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'03 Base OBW 5sp; '12 Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #1
I'll be changing out the rear suspension bushings in the next few weeks. After 176000 miles they have probably had it!

With this extensive type of work I think the question almost always is: While I've got it all apart, what else should I be looking to do so i don't have to repeat the labor again?

Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated. I've got 12 bushings coming along with the two stamped steel front lower lateral links...all Subaru OEM and I plan to remove the trailing arms and the subframe. I've got an HF 20 ton press so no running to a shop!

I've researched a bunch of threads on this forum and the other Subie forums out there. I also have a Haynes so I think I have a good handle on what to expect and the steps that are needed but if somebody has had this done or done it themselves and want to throw so additional tips my way feel free.
 

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'03 Base OBW 5sp; '12 Outback Limited
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61 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
So, last weekend I started taking the rear end apart; sway bar, all control arm links, both trailing arms and loosened the big bolts that hold the sub frame on. I was able to get half of my bushings replaced so I only have 6 left!

I should be able to complete the installation of all but the two differential bushings by the weekend and then work on getting the rear diff and sub frame off in order to press those bushings off and get the new ones in.

I've also decided to replace the rear diff side O-rings and axle seals as a "since I'm in there" type of repair. I'm trying to decide whether to remove the diff rear cover and reseal it with some Permatex Anerobic sealant that I have left over from my HG repair last Spring(that was fun!). Does anyone have thoughts on that?

After all that, then it put back together time.

Some thoughts:

The upper control Arm inner bushings were toast. The metal sleeve on both of them fell out of the bushing once removed from the car!! These were probably the source of my persistent squeaking going over bumps.
The front link(dogbone) on both sides seemed very used and while the bushings were in OK shape the inner bushings moved slightly when trying to move them with my fingers.
The rear(toe adjustable) links had bushings that again, seemed very used. I decided to replace the adjustable bolts, washers and nuts on those.
The trailing arm large front bushings were pretty cracked all around and while some people indicate bushings with just cracks are still OK others seem to believe that for the cost of the bushings(< $30 ea) it makes sense to replace them while you have everything apart so I took the latter route. That thinking also drove me to replace the smaller rear bushings on the trailing arms also.....once the trailing arm is off it's not a difficult job to press out the bushing.

This is an AZ car so I haven't had the rust issues that would really make this job questionable for a DIYer. All in all this is pretty straight forward so far and I'm not too worried about getting it all back together. I'd rate this just as involved as the HG, Clutch job I did last Spring.
 

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'03 Base OBW 5sp; '12 Outback Limited
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61 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Need some advice folks as I'm working on the car this AM (at least until the 500 comes on):

I got the subframe back on with the four large 14mm bolts and everything was going back together really well when one of the 10mm(17mm socket) bolts that hold the rear drivers side bracket stripped out. I tried to recut the original thread with a tap but that didn't work well as the bolt went 'pop'. The other 9 bolts holding the subframe to the unibody are torqued to spec.

So now my debate is to fix the one 10mm bolt hole -or- trust that the other 9 hold down points for the subframe will suffice. **Does anybody have any thoughts or advice??**

A Time-Sert kit from Amazon is about $90 bucks(!!!) so I'm really considering just leaving as is. The car is a daily driver commuter car getting about 70% of it's use on pothole free AZ freeways and the other 30% on pothole free AZ city streets. No off roading at this point.


Other then this hiccup, all has gone well. Just taking my time.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,120 Posts
I am not 100% sure the bolt being referenced. It bolts what?-to-what? You did say the (40 main floating subrafme bolts are in correct? There is a really flimsy unibody plate off the rear of the subframe. If it's one of those, I may not be concerned, you might get some clunking or noise, or body flexing.
 

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'03 Base OBW 5sp; '12 Outback Limited
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61 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Yes, the 4 main subframe bolts are secure and torqued.....and if you recall, each of the 4 subframe points have a support brackets that the 4 main bolts also go through and then attach to the unibody...

The rear drivers side support bracket is attached to the unibody with 2 10mm bolts on one side and then the rear drivers side main subframe bolt.

The stripped bolt is one of the small 10mm bolts it's only torqued to 48 ft lbs so it's not holding much. My biggest concern is that if I don't fix it now the bracket won't be able to support the side to side and front to back stresses of the subframe over time.

I guess i'm thinking that I can put everything together and then check every month to see if there has been any loosening of the subframe or the support brackets.

9 out of 10 mounting points isn't too bad. Hopefully, Subaru over-engineered the rear subframe support!!
 

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'03 Base OBW 5sp; '12 Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #6
Finished the project!!! drives like a dream now.

Just need to get an all wheel alignment and I'll be back on the road.

So here's what was replaced:
Trailing Arm front bushings,
Rear front control arms(dog-bone),
Upper control arm bushings;inner and outer,
Rear control bushings; inner,
Trailing Arm rear bushings,
Rear Diff stud bushings.(in the sub-frame)
Rear sway bar links

My adjustment bolts for the rear toe was somewhat rusty so I opted to just buy a couple new ones so I don't have to worry about alignments moving forward.

I also replaced the rear diff inner o-rings(the large ones that go around the inside of the bearing carrier). I also replaced the rear shims I had, .30 mm on the drivers side and .40 and .50 mm on the passenger side.

If you read my post above about the stripped threads on the captive nut for one of the sub-frame support brackets you'll know that initially I was going to just leave it alone but after a couple days I changed course and decided to fix the threads. It wouldn't be too hard and I had the time.

I went ahead and backed out the one bolt I meant to fix and you could tell the threads inside the frame were shot. I then backed out the other bolt from it's captive nut and lo and behold I saw a metal thread come out with the bolt!! Damned if the other bolt wasn't stripped also!!! Luckily I had bought a Perma-Coil kit b/c now I had two captive nut threads to restore. That process took about 3 hrs. I felt much better after the fix and the bolts were torqued to their 48 ftlbs and held.

While the wheels were off I took the liberty of bleeding the brakes so I've got all new Prestone 3 brake fluid!


This is a nice project to do if you have the time and a press. I'm really happy I did it but wouldn't have paid to have it done as it might have been close to $700 before parts are taken into account. I think I spent just over $400 on parts myself......
 
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