New Viper Wheels

It only took me a year but I finally have new wheels on my Viper!



They’re the same style as I had before but these are a separate set of wheels that have been painted a gun metal grey. They look lighter in these photos than they are in person. The stock polished chrome look was too blingy for my taste and too hard to keep clean.

Getting these new wheels on my car though has been an absolute nightmare. Here’s what amounts to a short essay on all of what I’ve gone through.

I originally wanted to get one of the wheel designs that come on the 2013 Viper. However the front wheel on a 2013 Viper is 10.5″ wide instead of the 10″ wheel that my car uses. This means that it sticks out about a quarter inch farther than my current wheels do. I thought this would be noticeable or cause problems so I started looking for other solutions.

Around that time (last Spring of last year), I found a set of my wheels that had been refurbished and painted Hyper Black on behalf of the national Viper club’s parts store. This seemed like the perfect option as they were the right size and the color I wanted. So I bought them, even though these wheels had no refunds.

When they arrived, they were dented and chipped due to the process of being shipped. They were very poorly packaged, only having bubble wrap on the faces of the wheels and nothing else in the box! FedEx took them back and parts store had a new set prepared for me and shipped out.

After the replacements arrived intact, there was a tiny crack in the clear coat but I wasn’t concerned enough about it to go through the hassle of trying to get it replaced yet again. I was really fed up with the seller at that point and wanted to just forget about the wheels. So I put them in my garage, planning on getting the clearcoat crack fixed in the fall when my car was out of commission.

When I finally took the wheel to a wheel repair shop last winter, it was pointed out to me just how horrible of a paint job the seller’s painter had done. There were runs in the bolt holes and the backs of the wheels weren’t primed and likely wouldn’t even hold air well. Great.

So I shelled out even more money to get them sanded and repainted to a quality that I had wanted in the first place. My car was in storage for the winter so I told the painter to take his time.

Unfortunately a month or two later he called me to inform me that one of the wheels was warped into an oval! He had somehow missed that during initial inspection and only realized mid-way through preparing them for paint. Adding to the problems were that the national Viper club had gone through a complete management change due to mismanagement by the previous leaders. None of the people who I had previously dealt with at the parts store were there anymore so I had to explain my issue. Thankfully the guy who had newly been put in charge of the parts store took great care of me and sent a replacement wheel to me free of charge and well packaged in its box. That’s the kind of customer service I should have gotten the first time around.

Finally however the wheels are done! That’s the important part and my wheel repair guy has been absolutely stellar through all of this. At least one part of this whole nightmare was a good experience.

You want to know the funny thing though? Turns out the 2013 Viper wheels barely stick out and you don’t really notice it. All of this could have been avoided if I had just gone that route in the first place and I would have ended up with a better looking set of wheels too. Oh well, maybe in a few years I’ll switch wheels again. 🙂

For now I’m just happy to have new wheels and not having to worry about them anymore!

25,000 Miles

When I got my Viper on March 23, 2012, it had a mere 9,299 miles on it. That’s well under 2,000 miles a year. I don’t understand why people buy a car like this and then don’t drive it!

In the time since I got it however, I have driven all over including a 3,100 mile road trip to San Diego and back. Finally last night I rolled the odometer over to 25,000 miles.

25,000 Miles

That’s about 7,500 miles a year. Not bad!

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Dodge Viper Maintenance Status Update

I really need to blog more so I thought I’d write about my continuing adventures with my Dodge Viper.

About 18 months ago, my passenger-side window regulator failed. The window regulator is the part that makes the window go up and down and mine was making lots of clunking noises as it moved. It’s notorious for failing and is insanely expensive — $1200! For the 2013 Gen 5 Viper, they redesigned the part to make it more reliable and cheaper while being backwards compatible with my car. It now costs only $360 which is a huge savings.

Anyway, a week ago mine failed once again. It was replaced under extended warranty before and my dealer is trying to get Chrysler to cover the cost of replacing it again, this time with a Gen 5 part so it won’t fail yet again. Funny enough my driver’s side one has been working fine. Fingers crossed.

Additionally Vipers have a bit of a design flaw in that their cable-actuated parking brake calipers (separate from the normal brake calipers) don’t always retract all of the way. This causes the inner pads to drag a bit and wear down rather fast. I avoid using my parking brake whenever possible to avoid ratcheting the pads in closer and closer to the rotor but it can still be an issue.

