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zerfman34 07-06-2009 06:52 PM

How to remove rear bumper ('01)
Hey guys and gals,

I'm trying to fix a rust spot that i've observed on many subaru's (unfortunately including my own) on the rear quarter panels just behind the wheel well. I'm going to need to remove the rear bumper to get to it, but I can't figure out how to get to all the plastic rivets that hold the bumper on. Anybody have any advice?


HOMER PIMPSON 07-06-2009 11:02 PM

A drill at low speed so you dont melt the plastic.

nipper 07-06-2009 11:13 PM

FSM is no help, as it just says "remove bolts and clips". These rivets (clips etc) arent made to be reused so they dont like being removed. If you can get around to the business end of them, you can work them out. I dont know if a drill would help much depending upon how thick they are.

Someone else may have a better idea, as eventually I need to do the same thing, and sourrce the lower body decal.


Starwobble 07-07-2009 05:43 AM

Nipper's right - don't plan on being able to re-use the clips. I think I used a combination of pincers, screwdriver and pliers to get the 'head' proud enough to then grip and pull out. The bumper didn't suffer from recollection either!
The trickiest fasteners to get off mine were the bolts on the leading corners on the wheel arch.
The instructions for my towbar installation read:
Remove bumper from vehicle (2 vertical bolts inside boot on each side under plastic grommets, 1 tip bolt each side on top corner, 4 plastic screws/clips on bottom edge of bumper).
Good luck!

Abaddon1 07-07-2009 06:34 AM

1 Attachment(s)
As usual, Nip is right

I bought my OTB with a bent tow bar. Little did I know that, when the tow bar got bent (in a car park, impacted by some other guy with serious bar work!) the whole bumper was torn off!

The bumper was bolted back in place, but never looked the same. There's still about 2 or 3 more mills gap on the right side compared with the left, I can only assume due to irreversible warping to the plastic. Those clips are not made to survive anything.

Basically, you need a new bumper, and as the clips are single use (SOO Toyota) get it all done proper, rather than trying it yourself.

Doctor Shifty 07-18-2009 06:33 AM

Rear bumper removal How-to
Hi Zerfman34,

removing the rear bumper is easy once you know how it works, otherwise it seems impossible.

1. Know your product.
The bumper is a plastic outer fastened to a pressed metal frame. The plastic is held to the frame with several re-usable press fasteners. You do not remove the bumper from the frame.

The press fasteners that matter are the central three underneath the centre of the bumper, and one each side just behind the wheel arch.

All those fasteners along the top under the tailgate rubber? You leave them in place. The outer two fasteners underneath stay in place as they attach to a drop-hanger on the frame. Same with the one each side, midway between the wheel arch and the rear corner.

To remove the fasteners you need a flat blade screwdriver and some good fingernails. Pull up the central button, it will stop at about a half inch. Hold that up and pry up the fastener. Some will have dirt in behind and need a bit of wriggling. Some will be brittle and might snap. Inside are four legs that spread outwards when the central button is pressed home. You need to allow those four legs to bend inwards, take it easy. They are re-usable if removed carefully.

2. Remove the fasteners.
Remove the mud flaps. There are three bolts, two into the bumper plastic, one tucked inside in the top corner (the wheel is a bit in the way for the spanner).

Remove the bolt from the front top edge of the bumper just behind the wheel.

Remove the front press fastener from underneath, just behind the wheel. This one goes into a squarish plastic fitting (leave the fitting in place). The fastener half way back attaches to a metal piece that is part of the bumper and frame. Leave it there.

Remove the three central fasteners from underneath the bumper. Leave the outer two.

3. Unbolt the frame.
Open the tailgate and remove the floor pieces. This means, the wheel cover, the outer carpeted peices, and the foam pieces underneath.

Remove the plastic trim piece that runs along the rear edge. It is held on with four snap fittings. Remove it with a flat blade under the front edge. It levers up easily, but take it carefully.

You will see the metal frame running along each side. There are three plastic grommets each side, one grommet is just underneath the trim behind the tail light. Remove the round grommet you can see, and the round grommet under that trim. You can leave the oval grommet.

The bolts for the pressed metal frame are under those round grommets. You need a 17mm socket and the rearmost bolt needs an extension to reach it.

Unscrew and remove two bolts each side.

You are now ready to remove the bar and frame assembly.

