AL Priority + Valentine 1

Lets face it, we drive fast cars. Tickets are a thing that is constantly on our minds and most of us either have or are on the hunt for a good radar detector. I have been debating for quite some time now on whether I should write two separate reviews for these systems. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that while both systems are great systems alone the real value is when you couple the systems together. 

What is it?

So the AL Priority is one of many laser jammers on the market. When looking for which one I was going to purchase I stumbled upon this video from 2014 while some of the information is outdated, it was actually a great first step in finding a perfect system. I decided on the AL Priority mainly because of the constant updates and the integration with other radar detectors on the market. 

I knew that the Valentine 1 would be the radar detector I would use because I have had personal experience with their system and loved the way that it worked. However, it does look outdated and there is a new Passport on the market that appears to do most of what the Valentine can do while looking a little bit more modern. 

The AL Priority System that we are reviewing consisted of 4 sensors (2 in the front and 2 in the rear), The RG Module (for linking the radar detector to the system), the Bluetooth module, the GPS sensor, and the HiFi module. Together, the total system provides for an amazing ticket protecting system. 

How does it work?

The AL Priority system with the additional modules allow you to completely customize how the system works. The HiFi Module gives you the option to set three different profiles each with different settings. The RG module takes it a step further, allowing you control over the radar detector and the GPS module allows you to set speed thresholds for when the system activates.

We setup our system to have profile one act as our main highway profile. In this profile the system doesn't activate until the car goes over 56 mph at that point it activates the laser jammers and the radar detector. All radar modes are on in this profile.

Profile two is set for th city with with the system engaging at 36 mph instead with all other settings the same.

Profile three is set as a secondary highway profile that has X band turned off on the radar detector.

In the event that you are shot with laser and the system is active it will send a scrambled system back and cause the laser to read 0 the first time he shoots you. At that point you can decide how long you want to scramble the signal in the settings for each profile. I have mine to scramble until I hit the mute button at that point it acts like standard parking sensors. If you wish, you can change the time from 3 to 9 seconds after which it will automatically switch from defense to parking sensors.

When the system engages with the HiFi module installed it will actually read out the bands on the radar detector and the actual model of the laser that you are being hit with. Making the radar face only good to detect the direction of the radar. Having the GPS module makes driving in the city more bearable as you no longer get the false alarms of automatic doors. 

I have not used the bluetooth module much as the hifi module does everything that I need. It's the one thing that, if we had to do it again, would pass on. 

Installation

Hardware

This is one of the only installs that we looked at doing ourselves and decided to go ahead and let actual professionals install the sensors and hard wire the control box in. The nice thing about the control box is that it actually provides power to the Valentine 1 as well. The control box was installed under the drivers side and the usb cable was run into the fuse box on the side for easy access.

For the Valentine 1 we installed it on the passenger side of the rear view mirror as our dash cam was installed on the drivers side.

Software

The AL Priority requires a firmware upgrade to bring the system live as they are initially sold as parking sensors. There is a great forum post available here that outlines the first steps after installing the system. 

The full extent of the customization can be seen below. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would absolutely buy this system for everyone of my cars. Sure the system is expensive and some would say more than any ticket you may get. However the AL Priority and Valentine together give me the peace of mind knowing that I have done everything that I can to avoid tickets. In Louisiana only select state troopers run laser, however the system has saved me twice so for in the last 3 months of using it from a ticket via laser. I really can't say enough about these products. It's one of the additions that I say is a must have if you are someone with a heavy foot.

You may want to check your state laws as some states have banned the system.

Our total cost for the system was $1609.70 for the AL Priority and $399 for the Valentine 1 bringing the total cost to just over $2,000.

BMC Air filter Install & Review $180

After scouring the internet for hours and days trying to find a Cold Air Intake System for the C450 I finally gave up and acknowledged the fact that there just isn’t one in production yet.  Seth and I contacted Arma Speed to see if they had plans on developing one and received this response:

“C450 wasn’t for sale here in Taiwan, but now, the C450 has been introduced here locally but finding one is difficult, do you have members here in Taiwan?  If yes, if they can let us 3D scan the intake and engine bay, do the test fitment and dyno test the final product, we can provide the final product free for him.”

So, do we have any members in Taiwan??

Since a new intake system wasn’t an option, I figured that I needed to at least replace the stock filters with something that would breathe better. After researching and comparing the K&N Filters (Half the price) to the BMC Filters, I decided to go with the higher end (and double the price) BMC Filter.  The guys over at Madness Autoworks hooked me up with a great deal and superior service. Here is the link for the filter BMC Air Filter. Just a note, you need to make sure you buy 2 (TWO) filters! Shipping was fast and I received the Filters in 3 days. 

