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Brucey
'17 3.6
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10,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #1

I had the thought last week that cars are expensive to own and even more expensive to modify.

If you're like me you probably like modifying/customizing/improving your vehicle even when the budget doesn't allow for dropping money all the time.

So what is the best things you can think of that you can do that cost basically nothing?

I made a list of my top picks:

A Carabineer (D Clip) is great for tying long loads in the car. The clip has to be the same size as the pin for the hatch. Since I have several of these that I've gotten for free I counted it as a free mod but if someone needs one they're typically around a dollar.

Removing the spare tire tray creates a lot more storage space. Great for pack rats such as myself.

Removing the lumbar panel in the front seats makes them much more comfortable. Some people add a paint roller or pool noodle in the panels place.

Blocking the gap between the center console and the seat so change and other objects can't fall into the pit of no return.

Disabling the GPS movement lock out by grounding the VSS signal going into the head unit allows a passenger to input GPS directions when needed. Only need a soldering iron and some wire which you probably have if you have a soldering iron.

I also had to mention the CKE insert for fixing the 18 mph vibration. Even though it's pretty cheap it's still not what I can call free but it is worth every penny.

What are your favorite free changes?
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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3,993 Posts
I haven't done many mods because my car is leased, but the best one I have done was this:



Not quite free but since I had everything on hand already it was sort of free. Small piece of plastic cut from a broken storage container lid and some heavy duty velcro tape. When stuck in place it disables the dome light switch inside the left rear door so the engine won't shut off when the door is opened after using the remote start. It isn't the best solution but so far is the best compromise I have come up with. At least I can load my stuff in the car, get the ice scraper or snow brush out, and clean off the windows without the engine shutting off. It still shuts off when I open the front door to get in but it is better than what it was.
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
Joined
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10,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I haven't done many mods because my car is leased, but the best one I have done was this:



Not quite free but since I had everything on hand already it was sort of free. Small piece of plastic cut from a broken storage container lid and some heavy duty velcro tape. When stuck in place it disables the dome light switch inside the left rear door so the engine won't shut off when the door is opened after using the remote start. It isn't the best solution but so far is the best compromise I have come up with. At least I can load my stuff in the car, get the ice scraper or snow brush out, and clean off the windows without the engine shutting off. It still shuts off when I open the front door to get in but it is better than what it was.
I pretty much had to count stuff like this as free because otherwise the only mods would be "remove things" and then the nit-pickers could point out how time is money and is therefore not free.
 

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(Australian spec) 2019 MY19 Outback 3.6R CVT.
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476 Posts
These aren’t really mods, but are two quick simple improvements for the top plastic engine cover on the gen5 Outback 3.6R & gen6 Liberty/Legacy 3.6R. I think most forum members would have 5 minute Araldite (or similar) & rubber grease in their workshop so I think this could be classed as free.

(1). I did this after the dealer’s Tech broke off one of the cover’s two rear plastic retaining posts on my previous gen6 Liberty 3.6R when removing the cover. The problem is over time the retaining pins stick to the rubber grommets, & when removing the cover the plastic post including the pin can snap off from the cover. So a smear of rubber grease on the two rear retaining pins & the two rubber grommets prevents the pins & the rubber grommets sticking together.

(2). I did this after the dealer’s Tech lost one of the two front locating rubber wedges on my gen5 Outback 3.6R (I found it on top of the bottom engine bay cover when I got home after I noticed the cover wasn’t secure). The two front rubber locating wedges are just a sliding fit over the metal bracket lugs, so fixing the wedges to the metal bracket lugs with 5 minute Araldite should prevent this happening in future.

rear-retaining-post-&-pin.JPG rear-retaining-grommet.JPG front-retaining-wedge.JPG
(1a). Rear post & pin. (1b). Rear grommet. (2). Front wedge.
 

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(Australian spec) 2019 MY19 Outback 3.6R CVT.
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476 Posts
Removing the lumbar panel in the front seats makes them much more comfortable. Some people add a paint roller or pool noodle in the panels place.
Ah yes, my favourite mod for the driver’s seat. But because I have to share the driving & women usually need more lumber support than men, I didn’t remove the plastic lumber panel. I extended the cable with a small stainless steel D-shackle so the lumber could be adjusted to less than the standard minimum & still have a good range. I can’t take credit for the idea, I got the idea from either legacygt.com forum or this forum.

It isn’t free but it is close to it (do we have a limit on the cost?). The small SS D-shackle & five small cable ties are very cheap, & anyone who has a boat may have them in their workshop or boat shed like I did. The SS D-shackle I used is 14mm wide x 24mm long outside dimensions with flat sides & 4mm OD pin. It lengthens the cable by 15mm.

D-shackle-at-cable-end.JPG
D-shackle with cable ties between cable & spring.
 

