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Showing posts from February, 2007

MkIV R32 vs. MkV R32

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A week or so ago I received an e-mail from VWoA encouraging me to pre-order a MkV R32. After filling out an online form a list of local VW dealerships will be provided. However, you haven't actually "reserved" a MkV R32 until you stop by a dealership and place a deposit. Since the MkV R32 doesn't reach U.S. shores until August 2007, I'm guessing in the mean time eager buyers will be inundated with e-mails from local VW dealerships.

Anywhoo, while I'm glad VW is continuing to produce new "R" vehicles, there's not a significant enough improvement for me to seriously consider trading in my MkIV R32 for a MkV....

As I've mentioned in previous posts (MkV R32 in August 2007) the MkV has the same 250-hp engine as the MkIV, will be offered only with a DSG tranmission, but does have bi-xenon headlights. Perhaps VW is just trying to take advantage of the positive buzz from the MkIV, but I suspect relatively few MkIV R32 owners will trade in for a MkV.…

The moon on Feb 27, 2007

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In between snow flurries, the sky turned clear last night and I had a chance to bring out the 10" Dobsonian telescope we bought for Christmas....


I was outside for several hours without a jacket and didn't realize how cold it was (hovering just below freezing) until after I went back into the house. My fingers had frozen numb. At one time when my kids were going to bed they came out to say goodnight and saw me trying to get shots of the telescope. I told them I was trying to get some pictures of the moon, but my wife later told me they were a little bit worried about me: "Mommy, mommy--Daddy's lying on the ground!!!"

All the pictures I took were hand-held, although for the long exposures I had to prop the camera with one hand on a little table so that it could lean against the telescope tube, all the while holding the telescope with my other hand so that it wouldn't move on the Dobsonian mount.



The moon was quite bright so it hid all but the brightest stars. In…

VW R32: Sunday snow

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Last weekend a snow storm dumped 4-5 inches in a matter of hours. I decided to take the R out for a spin and some pictures....


I have to say that on this day the R handled the snow with great aplomb. Unfortunately, snow plows aplenty and shoppers not so much prevented me from being too obvious about exploring the R's handling. Oh well.





When I got back home I noticed that the heat from the engine had made some patterns in the snow:



Anywhoo, a few more pics from my Sunday fun can be found here.

VW R32: Glanz Wax--new and improved

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In December 2006 Einszett came out with a new formulation of their Glanz Wax; Einszett was kind enough to send me a free sample and I've been looking for a chance to try it out....

Salt and ice



Because of the cold weather we've been having and my adamant refusal to use automated car washes the R32 has been suffering under the salt and dirt for past three and a half months. Three days ago there was a fortuitous blip in the temperature and I rushed home from work so that I could wash the R before the light disappeared. The last part didn't work out so well but I was determined to wash and wax the R before the weather returned to sub-zero temperatures--as forecast--the following day.

I have to say that I think the new Glanz Wax is an improvement. It's a little more viscous than the old--making it less easy to spill/waste--and I think it looks just as good if not better; the new formula also brings out the metallic flecks in the paint more than the old one did. Anyway,…

1st recall for the MkIV R32

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This morning when I went in to have my CD player/radio replaced (see Getting my music back, part II) I was told there was a recall for the 2004 R32.

The recall was for the brake light switch. Although I haven't had any problems I've read of other R32 owners needing to replace the switch. Enough people have had difficulties with it that the symptoms of a faulty brake light switch are described in the R32 FAQ. Faulty brake light switches are not exclusive to the R32. MkIV Golfs and Jettas have had a recall for this same issue for quite a while. It's disappointing that it took so long for VW to include the R32 in the recall.

You can click here for a copy of the recall notice from the NHTSA. Briefly, a faulty switch can cause the brake lights to activate by themselves causing the cruise control to cut out and--because the R32 has a DBW throttle--cut the throttle, as well.

Anywhoo, it was serendipitous timing that the part for replacing my CD player only arrived after the re…

VW R32: Getting my music back, part II

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It took a while, but a few days ago I received a call telling me that the part King VW had ordered on my behalf had arrived (see Getting my music back).

I'm relieved to say that today's trip to the dealership was much more efficient compared to the last. First, they were able to do this on a Saturday. Second, I was in and out in 90 minutes. Hurrah!

