Review of FMS and other knock-off parts
Post your experiences here.
Since there was a bit of a buck when i posted a negative review in a vendor forum, I thought it a good idea to move to a less stifling forum. I've decided to bring what I've kept mostly confined into the open.
I urge everyone to post their reviews of FMS and other knock-offs here. Hopefully, with any luck, we can help prevent members from wasting money on crappy parts that don't or barely work.
I'll start with my experience with the FMS TMIC:
I bought the very first one of these. My review is nothing but negative. I bought it from Import Image, who undercut AJW for the sale.
I received the intercooler, and it looked used. All brackets were rusty, the core was dented and grease stained, fins were bent, the BPV threads were tapped incorrectly (off-center), there was no splitter, and the hardware was haphazardly thrown in the box. The welds were childish, at best, and the internal fin density was abysmal. The BPV flange was pitted and dinged, and the outlet was so soft that I could have deformed it by hand. It was clear that the box had never been opened when it hit the shores from China. There was casting-slag in the core that could be picked off like boogers, and the "heat dissipating coating" was just rattle-can spray paint, with absolutely no surface prep. You could see where the rattle can got too close to the surface and there were runs in the paint around the welds. When you shook the core, you could hear something rattling around inside.
When I raised these concerns with the "manufacturer", who is actually AJW Performance, I got no response. Customer service, on that end, was non-existant.
Fortunately, after an escalated Paypal dispute I was able to return it to the purchasing vendor, only out one-way shipping. During the return debate, Import Image actually suggested that I commit insurance fraud by blaming the issues I had on FedEx. IIR has a 15% restocking fee policy, which they would not waive. Even in the case that it was less than 1 hour after delivery that I requested a refund. It took almost a month before I got my money back.
These intercooler kits were originally released with an MSRP of $699. Then they were dropped to $499. I think I paid $400 or $425 shipped for mine. Now they are letting them go for $350 shipped. You have to ask yourself, "how is that possible, that they dropped the price almost $350 from the initial MSRP?" I'll tell you. The kits cost from the manufacturer in China is less than $100.
My, 100% honest review is that this product is a complete waste of time and money.
In addition to my review, I have actually helped install the same kit on another vehicle. That owner, unfortunately, paid full price for his kit. Fitment was terrible. Brackets barely fit, the BPV needed to be drilled and helicoiled so the valve would actually bolt down. The surface needed to be sanded smooth because of the pitting in the flange. We had to straighten all of the fins, his looked like someone had run their finger down one of the plates. We also had to hit the inside of the end-tanks with a wire wizzer to break free the big chunks of casting slag. Then we bead-blasted inside to get the rest of it out. We bead blasted his rusted brackets, and repainted them so they wouldn't fall apart. One was bent out of the box, but we were able to bend it back by hand. After struggling to get things to line up properly, we clamped everything down. The TB outlet DID deform under a t-bolt clamp, but it seemed to hold OK.
On the dyno, the turbo->IC hose split apart. I'm not sure what the owner did after that.
Do NOT buy this thinking it will be of even remotely close quality to the PW TMIC. The difference is laughable. Based on the fin-density inside the core, I'd say you would absolutely be better off with a modified stock intercooler. No question about it.
I've heard similar stories of fitment and quality issues from the FMS catback and their headers. About the only positive reviews I've seen of these products, are that they are cheap.
Cliffs Notes for the TL;DR crowd:
I guess IPR TMIC is a knockoff of Perrin, which doesn't state much.
I've been fairly satisfied with mine after I figured the washer shim out for clutch master cylinder clearance. Fitment was pretty good. I did end up buying an AVO TB inlet hose to make it easier to install. No trimming of the hose was required.
I got the Swaintech heat coating, but I doubt it really does anything. The paint is evenly coated.
Welds look good, fins were good, I don't recollect any burrs or other manufacturing finishing issues.
I would call it a "buy".
I had an IPR TMIC too, but it doesn't fit the Outback. Quality was better than average for a knock-off. Definitely an "OK" alternative to buying the Perrin. My biggest gripe, was that the coating was oversprayed into the end-tanks. And that HDPE "gasket" they send you is a joke.
