View Full Version : got my st185 back from ats, here is my review

grip addict
01-23-2008, 08:05 AM
alright, background story on my car. last winter, a couple friends and i built my motor in my garage up here in kansas city. it was a stock rebuild essentially, recon head, brand new stock toyota shortblock, new pumps seals/gaskets and a 20g from ats.
after getting everything squared away, i had about 850 miles on my breakin before turning the boost up from the wastegate setting. at this point my head lifted off the block, and the ringland on #3 gave out (i know this because aaron @ ats told me there was mild scoring in the cyl, and that is what most likely caused it, i have not been told anything different since then.)
well, after thinking long and hard about it, i decided to take my car down to the folks in denton to mess with it. the work done was a rebuild +wiseco pistons, and a gt28rs, along with an ats rom tune. they also fixed the wiring and mounting on the intercooler pump, and fabbed up the dipstick tube to go with the turbo kit, as apparently it doesn't fit in the stock location. a new engine gasket kit was purchased from toyota and installed, as well. i had my intake manifold sand blaster when we were doing the first build up here, apparently some of the sand was not cleaned out, even though the place i had used specifically said they would (i had no idea there was still sand in the intake manifold, this scared the crap out of me)
they only charged me $15 for cleaning it up, even though aaron said they spent a good amount of time messing with it. i think that's it, minus all the necessities that come with building your motor like oil coolant and such.
note- when i took the car down it had no turbo, ex manifold, or downpipe on it.

one more tidbit. i dropped the car off the first weekend in august, and picked it up jan 12. i spoke with aaron on the phone and via email, they told me originally that my car should be done by the new year. i sent aaron an email on dec 10, asking them how far along they were and if they would be done by christmas, as i was going to houston to visit family and would have easily stopped by and picked up my car if it was done. aaron told me on the 19th that the short block was done, the longblock was being built that day, and it should be on a lift the following day. the car should have been done by christmas so i was going to stop by.
well- my trip got cancelled on the 20th, so i emailed aaron and told him that i would pick up the car jan 12.
well, i called them on jan 8th to make sure the trip was a go, and they didn't even have the motor in the car yet. they were able to get it done and completed by thurs the 10th, so the trip was still a go.
would have sucked if i would have just shown up though, i wish i would have received an email or at least a phone call telling me to hold off on the trip down.

here are pics of the work done

now, the intercooler mounting job. i like the way they did it. clean and quick. in one of his emails, aaron says that they spent 4 hours on it, only charged me 2.3 though. i'm not sure why he cut some of that time off, but i won't argue....


now onto the throttle body inlet. they cut this down so it would fit with my 185rc intercooler. i originally had the ic mounted a bit further back- it would have been nice if the inlet was beaded though. i am going to have to get that done this week, it is really difficult to get a clamp to stay on there well without slipping off the bottom.


now i have the ic mounted a bit different due to them moving it back, but then i started to have some problems. first, you can see that the bov has a groove worn into it. it was in this condition when i picked up the car from the shop. the groove is the one i have circled at the front, the other groove was already existing.


i noticed my the "bullet" part of my bov was loose and rattling as soon as i had left the shop and went to the local gas station to fill up. about an hour into my trip later my car started hesitating really bad. we didn't figure it out until we got back home( and thank goodness we made it), but it turns out that it was leaking air because of being loose.

why was it loose? well you can see in the following pic where it had been rubbing against the hood. this spot on the hood was existing when i took the car to tx, and is to blame for the other indention on the back part of the bov

i'm guessing that the vibrations and torque of the motor moving are what caused this groove to wear. not only did my bov have a new mark in it, but this had also caused some of the screws that hold it together to come out, prohibiting it from sealing and causing it to leak air. the screws indicated are missing and i can not find them anywhere...
all of the screws attached were found extremely loosewhen this was discovered.

*note, i am getting a better pic of the screws missing, this one didn't turn out well

pic of the dipstick mount- it's held on by one of the oil cooler screws. it's clean, you hardly notice it's there, and it is alot easier to check the oil now. this was well done.

ats did a couple of mods without telling me or my approval. first, my coolant lines that go to the bottom of the throttle body to heat during the winter were bypassed. secondly, my fuel pump and injector resistor packs were bypassed. there is just a tap functioning as a bridge on the connectors. aaron said that the packs were faulty, i still wish i would have been notified of the change, instead of discovering taps in my engine bay.

along with the taps, i found zip ties. no sense in seeing every pic here, click if you like. on the first one, i am going to have to cut those and remount the wiring box correctly if i ever want to take the rad out.
there should have been enough clamps in the trunk to use instead, and i wouldn't have minded paying extra for the proper clamps to be installed.
one here on the wastegate line on the turbo

now take a look at my fuel filter. i've included a couple of pics, but it's very easy to move by hand, it is held secure by the bracket at all. it looks like the bolt that threads through the back that tightens the clamp is missing.

