Suspension Refresh - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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Suspension Refresh

I think I might have asked this before a few years ago, but If I did, I can't find it now.

My 2006 Outback is in desperate need of a suspension refresh - the rear tires are wearing badly on the outside shoulders, and I have serious clunks and sideways skips at the rear. The front LCA bushings are pretty torn as well. I'm at 130k miles and 13 years on the original parts, so they've done pretty well.

I'm not looking to upgrade over stock, but will use non-OEM parts to make things easier and make small upgrades if they are more durable or make alignment easier. This car is the dog transport and hauling stuff from Lowe's/Home Depot car, and doesn't do that many miles a year, so I'm planning on running it into the ground, but not spending big on it.

I have access to fairly decent home mechanic tools - air compressor, 1/2" impact wrench, ramps and jack stands, etc. but no press or strut compressor. I'm happy to bolt and unbolt stuff, and I think I'd be OK with compressing springs for struts, but I wouldn't mind paying to avoid that. I don't have any mechanic or shop that I'm familiar with (I at least need an alignment shop for once the work is complete).

I'm thinking Mevotech aluminum LCAs and Megan Racing adjustable lateral links as the easy and durable options for those parts.

Questions:
Are there any reasonably good preassembled strut options?
Is there an option for bushing replacements on the rear suspension parts (apart from the forward rear lateral link) that's not too far from stock that avoid pressing in? E.g. I've done MGB poly bushings before that didn't need a press.

What other parts need looking at?

Edit to add some links for my own reference:

cthies' rear bushing replacement thread - update
cthies' trailing arm bushing replacement thread
cthies' Rear End DONE!

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 12:01 PM
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You can rent a spring compressor from your local Autozone for no cost once you've returned it. The tool makes the job safe and easy to swap the struts from the springs so don't be afraid to tackle it yourself. I haven't heard of any pre-assembled units that were worth a **** but I haven't spent much time looking either.

The adjustable lateral links will be a bit overkill if you're staying at stock height. Subaru sells those parts complete--the rubber bushings in the arms--for a reasonable price. I would do that over the megan arms if it were me.

I've done a complete suspension refresh on my LGT which is basically the same as the outback minus the ground clearance. I replaced everything with whiteline bushings and NVH increased considerably. I plan on refreshing the LLBean at some point in the future but will go all Subaru bushings instead.

I used a vice to push in most of the whiteline bushings. I imagine a vice would push in most of the stock rubber bushings as well. The real trouble from the job was getting the original bushings out in the first place. I used a torch to burn out the rubber, then sawzall'd out the sleeve. It wasn't easy. None of the local machine shops would even attempt to remove the bushings, even with the suspension out of the car, sitting in a box. My local Subaru dealer, who has all the special tools to press out the bushings--wanted $600, just to push the bushings out. **** that!

There's also going to be a bunch of "while you're there" items to consider. I replaced all the hub assemblies on the LGT, which added a lot of cost to the project. Worth it, but they're not cheap if you get a quality component. Consider brakes as well, since you'll have it all apart anyways.


Current cars: The Sex Wagon 2005 Legacy GT Wagon w/ 5 speed, Stage 2, TBSTI Bilsteins/STI Pinks and Whiteline everything else. The Outbean 2006 Legacy Outback LLBean 3.0r, All stock The Workhorse 2001 Toyota Tundra SR5 New Project 2009 2.5i SE--Blown Headgaskets

Past cars: 2001 Outback 2.5 Limited, 2003 Outback LLBean h6, 2008 Outback 2.5 base, 2010 Legacy 2.5i Premium w CVT, 2003 BMW 330CI, 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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As I understand it, the front struts are hard to do with the regular spring compressors, as they don't quite compress enough to reach, hence my qualms about doing those myself.

The adjustable forward rear lateral links are because, again AIUI, the Outback suspension geometry overloads the stock links, and they are first part to go on Outbacks, and also prevent getting a good alignment, which in turn leads to the infamous ghost walking issue.

Rear brakes and front pads almost certainly need doing at the same time. The front discs and one caliper were replaced at 110k miles because the caliper froze on. I've already done the sway bar bushings, but endlinks might follow (although there's no real reason to do those at the same time).
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dyqik View Post
I think I might have asked this before a few years ago, but If I did, I can't find it now.

My 2006 Outback is in desperate need of a suspension refresh - the rear tires are wearing badly on the outside shoulders, and I have serious clunks and sideways skips at the rear. The front LCA bushings are pretty torn as well. I'm at 130k miles and 13 years on the original parts, so they've done pretty well.

I'm not looking to upgrade over stock, but will use non-OEM parts to make things easier and make small upgrades if they are more durable or make alignment easier. This car is the dog transport and hauling stuff from Lowe's/Home Depot car, and doesn't do that many miles a year, so I'm planning on running it into the ground, but not spending big on it.