The Perrin isn't all fun and games either. After screwing with 90% of the top mount soulutions out there (LGT fitment) I say just go with a front mount. My 2c.
Yeah I threw that HDPE gasket away as soon as I saw it :lol: Went to AutoZone and got the Mr. Gasket thermostat gasket.
Mine had very little overspray.
I bought and installed the FMS front mount and catback. No problems with either of them. Also I love the sound of the FMS exhaust. I think when it comes to less expensive knock offs people expect them to fit perfect by just slapping them on. Both products needed adjustments after the install but big deal. Just take your time and get it right. Couldn't be happier that I spent $600 total for both products.
To back-up what BAC said, I give you visual proof. FMS TMIC on '11 WRX:
I had the precious experience dealing with nearly every LGT tmic short of Hyperflow. The IPR/TS fit like shit and are overpriced.
The FMS TMIC, well, I don't know where to begin.
-Welds looked like a boy scout made them
-Silver paint came from a Crayola set
-Fins were bent
-Burrs and shaving inside the core, shavings and burs meaning nearly chunks and slivers of metal.
-Solicone tubes started to split after four install/reinstalls
-BPV flange was straight cut with no rounded edges
-Machining scores on BPV flange causing unsmooth contact surface
-BPV flange warped
-When tightening the BPV 10mm bolts, one hole is positioned right above and adjacent to a weld, when the bolt hit the weld, it cracked, causing a leak and the requirement of a reweld from a local shop.
-Metal mounting brackets were surface rusted and then sprayed over with black paint causing a flakey paint concern.
Unit could not be returned because it was modified to work in a practical and functional manner. Unit was trashed and a Process West was acquired. In my opinion, this FMS tmic is a slap in the face to Process West because the two are leaps and bounds different from each other :lol:
My good friend received an FMS header and the flanges would not line up, they were literally off by 1/4" or more in order to line up with the head studs. Returned, received another, same problem- unit could not be bent or modified or adjusted to fit because the alignment was off by too much. Quality control is non-existant with FMS.
I had the delightful experience of trying to install an fms uppipe a customer brought to me.
1. Gaskets were not even cut right and would not even fit over their own supplied studs.
2. Gaskets were the worst set I have seen supplied with any aftermarket up pipe kit *floppy composite material *
3. Studs supplied with kit were about a quarter inch too long and got in the way of re-installing downpipe.
Sealed up with no leaks BUT I have done countless uppipes and this was by far the worst experience I have had with any up pipe install yet
In simple terms, stay away.
Btw shouldn't this thread be in the product review section?
I think this is more appropriate for a general, and actually visited forum. If positive reviews can be posted in the general forums, negative reviews shouldn't be shunned.
I haz fms fmic. First issue is that the alignment holes on the new crash beam were off by about 1/4" in each direction. Welds were sub par, but were in fact fully welded all the way around. Iir did send me the wrong core, but fixed that for me free of charge, apparently fms/ajw/chinaman boxed it wrong. Also, the lack of instructions kind of pissed me off. Also did not come with the correct amount of properly sized tbolt clamps.
That is all.
-Fits just fine
-Studs all in the right places
-No flex joint.
-Two Studs interfere with downpipe. Not a big deal. Took a whole 2 minutes to trim them down with a cut off wheel.
-The finish comes off easily, I'd rather have it bare and coat it myself.
If you have any sort of knowledge in turning wrenches, it is not bad to install. More time is spent getting the old shit out than putting this in. The two long studs are a minor set-back. I cant speak for the gaskets as I went with OEM. I also wrapped mine. Construction seems solid enough. You get what you pay for with the finish though. Fitment was fine. If the gaskets bother you, get OEM. So what, two studs are too long. Put the up-pipe on and see where the downpipe interferes. Cut accordingly. 5 minutes with a dremel vs. buying a more expensive up-pipe? FMS is just fine.
CNT 3" Catted Downpipe
-Sort of fits
-Bellmouth fitment is on par
-Sort of fits, hangs down fairly low.