Unfortunately, my quest for a satisfactory VW service department is still ongoing. The elevation lever for the driver's seat is acting oddly--it still works, but now there's more play in it than I remember it having. I'm going to have Pro-Imports look at it. Taking the R in to VW service for a relatively inexpensive (I hope!) repair is not worth the stress of wondering whether the R will come out in better condition than it went in, regardless of whether or not it's covered under warranty.

Oops. I almost forgot to mention that the OEM CD player is a Panasonic (part no. PAN-AS9-999).

WRX in snow

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We woke up to snow on the ground yesterday morning, so I took my Subie out for a picture....



That of course is the 1:24 WRX model I bought. While everyone had only rain, because of our elevation we received a couple centimeters so the Burgman had to remain parked. Even though most of it melted by evening, it was snowing again last night and this morning.

The CAR [directory] 車 Blog - Black and blue

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A photo that I took last summer was recently posted on the CAR [directory] 車 Blog which features automotive photos from that Flickr group.


The CAR [directory] 車 Blog - Black and blue

The other blue Subaru belongs to crashfx, one of the local VIC guys I cruised down to Seattle with.

VW R32: Broken tail light

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A few days ago when I was stuck in the snow I noticed that my driver's side tail light wasn't working. As if I needed even more stress, eh?

I'm always annoyed when I see automobiles on the road with malfunctioning lights so I wanted to get this fixed as soon as possible....

Unfortunately, I could find nothing in the owner's manual about what type light bulbs are in the R. Fortunately, I'd accessed the tail light assembly previously when I was installing my 5-brake light mod so any stress due to not knowing what I was doing was absent.

After removing the driver's side panel in the hatch...

1. Unplug wiring harness (actually, unless you need more room you can skip this step).
2. Press both clips inward to pull out the light bulb holder.


If you flip the holder over this is what you see...


...and the tail light bulb is the third from the top. The bulb you need is R10W or 5008. I was hoping to find a "Long lasting" version similar to what I used for the 5-b…

VW R32: Resistance is futile

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For the past several weeks the Washington DC area has been too cold to wash my ride...

... so the R has been subject to gratuitous amounts of salt, as you can see in the picture. The best I can do is rinse the R off at a DIY carwash to try to get the salt off--but as soon as I drive off it's quickly covered once again. The only silver-lining is my hope that the cold temperatures are rendering the salt inert.

Anywhoo, here's a pic I took after a quick rinse--the ice formed within a minute or two:


VW R32: Stuck?!

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Old Man Winter, 1 : R32, 0.

There's been winter storm warnings for the Washington DC area since yesterday and over to today. Predictions were for snow and sleet, but I wasn't too worried since the R had handled last winter's major snow with flying (and fun!) colours:

February 2006

Unfortunately, early this morning I discovered the R doesn't do nearly as well when there's a half-inch to an inch of ice beneath the snow. I managed to drive about 10-15 feet before becoming stuck.

February 2007

I ended up having to wait for my side streets to be cleared. Of course, once they were done I discovered I'd been blocked in by a pile of snow. Gee, thanks! Anywhoo, I cleared away the snow as best I could, turned off the ESP, and made several attempts before I was able to reach the cleared section of the road.

By that time it was 4pm and I decided it wasn't worth it to head to work (Shhh, Don't tell my boss!). It took me several attempts to get back into my par…

VW R32: Haldex maintenance

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With my next regular service approaching I contacted VW Customer Care for clarification as to when I should be changing the R's Haldex oil and filter....

My confusion as to when Haldex servicing is recommended was due to the consensus on VWvortex as well as this article from Volkswagen Driver magazine (March 2004)--where both say that the Haldex oil should be changed every 20k miles, and the Haldex filter every 40k--and the VWoA maintenance schedule which says they both should be changed every 40k.

VW Customer Care returned my call, today, and although the VW representative couldn't explain the article, she assured me that both the Haldex oil and filter should be changed every 40k miles. I'll follow the official VWoA recommendation, then, but I still have some nagging doubts. At least my inquiry is on my record should any relevant issues appear in the future.

You can find further information on maintaining the Haldex by following this link.

The 7-52 Daily Photo

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I started a new blog strictly for pictures of the STI. My goal is to post one picture of my 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The 7-52 Daily Photo

This version of this photo blog is also
hosted at IWSTI.

A Gonzo Blog Carnival - It's a FREE FOR ALL!

I participated in my first Blog Carnival hosted by Kilroy_60. I had never heard of them before he mentioned them to me....

