Subaru Outback Forums banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,928 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
While the physics of heavy weight and high ground clearance of the Outback won't let it become a sports car, it can still be improved. It has a stiff chassis and aluminum suspension parts that make this a worthy platform.

This thread is for those who want to improve the Outback's suspension while retaining stock ride height. There are many threads about lifts, and a few about lowering the Outback. This isn't intended to be mainly about wheels and tires but it's appropriate if it's about how it affects the suspension/handling instead of cosmetics.

Modifications for more nimble/agile on-road handling while retaining stock ride height for broken pavement, potholes, going through shallow street flooding, and dealing with curbs. This would be to nudge the Outback towards more on-road manners, including some mods like stiffer sway bars that may decrease off-road articulation a bit. As an analogy, more BMW than Mercedes or Jeep.

There are scattered posts about various minor suspension mods but often they are buried in other threads so this is meant to gather these together. This isn't meant to be a "my build" thread for my car, but since I've done a couple already I'll start the thread by describing what I did and invite any and all comments, thoughts, or results from others and what they are doing.

In here we can discuss stuff like sway bars, sway bar bushings, shocks, springs, trans mount inserts, strut tower braces, steering dampener lockdowns, and other products as they become available etc, and most importantly whether any of these things are effective or not. Different people will have different results and that's ok. Handling is something that is mostly subjective unless we're doing slalom, skidpad, and lap time tests,

My first mod was the Nameless Strut Tower Brace. While it's a little tricky to get the rear bolts in, it's not "hard" to install. What attracted me to this bar was the way that it uses lug nuts and conical seats to positively locate the bar instead of just relying on friction. @2020XT @RocketMan20 @rfuree11 also have installed this one before I did.

495037


In my other vehicles I never did install a strut tower bar so I can't compare from one vehicle to another, but I feel like this modification let the steering be more precise - not razor sharp, but less wobbly feeling, not unlike increasing tire pressure to stiffen sidewalls. In theory the amount of deflection in the strut tower tops is minimal unless your strut tower nuts were loose, on the other hand this is a McPherson strut suspension, and those kinds of suspensions uniquely load strut towers. Tall soft sidewalls will mask improvements from things like strut tower braces, so in my mind it's not so much that this mod will "one and done" the suspension to make it better, but a supporting mod that will synergize with the ones to follow. No adverse effect on noise, vibration, or harshness.

The original post of this install is What did you do with your 6th Gen Outback today?

The next mod was @traildogck 's 85 durometer front sway bar bushings, which come with high quality grease and are manufactured with OEM quality - you would never guess that this wasn't direct from Subaru. By hand, it feels stiffer than the stock bushings, but not so hard that it was difficult to get over the sway bar itself. The new bushing is the one on the right. There's a dab of grease on it when I took the pic - sorry!

495038


I was afraid of the hard sway bar bushing because I thought it might make road noise louder. It did not. In fact, the suspension feels smoother. I attribute this to the lubrication that comes with the bushings. Surprisingly the steering returns to center more fluidly and the front suspension feels more responsive and lively, the way you'd expect from a slightly thicker front sway bar. The harder bushing makes the existing bar more effective by limiting deflection. It works, but it's not a dramatic difference. If you saw the steering wheel back and forth it doesn't turn like a go-kart (physics again) and will sway from side to side, but overall the suspension feels more responsive. BMW's and Miatas famously have both sway and yet a great suspension. What counts is that the motions are well controlled, not "hard".

The original install post: What did you do with your 6th Gen Outback today?