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2019 3.6 touring in wilderness green metallic
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56 Posts
Man, can't wait to look into either of the lumbar support mods, since its one of only 2 gripes I have with the interior (other being the radius of the steering wheel is smaller than my '01 outback, so my heavily ingraned comfy driving position doesn't work any more). The seat to my '01 outback I swear had negative lumbar adjustment possible with it, and with a mild chronic back injury, something shoving my lumbar forward is not comfortable during a longer trip, lol.
 

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(Australian spec) 2019 MY19 Outback 3.6R CVT.
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476 Posts
Man, can't wait to look into either of the lumbar support mods, ...
There are quite a few topics on that. Here is a pretty old one; https://www.subaruoutback.org/threads/too-agressive-lumbar-support-is-killing-my-back.210521/post-2327265
A search will bring up a few more.

If doing what I did, be prepared for a few scratches on your hands, there are a couple of sharp bits in there. I tied the unzipped part of the seat to a back door hinge so I had decent access (see photos below), & a stainless steel cast snap hook was smooth enough to not damage the leather, but I found the leather on both my vehicles was very resilient.

I then used a piece of wire coat hanger shaped into a small hook at one end to pull the spring enough to unhook the cable & fit the D-shackle. A loop in the other end of the wire with a large screw driver through the loop worked as a hand grip.

tied-to-door-hinge.JPG snap-hook-on-seat-back.JPG
(1). Tied to back door hinge. (2). Snap hook on seat back.
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
Joined
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10,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I don't really have a price limit in mind. Free ish.

I wanted to exclude stuff like "skid plates, lift kits, sway bars" as that can get into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

These are some great ideas. I have to go grease the pins on the engine cover immediately.
 

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44 Posts
I also had to mention the CKE insert for fixing the 18 mph vibration. Even though it's pretty cheap it's still not what I can call free but it is worth every penny.

What are your favorite free changes?

Is the CKE ok to use without a lift. I do have a vibration @ around 18mph
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
Joined
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10,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I also had to mention the CKE insert for fixing the 18 mph vibration. Even though it's pretty cheap it's still not what I can call free but it is worth every penny.

What are your favorite free changes?

Is the CKE ok to use without a lift. I do have a vibration @ around 18mph
Of course.

@traildogck knows more.
 

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(Australian spec) 2019 MY19 Outback 3.6R CVT.
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476 Posts
I don't really have a price limit in mind. Free ish.
Thanks.

BTW, if the post with pin on the rear of the 3.6R’s engine cover does happen to break off, super glue does a good repair job. I regularly took my cover off after gluing the post back on with super glue & it was still holding up well when I traded the vehicle over twelve months later.
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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3,993 Posts
Another not quite free but very functional mod I did was add an engine compartment light that comes on automatically when the hood is opened. I've posted this before but it is kind of lost in the mega LAME Battery thread.

It started off with one fairly simple mod which was to add a hard-wired plug at the battery to plug a maintainer in directly without having to use the alligator clips on the terminals.



When it occurred to me that the fused harness could also double as a power source I added a spring loaded switch and some LED lights stuck to the hood which get plugged into the maintainer harness attached to the battery. Works great. I think I spent about $30 but only used two of the 8 LED lights in the set so I still have the rest for other projects.







 

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19 Posts
Bought a kid's backpack from the dollar store for $3.75 to hold the jack and associated tools and nestled it in the spare tire, allowing me to remove the styrofoam tray. This gave me space to put my jumper cables, first aid kit, rain gear, and a blanket down under the floor.

I had my husband make a center console organizer modeled after the OCD one, but without the front left divider so the compartment with the charger has more space. I swear it made the console 3x bigger. The tray still fits over it and i just put stuff I never use in the back 2 compartments.

6451518042321521337.jpg IMG_20191007_190843595.jpg
 

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2018 Outback 2.5i Limited, No Eyesight, No Navigation
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2,768 Posts
Free (or almost free) mods or hacks:

—Flicking the gate latch closed when the gate is up in order to stop the 1 amp drain
—Flicking the volume knob to zero when exiting in order to have no volume at startup
—Applying 303 UV protectant to rubber on wipers every month to make them last longer
—Having dealer reduce mpg display by 5% (or whatever error you have)
—Replace 13W halogen in cargo area with an LED (couple bucks on Ebay)
 

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19 2.5i OB LTD w/SSD Strt Twr Brc + OEM 19mm RSB
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1,353 Posts
Under $20 is "almost free" these days...
Courtesy Amazon, a monitor for viewing battery voltage and charging action of the alternator:
12V Car USB Charger with Voltage Display

Not quite wireless Android Auto or Apple Car Play, but avoids putting mechanical cycles on your smartphone's charging port:
Magnetic USB Charging Cables

Generic rear-cargo area hold-down net:
Cargo net for SUVs

Courtesy eBAY, an inexpensive means to defeat the seat-belt chime for the front passenger seat (when transporting heavy items like a labrador) :p
Universal Car Seat-belt Buckle

Not so free, but under $25 Bluetooth OBDII reader (for use with TorquePro, etc) - there are much cheaper versions that may also work:
Bluetooth OBDII Reader
 
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