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Install

First thing you need to do is remove the torx screws that hold each air box cover on.

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Once the screws are removed, the cover needs to be open from front to back as the back has hinges that secure it down which will release the lid and expose the stock filters

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Carefully remove your stock filter (when I did this I noticed that there was already a tear in the filter lining) and replace with the BMC Filter. It is very important you face the filter with the protruding side down and the smooth side facing up.

Once the filter is in place, return the cover and secure the back hinges by sliding into the lower hinge inserts. The cover will not want to shut and feel like it is not fitting correctly, but it is and there is just a lot of tension on the hinge itself.

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Lastly, insert the torx screws one at a time and secure cover back in original position. You will need to use a little muscle when pushing the cover down to insert the screws as it does not simply just fall into place.

 

Conclusion

I really wish that there was an intake system option for the C450 but it just doesn’t exist yet. I would say that the next best thing for the intake system is new filters. Comparing the stock filters and the BMC filters, you can definitely tell the difference in quality and breathability. Does this translate to a better driving experience? Honestly, I cannot tell the difference at all as I am sure it is so minor that it really can’t be detected. I would say that if you really want to replace your filters, there would be nothing wrong with paying half the price for the K&N filters and could probably even pick it up at your local auto store. (Note:  I did call Auto Zone and the part was not available through them. If you want to try your local guys it is K&N Part Number 33-5032.)

 

All in All, air filters are just that….air filters. You are not going to see incredible performance gains or beat your PR at the track but you are driving a C450 AMG so why not treat it with the best?

BLACKVUE DR650GW-2CH and Power Magic Pro Dash Cam Review

This day in age documentation is key. With more and more distracted drivers on the road, we are faced with a greater chance of being involved in a wreck and lets face it, no one wants to have to deal with the different stories that inevitably come with each side desperately trying to keep their insurance policy from rising. I'm sure that this is one of the reasons why the dash cam market is expected to reach 4.03 Billion by 2020.

Blackvue is a Korean based company that opened their doors in 2007 specializing in Full HD Dash Cams. They have since grown to become one of the leaders in the Dash Cam Market.

Unboxing

DR650GW-2CH

Overall the Cameras are well packaged. The box includes all cables needed as well as additional adhesive pads and adhesive runner clips to aid you in installing your rear camera. The box also includes a quick setup guide, a firmware changes document, and notice about Wifi.

Power Magic Pro

I am going to nitpick here and I say this knowing that they are a Korean based company, but the design of this box is far inferior to the box that the cameras came in. So much so that if I were in a brick and mortar store purchasing these products I would have passed on the Power Magic Pro. I will get into the PMP a little later but felt it important to at least touch on the package design as is such an eye sore compared to their other products. 

Installation

For the install we went ahead and followed the installation guide documented here. We recommend you do as well the only thing different that we did was install the Power Magic Pro in the trunk next to the fuse box and extended the cable to run up to the front of the car. This is only because we wanted an easy way to be able to change out the cameras to review different dash cams.

The Software

iPhone App

The iPhone App has actually come a long way in the last 8 months since I received the dash cam. In the past in order to change any settings you would have to log into the local wifi network that was created by the Blackvue and then save and reboot the dash cam after each change that you made. This made the setup very time consuming. Since then you now have the ability to make changes via their cloud manager as well as the local wifi network. You are also able to change the SSID of the local network. The only thing you are forced to use, the local wifi network for is for updating the firmware which can still be a bit tricky.

There is an issue with certain types of SD cards in the unit so I would stick to the SD cards outlined in this forum post here. While the post is from 2014 the issues with the unit freezing are still there. I have tried two 128gb cards, both of which resulted in the camera freezing after about an hour use. 

I am not quite sure what blackvue is trying to do with their paid cloud features it seems like you can get most of the functionality of the camera without actually paying for the extra features.  

 

Mac Software

The Mac app, has way more features and is where I would recommend working with the video footage. If you are going to judge it based on appearance the Mac app definitely looks antiquated, however the ability to see both cameras at the same time as well as a map and additional data points are well worth the old design. 

A preview of the Mac app can be seen here.

Sample Video

TurboKits.com BOV (Blow Off Valves) for the C450

Sometimes all you are looking for is something to make your car unique. Something simple that can transform your car from an ordinary everyday vehicle bought off a lot into something that can turn heads and make people see that your car is different... Special even. Your not just an everyday driver but a member of the elite, the cream of the crop, or even someone who got their hands on a one of a kind car. 

Sometimes you want to do that without breaking the bank or spending hours in shop tweaking your car. Lucky for us we have Turbos and even luckier we have the guys at turbokits.com turning out high quality parts for our cars without breaking the bank. 

