Here is my review of Kaizen Tuning
It has been a very long year..... my cars motor blew before last summer and I took it too Kaizen to install. Once they started working on it, it wasn't too long before it was done, however lots of extra parts got bought that were probably unnecessary however much I may enjoy some of them. The first time I sat down with Scott to discuss a build, I wanted to go for reliability, so we put together a small build within a budget of 10k, forged internals, sti turbo, intake, downpipe etc, nothing too too fancy. They moved their shop, understandable files get lost, so my original invoice disappeared and we started a new one which turned into a 13000 dollar invoice with all sorts of go fast mods and instead of doing all forged internals, we just did pistons, I probably should have spoken up but was told this was how everything was gonna work just right.
After a few months I received my car back with a base tune, of course they had forgotten (or maybe neglected?) to install gauges into my car that I had asked to have installed, so now I have an aftermarket turbo with no boost gauge installed, wonderful right? So I putt around for a week and a half or so until my engine is broken in, within that first week a turbo oil line blows. It gets fixed free of charge to me and low and behold a week later it blows again. This proceeded to happen 12 more times until finally the service manager ( who is not the brightest of the bunch) said “uh derrr lets get flex lines” ( about time right?) which they then charged me for the parts after I WENT THROUGH 12 WEEKS OF DRIVING BACK AND FORTH 40 MINUTES EVERY WEEK LOSING OIL LIKE CRAZY. Oh ya, they also never top off the oil every time.
The car gets on the dyno after the break in period and they fail to notice that my headers are leaking, as is my up pipe, the tuner does an open source tune because no one told him I wanted a Cobb and pro tune even though I was charged for it on my invoice, not his fault really but the tune seemed diabolical, codes left and right, because of the exhaust leaks the ECU kept changing the parameters around, throwing all sorts of codes, running like shit. So Finally I buy headers and fuel injectors since I was told I absolutely needed them. I bought agency power headers and up pipe which I thought were reputable but apparently they weren't (don’t buy from these guys, they will rip you off). Kaizen had some fitment issues with my up pipe but instead of telling me about it they proceed to weld the up pipe, twist the whole pipe around, warp my flange, take 6 hours to install and charged me 1200 bucks. So later after my headers and up pipe are very warped, agency power refuses to do anything because Kaizen modified their parts. Funny this happened and no one asked me if that was OK, I would have had them throw the stock up pipe back in and let me order a different up pipe that actually fit. So they throw in a free access port after I eat having a rental car (I am under 25, this is expensive). The car runs a little better with the Cobb and no leaks, however a month later my headers are leaking at the flanges and my up pipe is extremely warped because of Kaizen. So I buy Tomei headers from them which I also paid to have installed, which they still claimed to have fitment issues. What happens every week since then? The header to up pipe gasket blows for no reason. The car continuously has issues with the tune, throwing codes over-boosting all the time, just not running right, but it seems they still can’t figure out whats wrong. At this point the radiator and hoses had also blown, they ate the cost of a nice radiator but I had to pay for hoses. They blew my radiator after they installed the hoses the first time because their mechanic did something wrong and my car almost overheated and blew up.
So in the meantime I am fixing up my suspension, I had 2 bad ball joints causing a really bad clunk, it took Kaizen over a month to diagnose my ball joint noise, the service manager kept telling me it was a strut and I should just order one and replace it, he didn't actually drive the car to diagnose, one of the guys at the front desk had to tell him to freaking test drive my car AND THIS IS THE SERVICE MANAGER! So they figure out whats wrong and I take the car to my friend to fix the ball joints so they don’t charge me up the ass. I had them also install an anti lift kit, which during install they left my ABS wires unbolted hanging freely in the wheel well. I also had them install a master cylinder brace and as soon as I got in the car I felt horrible vibration coming from my clutch pedal, so I started to freak out, but I realized it was the master cylinder brace pressing against my inter-cooler piping, how do you not notice this? It made a horrible noise every time the engine flexed, HORRIBLE and caused the whole clutch assembly to vibrate, I don’t understand how the mechanic who installed this, didn't notice the vibration when driving my car out of the shop. My girlfriend luckily found a solution and we put some foam padding in between the brace and the piping, problem solved.
A few weeks later my down-pipe to mid pipe gasket keeps blowing, so I buy a cat back exhaust to relieve some pressure and throw her back on the dyno for a new tune for the spring. They tune my car to 350 wheel, which is pushing it A LOT, and this is my daily driver. While they tune my car, they fail to notice that my waste gate is most likely stuck closed and also they did notice I had yet another blown header to up pipe gasket but they proceed to tune anyway and don’t even tell me about it!! so I get the car off the dyno, big numbers yay, I get on the highway and bam 26 PSI in fifth gear, over-boost codes, manifold absolute pressure codes etc. Of course they can’t get my car in for 2 weeks to fix the gasket and the tune, so the tuner sends me a bunch of different maps for the Cobb to try to diagnose my codes, which are pointing to a bad waste-gate, but it only took like 2 months for anyone to notice.