The next thing I installed was @traildogck 's super soft transmission mount insert. What is it and what does it do? Originally developed with enough stiffness to effectively dampen/control driveline vibration from lifted Subarus, a new super-soft one was developed to use when the stiffness wasn't necessary. The stock transmission mount apparently moves around quite a bit, and will sag with time, eventually the rubber disintegrates and you need a new one. I decided to put the insert in because I don't want my original trans mount to sag or need replacement. It's more of a reinforcement/preventative measure for me instead of trying to cure a problem that has developed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

495040


I had been thinking about putting this insert in for some months and when the super soft was announced, I pulled the trigger. Having prepared myself for a difficult install, and fully prepared to have to dismantle the area under the transmission, it turned out to be easier than changing windshield wiper blades. It literally slipped in. No increase in noise vibration or harshness, but subjectively the driveline feels more taut and direct. Technically this isn't a suspension mod, but with a massive transmission wiggling in a soft mount, I think the reinforcement limiting mass shifting is a helpful thing. Harder trans mount inserts are known to increase transmission noise, but this super soft one does not.

The original post is: What did you do with your 6th Gen Outback today?

This weekend I plan to install the Perrin Steering Dampener Lockdown. Subaru's steering dampener is a rubber piece that isolates the steering wheel from the steering box. The Perrin part is an aluminum clamp that locks the rubber. @2020XT has already installed this, so I'll report my experience with it.

All of the mods above are limited in effectiveness because I am running the soft-sidewall stock tires. In a car that had 20" wheels and low profile tires, these mods would make a more profound difference. I'm not going there. I want tall albeit stiffer sidewalls and will choose my replacement tires accordingly.

I'm hoping that future posts will contain sway bar installs, but none are available yet, and the same goes for stiffer Bilstein B6 grade shocks. If anyone knows of other suspension goodies in the pipeline, or available for the Outback please let us know in this thread!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
281 Posts
Very informative! I have the Perrin piece sitting on my shelf right now. I looked under the hood for a bit and wasn't quite sure how to attack installing it. YouTube has a few poorly done videos on forresters and wrx but I havent yet come across a detailed step by step on ours.
 

·
Registered
2013 Impreza Sport and 2020 Outback Onyx edition...
Joined
·
11 Posts
Thanks for starting this thread! I've had my lifted 2020 Onyx for just 10-days now, but put over 1500 miles on it! While my car may be contrary to your intent, it already looks like we all could benefit from this collection of information. I am truly interested in the transmission insert as in my limited experience so far have observed some odd vibrations at certain highway speeds that may be resolved by it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,928 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Very informative! I have the Perrin piece sitting on my shelf right now. I looked under the hood for a bit and wasn't quite sure how to attack installing it. YouTube has a few poorly done videos on forresters and wrx but I havent yet come across a detailed step by step on ours.
Getting photos will not be easy but I will describe the process in enough detail. I've already scoped out that you can access the bottom clamp nut from under the car on the driver's side wheel well without bothering the exhaust then will need to turn the steering wheel to have the top clamp's nut be exposed and loosen it from the engine bay. The clamp itself I think I can do blind from the top but not 100% certain until I actually do it.

The Perrin instructions say that after installing the lockdown, to turn the steering wheel left 1/2 turn and then right 1/2 turn before tightening those two nuts so I assume that loosening those clamps won't let the steering wheel lose its center - at least nobody I've seen say that that happened.

495064
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
290 Posts
I've owned M3s and a variety of other BMWs, Porsche, Alfa, etc... The Outback is no "sports car" but I think they did a **** good job as far as the handling for these as they come. I've been impressed with it. Even more so given what it is. I wouldn't discourage anyone from doing whatever mods they want, I may do some myself, but have to give them credit for this new platform.

And you're right. The biggest improvement likely would come from some lower-profile, performance oriented tires. But I'm not going there either. The Outback isn't that car to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,928 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I am truly interested in the transmission insert as in my limited experience so far have observed some odd vibrations at certain highway speeds that may be resolved by it?
@traildogck could advise you on which hardness you need, but all you need to do is use a floor jack to lift the transmission so that the trans mount is no longer compressed and slide the lubricated insert in. There's some sharp edges from the heat shield so be careful and wear gloves. If you do the insert I'd like you to share your experience in here.
 