Enter their Blow Off Valves. For those of you who are not familiar with what a blow off valve is or how it works I urge you take a quick read here  which will bring you up to speed on what blow off valves do for cars. The C450 comes standard with blow off valves that recirculate the excess boost pressure back into the system. What turbo kits have done is made an attachment that turns the standard system into an atmospheric system providing a unique sound that turns heads on the streets.

Ordering

Turbo kits have a great website and amazing customer service that provide any assistance you may need when you need it. They offer a quick turn around time once you have placed your order and come with all the tools needed to install the units.

Installation

So here is where it gets a little tricky. We have heard that some users where able to install the system without removing anything from the car however that was not the case for us. We even went so far as to remove and reinstall the BOV's without removing anything however we were not able to do it. 

If we start with the easier side which is the right when looking at the engine nothing is needed to be moved you can simply unscrew the old unit install the adapter and then reinstall with the included screws.  

The left side has a few hoses we think are oil cooler lines and the coolant reservoir that is in the way of easy access to the Blow Off Valve. For us we removed the plastic radiator gaurd by popping out the three trim buttons in hopes that that would allow us the access that we needed to install the BOV without removing anything else.

From there we removed the three screws holding the coolant reservoir in place in hopes that would give us enough access. 

Still faced with the belts that were in the way and attached to the bottom of the coolant reservoir we removed the two screws holding the belts to the reservoir which gave us enough room to lift the reservoir up enough and move the belts slightly to install the BOV.

From there we reinstalled everything and tried it out. 

The total Time it took for the install was about 20-30 minutes once you know what needs to be removed. 

Take the plastic cover off of the engine by pulling up

Take the plastic cover off of the engine by pulling up

Remove the Left and Righ intake vents

Remove the Left and Righ intake vents

Remove the three plastic pins holding the plastic cover in place and pull toward the engine. Make sure to unhook the cable running underneath it.

Remove the three plastic pins holding the plastic cover in place and pull toward the engine. Make sure to unhook the cable running underneath it.

Remove the three screws holding the reservoir in place

Remove the three screws holding the reservoir in place

Remove this screw as well as one directly underneath it to free the hose that will be in your way

Remove this screw as well as one directly underneath it to free the hose that will be in your way

 

Quality

So when we heard about these BOVs we thought we would try them out but didn't think we would keep them on mainly because it seemed like it would become an annoyance. Boy were we wrong after having them on for a little over a month these things definitely make a difference without making it annoying to drive with them on. Driving with even the lowest of music on and the windows up keeps you from hearing the BOV while driving, however, if you turn the music off you can hear the sweet sounds of the BOV's doing what they do best and venting into the atmosphere. If you roll the windows down it becomes even more noticeable and hearing it from the outside definitely has started turning heads and has people asking what have we done with the car.

Conclusion

These BOV's are definitely worth the money and will turn heads! They are easy to install and uninstall should you ever have problems with the car and need to take the car in for service. They offer no performance gains, but do not trip the Check Engine Light and they are loud enough to get other people noticing you without becoming an annoyance to drive with. We say if you're looking for a little extra something to get them!

H&R Sport Springs - $239.99

Purchasing & Shipping

H&R offers one set of springs for the C450 which come from their Sport Spring line. They advertise a front and rear lowering of 1.2”. Part # is 28811-2. Here is a link to a vendor that is giving us a great discount. Mercedes Benz (W205) C450 AMG Lowering Springs by H&R Springs - Sport Springs

 

Install 

A buddy of mine is a mechanic at a performance BMW shop and has his own garage he works out of on the weekend so he was able to do the install for me. I called around and most places wanted between $450 and $700 for the install. My buddy got the job done in about 4 hours and charged me $300.  


 

First Drive 

I was a little worried about the springs making the ride too stiff and bumpy but was pleasantly surprised when I got the car back and it rode almost identical to stock. The lowered height is just about perfect as it cinches the tires up into the previous gap of the wheel wells and doesn’t sit too low to make it annoying when pulling into driveways, bumps, etc. The few places that you will notice the springs is when you go over those Mountainous speed bumps that some parking lots have. If you do anything but a half mile per hour crawl, you will feel the springs bottom out. The other place that you will notice a difference from stock is when parking the car in a parking lot and pulling up to the curb. You need to be careful not to pull up over the curb as most will scrape your front splitter.  As for the handles, you can definitely tell the difference in the high speed turns. 

Conclusion

This is one of those mods that please both aesthetically and performance wise and for the low cost, it is hard to beat the huge improvements it makes to the car 

 

Before & After Pics