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2019 Subaru Forester Premium, Crystal Black Silica, Pkg 15
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Discussion Starter #1
So I?m relatively new to the world of DIY car maintenance, and was wondering if anyone brings their car to a shop for a routine check.

I was thinking of bringing my own oil to the dealership next time it was due, around December most likely, and have them give it a look-see while they?re in there.

Just not sure what I?m looking for when it comes to the other stuff, like struts, cv joints, etc.

The easy stuff I can see - filters, brake pads, tire tread, fluids, etc.
 

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2008 Outback 2.5
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Struts or shock absorbers are pretty easy to test out. Push down hard on a corner of the car, see the car bounce back up. If it bounces more than once, the shocks are probably in need of replacement. The rear shocks are DIY-able with a loaner spring compressor, a moderate amount of disassembly in the rear interior to get to the top bolt of the strut and some tricky alignment with a jack to compress the strut to remove the lower bolt (all on Youtube). The front is easy to remove, but compressing the spring is nearly impossible, so it's best to have a suspension shop replace the strut in the spring assembly for a few bucks.

CV joints usually do not need inspection, only replacement when the boot gets torn and flings grease all over the engine compartment and puts out a nasty smelling smoke. Even if torn, they can go a year or more (in my case) before requiring replacement. I spent that time reading up, watching Youtube videos and psyching myself up for the job. The actual replacement took about 45 minutes for both sides and was completely anticlimactic. But that's a good thing.

Other things that can save you bucks would be replacing the lower control arms in the front, sway bar end links and bushings (done when replacing the LCA's), valve cover gaskets and spark plug tube gaskets and spark plugs.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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pilot, many of us DIY stuff all the time and most of the fluids are a good place to start - fairly easy work, gives you a chance to inspect stuff and save a little money if you have the space and time....

search/ask here before tackling a new system or part, buy tools as you go along.

if you need a shop, ask for a recommendation in a new thread. Someone may know a good mechanic in your area. Some dealerships might use your supplied fluids/parts but many may not due to warranty/liability concerns. Probably easier to do that with an indie mech - especially if parts/fluids are high quality/name brand.

an indie shop with plenty of Subaru experience will know where any weak spots in the various car models are, they can break down their report into; What you must do NOW (maybe spark plugs or accessory belt.....w'ever) , -, what you can save up for; shocks, diff fluid change, brakes, etc. , - , or what you can live with ; drips, squeaks, burned out dash bulbs....
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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About once a year mine goes to an independent subaru expert. Typically it is going in for a known issue that I'm not equipped to handle at home but I always ask him to check it out in general while it's there. I don't usually give a list- he's a subaru guy. He knows where to look. I usually learn something.

Well worth the half-hour or so he bills for the time.
 

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2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
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With just about any car, there are people who do absolutely everything themselves to those who know absolutely nothing about how a car works and hopefully at least bring the car to someone for maintenance.

I sense you are more curious about how to get started down the path of a DIYer. I'll share some of my experience:

Before I bought my first car I was in a similar position to you, I could see all sorts of things on cars (and I was certainly curious) but I only had bicycle and general mechanical experience to go on. I started with small simple things and progressed to much more advanced maintenance. Some sort of progression like this - oil changes, air filters, spark plugs, plug wires, thermostat, brake pads/rotors/fluid flush, serpentine belt, control arms, quick-struts, steering rack replacement.

Typically, I research a project thoroughly before starting. With brakes, I just took them apart once or twice to understand how things work and make sure I could get things back together before going too far at once.

A perfect start to working on your car would be to change your own oil. You'll gain confidence in being around and under your vehicle and hopefully complete the job very well which will further boost your confidence.

I'll echo what others have said as I have similar experience. Find an independent (smaller) shop that either has great ratings or you get an honest vibe and experience from. If your car seems to be running fine and a DEALER or CHAIN shop tells you your car needs $1000 in maintenance or it is unsafe and you'll die, get a second opinion from another shop. Chances are an honest shop will say, hey you have a while but you should start thinking about getting ______ done in the near future, or nothing is wrong just drive it. That is the shop to go back to.

There is some good advice on here and check out youtube as well.
 

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2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
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Also, doing your own oil changes will help you catch a lot of other issues. You'll see all sorts of things like leaks, grease flinging, broken parts, or you'll tug on something loose that maybe needs replacement. Just start looking around and see what you see.

Definitely get a good floor jack and 2 or 4 jackstands before you start getting under your car. Also, always put on the E-brake and give the car a good wiggle to make sure it is stable before you are under there!