The basic concept is that bloggers submit posts to the "host" which are then compiled and "hosted" on his or her site. This gives everyone the opportunity to visit new blogs and create more exposure for their own. Carnivals may be on a particular topic or them, or in this case, a free for all.

A Gonzo Blog Carnival - It's a FREE FOR ALL!

PS2 / GT4 on HDTV (LG 37LC2D-UE): composite vs. component video

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I can see clearly now!


I finally got our new LG 37LC2D-UE LCD television into it's permanent spot in our bedroom and connected all the wires I could to get the best picture possible....

At first I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have enough of the correct inputs because I don't have a full blown home theater receiver. Our reciever only has audio inputs. The TV itself has two HDMI inputs, but I don't have any devices using HDMI. Component video (colour is separated into 3 different signals) was the best that I would be able to do. However, the TV only had two component inputs and with the 400-disc DVD changer, DVD/HD PVR, and the Sony PS2, I needed three inputs.

Luckily, after finding this very helpful article by George Graves, "Getting More From Your HDTV" I was able to make it work without spending much more additional money. Since I already had a standard video switch box, the only new cable that I had to buy was a new component video output cable for our So…

To the idiot in the white Neon....

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To the idiot in the white Neon yesterday afternoon on Pinetree Way....

...please don't pass another vehicle on a double-solid line in a blind downhill curve in a construction zone into on-coming traffic.

I don't like looking at Neons normally anyway, but having you aim straight at me when I'm on my bike is not the kind of thing I like to see after a day of work.

Messages in advertising

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Recently I came across some Volkswagen advertisements for the R32--I can make an educated guess as to which of them are for the '04 or '08 models, but I can't say for certain. Anywhoo, I amused myself by trying to puzzle out exactly what the ads were trying to say...


Beyond the obvious goal--promoting the R32's existence--it took me a few moments to decipher what VW was trying to say in the ad below:

Part of the difficulty, for me, was my initial reluctance to look too closely at the animal--my first impression (which hasn't changed) was that it's pretty darned ugly so why would I want to take a closer look? Anywhoo, I overcame my reluctance and quickly recognized the sheep fur. Ahhh... "Wolf in sheep's clothing" was my conclusion regarding what the ad was saying. Still, I've seen better looking and more recognizable wolves than that.

Here's one that I find more difficult to figure out:


Why is the bus so truncated? Is it a shout-out to …

MkV R32 in August 2007

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It's finally official. The 2008 MkV Golf R32 will start appearing at United States dealerships in August 2007. Reserve yours now!

VWoA announced today the R32's return at the Chicago Auto Show....

The R32’s power comes from a 3.2 L naturally aspirated 15-degree narrow angle V6 engine. With 250 horsepower and 236 ft. lbs. of torque, the R32 is all muscle. The standard 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system transfers at least 75 percent of available torque to the rear wheels. Volkswagen’s acclaimed DSG® transmission allows for seamless gear changes and accelerates from 0-60 in approximately 6.4 seconds....

Current GTI and R32 owners will be notified of the opening of an R32 micro-site on www.vw.com, concurrent with today’s introduction. An R32 prospect will complete a purchase interest form, thereby generating an R32 Certificate. The first 850 people who present an R32 Certificate along with a deposit to an authorized Volkswagen dealer, will be able to secure one of the first R32 vehic…

About Stargazer's Garage

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UPDATE: The STI has been SOLD! Our new family-mobile, also known as "The Beast" is now a 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali.
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Stargazer's Garage started as an online shrine to my Volkswagen Passat that I affectionately called "Dixie"--named after the air horns I installed on her in her glory days.

Since then it has evolved into a site where I've kept track of my experiences and adventures with all the vehicles I've owned after Dixie. I guess my obsession rubbed off a little on R32Argent who moved to Washington, DC and bought a VW R32. Of course that made me jealous because R32's are not available in Canada. That's why I bought a Subaru Impreza WRX STI :0)

Anyway, both R32Argent and I are here now and you'll find us blogging about our rides. But do please excuse me if I stray off-topic once in a while:0)

Sony PSP: Podcasts and vodcasts

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The last time I mentioned my new Sony PlayStation Portable, I talked about homebrew and downgrading the system software. The problem with downgrading to an older version is that you lose the new features and capabilities that Sony has introduced in the newest versions. That is, unless you run an emulator :0)


One of the features that sold me on the PSP was the built-in Wi-Fi. With that, I am able to surf the web whenever I have access to an available hot spot. My PSP originally came with version 2.71 software which also gave me the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds. Since I subscribe to several RSS feeds (see my Blogroll on the sidebar) I was disappointed when I found out that the PSP didn't support text feeds.

