December 14, 2017

Cleaning up the Rear of the WRX

6 MIN READ

wrx , reviews , guides

With its quad exhausts and aggressive diffuser, the WRX is definitely a looker from the factory. However, there are a few areas where I feel Subaru seriously cheaped out.

Swing Low Sweet Exhaust

First off, the factory muffers hang wayyy too low. I can almost fit my fist between the tips and the diffuser. While this makes cleaning the exhaust a breeze, it’s not a good look.

OEM muffler height

OEM muffler height closeup

Thankfully, there’s a quick and easy fix!

YouTuber T-WRX made an awesome video on how to use a pair of aftermarket hangers to quickly and affordably pull the stock mufflers up closer to the diffuser:

At $20 for the pair, I figured it was worth a shot myself!

Aftermarket hangers vs OEM

With temperatures hovering around 20 degrees, I threw on some gloves and a sweatshirt and headed out to the garage to get to work.

With the car parked on the slight incline in my garage, there was plenty of space for me to shimmy underneath the rear of the car without needing jacks. Since rubber + cold = hard as hell, I employed my heat gun and a soapy, lubricating spray to get the OEM hangers off. I found there really isn’t any “trick”; you just need to work at it. Only the two inner hangers need to be replaced, and there’s enough clearance around them to get your hands in there. In spite of this, it took me over an hour to get both hangers off. In retrospect, I probably should have invested in a pair of these exhaust removal pliers…

Getting the aftermarket hangers on was a much simpler process. Like Chuck, I used the top two holes and angled the hangers inward (since they’re much longer than OEM).

Positioning the hangers

I’m super happy with the end result - it’s a much cleaner and more refined look.

After the hangers were installed

After the hangers were installed cont.

F1 Rear Fog Light + License Plate LEDs

With the exhaust sorted, next up was picking out a rear fog light. The blanking plug used by Subaru really cheapens the look of the rear.

WRX rear fog light blanking plug

I ended up going with Subiebro’s F1-style LED rear fog light in red. For $20, it was a no-brainer to option their plug-and-play harness too. Finally, I added a set of their LED license plate lights to get rid of the ugly factory halogen yellow puddle lights.

As always, shipping from Subiebros was fast and the items were at my door ready to install in no time!

Subiebros F1 LED foglight and plug-and-play harness

Subiebros LED license plate lights

Subiebros LED license plate lights cont.

Rather than hang my ass out into the driveway like I did for the exhaust hangers, I smartly reversed the car into the garage and closed the bay door making for a much more comfortable working area. After reviewing Subiebro’s installation video, I laid out the tools I’d need.

Tools needed

Since their video does such a great job explaining the process, I’ll simply supplement their instructions with a few recommendations.

First, in their installation video, they say you can use a stubby phillips head for the F1 light retention screws. However, they must have some STUBBY-ass screwdrivers in their shop, because I ended up resorting to using a socket with a phillips drill bit (pictured below) for those screws.

Makeshift stubby screwdriver

Makeshift stubby screwdriver in use

Second, don’t forget to install the retaining pop clips on the sides of the provided foglight mounting bracket - I didn’t realize these were packed in with the t-taps (which I didn’t use per the plug-and-play harness). I was having trouble figuring out the alignment of the lens when I realized there must be something they used to align it front-to-back (durrr)!

Finally, I ended up using the same blanking plug they did for routing the wires. However, in order to more easily thread the wiring through, I simply dropped a piece of rope through the hole and tied everything together to pull it back through (muuuuch simpler than finagling it all by hand.

Threading the F1 light wiring

NOTE: I opted to disable the F1 flashing by simply leaving the red wire disconnected from the harness.

Last but not least, it was time to swap out the ugly factory halogen license plate lights!

This proved trickier than I anticipated for a few reasons. Not only was I unable to find any instructions for replacing the WHOLE lens (rather than just the bulb), but squeezing the lens in and out of the bumper is nigh impossible without some brute force.

I started by removing the inner trunk lid lining by popping out the four top-most clips. The lining will fold down if you release and angle the emergency trunk release handle, saving you from having to remove the lower four pop clips.

Removing half of the trunk lid lining

Removing the factory halogen bulbs was as easy as twisting the plug and pulling straight out on the bulb itself.

Removing the factory bulb

Getting the lens to release required pressing inward on the latch and then rotating the lens outwards. At this point you might have to use some force to get the lens out of the hole, so using a strip of painters tape to protect the painted edges might be advisable (I didn’t have any issues).

Removing the factory lenses

Removing the factory lenses cont.

After threading the new LED wiring through the hole, I plugged the it all in and secured the OEM harness with some velcro strips to prevent rattling.

LED wiring plugged in

Getting the LED lens into the hole requires the same delicate maneuvering as before, but be careful not to put too much pressure on the latch or you might break it… Whoops! Nothing a little super glue can’t fix!

I tried too hard...

With one of the license plate lights replaced, it’s easy to see the difference in both light output and color of the LEDs.

OEM license plate light vs LED

OEM license plate light vs LED cont.

Unfortunately, after getting the second LED lens installed, I realized it wasn’t lighting up. After some inspecting, I realized one of the terminal pins on the lens plug was shifted too far inwards, so it wasn’t making contact with the female portion of the OEM harness. A little encouragement with a small flathead screwdriver and everything was working.

LED license plate plug pins

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the difference the fog light and license plate LEDs have made to the rear end. Combined with the muffler adjustments, it really looks the way it should have from the factory!

WRX rear fog light installed

WRX license plate LEDs

After the exhaust fix, F1 light, and license plate LEDs

After the exhaust fix, F1 light, and license plate LEDs cont.

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