Good luck!
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Premium, Crystal Black Silica, Pkg 15
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks. I?ve done some minor maintenance things like oil and fluids but the concern I was going for was actual repair type things. For example I tried to change out the rear diff fluid and I wasn?t able to get enough torque on the drain plug (got fill off no problem) to loosen it. Just trying not to get caught off guard with things like the boots and cv?s etc because I haven?t been bringing it to the dealer. They tend to throw in a free inspection with an oil change so I wouldn?t mind supplying my own synthetic oil and letting them poke around under the hood.
 

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So I?m relatively new to the world of DIY car maintenance, and was wondering if anyone brings their car to a shop for a routine check.

I was thinking of bringing my own oil to the dealership next time it was due, around December most likely, and have them give it a look-see while they?re in there.

Just not sure what I?m looking for when it comes to the other stuff, like struts, cv joints, etc.

The easy stuff I can see - filters, brake pads, tire tread, fluids, etc.
CV joints are simple. First sign is grease leaking from a torn boot. Second sign is a clicking noise when making slow turns.

Struts, as already stated are pretty simple. Use the push down test and also visually inspect for signs for oil leaking.

As already stated, before tackling any job make sure you have the right tools.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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on the rear diff, I had to use my floor jack to push on my 1/2" breaker bar to get the plug loose.

and an 'intermediate' way for a DIYer to deal with struts is, take off the assembly and take it and your new parts to a lcal shop, pay them to swap the parts over for you if you don't want to deal with compressing springs.

It's ideas/tips like the above that I learned here and on other forums (ultimatesubaru.org) and from youtube videos that make it easier to DIY stuff.
 

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on the rear diff, I had to use my floor jack to push on my 1/2" breaker bar to get the plug loose.

and an 'intermediate' way for a DIYer to deal with struts is, take off the assembly and take it and your new parts to a lcal shop, pay them to swap the parts over for you if you don't want to deal with compressing springs.

It's ideas/tips like the above that I learned here and on other forums (ultimatesubaru.org) and from youtube videos that make it easier to DIY stuff.
or you could buy already assembled quick struts.
 

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CV's:

First sign is grease leaking from a torn boot.
The 0.5 sign then can be surface cracking. They start degrading on the outside which leads to the final split, so it's easy to spot it ahead of time.

What you're looking for is signs of material degradation. It's not much different from degraded tires and looks something like this and isn't hard to spot:

https://d1xgr8vkxnhoq9.cloudfront.net/media/1380/cv-boot-replacement-950x600.jpg

The newer materials, particularly on outer boots in general, are more robust and degradation is less obvious and goes from degradation to failure quicker than older boots and, more recently, inner boots.

The time from cracking to splitting and from splitting to making noise is usually a very long time, you can literally take months to plan your repair unless your roads have abrasive materials like sand roads in the south, gravel roads, or areas that treat snow with rock type mixtures instead of salt. That stuff gets in and causes noises quickly. Otherwise I've seen Subaru front axles with split open boots go 50,000 miles and rears for 100,000 miles plus (life of vehicle) many times and never fail or even have noise on low use highway commuters.

Those are just illustration - you have time - so replace the boot when you see cracking, just know that you don't need to schedule and appointment "tomorrow" when you do.

You want to reboot them immediately as these axles will last the life of the vehicle and aftermarkets are awful.

Struts:

When you change brakes or rotate tires look for fluid/wetness leaking around the cylinder shaft where it comes out of the strut body or wetness on the strut body/dust cover.

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/attachments/gen-5-2015-present/265297d1460317644-possibly-leaking-rear-strut-20160410_152311_1460317650195.jpg

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/attachments/problems-maintenance/14173d1234298320-wanna-see-my-leaky-strut-dsc01380.jpg

Otherwise struts are highly variable. You're not going to see a Subaru hit 200,000 miles regularly with original CV boots - but I've seen lots with original struts at 200k, i'm not recommending it, that's just an illustration they don't fail as often or present symptoms as often as CV's and "non-car" or heavily practical types don't really pay attention so they end up staying on a vehicle for the life of the car sometimes proving the point.

Struts don't typically catastrophically fail or leave you stranded so how much attention you give them is highly personal preference. suggestions:

1. if you're OCD car guy (which being on this forum suggests a high proclivity than average) or super performance oriented, or love the idea and warm fuzzies of having new parts, then just pick a mileage and replace them at 60k, 80k, 120k...etc. If you experience symptoms first then bump up that time frame.

