2018 (8V) Audi RS3 Intercooler Install Guide

**Disclaimer: This installation guide is only that, a guide. If you run into challenges or think this may be too over your head, please contact a mechanic in your area to do it for you. By following this guide, you agree that robspace.net or any associates are affiliates are not responsible for any damage that may be caused to you, your car, your tools, or anything else you can think of.


STM (Street Tuned Motorsports) has been a widely recognized and respected tuner in the Nissan world for quite some time. They’ve been the name behind some of the fastest Evo’s and GTR’s in the world, and more importantly for myself and other Audi-philes, they’ve recently decided to enter the realm of the RS3.

This post serves as a walkthrough of the installation of their new intercooler for the 2017+ 8v FL RS3, based on the 1000hp rated Garret core. This Intercooler core is supporting massive builds, and should be more than enough to support the RS3, even as modifications build.

For more information on the actual intercooler itself, please check out my full review.

Overview of the process: 

Here’s what you’re getting yourself into:

  • Removal of wheels
  • Removal of front pieces of fender liner
  • Removal of bumper
  • Removal of screws for headlights
  • Removal of crash bar and associated components
  • Removal of factory intercooler
  • Install STM Intercooler
  • Re-installation of all of the rest

If the above list scares you, and this guide scares you, you may want to enlist some professional assistance. I tackled this by myself, in my garage, with only the assistance of jack stands as well as a cardboard box with a towel over the top of it (to support the bumper when it came off the car). An extra set of hands would have been helpful, but is far from necessary.

Tools List:

  • Impact Wrench (for removal of bolts, only)
  • 17mm Socket
  • T-25, T-27, T-30 Torx drivers
  • T-25, T-27, T-30 Torx Bits (for a socket wrench/impact wrench)
  • 6 inch extension for above wrench
  • Vice Grips (or other clamping pliers to hold the washer fluid line)
  • Two jack stands
  • Automotive jack
  • Wheel chocks
  • 10mm Socket
  • 14mm Socket
  • Flat-Head screwdriver

1: Place your car on jack stands, and remove the front wheels

This is a great time to clean things out, check your brake pads, inspect your rotors, and generally make sure things look “okay” for the future. Some people have indicated that you can do this without removing the wheels – you probably can, however I believe it’s far easier with them off, and the vehicle in the air.

I used a Ryobi 20v impact wrench with a Husky 17mm wheel socket, which is covered in plastic to protect your wheels during use.

2: Remove the screws of the plastic wheel-well covers

You only need to remove the ones in front of the shock/spring assembly.

3: Remove screws at the bottom of the bumper

Remove the three screws at the bottom of the car – you do *not* need to remove the oil pan cover. These are T-30, and match the three at the top of the bumper (but do the top ones last!).

4: Remove the screws from the sides (wings) of the bumper

These were the trickiest for me; as I couldn’t find a good aspect for what to remove. You need to peel back the wheel well liner a bit, and unscrew the T-27 from the outermost post. The inside one does *not* need to be removed (circled in red with a strike-through, in the below photo).

The next screw, I struggled to get a picture of. You need to pull back a little more of the wheel well liner, up above the last screw you removed. When you do this, you’ll find the T-27, and it’s hard to get to and reach, but fortunately it’s not terribly tight. I used a 1/4 inch ratchet with a 6 inch extension, plus a T-27 1/4 bit to make it all work. The photo below was taken with the screw removed so that it contrasts better with the flash so that you can see the hole.

Once you’ve done this, you can pull back the wing edges from the side of the car (it’s a little bit of a tug to do it…)

5: Remove top screws

Remove the three T-30 screws from the top of the bumper.

6: Pull the bumper away from the car SLOWLY!!!

I had an amazon box with a microfiber towel to rest the bumper on temporarily.

You’ll need to disconnect the washer fluid line:

And the park-assist sensor cable (if equipped) before pulling too hard on the bumper.

7: Loosen, but do not remove the headlights

Three Torx on top:

One Torx at the front:

No need to do much more than that for now.

8: Remove ACC radar and temperature sensor

Use an Allen key to remove the sensor, including bracket from the crash bar. The temperature sensor has a pin in the center that can be pushed out, and then pushed through the back-side. Be careful with this, as I did break the bracket (sponsored by Gorilla Glue, now!). STM included a new bracket, which I took the opportunity to mount (T27 again, I believe).

9: Remove the horns and let them hang

T27 – unscrew them and let them hang.

10: Remove the remainder of the bolts for the crash bar

This gets tricky – As you remove these, you’ll notice that the entire radiator assembly tries to slide down – It’s important that you note roughly where this was when you started, hindsight, you might even want to take a 2×4 or something else relatively flat to place under the radiator mount (at the bottom) to ensure it doesn’t slide at all. If it does, you risk that your hood won’t line up anymore, and it will need to be adjusted a bit (more on that later).

11: Removal of the crash bar

Slide the headlights out and to the sides of the car, creating a bit of wiggle room for your crash bar – you’ll lift up and rotate away from the car, and it should slide past the headlights.

12: Remove the factory intercooler

Using a flathead screwdriver, loosen both hose clamps. You may need to use the flathead to get the hoses lose, but I did not. Using a <size> socket, remove the two bolts holding down the factory intercooler. This should now just lift straight off.

13: Installation of the STM intercooler

Pretty straight forward, slide the hoses over the ends of the intercooler, and tighten down.

14: Rebuilding the car!

Pretty much go through everything in reverse order. Here are the ‘gotchas’ I ran into during re-assembly:

  • When you re-install the crash bar, make sure that it’s in pretty close to the same position it was when you took it off.
  • Re-installing the hard-to-reach screw inside the wheel well – There’s no really good way that I found to do this, so I took my watch and wedding band off, and literally just shoved my hand up there until i made it fit. I did shove a head-lamp inside so that I could have a bit of light. YMMV…
  • When you close the hood, you may find that it doesn’t line up. If needed, there are a pair of T30 screws on each hood latch bar (left and right side of the underside of the hood). Screw these in and out as needed to ensure alignment.
  • Once you get these aligned, you can lower/raise the rubber bump-stops up or down to ensure that the hood doesn’t rattle while closed and fits nice and snug. I personally aimed for the point where I didn’t need to slam it, but could close it gently and then simply “push” down to get each side to latch.

6 thoughts on “2018 (8V) Audi RS3 Intercooler Install Guide

  1. Just wanted to say, thanks for this! Not sure yet if I want to tackle this myself or not, but your guide makes it sound much easier than I thought!


    1. Excellent! Glad to hear it! Please feel free to post questions during the install, or send an email on the contact form and I can try to be available in real-time when you’re tackling it should you run into any challenges. This was the first major dismantle I’ve done to a modern car (1979 Toyota Celica doesn’t count!) and I was hesitant myself.


  2. Thanks for the info.

    To put those hard to reach screws back into the bumper from the back. Use an extendable magnet. Put the screw on top of it, and use the magnet to just start the screw. It will stay in place until you can slide a torx in there to tighten it.



    1. Great tip, thanks for reading! I’ll try that on my turbo inlet install tomorrow if needed.


  3. Michael Cornell March 31, 2022 — 9:01 pm

    I am curious to know what you think the total install time is.


    1. Having never done it before, it was about 8 hours, I think that right now I could knock it out in about 3.

      Hardest part are the bolts on the sides of the bumper.


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