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I have a 2013 ATS 2.0t base model automatic. After much anticipation I received the ZZP stage one kit in the mail a few weeks ago. I’m sad to say that after digging around on you tube and random forum threads, I have gotten cold feet. Do I slap the mods on and pray, let them collect dust in the garage until I can afford pistons or trade her in and take the L’s?? I love the car and really wanted to go through the experience of building it but it doesn’t seem like anyone has had a great experience on the road to 400+hp. Any and all options appreciated.

Hey everyone. So I know this is probably the millionth time this has been discussed but here it goes. I bought a 2013 2.0t base model. I think it’s a base model but when I do a burnout both wheels spin.. anyway I bought it with around 35,00 miles on it and some remaining warranty. No major issues with it. Took it to the dealership for a couple small things which were fixed. I always put premium fuel and change the oil religiously and keep my mad and air filter clean. Two weeks ago I received the ZZP stage one kit which has been a big anticipation for me for a while now. To my dismay after reading around on the forum and following builds on YouTube, I’ve gotten cold feet? Do I slap on the kit and pray? Do I keep the kit on the shelf and start saving for pistons abd rods? Do I trade her in and take the L’s? I love the car in every aspect thus far but I want a platform I can play with. Any advice and opinions are greatly appreciated. Oh yeah I’m now out of warranty if that helps.
 

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2016 ATS Coupe Luxury Edition Velocity Red
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I have a 2013 ATS 2.0t base model automatic. After much anticipation I received the ZZP stage one kit in the mail a few weeks ago. I’m sad to say that after digging around on you tube and random forum threads, I have gotten cold feet. Do I slap the mods on and pray, let them collect dust in the garage until I can afford pistons or trade her in and take the L’s?? I love the car and really wanted to go through the experience of building it but it doesn’t seem like anyone has had a great experience on the road to 400+hp. Any and all options appreciated.
If you have the original piston design you are asking for trouble. I suspect you do have the original piston design and materials in a 2013. Enjoy the car, maintain it strictly on or even before schedule it just may serve you well. "Tuning" is asking for trouble. Just my 2 cents.
 

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If you have the original piston design you are asking for trouble. I suspect you do have the original piston design and materials in a 2013. Enjoy the car, maintain it strictly on or even before schedule it just may serve you well. "Tuning" is asking for trouble. Just my 2 cents.
Do you think that having forged pistons and rods installed is the answer? Like I said I love the car but not enough to have to take it easy the entire time I own it. I could probably sell my down pipe and CAI but my tuned pcm would be a complete loss... I could get a used CTS V but the payments would be more and the mods more expensive. I don’t know what to do? Why did GM have to go cheap on the mixture for these pistons!
 

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Prev: 2004+2007 CTS 3.6 - 2016 ATS 2.0T AWD Lux. Now: 2018 ATS 2.0T AWD Luxury
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Also discuss this in the ATS Performance forum. I don't Mod and I don't see enough posts in this
general forum to have a good knowledge of the odds of Mods causing problems. Some feel the piston
problems of 2013 and early 2014 were from mods or driving hard. Find what the TSB did to help fix the
problem. It had to do with different plugs, but maybe more. You could trade up to a 2015, which increased
TQ from 260 to 295, then do the mods. A Perf or Premium trim would be even better than base and less than a
CTS-V. With a ATS or CTS-V, you shouldn't need mods.

GM doesn't design to support mods, they only make it strong enough to handle how it's designed.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Also discuss this in the ATS Performance forum. I don't Mod and I don't see enough posts in this
general forum to have a good knowledge of the odds of Mods causing problems. Some feel the piston
problems of 2013 and early 2014 were from mods or driving hard. Find what the TSB did to help fix the
problem. It had to do with different plugs, but maybe more. You could trade up to a 2015, which increased
TQ from 260 to 295, then do the mods. A Perf or Premium trim would be even better than base and less than a
CTS-V. With a ATS or CTS-V, you shouldn't need mods.

GM doesn't design to support mods, they only make it strong enough to handle how it's designed.
Sorry I’m new to the whole forum thing. Didn’t realize I was posting in the wrong place. You do have some good points. I was considering trading for a newer ats as to maybe salvage the money spent on parts. Not to mention I love the car overall. I guess I’m just down about buying the parts and deciding to back out.
 

