Hello again! This is my second contribution to this excellent Forum! As always, please forgive me, if I use the incorrect terminology and jump right in with corrections. This is my first "fun" car and the first car that I'm trying to do as much of the work on all by myself.
Today, I finished installing the ARk Grip exhaust for my 2015 3.8 Ultimate. It's not a terribly difficult process (that's actually one of the big selling points for getting Ark over CNT - my first choice), but as usual, there are some things I would have liked to have known *before* doing this. The joys of figuring it out as you go.
So initial takeaways:
• It takes a LOT longer to install than I thought. It took me about 2ish hours to get the stock exhaust off and another 3+ to get the new exhaust on. There was more delays than that, just because I had to get some tools and what not, but I'm not factoring that in.
• This is a 2 person job! Taking the exhaust off, a second person is VERY helpful. Putting the new exhaust on, a second person is necessary.
• There are some tools you need. Specifically, you need a set of these for both the stock and new exhaust:
Which leads me to caveat #1
.... The wrench set I had was missing 16mm (which is also 5/8 as I also learned this weekend), just like the set in the picture.
I don't know if that's a regular thing, but all the Ark bolts are 16mm, so it was kinda important. The Stock use 2 different sizes and finding matches were easy in a standard tool set.
There are several bolts where you *cannot*
fit a socket wrench in, so you need these wrenches with the round circle hole (in the pic). The other end doesn't fit either, specifically in getting the secondary cats off. The only thing that fit was that round hole side.
Onto the good stuff!
Jacking up your car
I told you this was a guide for idiots like me. I scoured this forum for the proper center jack points on this car and although there are some good posts, none of them completely cleared up where to put the jack on the front. I guess on the first gen, the front jack point is fairly obviously, but on this gen, there is a plastic cover, blocking visibility.
So, here is exactly where you need to put this bad boy on the front:
Front Jack spot
• It's really not that difficult to figure it out after you've done it. Find the tube like crease I point out. I did it further back the first time, which still worked perfectly fine, but I ended up putting a small crack in the plastic underbelly. When putting the car back down, I used the other green spot and had zero issue.
Rear Jack spot
• It really doesn't get easier than this. It's the bar right in front of the rear diff. A bunch of people say you can jack up by the diff, but that just seems like bad form to me. But you do what you want
Idiot Pro tip
So being the inexperienced person that I am (never having used this kind of jack before), had the car jacked up in the rear and while the car was up, I decided to take the bar out of its spot on the jack (in order to give more room to work around the exhaust).
Well, obviously, this arm is under pressure, which means that when the bar come out, the jack hole the bar was in, snapped into place, directly vertical, making it impossible to get the bar back in.
yeah, yeah, laugh it up
. Seriously, cause I laughed at my misfortune afterwards. The only way to get the jack bar back in was to use a screw driver to turn the internal mechanism on the jack counter-clockwise to get the jack to release the pressure. I doubt anyone else would make the same mistake, but hey! That's what I'm here for. Noob mistakes!
Now there are a billion great articles on where to put jack stands and how to jack your car up (block off the wheels, put in the parking break, jack the rear, put it on jackstand at the weld points in the body, leave the jack on the car as a secondary safety - so you don't die....). I'm not going to regurgitate that all here. But here is a pic of the car up, just because I took one:
• I will warn you that when taking the stands out from under the car, be mindful of that damn bar that release the top of the stand into the body. I clipped my finger skin a few times.
On to the exhaust!
Removing the stock exhaust
I actually didn't take many pictures of this (any really), because it's pretty self explanatory, other than some suggestions.
• Take off all the bolt / nuts first, before trying to wiggle it all apart.
• The secondary cats don't have bolts that come out. Which make them a pain in the ass.
• The secondary cats also are too big to fit sockets / wrenches around them, other than that one wrench I mention above.
• After all the bolts are off (good ol' fashioned elbow grease), I recommend taking the mid pipe hanger off from the mid pipe. I'm not gonna lie, it's a pain. But it wasn't too bad when using a flat head screw driver to get the head through and then something thicker, like pliers to wedge it the rest of the way off. I also propped my foot up onto the end and pushed against the end closest to the muffler to help get leverage. I have faith in you.
• Now the hangers on the muffler are a whole different ball of annoyance. I gave up trying to get them off. What I did instead is that you should have enough give in the exhaust to put your foot up against the mid pipe and get the cats disconnected. Once you've done that, the rest comes right apart.
• ...Except that damn muffler. That just hangs there attached to the hangers. Instead of taking the muffler off the hangers, I opted to just disconnect the damn hanger brackets from the car. There are 2 bolts, easily taken off and the muffler comes off with the hangers and brackets still on. It was a MILLION times easier to get the hangers off in my garage, then wrestling with them while on the car. It sucked, but elbow grease and wedging pliers did the trick again. FWIW, putting the hangers ONTO the new exhaust is a LOT easier.