-Gaskets sort of suck
-weld on bung by bellmouth has a pin hole that leaks (checked with soapy water)
-Rear O2 should be back further
Again, not hard to install. More time spent getting the bolts undone off of the old one. Fitment is sub par, but it is well enough that it does not drag the ground. I scraped it one on a very steep drive that was entirely out of the norm. You get what you pay for with this unit. I cannot complain because for a cheap downpipe it gets the job done. In NE Ohio I dont feel the need to put something more expensive on.
GMS 3" Catback
-Stainless (although probably low grade)
-Crappy muffler fitment.
-Y-pipe could use some refinement, everything else is fine.
Great sounding exhaust, and bolts up fine up until its time to put the mufflers on. Will need heated and bent for proper muffler fitment. Again, with these cheap products, If you know your way around a shop (tools, torches, etc.) it is not a big deal. Once again, you get what you pay for. I fully expected crappy fitment and the need to get jiggy with it. I accept that because I am comfortable with manipulating things if needed.
Overall Summary of Cheap Knock-Offs:
I cant emphasis this enough.... YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. A manufacturer will not perform quality checks for free. I work for AAM. We only do 100% quality checks if the customer requires it, and we will charge them accordingly for this service. If not, we only do every part out of a certain batch. With name brand products, part of that cost covers Quality Assurance. An off-brand can get by with cheaper stuff because the customer should not expect every part to be inspected. A product that is half the cost of a competitor or higher end brand wont be the same. Dont knock it if you dont know how to deal with it. I went with the cheap stuff because it gets the job done, and I dont mind tinkering with it to get it to fit. The point is, they all fit eventually. Is a Perrin going to be better than FMS? Sure. I'm just not willing to spend unnecessary money for something that does the same thing.
The Car is just as much fun with "knock-offs" as it is with name brands. I will say that if you are short on cash a GM 3-port is an excellent choice if you are looking for an EBCS (I know, not a knock-off, but people assume too much just because it is cheap even if it is an OEM GM part). Took me all of 15 minutes to install, including drilling a new hold in the existing bracket to mount it. I gets the job done, period. If you are buying a downpipe/up-pipe because it looks pretty... who the hell cares? Nobody is going to see it.
If I was to buy everything again, I would buy the FMS and GMS products again. The GMS is well off enough that it will work. The CNT downpipe is past that threshold. My next downpipe will be one of better quality/fitment. For now, this gets the job done and I can enjoy the car at stage 2.
Why people expect all welds to be precision robotically welded is beyond me. Chances are, man-made welds wont be absolutely perfect as it is not humanly possible., and there will be some slag with a MIG. You can have the prettiest weld in the world... stacked dime on dime on dime...if it has crappy penetration that good looking weld might as well be made of play dough. Dont knock the weld based on its looks. If you want to pay the extra price for somebody to TIG it, then go for it. If you want to pay the extra cost to grind off the slag, go for it. If you want to pay somebody to go buy a CNC welder, program it, and weld your FMIC with it, then go for it. If you want to pay extra to have the welds x-rayed for proper penetration then go for it.
I've installed several cnt catted dp's on 08+ wrx's and sti's the product was very good nice welds and always perfect fitment. No issues with leaks either.
As for my own review, i'll be doing the CNT catted DP for 5EAT's.
To keep this short and sweet, I loved mine since the day I got it. The finish on it was great, welds looked perfect, flange was thick, CNT tag on the top was also nice. When it came to fitting it, it fit just as good as it looked. We put this DP and my Stromung exhaust on the same day, and they both fit equally as OEM fitting. We had no trouble getting the DP to fit and i've been happy with it ever since!
The 2 knock offs i have are he cnt catted downpipe and gms cat back. The cnt looked nice and the welds look good too. Fitment was perfect and its still doing its job great. The catback is holding up good too. The resonator hangs a bit low and the mufflers fit poor, but its a cheap cat back so i wasnt expecting perfection.
I've been happy with mine as well.
Great thread Bac, always glad to see open discussion and honest reviews of any product.
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