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If you like it that much and want a little more grinning from pedal mashing, then mod it. Just don't go too heavy on the mods.

Intake, DP, & a conservative tune shouldn't put you at too much risk, imo.

You can also do some suspension upgrades/mods that won't affect reliability but will up the controllability of the vehicle when driven hard. A simple strut tower brace adds some good cornering charactaristics without jeparodizing drive train components. Better cornering brings bigger smiles too.
 

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this has been discussed so much. here is what I know to be a fact. GM had a huge batch of pistons that were faulty. and by faulty I mean the oil ring land tolerance was too tight. the ring needs to be able to flex and move in the ring land. this causes with heat and the fact oil cannot sufficiently coat the ring itself causes the ring to seize which then causes piston failures. these failures have happened on modded engines and non modded engines. to people that drive like they are driving ms daisy to people that drive like the road is a time lap track course. I had a lot of bolt ons and a very mild tune. I changed my oil every 3k and i still had a piston give out. its just a gamble and this car is a true pay to play type vehicle. truly there are some people with modded engines that have lasted in the 150-200k range without issues and some people who blew their engine in 3k miles from brand new.
 

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If you got the parts, I say do it. I bought my ATS with 87k miles and went stage 1 plus E85 right after. I LOVE it. Im at 98k now, 0 issues. I know most people wouldn't dare to mod such a fragile engine with known failures with higher miles. Am i driving a timebomb? Maybe, but if it happens i have other modes of transportation. But you bought the parts to put on there because you wanted more, slap them on and enjoy it.
 

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Also, I dont necessarily beat on my car, but I dont really baby it either. I drive "spiritedly" for the most part. And if im on a 2 lane and need to pass someone I def let her eat.
 

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It truly is a good car to drive but you either get lucky or you don't I for one I don't believe the update from 2015 and up didn't do much, seeing I have a 2017 and piston ring land cracked at 25000km, but give it I drive it hard and tracked it multiple times,and heavy on maintenance doing them 2000 to 3000 km running dexos Gen 2. Could the bnr tune on the car with basic bolt ons, or later found, a hose I was using for one of my catch cans had pin holes in them. Could these together cause it I don't no. But I liked the car enough to rebuild it with forged internals and added some other little things the car is almost done but it is winter so once it leaves the shop it's in to storage till spring. I like these cars I just think they look nice and well before my piston cracked I kept up with a Evo x side by side so they are fun. It truly is something you have to think about, but once you modify it just know if something goes wrong you just gotta pick build it or fix it and move on. One is short term and the other is long term.
 

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Do you think that having forged pistons and rods installed is the answer? Like I said I love the car but not enough to have to take it easy the entire time I own it. I could probably sell my down pipe and CAI but my tuned pcm would be a complete loss... I could get a used CTS V but the payments would be more and the mods more expensive. I don’t know what to do? Why did GM have to go cheap on the mixture for these pistons!

I have the ZZP stage one on my 13 Cadillac ATS 2.0t I’ve owned my car for about 1 year now currently haven’t had any issues with anything got the car with 52k currently has 73k. I always tend to check my oil due to the hard running I do with the car cause. I change my oil every 3k miles I use 5w-30 Mobil 1 full synthetic and Mobil 1 filter oil changes are about 50$ I do the service my self. Also the power on the car is really impressive as it really boost the power up, as I’ve compared to some of my friends it does better than the Infiniti Q50 which come with about 328-330 hp. I would say that the hp on my ats jumped from 272 to 330. The mpg is much better too.
also i am going to be putting forged piston and rods also cams, valve springs & going with the BT set up from ZZP. At the end of the day any car that will be modded will need some extra work done to it. So if you love your car and willing to take it to the next level go for it getting those piston & rods slapped on there.

here’s some picture of my ats how it’s currently sitting
 

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I think y’all are right! I bought the mods because I knew the car had potential. I’m gonna do it. If I end up needing to rebuild then hey... rods, pistons, cam, valve springs, maybe even a ZFR! I’m will order my catch can before I do the upgrades and hopefully intercooler not too far down the road. I also want the e85 kit but ZZP said they were redesigning it at the moment. Anyone running water meth? Also what do y’all think of CRC valve and turbo cleaner? Safe? Oil catch wise, ZZP or Mishimoto? Thanks everyone for the responses. This is my first time on a forum and it’s pretty cool to talk with people who are as in love with the platform as I am.
 