Yesterday morning, my dad helped me take off both of my back wheels so that we could inspect both inner parking brake pads. The driver’s side had seen some wear but still had plenty of pad left even though it squeaks at low speeds. My passenger side pad though was nearly worn down to nothing. I caught it just in time to avoid having to replace the rotor too. Phew! I’m currently having those replaced at the dealership as it’s worth the $160 in labor to avoid having to do it myself in my tiny garage. I had to park my car as close as I could get it to one wall in order to have enough room to get the 13 inch wide wheel off the car (345mm tire).

Here’s a bonus photo of my super dirty suspension:

Dodge Viper Brakes And Suspension

The Bad Luck Continues: A Rock Cracked My Viper’s Windshield

First a cone, now a rock. My Viper can’t catch a break.

Driving home from a business trip in Vancouver, Canada, a semi-truck threw a rock and it hit the bottom of my windshield, below the windshield wiper blade. Not a big deal but unfortunately it turned into a crack before I even got home. 🙁

Viper Windshield Crack

I’ve put in a claim with my insurance company and hopefully they can either fix it or replace it. If it can be fixed rather than replaced, supposedly they’ll do it for free with no insurance impact. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: They had to replace the windshield. My non-collision deductible was $500 (oops) and the new windshield cost $550 so it was all out of pocket. Ow. Super clear now though!

Attack Of The Cones: The Story Of How I Broke My Viper

On July 19th, I took my Viper for a HPDE track event at The Ridge race track hosted by Hooked on Driving.

For the first four sessions of the day, an instructor rode along with me while providing input on how to do a better job driving around the track. By the end of the day they were confident enough in my quick progress that they signed off for me to solo drive.

The fifth session of the day was a mixed session with both group A (beginners like me) and group B (people who had a few events under their belt, I would have been B at the next event). I considered skipping it as it was the end of the long day, but decided not to since I wanted to make sure to get the most out of all of the money that I had spent in order to be there. This turned out to be my first mistake.

The second mistake was going out solo instead of continuing to have an instructor ride along with me. I was overconfident in my skills when clearly I was still a major novice who was just making good progress.

The third mistake was lifting off of the gas in the middle of a small corner in order to begin getting ready to start braking for an upcoming sharp corner. This turned out to be the critical mistake and I paid for it.

I was recording the day with two GoPro video cameras and caught the mistake from two angles:

One of those three cones I hit jammed up under my bumper, breaking it and pushing up far enough to actually bend my air conditioning condenser and break my power steering cooler, spraying power steering fluid all over the front of my car. While it could have been worse (I was headed for that barrier before I caught the slide), it still majorly sucks.

Even worse is that while I bought insurance for the day ($300! ouch), I found out today that the deductible is 15% of the total insured value which is in this case $7500. That means that the insurance won’t cover this $3000-4000 worth of damage. Ouch.

So while I had a ton of fun at the track before the accident, this turned out to be a really shitty two weeks. 🙁

I’m done taking this car to the track as I just love it too much to risk further, and expensive, damage to it. I’d rather just have a bit less fun with it on the street instead. If I do get the track bug again, then I’ll look into buying a cheap track car and drive that instead.

20,000 Miles

I just passed 20,000 miles on the Viper’s odometer today when I went out for lunch:

20,000 Miles

When I bought the car in March 2012, it only had 9299 miles on it. Here’s a graph of the number of miles I’ve put on the car so far:

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The plateau is from storing it over the winter when it wasn’t exactly Viper driving weather.

Here’s to the next 20,000!

Black Viper Wheels

Earlier today I mounted my wheels back onto my Viper. As mentioned earlier, I had taken them off to paint them using some temporary paint to see if I liked the look or not.

Now that they are back on the car, I can without a doubt say that I do! I am so going to get them permanently powder coated.

Here’s the left side (left them polished, image mirrored) vs. the right side of my car (black). I only painted one side so I could get a better comparison. The final look will have the center caps polished instead of black (I forgot to mask them off) and it will be gloss black instead of the current matte look. This should result in a slightly brighter look. I might even add a body colored pinstripe around the outside of the wheel.



Viper Wheel Removal

Viper Wheel Removed

I took both right wheels off my car today. It was a lot harder than it sounds due to the super low clearance of the car — only about 5 inches between the ground and the frame! After a lot of work, it’s now sitting on wood blocks.

Tomorrow I’ll be using Plasti Dip temporary spray paint to paint the wheels as a mockup to see if I like the blacked out wheel look. I’m strongly considering getting them all powder coated black and this is a good way to see if I like it. Plati Dip is a rubber-like paint that peels off if I want it to. While meant for things like tools, it has a huge following in the automotive world, especially for things like wheels.

For scale, that piece of wood is 6 inches wide (it’s a 4×6″). Yes, it’s a massive tire!