ah, found this not connected. not a biggie, but for the money i spent, i was expecting there to be more attention to detail.
on the topic of detail, it would have been nice if tbolt clamps had been installed on my car. i'm not asking for them for free, but i don't expect 18 psi to be kind to the worm drive clamps that were in the trunk.

here is another mod that was done without my knowledge. for the record, anytime i asked aaron about anything he was upfront and honest about it. for everything that was done though, i wouldn't expect to have to ask though. when the car was dropped off, this was in the stock setup (pcv vented to the pipe) afterwards, there was a breather filter.

no cruise control installed. the modulator was in the trunk when i dropped the car off. i guess they didn't want to put it back on.

guess it's not a very good pic, due to the nature of the fluid i imagine it would be a hard pic to take, but my clutch fluid was black as soot. i'm going to need to bleed that. my brakes are also spongy, i need to bleed those too. i do not know if they even touched my brakes or not, but it still would have been nice if this was taken care of when i picked my car up. i was driving the car back 8 home for 8 hours, after all.

this grommet- i'm not even sure what it is, but i found it sitting on the tranny

now i don't have a pic, and i really can't accurately depict it, but in okc i found out i was loosing a good amount of oil. over a quart was gone by this point. after some inspection, and a call to aaron, it was decided that my dizzy seal was leaking oil. i have confirmed this up here by removing the cap, and burning myself on some of the oil.

these last pics are the ones that bug me the most. when i took off the intercooler, i found this-
not only is either the wrong gasket installed, or installed upside down, but one of my ex man studs was completely loose. i was able to take it out with my bare fingers alone. i want to take a closer look, but it didn't look like antiseize had been used on the studs. definately not on the spark plugs.

i really do think that they didn't test drive my car enough, or didn't notice the problems when they did. i also think, judging from what i found, that the car was rushed. i know this to be true, since they didn't have it done when i called them before my trip, but there was still an extra day they could have worked on it before me coming down (it was done thurs and i was coming down sat morn)
i will definately thank aaron for meeting me at the shop early on sat, he looked like we had woken him up from his sleep. they did have alot of cool cars and projects he showed off in the shop, too. i'm not saying anything bad or hateful about ats, i just wish their communication and attention to detail was a little more refined. i sent aaron an email regarding the bov, we'll see what he says on that
-dan mcg

01-23-2008, 08:21 AM
Very interesting. I'm sort of curious to how much money you spent. I wonder how much money you have to drop before your better taken care of. For anything over 2k dollars, I would've expected some simple green and a hose down to clean things up a bit.

Sorry to hear about this man.

01-23-2008, 08:24 AM
BTW: I think the manifold gasket is normal, the 9 bolt can be used on the 7 bolts without a problem, I believe thats pretty standard. The bolt falling out though, that, is not.

grip addict
01-23-2008, 08:27 AM
For anything over 2k dollars, I would've expected some simple green and a hose down to clean things up a bit.

well, i should specify that this pic was taken after the car had seen two days of road travel, one of which involved some snow up here in kc. it didn't look that bad when i picked it up, however they hadn't done any cleaning on it either.

01-23-2008, 08:29 AM
edit :bigthumbu

01-23-2008, 08:32 AM
Though, what was your expectations when you dropped the car off? Did you tell them to just get it back on the road, or did you tell them to get shit done right, dont worry about the money/time.

grip addict
01-23-2008, 08:33 AM
oh and sean, i do believe they are interchangable between 7 and 9 stud manifolds, but the gasket that was on there originally (and went down with the car ) was a 7 stud. i don't want extra stuff just hanging out, ya know.

grip addict
01-23-2008, 08:38 AM
Though, what was your expectations when you dropped the car off? Did you tell them to just get it back on the road, or did you tell them to get shit done right, dont worry about the money/time.

option b. one of the problems was that i was talking to three different guys- matt, scott and aaron. i know scott and aaron are co-owners, but the latter seemed to be the one running the show. at least on my project, anyways.
if i was worried about money, i would have done it myself. i'd probably be with another broken motor though lol
let me put it this way- when i first dropped off the car and talked to matt, i told him to not worry about the clock and do it right.

01-23-2008, 03:02 PM
I don't want it to seem like we are in teh habit of attacking customers, but everything except the exhaust stud/nut listed in Dan's post is not ATS's fault. We do incredible work and if anyone had seen the condition that all-trac was in when it was dropped of they would consider us miracle workers.

1 - BOV problems. a) you don't have the complete setup for that intercooler, we did the best we could to securely mount it. b) you don't have the right hood for that intercooler. The correct hood has more room as the front of the intercooler. c) the BOV is welded onto the IC at a poor angle. All work not done by ATS.

