fantastic. They give a stark white DRL appearance, and then switch amber-off-amber-off when the turn signal is initialized. This is in stark contrast to most other switchback bulbs which give a less convincing amber-white-amber-white pattern. The ones I used in particular were the following:

I then installed the rear LED turn signals - switching to red instead of amber as I felt it look better in the spyder taillights. All turn signals were wired into 50W 6 ohm resistors to prevent hyperflash. License plate lights and back up lights were also replaced with all LED.

LED high beam (H1 for my spyder headlights) were also ordered and will be installed shortly and properly calibrated to not blind people more so than they should.

Update on SRI vs CAI vs Stock:
I ordered an aluminum honeycomb mesh from eBay to fit into my Injen CAI to improve the fuel trims. They got slightly better, but were still significantly off (+/- 15%). I believe this may be due to the mesh being deformed from placing it into the tubing of my intake. Thus I removed the mesh, and ordered an air meter assembly that contained a plastic air straigthener (much sturdier than the aluminum) off eBay after making sure the diameter of the tube would fit in my intake. When it arrived, I used a sawzall to cut the plastic air straigthener from the rest of the assembly and stuck it in my intake. The fuel trims are still learning, but it's looking promising! Will update with results. I am intent on modifying an aftermarket option to be as good as if not better than the stock airbox - simply for the sake of not being stock.

Oh... and I dropped my ride and installed new shocks:
You read that right. I ordered Bilstein B8 front and rear shocks, as well as Eibach lowering springs. Over the course of two days I installed them. Let me just say two things regarding the installation.

1. If you have a car more than a couple years old, be prepared for EPIC amounts of rust. I had to use a breaker bar that was nearly three feet long (along with penetrating oil) to remove some of these rusted bolts - which made this a significantly longer job.

2. Next, make sure you go into this having every single size tool necessary, as there are many (and many guides and videos that outline them). The front struts demand a box wrench with a very large offset (which many guides fail to mention) in order to properly access the nut. If you plan on doing anything with the front struts at all, save yourself some time and order a 24mm offset box wrench off Amazon for $10.

Finally, the review. New Jersey roads are essentially the surface of the moon, hence why I upgraded the shocks. Before the Bilsteins, even the smallest of bumps in the road would send my car jostling up, down, left, or right and compromise my ability to drive unless they were encountered at a very low speed. The Bilsteins have eliminated this issue for small and medium sized bumps. The larger bumps and craters that are common in NJ, however, still cause issue and I'm not certain there is anything that could ever be done to dampen them on a sedan such as the Cruze. But overall, very lovely performance and ride experienced with the Bilsteins.

The Eibachs lowered my car significantly and look great with my new 18s. I experience no wheel rub, and Have had no issue with the car bottoming out. Sometimes I need to tackle driveways vertically, but other than that, no issue.
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Lots of new stuff! Looks good! When the springs and struts settle, be ready for more teeth rattlers. You should put a link for the wrench in there too.

I'm lookin' forward to the results of the straightened CAI airflow.

You still need some smoked clear side markers to go with them rims.
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Lots of new stuff! Looks good! When the springs and struts settle, be ready for more teeth rattlers. You should put a link for the wrench in there too.

I'm lookin' forward to the results of the straightened CAI airflow.

You still need some smoked clear side markers to go with them rims.
Good call! I just ordered the sidemarker lights now. I'll post pics once they come in!

Also here is the link to the wrench I used:

As for the CAI post-straightener it's significantly better. At idle, LTFTs are +/- 1.5%. Sometimes, oddly, at cruising RPMs they'll jump to +8 to +9, but overall I consider this to be acceptable. This is multiple levels better than the values without the straightener which ranged from the high teens to the low twenties both at idle and at cruising speeds. Although it's not as ideal as the stock airbox which consistently kept +/-1.5% at all RPMs, it's a bullet I'm willing to take for the sake of customizability. I also just sent my logs into BNR so perhaps they can do some wizardry to account for the Injen.

Intake Air Temperatures (IATs) with the Injen are also comparable to stock while idling (within 10 of ambient), minimizing heat-soak. Likely due to the genuine "cold air" location of the filter in the passenger-side wheel well, compared to the ridiculous short ram location (seriously, why is this even a thing?????). The turbo sound is wonderful with the Injen as well, compared to stock.

One thing I did not monitor that I would be interested in knowing would be the maximum air flow rate of the Injen intake compared to stock. I would imagine based on the conical design of the Injen, the Injen would permit for a little more airflow - but who knows.

So overall, unless BNR yells at me to go back to stock for the sake of fixing some slightly-off fuel trims, I'll be sticking with the Injen+straightener combo. The pros outweigh the cons (for me at least). Also, here's the exact part I ordered off eBay to remove the air straightener from. It fit the silicone coupler in my Injen perfectly.

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Completed possibly the most arduous, frustrating, time-consuming job yet (for me): installing BNR valve springs. I've never attempted such an invasive job before, and again, I didn't know how to change my oil 6 months ago. The job was long, it was tedious, it took a lot of trial and error. I used Xtremerevolution's post on timing to remove the cams and various youtube videos to go from thereafter. All I can say is, again, make sure you have the proper tools and parts WELL BEFOREHAND. The most essential being this tool, the Kent Moore Spring Compressor for our engine that requires no modification (well-worth the money);

The ride doesn't seem to act that much differently yet, but this is just a check box on the grocery list leading up to eventually upgrading the turbo.

