Front Mounted Intercooler (FMIC)
Fitting Attempt 1
The intercooler takes the hot air going through the turbo on its way to
the intake manifold and cools it down. Cool air is better for the engine and
produces more power. The standard 1.8T side mounted intercooler (SMIC) is in the front wing and is
pretty small. Airflow isn't brilliant and there is a flattened (pancake) pipe in the wheel
arch that affects airflow.
The solution to these issues is to fit a front mounted intercooler. These are
generally much larger than the stock one and get better air flow by being right
at the front of the car in the centre. This means they can cool the intake air
more efficiently giving more power, and more consistent power in warmer
temperatures or when driving enthusiastically. The disadvantage is that the car
wasn't designed with a FMIC in mind. There's room for one behind the bumper but
there are some challenges with the pipework. Many of the aftermarket kits use
the stock pipework including the pancake pipe. I didn't want to do this, I
wanted a kit that would route more directly down the right-hand side of the
FMIC kits from the big bys like
Forge, ProAlloy, ABD and others are excellent quality but are pretty expensive.
There are cheaper alternatives
available via Ebay. I thought I'd give one of these kits a go when I found one
which routed the pipes the way I wanted.
The install turned into something of a mission when I had lots of problems with
the fit. Some of the issues were because of the size of my xenon headlights -
they are deeper than the standard halogens. Some were because the kit didn't
have all of the connections I needed.
The kit arrived from China after a couple of weeks
These are what I got for instructions:
I immediately noticed a problem. The standard SMIC has a MAP sensor (for boost
pressure) and that requires a flanged connection on the pipe.
This is the connection on the kit - no flange.
I actually need two connections on this pipe, a 25mm port for my relocated DV
and the MAP sensor port. Here's the pipe next to a Forge MAP sensor pipe and a
25mm BOV adapter pipe. I thought about building a replacement for this pipe
using the other two and some bends but realised I would still have to cut them
and get the ends re-beaded. So I'm looking into local Aluminium fabricators to
attach a flange and a 25mm connection for me.
The next thing I realised is that the kit didn't include any mounting brackets,
just these lugs on the top of the intercooler core. I'll need to fabricate some
brackets and drill the lugs to be able to attach some bolts. Fun!
So the next stage is to test-fit the kit and mark where the modifications need
to be made to the above pipe.
The plan was to remove the standard SMIC, fit the FMIC and mark up the pipe that
needed to be modified.
I also found that the kit had two 2.5-3"joiners that were obviously supplied for
a different core to the one I have. Maybe that one had brackets supplied too!
My little helper:
Bumper off - lots of muck in the SMIC!
Headlight out to get to the pipes:
Old vs new:
Pipework in place:
Bench full of car bits!
This took several attempts to get the height and depth right.
Noodle helped of course!
Bumper back on. I forgot to re-connect the headlight washers - doh!
Had to chop this bit out to get the bumper to sit properly
Looks good. I've dropped off the pipe to be modded, so should be able to fit it
all properly this weekend.
Yay, the modded pipe is back!
Fitting - Attempt 1
Oil in the standard SMIC
So the fitting. At first it seemed to be going well
Then I realised that I never tested the fit with the headlight in place:
Ah well, back to the drawing board.
Here's some pics of how the pipes run on the other side
Update: Thanks to a helpful VASK
have a swaging tool!
I went out to the garage to work on this for a
morning and ended up spending nearly the whole weekend on it!
The FMIC is now plumbed in and the stock one removed, but there are some issues
and I need to spend a lot more time making it right.
First job was to re-make one of the brackets as from a distance you could see that it wasn't at all straight!
Next I flipped one of the horns over to stop it from rubbing in the pipework. I
also removed, cleaned and re-oiled my air filter.
Underneath the bumper isn't looking too hot thanks to the standard 100mm ground
clearance combined with the NZ roads and car park entrances!
I was hoping to use the pipe I paid to get modded, but in the end it wasn't
going to fit in my new configuration either so I had to chop the Forge MAP
sensor pipe and BOV pipe that I was hoping to sell on.
Finally the intake was routed down to the FMIC level
Next step, connect to the FMIC outlet
Bit of a bummer - I ended up using a bit I'd already cut off the U as an
extension piece! Measure twice, cut once.
I had a bit of a disaster when the swaging tool cracked, but my mate Al came to
the rescue and re-welded it for me.
Finally it was time to do the turbo end
I ended up removing and re-fitting the bumper half a dozen times to get it to
sit properly with the pipework and get the grilles to go in properly.
I had a bit of a "Doh!" moment when I got it all back together, then realised
that the DV connection was 30mm not 25mm as I had assumed. So I had to get a
neighbour to take me to the local car parts shop to find a suitable pipe. The
best I could find was a 30mm Isuzu radiator pipe which I adapted to fit
I couldn't find a suitable pipe anywhere in New Zealand so I ordered one from
I didn't realise until I set off somewhere that the bumper had pushed the U-pipe
backwards, making one of the hose clips rub against one of the engine pulleys!
Fortunately no damage seems to have been done and I was able to fix it
temporarily with cable ties.
So, it all has to com apart again and I have two options:
1. Route the pipework as-is but bend the U a little tighter so the pipes don't
2. I've realised one of the spare pipes will go behind the headlight. With some
trimming and re-trimming of the spare pipe and of the DV and MAP sensor
connections I think it will route that way. This is a better solution but will
take a lot longer to do. There's also no going back once I cut those DV and
sensor pipes again.
Another day with the bumper off. Sigh.
I also need to trim the pipe at the turbo end as it rattles against the strut
Why is my car covered in paw prints and small groups of five scratches?
I've adjusted the pipework at the turbo end and it sits a
lot better now:
Final Installation - done at last!
At last it's done! After lots of test fitting I decided to modify the pipework
to go behind the headlight.
While the car was up on the ramps I did an oil an filter change.
The final pipework after lots of cutting and fiddling.
Pipework in place
The fit behind the headlight was very tight. I had to trim this plastic conduit
to make it fit properly:
After that if fit perfectly
Close-up of the MAP sensor
New DV adapter pipe fitted - 30mm to 25mm elbow