It does, however, support streaming audio feeds--podcasts--so that's been a lot of fun. Plus, with the latest 3.3 update which I'm emulating, it also supports video podcasts (vodcasts). The vodcasts must be saved to the memory stick first before viewing, but there'…

2007 Riding Season

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I took the Suzuki Burgman for the first ride of the year today. I'm glad to say that after sitting parked for a couple of months, it started without a problem last night when I checked it out....


I haven't been on the bike for so long because as my wife's pregnancy progressed, she was unable to fit into her motorcycle jacket. That meant dropping her off at the station with four wheels. Then it was the Christmas holidays and we got all that snow and ice--which made me love the Subaru even more! Over the last couple of days the weather has warmed up (high of 8° C) even though it's damp and foggy, so I decided that I would get back on the Burgman.

Being back on the scooter I have to be extra careful about being seen and I always scan each intersection before I enter it. I wish I could say that about other drivers. The worst ones are the people who are making a right turn on a red light or stop sign, who don't stop. Just as bad are the ones who see you coming and insist …

Subaru STI - 16648 km - Switch to synthetic oil

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When we had our last big dump of snow last month, it took me almost two hours to get from Coquitlam to south Vancouver. The purpose of the trip was for the third oil change for the Subie. Because I was a little late on the last one, I decided to do this one a little early. On top of that I also decided to make the switch to synthetic oil....

The dealership I go to recently closed the service shop they had in Coquitlam. They sent out a letter to it's customers and offered 2 free oil changes as well as free courtesy cars from their Vancouver location. I couldn't take advantage of the free car because I was on a short timeline but they did give me a discount on the synthetic oil. Overall, it cost me $52.60 for the switch to Castrol Syntec 5-30.

I'm really happy about the service from Don Docksteader. Over the years I've learned to lower my expectations at other dealerships, but I'm always pleasantly surprised that there aren't any new problems or concerns after pick…

Some '04 VW Golf R32 history

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The first time I heard of the 2004 Volkswagen Golf R32 was in March 2004 while looking around in the forums at VWvortex. The posts I read were all positive and excited about the R32's impending (some areas received it earlier than others) arrival and although I took what I read with a grain of salt--given that Vortex is populated by VW enthusiasts, after all--their collective enthusiasm was still enough to peak my interest.

I was happy and satisfied with my 2003 1.8T GTI but I thought, hey, I don't have important plans this weekend, maybe I'll see if I can test drive a R32. And that, as the saying goes, was all she wrote. In a matter of days my 11-month old GTI was trade-in history and I was re-learning how to drive a manual.

What was it about the R that appealed to me? Well, ignoring the obvious 4-Motion AWD, I'd have to say that it was the fact that the R came out of the box with everything I'd been planning on doing to my GTI, and more so. Better engine and s…

Answer to a burning question...

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Occasionally when someone unfamiliar with the R32 asks me how much it cost they get a surprised and/or shocked expression when I tell them MSRP was a little over $30,000 (incl. destination charges). You paid *that* much for a Golf!?

So compared to a 1.8T GTI, what 'extras' do you get for $30k? Here is one R32 owner's response (from VWvortex) to that burning question....

The question you should ask is where can you buy a $30,000 German car with a 3.2L V6, 240hp and AWD?

The HID's are the only thing that "didn't" make it here in the end. DSG was never a guarantee and probably would have added cost above the base price. Climatronic will be on the U.S. spec cars as will heated seats regardless of whether you choose leather or cloth.

So over a standard 20th Anniversary GTI you are getting:

- Haldex AWD - $1750 additional on Audi's
- 3.2l VR6 with 240hp - Not a cheap engine by any stretch with the ridiculously complicated 4v head
- Bigger brakes up front
- Climat…

2004 VW Golf R32 information update

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I recently uploaded some additional information on the R32 on my website and I thought I'd post direct links here at Stargazer's Garage. I took most of the information found in the following links from VWvortex and just applied some minor editing and cleaned it up a little.

1) R32 FAQ.

2) Some available performance mods for the R32 and their power gains.

3) Differences between the 2004 R32 U.S. model and the European MkIV R32.

4) Strange sounds the R32 makes.

5) R32 and other VW colour codes.