Lastly, I finally installed the smoked sidemarker lights, and they look great!
Oh and I changed the light bulbs to LED of course.
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Another update:


Was shopping around for a good dash camera. At first I was just looking at front-facing windshield-mounted units. However, I live in New Jersey, so the threat of getting rear-ended is very, very real - and if that day ever comes, I want video evidence of the jerk who does it, so in came the dual dash camera idea. Next, I figured if I'm going through the trouble of installing this camera, I might as well make it look good, so I opted for the mirror variety. In comes this one from amazon:

It had the most reviews, the best reviews, was very detailed, and oddly enough was not bad at all on price. So I got it. Installation of the mirror (and front facing dash camera) was simple, just strapped it on to my mirror. Routed the power cable up under the headliner using conveniently supplied adhesive clips, into the A-pillar (had to remove that, it just comes out with some muscle, under the trim along the driver side, and into the rear cigarette lighter.

The camera wire took a similar path, but instead of veering into the rear passenger compartment, I kept it under the trim all the way to the trunk. Hooked it to some metal pieces in the trunk. Then took off the trunk liner. Now for the tricky part: how the hell was I to get the boxy camera (roughly 1x1cm) to the outside of the vehicle? I couldn't cut a **** hole that large, I only wanted a hole large enough to fit the cord which was approximately 3mm in diameter. Given that the camera did not conveniently remove itself from the wiring, I had to snip the camera off, route the wire stump through a hole I drilled in the trunk, and then solder the 5 individual sub-cables back to the camera, with each cable being about 0.2mm in diameter. This was very annoying, but I did that. Wrapped each individual cable in electrical tape, then wrapped the whole thing in electrical tape, tested the camera, and it worked! Next I routed the cable along the wiring on the driver side of the trunk, and it worked like a charm. Drilled two small holes to suspend the camera, and screwed it in. They conveniently provide a gasket and screws to hold the camera.

Lastly, the back up camera can automatically turn on if it detects the vehicle is in reverse via connecting to the back-up light positive cable. So I removed my driver-side headlight and routed the necessary wire behind the liner and spliced it into the positive cable. Now it is fully functional and I am exceedingly satisfied with it! Pics below.






Next I picked up this subtle but very stylish spoiler from CruzeCulture:

First, I placed the spoiler on and ensured its fit (which was perfect, albeit with some bending). I marked where it should go with some masking tape. I cleaned the mounting area thoroughly with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Next, I prepped the area with the packaged adhesive prep and a microfiber cloth. Then I took a heat gun to the spoiler to make it nice and pliable. The next step I feel is crucial and not listed in the guide (but I learned it from youtube).

There is very strong 3M adhesive tape on the bottom of the spoiler, covered by a thin red film you remove to install. I peeled back 1-2 cm of this film to expose the adhesive, and then taped the film to an accessible portion of the spoiler.

I placed the spoiler, using the 1-2 cm of exposed film to get a preliminary fit on the trunk. I maneuvered it into place very carefully and applied pressure.

Then I used the accessible pieces of film to pull off the remaining 2-3 feet of film, exposing the rest of the adhesive.

This resulted in me not having to move/reposition the spoiler and not screw up my fitment. The film came off and I applied firm pressure across the spoiler. I then thoroughly secured it with masking tape in several locations (see pic). We'll see how she looks in the AM (needs to cure for 24-48 hours).

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Moooooore updates:

Spoiler install complete! Very satisfied with the results. In other news...



Checked the brakes and had about 6mm remaining on the pads so I figured it was time to replace them. They were last replaced at around 30K miles. Figured while I'm down there I would install new rotors! Mine looked like crap. Aaaand while I was down there I also wanted to upgrade the sway bars to something... not plastic - as well as do a brake fluid flush! So here's what I picked up:

Moog Sway Bar:

Centric Rotors:

Akebono Ceramic Brakes:

Brake Fluid:

I started by bleeding the brake fluid, which I accomplished with 1/4 vinyl tubing and a 24oz bottle surprisingly easily! I replaced the fluid with about 3 bottles of Castrol DOT 4 full synthetic fluid.

I then moved to the brake pads. The old pads slid out easily. I removed the rest of the caliper housing and removed my old rusted rotors. Secured the new rotors, using thread lock on their bolts, reinstalled the brake caliper, and installed the new ceramic pads from Akebono. My only complaint is that they did not include new brake pad clips, so I had to reuse the old ones. However, I made sure to lubricate the clips with copper-based anti-seize lubricant. I also lubricated the caliper bolts with silicone paste. Then it started to rain and I was sadly unable to install my new sway bars. I'll install them at a later date when the weather is more agreeable.

Onto the review:

The combination of akebono ceramic brakes and centric rotors with new synthetic brake fluid is fantastic. Not only do my brakes feel more responsive, but they're quieter than the stock brakes I had on. I find myself stopping prematurely because I'm used to exerting so much pressure on the brake pedal. Plus, the new rotors look impeccable!

I'll update again after I've installed the new sway bars.

Here's some pics:

Rotors & pads before


Brake pad comparison

Brake pads and rotors after:

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