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Old 06-10-2009, 12:22 PM   #1
Tim30250
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VF E46 330 Supercharger Install Complete - Review

Well, I completed the install of my supercharger kit about 2 weeks ago and wanted to post my thoughts on it pre, during, and post install...

I ordered the kit at their wonderful sale price in late April. The kit shipped out a few days later and arrived at my door about a week after I placed the order. The kit looked great in the box. Everything was neatly packaged and separated by purpose for the install. The blower came already installed to its bracket and all required hardware was easy to locate and identify. The intake and discharge piping is of outstanding quality and ultimately fit great under the hood.

The install began on a Sunday about a week later... Now, I've never installed anything like this before, so it was important that I would be able to get good customer service to help me out during the process (was doing it alone except for my wife helping me get the bumper off and on) and that is one of the major reasons I went with VF. Initially, it was very straightforward... pretty much remove everything having anything to do with the filtration or delivery of air to the engine. There were some other things required like draining the cooling system, removing the fan, belts and hoses, re-routing some vacuum lines, and modifying the power steering return hose/relocating the P/S reservoir. After that new fuel injectors (included with the kit) needed to be installed. VF also recommended changing items such as the coolant temp sensor, engine oil, fuel filter, and spark plugs; so I spent a couple hours performing those tasks at this point. Mounting the supercharger w/bracket was much easier than I thought it would be, there were simply two long bolts and a support brace and everything fit and lined up perfectly. This kit included the Vortech V-3 unit which does not require oil lines since it has it's own self-contained internal lubrication system. This is nice b/c it saves at least a couple hours of plumbing AND you don't have to worry about engine oil circulating through the blower and vice versa. You only have to drain and refill the supercharger's lubricant every 7500 miles and the special lubricant (can only use Vortech lube) can be had for about 10 bucks a bottle, not bad at all. The last part of the install was to "simply" install the bypass valve and the intake/discharge hoses from the engine to the blower. Well, this actually proved to be more time consuming, and more painful, than I had planned. The trouble is that once the blower is in place, room becomes scarce and it is very difficult to attach the hoses (especially the discharge hose to the throttle body which you can't even see... just have to do it by feel) without much leverage or line of sight. This was also the point where I busted a lot of knuckles and sliced several fingers on unknown sharp stuff while feeling my way around. In the end, I only lost a few milliliters of blood, and was probably able to get all the hoses hooked up in about 2.5 hrs.

That was a time lapsed account of the install. In total, I probably spent about 20 hours on the install over a 3 week period. The website says the install can be done in 8-10 hrs which I suspect is possible with another person, or with previous experience. I feel that I could easily do another kit in half the time this one took. But I really took my time to make sure everything was correct and I also counted time (an hour or so in total) getting tech support from VF in those 20 hours. Speaking of which, I can't thank them enough for always coming to the phone to answer any questions I had about the install. There are a couple of steps that aren't totally clear in the manual, but if you call them, they will explain those steps so they make perfect sense. I'm glad I chose this kit because not only was the price right, but also, the customer service was impeccable.

Now, how does it run?

I couldn't be happier. After the install was complete I primed the fuel rail, stepped on the clutch, and turned the key. The car started right up and found its idle instantly. There was no sputtering or surging whatsoever. After it warmed up the idle lowered to about 650-700 which is where my car used to idle before the s/c. The GIAC software, which admittedly I knew nothing about before researching this kit, is obviously good because my car idles and drives like stock, does not have any engine lights, and is completely mild-mannered until you drop the throttle. So after a painstaking 300 mile break in period I got to test the performance. Now, it's not mind-blowing, but there is a giant increase in power above about 4K rpm and the car feels much more like an M3 than a 330 these days. If you are the type looking for low end power, this kit (or probably any centrifugal kit) may not be for you. The car feels much like stock when you want to drive slowly or at low rpm, but packs a nice punch when you want it to move out. The power delivery is very linear and predictable. It also gets increasingly dramatic as the rpms climb so it gives the driver very good control over the amount of power you wish to call upon. The sound is not obnoxious at all. While I wouldn't call it "super quiet" as Vortech does, it is subtle. There is a tiny bit of gear whine that you hear at idle but it's hard to notice with the hood closed if you're not standing over the left fender. There is a mellow whistling (which I kind of like) audible from just off idle to about 3K rpm when driving at part throttle. At mid-throttle and above the whistle is replaced by the sound of the engine eagerly racing toward redline. The blower sound does not come through here, you just hear the engine a little louder and deeper than it sounded when NA. I suppose more power=more noise, but it's a sweet noise, believe me. Overall, this kit gave me exactly what I was looking for... a reasonable price, an exciting increase in power, OEM driveability/reliability, and an install that I could perform myself. There are other kits on the market that will certainly be more aggressive than this one, but I didn't chose them because my objective was not maximum power, it was increased performance with no compromise of reliability or factory fit/finish/feel. If you're looking for the same features I was, this kit is a good choice that will not disappoint.

I've included a few pics of before, during, and after the install...

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Last edited by Tim30250; 06-10-2009 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 06-10-2009, 12:30 PM   #2
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great review and congrats on your DIY!
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Old 06-10-2009, 01:59 PM   #3
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Congratulations on your install and thank you for the nice review.
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Old 06-10-2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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Great review. Glad that you are happy with the kit. With no intercooler, I don't think the reliablity aspect is going to be as good as it used to be.
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Old 06-10-2009, 05:03 PM   #5
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Not worried about the reliability at all. Back in my muscle car days I had lots of friends with non-intercooled Vortechs and Paxtons on their Mustangs and Camaros. They took years of daily abuse and regular drag strip duty (which my car will never see) and lasted reliably through it all.