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In terms of cleaners I don't have any experience with those other then seafoam which was a pretty good product, but couldn't imagine those other product aren't too bad. Shouldnt do any harm they use a similar product in the dealer. Mishimoto makes a good catch can for the left side which I believe is called the ccv side, comes with an adapter that screws in on the side of valve cover, then for pcv I just made my own set up. Noticed ccv was catching alot of nasty stuff. Or you can buy their dual catch can set up but I found the ccv on sale for a good deal so I baught that.
 

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I have the ZZP stage one on my 13 Cadillac ATS 2.0t I’ve owned my car for about 1 year now currently haven’t had any issues with anything got the car with 52k currently has 73k. I always tend to check my oil due to the hard running I do with the car cause. I change my oil every 3k miles I use 5w-30 Mobil 1 full synthetic and Mobil 1 filter oil changes are about 50$ I do the service my self. Also the power on the car is really impressive as it really boost the power up, as I’ve compared to some of my friends it does better than the Infiniti Q50 which come with about 328-330 hp. I would say that the hp on my ats jumped from 272 to 330. The mpg is much better too.
also i am going to be putting forged piston and rods also cams, valve springs & going with the BT set up from ZZP. At the end of the day any car that will be modded will need some extra work done to it. So if you love your car and willing to take it to the next level go for it getting those piston & rods slapped on there.

here’s some picture of my ats how it’s currently sitting
In terms of cleaners I don't have any experience with those other then seafoam which was a pretty good product, but couldn't imagine those other product aren't too bad. Shouldnt do any harm they use a similar product in the dealer. Mishimoto makes a good catch can for the left side which I believe is called the ccv side, comes with an adapter that screws in on the side of valve cover, then for pcv I just made my own set up. Noticed ccv was catching alot of nasty stuff. Or you can buy their dual catch can set up but I found the ccv on sale for a good deal so I baught that.
I went to Oriley's to grab a can of the CRC and one of the workers mentioned the possibility of pieces of carbon possibly damaging the engine while rattling around in he combustion chamber. I hadn’t even asked him, it was just an unsolicited comment. This bothered me enough to put it back. Is seafoam safe to pass through the turbo? Will it clean it? I was thinking about doing a diy catch can setup.
 

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Im running the ZZP catch can - i cant say much about it yet because ive only had it on there for a short amount of time since they sent the updates for the lines. No meth here, I dont find it necessary with E85. Didnt know ZZP was making an update for it, so thats good to know! Ive had zero issues as stated before, but im curious to see what theyve added or subtracted. I also have a vermont tuning turbo sitting in a box im going to throw on eventually i picked up for a sweet deal, among a few other parts. I just love this car.
 

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I have the ZZP stage one on my 13 Cadillac ATS 2.0t I’ve owned my car for about 1 year now currently haven’t had any issues with anything got the car with 52k currently has 73k. I always tend to check my oil due to the hard running I do with the car cause. I change my oil every 3k miles I use 5w-30 Mobil 1 full synthetic and Mobil 1 filter oil changes are about 50$ I do the service my self. Also the power on the car is really impressive as it really boost the power up, as I’ve compared to some of my friends it does better than the Infiniti Q50 which come with about 328-330 hp. I would say that the hp on my ats jumped from 272 to 330. The mpg is much better too.
also i am going to be putting forged piston and rods also cams, valve springs & going with the BT set up from ZZP. At the end of the day any car that will be modded will need some extra work done to it. So if you love your car and willing to take it to the next level go for it getting those piston & rods slapped on there.

here’s some picture of my ats how it’s currently sitting
Do you do UOA analysis on the oil? If not, I'd highly recommend it. M1 is a good oil, but in many applications it shears down too far to protect the motor. I had these issues on my boosted Subaru Legacy. I recommend Blackstone if you plan to do this - it's well worth it. You may even find that a better suited oil will allow you to go longer between changes, hence allowing the UOA testing to "pay for itself".
 
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