The following information and recommendations are gathered here for a reason, At Pettit Racing we know that having a performance vehicle that is both fast and reliable can be Challenging, Frustrating and sometimes Costly.
To avoid the C F & C it usually requires that the driver has some knowledge of the vehicle and is able to perform routine maintenance or at a minimum be able to verify that these procedures are performed correctly. This is basic knowledge, but knowing it can enable you to spot a small detail that could have caused a major problem. As most of us know, this can happen with any car, anytime, anywhere; therefore this knowledge will be beneficial for life and can be applied to countless mechanical devices.
There is no doubt, it is expensive to properly modify your car, but the alternative can be costly, topping the costly list is adding an upgrade to correct a problem, (like adding MSD because of a miss) or using unproven upgrades based on here say and/or web posts, another popular mistake is paying your tech less $$ than a job is worth. It takes passion and always more than book time to properly install upgrades, so paying less usually results in poor “passionless” quality, offering your tech a bonus for excellence always helps. Most beneficial upgrades are easy to do but can be time consuming, doing it yourself means $$$ saved and satisfaction credits earned.
These suggestions are intended to help you enjoy a fun to drive RX8 with consistent performance and exceptional longevity for years to come.
Always keep up with routine maintenance schedules, that way when you begin adding modifications, it will be to a vehicle that is mechanically 100% (i.e. fresh, clean fluids and filters, everything working properly, brakes and suspension operational, etc). Obviously, if your vehicle is not running properly, upgrading could cause more harm. From our experience, we have found that many premature engine failures are caused by simple oversights like a loose hose clamps or mixed plug wires. Poor fuel quality also contributes; it can cause detonation that can damage the engine. Make sure to run 93 octane, national brand fuel. For racing and forced induction, race fuel can be mixed in as well.
Allowing the engine to properly warm-up will greatly extend engine life. This is best accomplished by driving SLOW UNDER 4000RPM, (light acceleration), for at least 10 minutes. Never allow the rotary engine to overheat; it can be ruined in less than five minutes with out coolant.
Oil and filter change every 3000 miles or less. For hard driving like our test cars, we change every 2000 miles or less if it appears dirty, smells like fuel, when racing or if you drive like you’re in a race. For highway driving the oil seems to stay clean past 3000 mi. (Fuel smell is most common with boosted applications where the crankcase is pounded with hydrocarbons)
Use fuel lubricant with every tank of fuel, this is proven to extend rotary engine life by 30% or more. We recommend 4oz of Protek R with every fill up, (More info on our website www.pettitracing.com )
Never let anyone drive your car! Over the years, many customers have come to regret this decision.
If detonation occurs, avoid that operating range until better fuel is obtained or the problem is corrected. When detonation occurs it is usually under moderate to heavy load, so if you have to drive, drive easy with a light foot!
Inspect the spark plugs! It is also very important to be sure they are properly torqued, we have seen several cases of improperly torqued plugs, (evidenced by a partially crushed, crush washer) this can allow carbon to get on the threads and cause difficulty removing them. Carbon on the threads and/or plugs that are just plain loose can reduce heat transfer and cause the plugs to run hotter and fail sooner, another problem this can cause is damage to the housing threads and that is definitely not good, $$$. On cars with forced induction we recommend .028-.030” gap.
The RX8 Ignition coils are prone to fail (even without boost), so it’s probably a good idea to change them, especially coils with 25,000 miles or more, or if random detonation occurs. You can also check the epoxy fill on the bottom for burn spots and /or surface flaws. It is usually smart to replace them and start fresh. Relocating the coils to improve cooling is another option that should improve life expectancy.
Now, if you are sure your car is 100% you are ready to upgrade. If you are not sure, it is cheap insurance to have a full maintenance service performed.
The whole concept behind upgrading is to have fun and to enjoy this one-of-a-kind vehicle. When you rush things, or do too much at one time, it is much more likely to create problems. Take some time and do research, It will pay off in the long run.
We routinely receive Renesis engines that failed: some of the causes are listed below by order of popularity:
# 1 Turbo charged w/high backpressure ratio.
#2 Poor maintenance
#4 Hi mileage/excessive seal wear; regular use of Protek-R will greatly reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
#5 Bearing failure, the oil recommendation 5/20 seems to be inadequate, most Renesis engines opened have excessive bearing wear, we therefore recommend a quality 10/40 or 20/50 oil the latter for racing and spirited driving.