This is my favorite part, I got my oil changed recently and this past week I noticed THERE'S NO OIL. no visible leaks, no oil in the coolant and vice versa, not excess oil in the intake or exhaust, I would have smelled it if 3 quarts of oil burned off in my intake or my exhaust in a week and a half. This leads me to believe they forgot to put oil back in my engine, who knows how much damage my nice new engine block with my forged pistons has taken.
I mention this oil problem to a person who works at Kaizen and they tell me its probably in my intake and I need an oil catch can. Its always that I need something new, it is obvious that Kaizen sets up their customers to have failed parts that will need replacement. I have invested over 16k into my car fixing dumb shit and buying everything they told me this “Reliable daily driver build” would need. This has been the most unreliable car I have ever owned. I have canceled every charity driving event, every autocross, etc because of problems with this car that Kaizen can’t get right. I didn't make it that much of a budget car for it to be running this shitty. The owner Scott Mclver will get in your face and make you feel like a jerk if you even try to fight for the quality service you are supposed to receive and they often will make you eat the costs of their mistakes as they did to a good friend of mine after they replaced the Y joint in his clutch assembly which they said they had never done before and low and behold a month later it breaks, breaking also his master cylinder and bending his welded bracket. Kaizen claims that he is an aggressive driver and that's why it broke (not true) and they would only pay for half the repair.
Everything about this shop is weak, Sure they have a big name, they get people excited about GTR’s, STI’s, EVO’s but really they have a team of idiots. (Excluding the boys who work up at the front desk, they are actually helpful) The mechanics seem to fail constantly, the service manager is lazy and an asshole, he is unpleasant to talk to, he rarely gets back to you when you leave messages, almost impossible to get a hold of the on the phone, always on lunch break it seems. The dude does not know what he is doing and his UTI education really shows (a month to diagnose a ball joint). The owner is a nice guy, but he’s a hustler and apparently had a bunch of money and just started a cool business not knowing what he’s doing. He promises service that you do not receive. The tuner I am not so sure about, he has been helpful trying to resolve my over boost issue and I am not sure if he knows 100% about tuning or not, he used to blame some of the problems I used to have (before they realized my stock headers were warped) on the fact that I had badly wired an oil pressure gauge and a boost gauge, neither of which connected to the ECU and therefore would not make my parameters change and throw codes. So I am not 100% about him. But I do know this has been the hardest year of my life with this car and the worst shop experience I've ever had. Why do I keep going back? Mostly because i am afraid that if something else goes wrong at another shop they won't take responsibility as they did not build the car. So either I must eat more costs and get a better shop or continue to have my car fixed for reduced labor at a place that keeps fucking it up. At this point I am ready to go to another shop.
There is tons of miscommunication at this shop, if you are not there to make sure it gets done, it will not get done. You are better off ordering parts online or you will get ripped off, the markup is insane. If you do go in here for a build make sure you know more than them about what you want to do and tell them EXACTLY WHAT IT IS you want. However I no longer recommend going here, this place has lost my business after all this. I spent a lot of hard earned money and got fucked over and over again.
Update: I took my car to Kaizen for the very last time. They discovered my waste-gate actuator was loose, and they replaced my plugs after my car was firing out black smoke and was literally undrivable. I refused to pay labor for the millionth time at this shop after a year of problems and the owner Scott Mclver told me he didn't want to see my car in his shop again to which I replied, good I don’t want to come to this shop again. I get home, drive around a bit and bam my waste-gate arm falls off my waste-gate due to lack of a cotter pin. They are all rookies and hacks.
I sent pictures to Scott Mclver as well as a very professional letter explaining my situation and how I felt about all that was going on. Here it is.