Hangers and brackets off the muffler:
On a side note, is there any wonder that this stock exhaust sucks?
Not only is it beat up, but there are kinks in the metal that I'm sure HAVE to mess up airflow. Total garbage.
Putting on the Ark Grip
• I recommend laying out the ark exhaust and visualizing how it fits.
• There are 3 different gasket sizes, They are pretty obvious which goes where. Just don't mess em up. You'd have to really force them, to do it wrong.
• I'm not sure what the pros will tell you, (they usually say to start with tips and work your way back), but I did it a little differently.
• I did put the mufflers on first, by putting the hangers onto the mufflers (in my garage) and then having someone hold them in place while I rebolt them in. Then I let them just hang there. They won't hit the ground or anything.
• Then I worked backwards by putting in the H-pipe, right midpipe (the Ark one with the hanger on it! - because the hanger makes it easier to work with), and then to the right muffler.
• On each of these connections I put the bolts barely on, with my hands. This is important to be able to move it around later.
• Now as it turned out, the blocks I was using to block the wheels while jacking the car up, happened to also be a pretty good height to help assist in holding up the H-pipe and the Xpipe, giving the helper some reprieve, as these things are pretty heavy.
• Getting the right midpipe on the hanger in the middle of the car was a PAIN. Unfortunately, I didn't see any bolts to unscrew from the frame, like the mufflers had. So I again, just muscled it into place. I found it beneficial to use my feet to push one end, while I pull on the hanger. I also found that once the hanger is in about 1/4", you can pull the pipe down toward the ground, stretching the hanger hole more open and wiggle it in from there. Good luck. Hardest part of the install
• After the right side midpipe was loosely connected to the right muffler, I connected up the xpipe to the left midpipe and then the dangling left muffler (left and right is from the perspective of looking at the car from the behind, not the ground looking up).
• Now comes the real trick, lining up the tips and working backwards. Again, the wood blocks, after trying every possible configuration, luckily held the tips in almost the perfect location!
• It wasn't perfect, but it's good enough for a start. The trick here is to work backwards, but you have to be mindful of a few things.
1. The gaskets need to line up correctly on the pipes. They are not "perfect" and each pipe has a few degrees of variance.
2. While hanging, the ark mufflers lean inward, because of the second tube of mass on them. So I had another person constantly put pressure on the secondary muffler tube (the tube that DOESN'T have the tips on them). This helped keep the alignment.
3. bolt em in, making sure the gaskets are lined up right and the pipes are angled neatly. They actually line up really damn well, so if they're not lined up, loosen your bolts and try again. I'm not 100% positive, but logic would dictate that if your pipes and gaskets aren't lined up right, air flow is inhibited, which defeats the purpose of spending so much moolah on this righteous exhaust.
• After working your self all the way back the H-pipe, the right side should be damn good. Not perfect, especially when you take the wood blocks off, but damn close.
• Then rinse and repeat with the left side muffler to the h-pipe. I had to re-do a few pipes bolts because I'm pedantic and didn't want any problems with the gaskets and pipes not lining up perfectly. An example of the flushness is:
• It takes a little working, but you can get the whole thing done well.
• Also, you may notice that the left side hangs a little lower than the right. There is still over 4" clearance and it's right in the middle of the wheel, so I doubt it'll be a problem even on some Eibach Pro-kit springs. I'll find out, since that is what I plan on doing. I don't believe there is any way to change this, since the tips are welded on. They would need to rotate in order to change the position of the muffler. /meh.
• If I were to be pedantic, which I absolutely am, the left side hangs about .5 cm higher than the right, but to me, it is barely noticeable. It's not bad enough to make me tear it down and try to change it. When I take my car in to get the new Exceladyne differential mounts installed, I'll ask their opinion on the lower left side and the slight difference in how they hang. But not too freakin bad for a first time, do it yourself, job.
• I uploaded a video here, but I was tempted not to, because the audio does not capture the amazing sound of this exhaust.
The sound is absolutely amazing! The videos do not do it justice. Even the video I took makes it sound kind of lame and ricey. But is just the opposite, deep and super aggressive sounding. I could not be happier. I'm glad that I just trusted people when they say it sounds amazing, because it does.
My butt Dyno says it is doing wonders too, but I am a firm believer in the placebo effect, so.....
Though, the people who are telling you there is no drone, are lying. It is fairly noticeable at lower speeds, though with all the freeway noise and all that, driving on the freeway it really isn't that noticeable. And maybe that is what they mean. But neighborhood cruisin definitely has a present low rpm rumble growl.
At least the kids on the block know when you're coming... not that kids play outside anymore.
Hope this helps others out!