2. The fuel filter problem you supplied a photo of was not work done by ATS. We didn't replace the fuel filter. I presume either you or the previous owner did. But thanks for trying to blame us.

3. You dropped the car off in August. We were extremely busy then. We had it torn down and sent you an estimate about late September. We received the deposit on your work in November and the work started then.

4. We have more than one car in the shop at a time, usually about 4-5 are getting worked on and another 3 or so are waiting their turn. When you called and said we needed to be done by Christmas we tried to complete it by that date. But when you said it would be another 2 weeks after that before you could pick it up we moved on to another car. It might sound harsh, but some of the cars at ATS are the only vehicle for our customers. So if one customers calls and says he won't be able to get his car for two weeks and we know another customer is borrowing rides until his car is done well we see it as an opportunity to help out the stranded customer.

5. You car was running on the Tuesday before you picked it up, and we test drove it on Wednesday and again on Thursday. We dyno'd it on Friday. You test drove the car twice before picking it up. You had over an hour to inspect the car before picking it up. Now you claim you found problems at the gas station 1 mile from ATS, but you didn't come back to ATS?

6. The car was delivered to ATS in half disassembled/non running condition. You have ripped out the A/C, A/C lines, power steering pump, power steering lines, etc. Considering how much was removed from the car, we didn't guess you wanted the cruise control installed. I wish you had mentioned it while you were at ATS.

7. The crimp connector is installed on the fuel pump resistor pack because your resistor pack is defective. You car will not run without the resistor pack bypassed.

8. Your injector resistor pack is not bypassed. Your car needs that to run.

9. The exhaust manifold gasket is not upside down. It's a 1993 gasket. It has the extra spot for the additional bolts on the 1993 head/manifolds. It fits the 1991 manifolds/heads just fine.

10. Your brakes weren't touched.

11. Your clutch hydraulics weren't touched. By removing the slave cylinder while it was still attached to the line we didn't need to open the system.

12. I am very sorry about the loose stud. I don't know if it left ATS that way (I doubt it since the car had no exhaust leaks). Any 3SGTE owners either have or will deal with exhaust stud issues.

13. There are numerous things we fixed or adjusted on your car that do not show up on your bill. For example when I pulled your ECU to install the new chip for the GT28RS all the ECU mounting brackets were loose. Whoever had worked on this car previously has just left them dangling off the ECU.

Dan McGarry you got exactly what you paid for. It's invoiced on your bill. You will notice there are no items on there for brakes, clutch fluid/bleeding the clutch, installing or selling a BOV or fuel filter. Those were pre-existing problems that were we not asked to fix.

Once Dan's deposit was received the car took approximately 60 days to complete. Dan scheduled a pickup on Jan. 12th. ATS had the car running on Jan, 8th. We test drove it on Jan 9 and 10 and dyno'd it on Jan. 11th. Dan test drove the car at least twice (took friends for rides) before picking it up. Delivery of the car took about 2 hours since Dan wanted to install new wheels/tires since his old ones weren't safe....and he wonder's why we didn't test drive his car more?

The car did make 280whp at 18 psi on a GT28RS though. We dyno'd it in 2wd mode, NOT RECOMMENDED but Dan agreed to accept any liability for drivetrain damage.

Would you like me to send you a new exhaust stud and nut?


01-23-2008, 03:55 PM
Nice clarification ATS!
:bigthumbu :bigthumbu :bigthumbu

01-23-2008, 04:46 PM
Nice clarification ATS!
:bigthumbu :bigthumbu :bigthumbu

I hope you're kidding

01-23-2008, 10:05 PM
im not taking sides in this. my friend ben pearce had his car built at ats, 92 mr2 turbo. They did an outstanding job. Although hes been plauged with a few probs, none of which were major. The exhaust studs, shit happens a heat cycle will loosen a fresh stud. anything. thats nothing major. 5 min later , bam fixed. At work if the customer doesnt say they want it fixed we dont. we do as asked. If you didnt ask him to fix your brakes and such, why would they. That would be like you mowing someones lawn although they only asked you to fix there plumbing. now if you went in there and said fix it. no money restraints, no time restaints that would be differnt. Im please with ats work on bens car, his engine has had 0 probs, besides the ocasional loose Downpipe bolt. no biggie.

01-23-2008, 10:37 PM
Thanks Andy.

I hope I didn't come off as totally mad at Dan. More like hurt. We spent LOTS of time on Dan's car. I can't tell you how many miles Scott walked back and forth to the bolt bin to replace all the missing or incorrect fasteners on Dan's car.

Dan - we still want to know what we can do to make you a happy customer.