This kit is also only running 6lbs of boost, so even the air charge isn't that hot. I got a nice test here in southern TX the last couple weeks. The temp has been consistently near 100 and the car has showed no ill-effects.

So far, so good...

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Old 06-11-2009, 01:18 AM   #6
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Where in SA are you?

Congrats on the new SC and install!
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:38 AM   #7
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Very nice! Enjoy
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Where in SA are you?

Congrats on the new SC and install!
Thanks. I live northwest off I-10, outside 1604 and a few miles south of Boerne.
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:46 AM   #9
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Thanks for the review. I've been planning on going with the VF after I get my rear subframe re-enforced.
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Old 06-15-2009, 09:05 AM   #10
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Update

I have encountered an issue that has nothing to do with the kit, and should be easily remedied. Several years ago I swapped in a 3.46 differential and coupled it with the Shark Injector which gave me a 7000rpm redline. Well, the new GIAC software has a 6800rpm redline, and the added boost pushes the tach to that point rather quickly.

Bottom line: The gears are simply just too short right now. I have to shift to second at about 34mph and into third at around 57. This just simply isn't working for me. So thanks to a fellow fanatic I have a 3.07 diff on the way which will go in probably sometime in the next week or two. I'll update the thread with my impressions of the taller ratio. My guess is that it will make the car much more drivable and make better (and longer) use of the mid and upper rpm boost levels. We'll see...
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:37 PM   #11
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I wouldn't worry about reliability,not being i/c'd, my ESS'd e36 had >160k on it when I sold it, >50k boosted. It's all about the tune.
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Old 06-16-2009, 09:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim30250 View Post
I have encountered an issue that has nothing to do with the kit, and should be easily remedied. Several years ago I swapped in a 3.46 differential and coupled it with the Shark Injector which gave me a 7000rpm redline. Well, the new GIAC software has a 6800rpm redline, and the added boost pushes the tach to that point rather quickly.

Bottom line: The gears are simply just too short right now. I have to shift to second at about 34mph and into third at around 57. This just simply isn't working for me. So thanks to a fellow fanatic I have a 3.07 diff on the way which will go in probably sometime in the next week or two. I'll update the thread with my impressions of the taller ratio. My guess is that it will make the car much more drivable and make better (and longer) use of the mid and upper rpm boost levels. We'll see...

congrats bud!! Its about time especially for you!! I ve always loved your car.

Regarding the diff let me know what you think when you swap them around. SC dont need shorter gears like Turbos do (to build boost), you will lose some torque but better drivability.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:42 PM   #13
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Thanks, and you're right about it being about time. I've had my car (and been on this forum) for 7+ years now watching others mod, and not really doing that much to my own car. I was definitely due for a treat.

As for the taller ratio diff, I thought about the same thing you mentioned with the potential performance penalty; but in the end I'm most concerned with drivability and fun... And believe me, these super short shifts are no fun, not to mention that 1st gear is almost completely useless right now. So I'm gonna do the 3.07 install next week sometime and see how I like it. If it's too much of a performance hit I can always change back, but I doubt I'll have to.
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:02 PM   #14
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Nice! Congrats on the DIY, it looks like a tough job!
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Old 06-17-2009, 09:27 PM   #15
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Thanks, and you're right about it being about time. I've had my car (and been on this forum) for 7+ years now watching others mod, and not really doing that much to my own car. I was definitely due for a treat.

As for the taller ratio diff, I thought about the same thing you mentioned with the potential performance penalty; but in the end I'm most concerned with drivability and fun... And believe me, these super short shifts are no fun, not to mention that 1st gear is almost completely useless right now. So I'm gonna do the 3.07 install next week sometime and see how I like it. If it's too much of a performance hit I can always change back, but I doubt I'll have to.

Exactly!!!
You ve been on here for ever and the diff thing!!
Keep me posted about the 3.07... I have 3.46 and I had a 3.46 LSD by kazz that broke 3 or 4 months after I bought it. Its sitting in my garage, needs a new unit for 1k. One of these days I will get it again.
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Old 06-17-2009, 09:41 PM   #16
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Dam if i knew you wanted a 3.07 i would have traded you mine for your 3.46
it only has about 45-50k on it
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:59 PM   #17
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what are you planning on doing with your 3.46?
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Nice! Congrats on the DIY, it looks like a tough job!
Thanks. It's not nearly as tough as you might think. It just requires a lot of time and patience. You don't want to rush through anything and get it wrong. That will just cost more time and headaches down the road. But no special tools are required, it's pretty much bolt-on, and anyone that has done routine maintenance on a car can tackle this job. Glad I went DIY though, it was very rewarding (and cost effective) in the end.

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Exactly!!!
Keep me posted about the 3.07...
Will do!

Quote:
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what are you planning on doing with your 3.46?
Probably selling it if I'm happy with the 3.07. I'm putting it in next week, and after a couple days of evaluating the taller ratio, I'll make the decision if I want to let the 3.46 go. I see you're local so I'll keep you posted if you're interested in the 3.46.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:24 PM   #19
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Have your MPG's changed much overall?
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:03 AM   #20
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Not really. I've only driven about 450 miles since the kit has been on, and 300 of those were driven intentionally slow and soft for the break in period. I've only really "hit it" a few times to test what it can do, and the remainder of the miles have been driven very moderately. Overall, my computer reports 23.5 mpg with the supercharger. Also, keep in mind I have a 3.46 diff right now so my mileage is likely to be 1-2 mpg lower than a car with a stock ratio.
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