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2005 OBW 2.5 4EAT / 2005 LGT Wagon 5MT
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey All,

I know this is a much complained about and pored over topic, but I'm yet another victim of the wonky rear-suspension Outback syndrome. For the record, I've read through a dozen odd or more strings on the topic, so I've got the basics, but I am hoping for a little help focusing on the 'what next', rather than just throwing more parts and money at my car....

Just to do a shortened version of the story. I've owned this OB for 6-7 years now, and it was my Moms car before that. (Part of why I replaced my '02 OB was only that I knew how well this one had been treated.) It's not been in any major collisions that I am aware of, save for a (front) bumper bender that I go it in last winter, and which I can't imagine will have any bearing on the rear suspension.
It has '04 style KYB rear dampers and Rallitek rear Overload springs, '05 OEM style stuff up front. And yes, I really like the combination well enough, never had any ghostwalking issues that I know of. She's always been good in the winter as long as I've kept good snows on it.

So then, the problem is a common enough one:
474406


Ignore the front numbers for now, clearly rear toe is unaccaptably out on the rear drivers wheel. I'm reasonably will to accept the passengers side, but on the whole, this clearly won't do.

This started when I noticed my summers, and older winters were wearing pretty unevenly on the back of the car, so aside from the usual checks, tire pressure, etc... I assumed it was just age, and took in for a 4 corner alignment. The shop, who has always done pretty good work for me (what little I send them) and said they'd be able to get the fronts done fine, but the rear toe adjusters couldn't be moved and the control arms would have to be replaced.

So, I took it home and again after a little research and nosing around, replaced both rear upper control arms with MOOG parts, both lateral links with Mevotech parts, and the toe adjustment cam bolts with the grease-able MOOG replacement, this is southern Ontario and the parts were REALLY rust welded in. Advice from elsewhere on the site led me save an enormous amount of effort by getting a carbide reciprocating saw bit. Also a rear bearing that was beginning to make a little noise and sway bar links. All parts were reinstalled as per factory instructions, and torqued with the suspension under load.

The ultimate result is that the best the shop could do with the rear are the above figures. That said, they just did what they could and explained that this was the maximum toe adjustment available with the bolts. (They also only charged me for a diagnostic, which is nice, since they couldn't do the job as required.)

So, I've got a whiteline rear camber kit floating around somewhere which was intended for my LGT, but it seems like it will have to get donated to the OB. That should help get those rear camber figures in spec at least, and maybe help get toe in, but I'm certain it won't get that rear wheel a full degree closer to zero.

My plan at the moment is to put it back up on my quickjacks this weekend, and do a better inspection of the trailing arm bushings, get the camber kit into it, and see if there is anything really obviously amiss. However, I realize whatever is causing this misalignment is not likely to visible to the naked eye, if it isn't something pretty obvious like an failed/failing bushing.

So before I get underneath, I hoped I could maybe compile a short list of things to have a look for based on the advice of the chassis gurus around here. The shop suggested this kind of alignment problem could be indicative of collision damage, but since that really isn't terribly likely, I'm a little at a loss. I'll post my results when I know a little more, but just hope to have a better idea of what to look for when I can get back underneath.

Sorry for the long read, but better to be thorough, thanks very much in advance for any advice!

Jon
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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2,141 Posts
Double check the crossmember itself - it may have also rusted enough to have warped/shifted control arm pickup points.
 

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2005 Outback VDC limited 3.0r
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850 Posts
You could try to install all new bushings, and still end up with the alignment out of spec, at least from what I read and people have told me on here. I asked the same question, should I spend $200-300 on bushings plus my time and labor pressing them, or get the whiteline kta124 kit for $375 shipped. People steered me torwards the whiteline kit. Got it, and I dont regret it. Shop was able to get the toe in spec. They ran out of time fiddling with the camber, so it is now set with about -1.5 rear camber, which wont cause any significant tire wear. Another thing you could try, is have the car aligned with 100 pounds in the trunk, but I dont see this really helping. As that's more for ghostwalking from my understanding.
 

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2005 OBW 2.5 4EAT / 2005 LGT Wagon 5MT
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
You too huh.
Yuuup. Didn't have a chance to get her up on the lift this weekend, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed it isn't brutally cold by next weekend. Always a gamble around here, but nothing to be done for it.

I'll attempt to take some pictures while I am in there. As per advice from Richard above, I am going to take come careful measurements around the inboard upper control arm mounting points. I did the install with a work-lamp in the dark because of the short days, but do seem to recall I though they may have been a little twisted from where they should have been. I wrote it off as a trick of the lighting, since it was dark and cold, and I had at least correctly reassembled the whole thing, so was happy enough with that.

Provided the crossmember/subframe isn't actually damaged in some way, maybe a little bending and tweaking can get me back to where I need everything to be. Welding in a couple of small braces to keep it that way will also be an option, should it come to that. I'd need to have a more thorough look around and see if there is anywhere I could tag in a small triangle against the mounting points.... I know there are a pile of threads about this problem, so maybe I can contribute something useful.

Also; I appreciate the lead on the KTA 124 kit, but as I just installed all new control arms at a couple hundred dollars, I am hoping it doesn't come to that. At $575 it's hard to justify the spend when the car itself is probably only worth $2k or so... But, we will see. Or, I just get it straight-ish and swap out for another Gen 3 Leggy. No suspension problems there, and I don't really use the ground clearance in my current job. My days of crawling through fields with the whip are over. ha!

