After finally sorting the timing issues, I was finally able to drive the Spyder home to Chicago. After a few weeks without power steering, I think my valet was really starting to hate me. None of the parts stores in the area carried a belt in the correct size, so I headed over to extremepsi and ordered new Gates Racing performance grade power steering, alternator,and AC belts to match the Gates Racing performance grade timing belt I used for the timing job. During the timing job, I noticed my stock pulleys were pretty chewed up. That’s where the OBX overdrive pulley set stepped in.
Before I get too far into the review, I should talk about OBX and their reputation first. Typically, OBX is an eBay brand that makes cheap knock offs and their record in the DSM community is a bit shoddy. I wouldn’t normally recommend OBX as a company because of this reputation. However, nobody else is currently making a set of aftermarket pulleys for the DSM. Unorthodox Racing used to make a set, but they no longer list them in their product list on their website. If you’re not lucky enough to find them used from another DSM tuner, you’re stuck with either stock or OBX pulleys. So I did some research on DSMTuners.com, and it turned out the handful of people who reviewed these pulleys before turned out to be happy with them. I made the decision to take a chance on them figuring the worst they could really do is toss a pulley and I could still put the old ones back on.
Another thing worth noting is that this pulley kit does not include an AC pulley or a Crank Pulley. I do not recommend running an aftermarket crank pulley on a 4G63 anyway as the stock one acts as a harmonic balancer. A solid aluminum crank pulley could potentially cause severe damage to your engine. If you want the benefits of an aftermarket crank pulley without the risk, you should look into a FLUIDAMPR. At $300 a piece, it wasn’t in my budget for this project, but someday I’ll pick one up. I have not been able to find an aftermarket pulley for the AC compressor. Most people intent on making a lot of power in the DSM community delete the AC system. While I do have a convertible, I also have a 90 lb husky who needs to stay cool, even when it’s raining, so the AC is there to stay in my car.
I’ve put almost 2000 miles on these pulleys since installing them with no issues so far. The first impression pulling them out of the box is that they are noticeably lighter than the factory pulleys. The idea with lighter weight pulleys is to increase horsepower at the wheels by reducing parasitic loss between the crank and the drive train. Often, manufacturers compound this by making the pulleys slightly smaller than factory too, but that also reduces the output of the components the pulleys drive. The DSM has an anemic alternator to start with, so I wouldn’t recommend reducing the pulley size. You would also have to run smaller belts with smaller pulleys, making the Gates Racing belts I ordered useless with aftermarket pulleys. Fortunately, the OBX pulleys are the same size as the factory pulleys, just lighter weight because they are made of aluminum instead of steel.
Once you get over the weight difference, the next thing to catch your eye will be the water pump pulley. If you’re familiar with the DSM waterpump, the fact that I said pulley instead of pulleys should get your attention. The stock waterpump on a DSM is driven by two pulleys that mate into one another on installation. The OBX pulley set combines these into a one-piece pulley. This makes installation a little more difficult in the tight space between the water pump and the frame of the car. I got around this by removing the side engine mount and raising the engine as high as I could. I raised the engine by putting a jack under the oil pan and sandwiching some 1×6 boards between to avoid damaging the pan. Lift the engine slowly until you get enough clearance to angle the water pump pulley over the water pump.Once the pulley is on, you can lower the engine back down to reduce the pressure on the other engine mounts.
In addition to being one piece, the water pump pulley comes with only a center hole for alignment, and no bolt holes for mounting. Fortunately, I had read about this in another review on DSM tuners and was ready with a drill press and bits to make my own holes. I used the stock pulley to mark the holes. The drill press made short work of the soft aluminum in the pulley. Given the cheap price of the pulleys and the ease of drilling the holes, I would say this not really an issue. You could easily do this with a hand drill too if you are patient and willing to take your time. I had access to the drill press, so I used it.
The only other challenge I faced during the install was removing the stock alternator pulley. I made the mistake of removing the belts first, which meant I couldn’t use the tension of the belts to hold the alternator and power steering pulleys in place while I broke the center bolts loose. The stock power steering pulley has holes in the side you can jam a screwdriver or wrench into to help hold it in place (be careful not to break anything though), but the alternator pulley is solid. Since the old pulley was chewed up anyway, I just went to auto zone and picked up a chain wrench. Then I crawled under the car and clamped down on the alternator pulley while a buddy broke the bolt loose from above. To tighten the new pulley on, we used the tension of the belt to hold it in place. You may also be able to use the chain wrench for this, but I was worried about damaging the soft aluminum and didn’t end up needing to risk it.
Ultimately, I’m happy with the purchase. They look nice, weigh less, and are less likely to chew up my new belts than the damaged stock ones were. I picked my pulleys up on eBay, but I’ve since found them on amazon for cheaper. I ordered the silver kit, but they are also available in red and blue.