2. if you lean more practical a very rough recommendation is to divide how long you think you'll own the car by 2 and replace them at that time. If 150k replace them around 75k, if 200k then replace them at 100k. You can easily get through ownership with one replacement, so plan on the half way point.

I do the same with O2 sensors, alternators, and should for fuel pumps but so far I haven't... I want 300,000 reliable miles, those items will strand you, they have significant 300k failure rates, aftermarket parts aren't always good options, so I'm not expecting those components to reliably last 300,000 miles. So I replace them around 150k which they routinely make without issues.

3. Or many people wait until symptoms present, it's no surprise to make it to 200k without any significant issues and it wouldnt' be surprising if one strut performed poorly by then either.

or you could buy already assembled quick struts.
Most Subaru people recommend KYB or OEM which I don't think are available.
 

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Tie rod boot is a significant inspection item due to damage it can cause and the cost. but usually not an issue until high miles/age. Debris entering through a cracked tie rod will lay right on the shaft and get pulled into the shaft seal of the steering rack. Outside of real crazy heads the only option is installing another entire steering rack.

So check the tie rod boots for splitting as well, particularly as it ages and replace immediately.

Ball joint boots, tie rod boots, sway bar end links, and steering rack boots are also inspection items but they rarely have issues before 100k.
 

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Thanks. I?ve done some minor maintenance things like oil and fluids but the concern I was going for was actual repair type things. For example I tried to change out the rear diff fluid and I wasn?t able to get enough torque on the drain plug (got fill off no problem) to loosen it. Just trying not to get caught off guard with things like the boots and cv?s etc because I haven?t been bringing it to the dealer. They tend to throw in a free inspection with an oil change so I wouldn?t mind supplying my own synthetic oil and letting them poke around under the hood.
Lots of good advice in here! Knowing that you are trying to get an little "extra" inspection out of an oil change is certainly something worth considering. I'd just take their inspection with a healthy serving of salt. Given it is free, they likely won't be very thorough no matter how many point inspection it is, and anything they say needs to be fixed could have a significant amount of life left. That being said, they might notice something you wouldn't have seen and knowing that maybe you can fix yourself! That could be worth it.
 

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Tire rotations are another DIY easy task, provided you have the tools - floor jack, a couple of safety stands, and a torque wrench. Yes, many shops that sell you the tires will do this for free, but you still have to schedule it and wait at the shop. That's a bother, and I can do it faster when you factor in all the time involved.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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I was thinking of bringing my own oil to the dealership next time it was due, around December most likely, and have them give it a look-see while they?re in there.
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Call ahead first and see if you can even do that. The places I've been to have a policy they can't use anything you provide, they have to source it.

I learned that when I had a bulb out and didn't get around to changing it due to weather (I have no garage) and was due for an inspection...they said they'd have to buy their own bulb even though I had one. Same when I asked about coolant, they would use Subaru blue OEM if I wanted but they said they'd have to send their person to get it from the dealer (and charge me for his time to pick it up).
 

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CV's:

Most Subaru people recommend KYB or OEM which I don't think are available.
There is nothing magic about KYB's. For everyday driving the Monroe Quick Struts will perform just as well and a whole lot less headache to install.

Be nice to know why KYB cannot be bothered to manufacture their Srtuts Plus for a wider range of vehicles.
 

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I just installed Monroe Quick Struts in the front and it was an easy removal and replace. The rears did not have a quick strut option available so I bought my own Monroe shock and had a shop rebuild the assemblies while I handled the removal and replacement on the vehicle.
 

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There is nothing magic about KYB's. For everyday driving the Monroe Quick Struts will perform just as well and a whole lot less headache to install.

Be nice to know why KYB cannot be bothered to manufacture their Srtuts Plus for a wider range of vehicles.
seriously - they make the mounts and struts already.

I haven't used them so i tried to word it accurately. monroe's get some bad reviews by notable people. here's three well known members, at least two of which work on far more cars than their own, including someone working in a shop:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/81-wheels-tires-brakes-suspension/133153-what-make-struts-shocks-does-subaru-use.html

If the main down side is their 100,000 mile dependability then like you said - they're still a great option for many average DIY's wanting to avoid tooling turnaround and parts hassles.

But I can swap struts so I'll avoid them until they're well documented as excellent long term equipment.
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Premium, Crystal Black Silica, Pkg 15
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Discussion Starter #19
Good advice, thanks. I'll check before I head in.
 

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DIY auto repair is a black hole for me. Every time I tackle a big job, at the end I mutter "Never again, never again...".
But when the next time comes around I seem to forget and declare "Well, you did it last time...".
 
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