Cheers!
 

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2005 Outback VDC limited 3.0r
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850 Posts
If you have all new rear control arms. Measure them against each other or old ones if you still have them. You may have gotten one for a legacy. Also make sure they are in the correct orientation, up/down and front/back.
 

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2005 Legacy Wagon Limited 4EAT
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208 Posts
Or, I just get it straight-ish and swap out for another Gen 3 Leggy. No suspension problems there...
Don't be so sure. It's essentially the same suspension design and I'm having similar troubles on my 4th gen legacy. I think I might try the KTA124, but I'm in the same boat. Don't want to drop another $350 on suspension components for a car worth maybe $2k but if that's the only thing that's going to fix it then I guess that's what I've gotta do.
 

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2005 OBW 2.5 4EAT / 2005 LGT Wagon 5MT
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Discussion Starter #8
Don't be so sure. It's essentially the same suspension design and I'm having similar troubles on my 4th gen legacy. I think I might try the KTA124, but I'm in the same boat. Don't want to drop another $350 on suspension components for a car worth maybe $2k but if that's the only thing that's going to fix it then I guess that's what I've gotta do.
You are mainly right about the suspension being similar, but aside from the general architecture and the sub-frame, they're really kind of different. There is a bit of info about all of this around the forum. In a nutshell, the Outback is at the far limit of the suspension geometry design. Since the Leggy rides inches lower, is doesn't suffer from the quite the same issues.... I'm not saying this to be particularly argumentative, but I do have an LGT and suspension tweaks are far easier, and the same toe bolts are more effective in adjustment because of different control arms and geometry.

In any case, it may be worth having a look at the Whiteline camber kit for the 3rd Gen Legacy/Outback. If you're not super far out of spec, it may be all a good alignment shop needs to get you back on track. At $70 CAD, it may be a better start than going with full replacement arms.

Switch PNW - Good advise, and I will take measurements of the new arms as they sit on the car. The difference between Legacy and Outback arms is immediately obvious, so I'm sure I got right ones, but perhaps by some chance they aren't the same length as one another. We've been packed in with freezing rain and snow here for a while, so I've been putting off doing the work until I catch a break in the weather.
 

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2005 OBW 2.5 4EAT / 2005 LGT Wagon 5MT
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Discussion Starter #9
Quick thanks for all advice so far, and an update. Pretty sure I've found the problem, and as noted above, there is indeed a slight misalignment in the rear sub frame. It's not much, but the inner mounting bracket for the offending sides' control arm is bent forward a few mm. I've no idea how this may have come to be as the car hasn't been in a collision, and I've not been too rough on it over the years. Some relatively minor and slow driving through tilled/level fields and a bit of towing every now and then.... Anyway, tracing the geometry by eye, it becomes obvious that the forward deflection would cause the slight toe problem on that side.

Ah well. I guess I'll either be on the search for a new subframe, or will have to consider taking apart the whole rear end and using a little heat and a hammer to get everything lined up where it ought to be. Alternately the above mentioned adjustable control arms presumable have enough play to take up the difference, since it is really just a couple mm, but I'm not at all sure it's worth the cost given the vintage of the car. (Around here a decent 05-07 is only a couple thousand used... although I also realize I'll just be inheriting someone else's unresolved problems.) So, if anyone has experience with it, I'd be curious to know what they think. In the meantime, it's not destroying my tires in a hurry, so for the moment I suppose I'll just live with it. It may just be that I'll go to non-directional tires when these wear out and rotate them more frequently for the life of the car....

As an aside, I also have a parts LGT from the same year, and suspect that the subframe will be the same part in both chassis, so perhaps a simple switch will solve the problem, providing the donor subframe is straight. (Or can be easily straightened once removed.) In any case, it's probably going to have to wait for Spring weather as I suspect this will not be a quick job if I decide to take it on...

Cheers all!
 

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2005 Legacy Wagon Limited 4EAT
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I installed Megan Racing adjustable toe links and they seem to be working well so far. Definitely not toed in anymore even though I only gave it an eyeball alignment. It was like $148 shipped on eBay and they feel very high quality although I’m probably going to slather grease, oil, or some other kind of rust preventative on the adjusters.

477007
 

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2005 OBW 2.5 4EAT / 2005 LGT Wagon 5MT
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Discussion Starter #11
I installed Megan Racing adjustable toe links and they seem to be working well so far. Definitely not toed in anymore even though I only gave it an eyeball alignment. It was like $148 shipped on eBay and they feel very high quality although I’m probably going to slather grease, oil, or some other kind of rust preventative on the adjusters.

View attachment 477007
Now that is a much more reasonable price/approach to solve the problem. I know the whiteline stuff is great, but I can't justify the spend, as mentioned. I'll have a look around for those, and maybe put up something in the wanted category to see if there is anything someone wants to get rid of.
I do want to eventually take care of this, as my all-seasons are quite good tires and I don't want to to destroy them. My winters, while good, were at least cheap (used) and only get used for a few months of the year. Since the LGT is looking like maybe a turbo upgrade and some work when the weather gets warm, I'll probably put a few more miles on the OB in the summer than normal.

Thanks much for the suggestion.

Cheers!
 
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