I have access to fairly decent home mechanic tools - air compressor, 1/2" impact wrench, ramps and jack stands, etc. but no press or strut compressor. I'm happy to bolt and unbolt stuff, and I think I'd be OK with compressing springs for struts, but I wouldn't mind paying to avoid that. I don't have any mechanic or shop that I'm familiar with (I at least need an alignment shop for once the work is complete).

I'm thinking Mevotech aluminum LCAs and Megan Racing adjustable lateral links as the easy and durable options for those parts.

Questions:
Are there any reasonably good preassembled strut options?
Is there an option for bushing replacements on the rear suspension parts (apart from the forward rear lateral link) that's not too far from stock that avoid pressing in? E.g. I've done MGB poly bushings before that didn't need a press.

What other parts need looking at?
@traildogck is, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable guy on Gen 3 suspensions! He also has a line of bushings which he casts himself. I would advise you to contact him before you dig into replacing the suspension components!

I will second the idea of replacing the hub assemblies! I've used Timken brand and am very happy with the durability & comparability.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 02:24 PM
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Thanks for the mention.

I am a fan of either the MR rear forward lateral links OR the Whiteline rear upper control arm camber bushing. In order to get the mentioned second point of alignment. Even on car that is at stock height. I do think the stock rear forward lateral links are a weak spot. Also, rear upper ear control arm inner bushing get whipped also, you might want to check that out as well. WL makes a poly replacement there also that does NOT require a press.

I do have several versions of sway bar bushings that I fabricate. Straight up stock replacements and upgraded hybrid kits that use bushing designs and straps from newer model Subarus.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2019, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traildogck View Post
Thanks for the mention.

I am a fan of either the MR rear forward lateral links OR the Whiteline rear upper control arm camber bushing. In order to get the mentioned second point of alignment. Even on car that is at stock height. I do think the stock rear forward lateral links are a weak spot. Also, rear upper ear control arm inner bushing get whipped also, you might want to check that out as well. WL makes a poly replacement there also that does NOT require a press.

I do have several versions of sway bar bushings that I fabricate. Straight up stock replacements and upgraded hybrid kits that use bushing designs and straps from newer model Subarus.
Thanks. I've done the swaybar bushes already. A press free option for the upper sounds useful.

How do you think the trailing arm bushes do? I guess I need to look at those. (ETA: found the whiteline options for those as well.)
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dyqik View Post
Thanks. I've done the swaybar bushes already. A press free option for the upper sounds useful.

How do you think the trailing arm bushes do? I guess I need to look at those. (ETA: found the whiteline options for those as well.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dyqik View Post
As I understand it, the front struts are hard to do with the regular spring compressors, as they don't quite compress enough to reach, hence my qualms about doing those myself.

The adjustable forward rear lateral links are because, again AIUI, the Outback suspension geometry overloads the stock links, and they are first part to go on Outbacks, and also prevent getting a good alignment, which in turn leads to the infamous ghost walking issue.

Rear brakes and front pads almost certainly need doing at the same time. The front discs and one caliper were replaced at 110k miles because the caliper froze on. I've already done the sway bar bushings, but endlinks might follow (although there's no real reason to do those at the same time).

The rear struts are easy , the front struts are challenging. The springs are what makes it challenging. The front Coil spring is helical with the diameter reduced at the top. (Higher spring rate close to the mount).


If you can rent this type of compressor, the front springs are easy. the fork on this compressor needs to get as close to the top coil on the spring as possible.

https://www.autozone.com/videos/v/64...018/185513035/

If you rent this type you're going to need two sets for the front spring. at least one or two of the clamps of the compressor needs to get onto that top coil to get the spring to compress right.

https://www.autozone.com/test-scan-a...ssor/70135_0_0


in all cases take it slow, load the spring evenly when compressing. if the spring bulges at the side, there is danger it will cause more harm than its worth for the job.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 11:01 AM
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Have you looked at CarID.com

For example...

https://www.carid.com/2006-subaru-ou...316800982.html

Buy a complete assembly and you don’t have to worry about the springs.

Not necessarily recommending the exact model above. It’s just an example. They have others as well.

I did this on my other car and it was much easier.


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I've looked at the various complete struts, but I don't know whether to trust them or not over the known good KYB struts.

Anyway, I've got a line on a hydraulic strut compressor from the local Facebook marketplace for $50, so I'm going for that. Looks to be similar to ones Amazon sells, and which should be adequate for these struts (all the complaints seem to be about using them on truck springs which are somewhat higher loadings)
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dyqik View Post
How do you think the trailing arm bushes do? I guess I need to look at those. (ETA: found the whiteline options for those as well.)
Had a quick look at the trailing arm bushes this morning (you can do that without lifting or taking the wheel off), and they look pretty bad as well. Guess I'll be getting the whiteline bushes for those as well.

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