So just hear me out man, when I stepped into your shop a year ago to ask for help in building my car, I was promised a reliable car, we went over a build and a price and then you guys moved, lost my invoice and started a new one with tons of go fast mods and less reliability, and I was assured that the car would run great and I would have no problems but from day 1 when I got my car back I have had problems. We went through 12 sets of turbo oil lines, none of the mechanics noticed that my headers were leaking and when I came in for fixed oil lines, my car was never topped off, When I came in with headers and injectors, you guys charged the crap out of me and voided my warranty, someone could a called in said hey these don't fit wanna buy Tomei? I can't sell these now. I have used countless amounts of gas going to and from your shop, I have bought everything you told me to buy, when your mechanics work on my car they make silly mistakes such as leaving an abs wire hanging, not having my radiator bushing In correctly, not noticing that after my brake master cylinder brace was installed that it was touching my inter cooler piping and causing my car to vibrate horribly through my clutch assembly, like seriously? How do you not notice. The service manager John b refuses to test drive my car, he tried to get me to buy a replacement strut when really my ball joints were blown. The list goes on. I had to tell your mechanic to check my plugs this time too. I've spent thousands of dollars at your shop, I worked really hard for, I am not made of money. I spent about 20k on you, yeah you gave me a few free things but that doesn't make up for the fact that my car never runs. Rob has put countless bad tunes on my car who knows what kind of damage it has done. I feel like I don't receive the level of service for the money I paid. I am a nice guy, I get along with all your staff, I am always cooperative and polite. I want you to see my point of view I am not trying to screw you or wiggle out of payments, I know you have a business but sorry to say you make your business look bad when you can't follow through with the service you guarantee. I am disappointed with my experience and upset that In a year it has never run right. It's been my dream for so long to own a car like this. I worked so hard for it and its made me miserable. It's unfair of you to tell me I can't come back just because you made mistakes. I don't want to screw you out of money or waste time. I hate wasting time I am a kitchen manager and I have my own business there's nothing that posses me off more than someone who wastes my time. But when I screw up I accept responsibility. You have given me some free labor but it's never solved the problems, so to me that's a waste of time. I am sorry for any trouble my car has caused but you haven't followed through with your promise for reliability and expertise, and so I complained, I refused to pay because I am tired of this, and you made me look like the asshole. If you did take the time to read this I hope you will see my point of view and if not good luck and I hope your business improves. That's what kaizen stands for right? Thanks.”
This is a pretty reasonable letter right? Well here is MR big mans response
“Sam - in response to your note:
1. When we put together the build, you sat right across from me and agreed to each part. We started with a full on build and scaled it to a build that would fit your budget.
2. We installed the factory lines that were in your car, then we put a new factory line in, after that separated, we put in an FP braided line on the car. That would be 3 lines, not 12.
3. We quoted you a proper header. You opted for an Agency Power unit. We called you many times into the shop, and involved you with the process, as you were here. You then decided to put the Tomei on after this unit failed after we had to modify it. We did not sell you the AP unit.
4. You did not buy everything I told you to buy - the above statement is contradictory.
5. You did not have to tell Lui to check your plugs. You were busy talking over him.
6. The statement about Rob giving you countless bad tunes is astounding. Do you realize that when we look at your car - we can see how you drive. You came in and told us you baby the car, when your FB page, and the data that your car is telling us is vastly different. We don’t see race cars that trim out WOT. The data that comes from your car does not lie. The only one damaging your car is you. The many accidents you have been in are testament enough. The Subaru ECU saves learned data from all areas of engine load. Unless you beat on the car on the regular the D learned correction usually would not trim out. It needs to see higher engine loads the kind of engine loads only seen under boost for extended periods of time. The negative B and C corrections will only go -25% with a horrible boost leak such as IC pipe pop off. Throttle body leaking etc… I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you would not sabotage your own car in the lose waste-gate flapper was causing the airflow leak causing trims to go dramatically negative. That brings us back to the “I don’t beat on my car” bit. The only way to cause a waste gate flapper to come lose like that (I have never seen this before on any street car) is for the car to be abused to no end. I can also see where you were in the tune ignition timing wise. Again lots of high engine load activity. So what it comes down to is you straight faced lied to Rob and other’s at the shop on countless occasions. You did things to the car that would make the car run like garbage all by your self.
7. I told you not to come back because the relationship between customer and service provider is broken. You tell each of the techs, and the service manager a different story, and then we see on FB that you lied to us. If your not going to be honest, and going to try and squeeze us out of our diagnostic time every time you break your car, then its time for us to move on.”Just calling me a liar the whole time.... I have never auto-crossed, tracked or even had fun on back roads with this car. I live in the city my car spools too slowly to get up to speed anywhere because there is clearly something else more serious going on.
This business was started just to fund this mans race car. Since I Have been at this shop I have heard many stories. A Ferrari 355 bumper being dragged across the floor, Bren tuning frequently bailing Rob their tuner out, a 350z having all 6 cylinder walls cracked on their dyno. My car on their dyno never feeling the same afterwards. Rob destroyed my transmission. All they do is beat the piss out of the cars, only a select few customers make good and they have an army of followers who don’t even actually take their cars there. Most customers who are wronged are usually paid off to keep quiet about it. I am not one of them. This business is trash. If you have had any poor experiences here please tell me about them.