01-23-2008, 11:13 PM
From reading the post an ATS's response, I don't believe some of these things can truly be attributed to ATS.

At the same time, I am curious how much was spent. Whatever the break down of the bill an said services, I'm sure there is a certain amount of cleanliness in expectation that comes along with the total price tag as it gets larger.

With that said.. ATS could have done you a lot of favors for a small price.. thats unknown. I don't see anywhere how much was spent, an honestly.. thats for the better! The internet as a whole doesn't need to know what you spent, thats between you an ATS.

I also feel that Aaron is being a great sport about it, curious.. did you email him these pictures an concerns before posting it on the public messageboard? Now don't get me wrong either.. I'm not taking sides.

I do think it is in the best interest of ATS not to release a car in that state. One good thing they could do to curb these kinds of latter reactions is to come up with a simple 20 spot inspection form before they release a car. A simple three way box and indicator of service would be created.. for instance..

1. Brakes system - Serviced / Not Serviced - Good - Moderate - Needs Repair
Optional comments:

2. Clutch hydrolic system - Serviced / Not Serviced - Good - Moderate - Needs Repair
Optional comments:

Then just circle either serviced or not, and the quick inspection of good, moderator or needs repair. Any further comments could be left.

Though, I wouldn't expect ATS to do this kind of thing for a couple of reasons:

A. Because they don't need to inspect or service what they're not being requested to work on.
B. Because the customer should be aware of what work IS being done, after all.. they are purchasing the parts/service.

If ATS were to adopt that kind of service an form, that would mean man hours off the wrenches an I would consider a standard shop administration fee to be assessed to EVERY vehicle that comes into the shop to perform that kind of assessment. Say.. 40.. 50 bucks?

Now I would really hope they wouldn't have to start doing that.. but at the same time, I'm sure ATS does not want to be associated with the rigged kind of work that was initially presented as theirs. This might be a great way for them to separate themselves from such claims.. just pull the form, scan.. post. Done.

Ultimately.. this is not about work, quality or money. Its expectation. The other categories follow after expectation. It doesn't sound like it was made very clear the expectation that was desired by the customer. An again, I would have to say.. ATS wouldn't want to be associated with that kind of work.. it probably would have been best to contact the customer an say 'Hey.. this blow off valve flange that was already welded on.. isn't at a good angle, do you wish for us to leave it? Or fix that?' Again though, that really shouldn't be a responsibility of ATS to do.. you know what you provided and what was done by them an not.

I hope that this unfortunate situation is resolved, as I'm sure it will be. ATS has always presented quality parts an quality built cars. Grip Addict, I understand your concerns.. an maybe the manifold stud I can justify, that shouldn't happen an I don't think every 3SGTE owner will encounter this issue throughout their tenure of 3SGTE'dom.. I do all my own work, I've never had this problem. It truly does sound like things were busy, cars where coming in, plans an deadlines were changing an this resulted in a few things falling between the cracks, obviously nothing that can't be fixed! It sounds like your dyno went well and the hp figures were right on! I'm also sure that Aaron an ATS will do everything to fix those cracks that might have surfaced an meet the expectations you have.

Good luck.

01-23-2008, 11:59 PM
I agree with Clayton 100%.

It seems like a lack of communication between you two. I'm sure this will be resolved.

01-24-2008, 06:24 PM
yah +)

04-09-2008, 04:02 PM
I would like to hear a resolution on this as to (hopefully) clear up the name of Celicatech's well-respected sponsor and vendor, ATS.

This definitely reflects lack of communication, and I do not place any blame on ATS. I have had studs come lose on my 3SGTE several times after using correct torque specs.

I will offer this advice... After personally owning and running a shop for 6 years, we did what was on the work order and ONLY what was on the work order. We kept a number where we were guaranteed immediate access to our customer for approval on any and all deviations from the work order. This protects everyone involved. Taking this simple precaution (be sure to log the number, date, and time each call was made and th topic of the call) keeps you out of small claims court and problems like these arising. See... we did this kind of stuff in the beginning, until our good deeds actually backfired by fixing something that we were not paid to touch that eventually went bad. We had to cover the repair. Not cool. Also, I suggest to ATS to keep a complete list of everything you do extra and everything you add extra. Point out the cost of what you did, and then have a column next to it where you can enter NC (no charge). It gives the customers a feel good when they know just how much they got for free out of the deal. Sure, we, as vendors, charge enough of a mark up on our stuff so that it cover miscellaneous shop/labor expenses. Do yourself a favor and document all of them.

I bet that had this guy know about all the other things you corrected, he would have considered himself lucky to get away with not paying as much. Then again, the amount you charged is unknown. Maybe he expected it because of that, but being that so many people work on the 3sgte now, I am sure you were fair.