4. Pulling out the bumper.
There are two clips you have to release on each side. One is at the very front point. It needs to be pulled slightly outwards and will clip off the car body.

The second clip is at the top edge of the bumper plastic, about halfway between the wheel and rear corner. It's directly above the fastener you have left in the bottom. This clip is like a little mushroom attached to the body with a 'two prong' mating part inside the bumper. It needs to be pulled directly rearwards.

When you have released the front clip, give a solid palm-punch to the bumper edge where the mudflap lives. This will push the bumper back an inch or so and release the mushroom clip.

The whole bumper and frame will now slide easily away from the car.

Suddenly you can see how they fit all those fasteners in place under the tailgate rubber. !!

5. Putting it all back.
Line up the two frame legs to slide back into the bolt passages.

Line up the top edges of the bumper so those side clips are in position. The mushroom clip can be lined up proud of the clip, then a sharp inward hit on the plastic will lock it into place. The mushroom is tapered so it works from this position.

The front clip locks in place, but it will need some help to position it. You will see how that's done when you have it out.

6. Something to be wary of.
When you have the bumper and frame off the car you need to put it somewhere. It does not sit easily on the ground right way up. Do not turn it upside down and put it on a concrete driveway. This will scratch the paint off the top edge and those scratches will be visible when you have it all back together, especially down each side.

When you are setting it up for removal, check that I've described all the fasteners properly. If it's unwilling to move, check that I haven't forgotten one in these instructions.

If you are fitting a towbar you are likely to have trouble with the bolts as they are not long enough. The original bolts have a fitted flat washer and spring washer. And the thread does not go all the way to the end of the bolt, there is a positioning area with no thread. A towbar needs longer bolts. Or you need to remove both washers. Do not try to push the washers along the thread, you will damage the thread. You need to cut them with a hacksaw. It's easier to use new bolts. They are 12mm with 1.25 thread.

7. That's it. The first time you do this is the hardest. Allow a half hour the first time.

Abaddon1 07-18-2009 07:48 AM


Well done doctor - I stand corrected!

Will print your how-to and try this myself soon enough. Will make a potential repaint much, much easier.

Doctor Shifty 07-18-2009 08:09 AM

A repaint? No way! Get some spray-on mud from the fourby shop. :D

You can check if my instructions are missing anything. Hope it works out for you.

03LLBean 07-28-2014 08:53 PM

Excellent walk through, thanks. I'm planning to do this soon since I have early stage rear quarter panel rust and I think it started under the rear bumper.
How high is the risk of any of the tabs being rusted and needing replacement? That would involve welding, correct?

eagleeye 07-28-2014 09:42 PM


Originally Posted by 03LLBean (Post 1840065)
Excellent walk through, thanks. I'm planning to do this soon since I have early stage rear quarter panel rust and I think it started under the rear bumper.
How high is the risk of any of the tabs being rusted and needing replacement? That would involve welding, correct?

Edit, and aside from thanking Nipper who is rarely on anymore, the rest of these people are long gone.

from reading this forum long enough you might run into something that is not worth repairing and you can then find a new part to replace it with or find it from some south or western parts yard that you can get it from. Lockmedic's gen2 boneyard springs to mind, his cars should (should) have less rust then ours.

When I have seen Gen2 cars with their front / rear bumpers off from around here they may need a steel bumper mount or 2.

Getting the bumper off is easy,

getting it to go back on, straight and tight is not easy. It is actually a good way to find out if a outback has been rear ended as hacker handy people will not bother to align the bumper cover when they put it back on,...or it pops out of place in the sun light in a few days.

= like many other plastic parts you put it out in the sun and let it heat up, then while it is still warm, put it in place and let it shrink to fit and then bolt it down with new fasteners. These can be better then factory, at the factory they used whatever was easy and durable on virgin parts, you are not the factory but you also want easy and durable. and the plastic maybe stiffer and harder to bolt through without drilling a bigger hole or using something like a big self tapping screw to go from plastic to plastic. So don't be afraid to destroy old fasteners if you need to, getting the mud flaps off, (it is a bolt and a nut, and the nut just spins and spins as it is reset in the plastic, VDC now has real big self tapping screws holding them on,...epoxy works on such little bits too).

Edit: to our dear departed brothers and sisters, who started this thread so long ago

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