·
Registered
2019 Subaru Forester Premium, Crystal Black Silica, Pkg 15
Joined
·
1,730 Posts
This is very cool. Something like the transmission mount is beyond me - don’t have the tools for that (yes, I don’t have a floor Jack nor do I have room to store it) but I did consider the front strut brace for my Forester. Body roll/lean is an annoyance in the Fozzy.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SilverOnyx

·
Brucey
'17 3.6
Joined
·
11,294 Posts
I've installed that perrin lock down on a 2013~ Legacy. It was pretty easy. Slipped over the steering column.

Owner was happy with the responsiveness from the steering wheel. Not for me though :)
 

·
Registered
'17 Outback Limited 3.6R in Venetian Red.
Joined
·
474 Posts
I have pretty much the same mods as you do on my '17 3.6r, as well as lowering springs, different wheels and sticky tires, and I find that my Outback handles so well. It's not a sports car, but is very responsive, tight, and has a lot less body roll. More road feel now, but not harsh by any stretch of the imagination. Glad you are happy with your mods!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,928 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I have pretty much the same mods as you do on my '17 3.6r, as well as lowering springs, different wheels and sticky tires, and I find that my Outback handles so well. It's not a sports car, but is very responsive, tight, and has a lot less body roll. More road feel now, but not harsh by any stretch of the imagination. Glad you are happy with your mods!
Yes very happy but wanting more.. so far it's just been low hanging fruit.

Curious what shocks you have and how you like them?
 

·
Registered
'17 Outback Limited 3.6R in Venetian Red.
Joined
·
474 Posts
Yes very happy but wanting more.. so far it's just been low hanging fruit.

Curious what shocks you have and how you like them?
I have the RS-R springs which lowers the car just under 1". I find that it looks great in that it fills the fender gaps well, and makes the car less SUVish. Despite the mild drop there's plenty of ground clearance. The ride is sportier and the car feels flatter in turns. I find this to be a happy medium, as going coil overs for a further drop would probably be too much for me, as I value some comfort in my ride quality. Despite the drop I can fit 245/55R18 tires in with no rub or issues. Keep in mind my wheels are aftermarket and are 8.5" wide.

Here's the post after I added the springs about 3 years ago:

 
  • Like
Reactions: SilverOnyx

·
Registered
2020 Outback Limited XT, 2013 Outback Limited 3.6R
Joined
·
573 Posts
I've installed that perrin lock down on a 2013~ Legacy. It was pretty easy. Slipped over the steering column.

Owner was happy with the responsiveness from the steering wheel. Not for me though :)
@Brucey Interesting. I've REALLY been wanting one on our 2013, as the car ages the slop/feel in the dampener just seems to get worse and worse.
Perrin doesn't list one for the 2013 though, did you just use the same model, and it just-fit? Or did they have a different model, that they no longer sell?
I sent them a message, a couple of weeks back, when this first came up on discussion, but never heard back, guess I'll ping them again, or perhaps (gasp ;-]) call 'em...
 

·
Registered
2020 Outback Limited XT, 2013 Outback Limited 3.6R
Joined
·
573 Posts
I have the RS-R springs which lowers the car just under 1". I find that it looks great in that it fills the fender gaps well, and makes the car less SUVish. Despite the mild drop there's plenty of ground clearance. The ride is sportier and the car feels flatter in turns. I find this to be a happy medium, as going coil overs for a further drop would probably be too much for me, as I value some comfort in my ride quality. Despite the drop I can fit 245/55R18 tires in with no rub or issues. Keep in mind my wheels are aftermarket and are 8.5" wide.

Here's the post after I added the springs about 3 years ago:

Why not just get a Legacy GT, just curious? I realize there are some OB-specifics that still differ, but it seems like that's more what you were going for, ultimately, and then you would've had the higher-rate springs, fancy struts, better sways, etc, to-start?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,928 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I believe the Legacy and Outback are twins so if it fit the 2013 legacy it should fit your 2013 outback.

I know you didn't direct this at me but I had a Legacy GT Wagon and loved it, but they are no longer available. Sedans are a poor substitute for a wagon and I'm not surprised that sedans are decreasing in popularity. I think it's a colossal mistake for Subaru not to offer the WRX in hatch/wagon form any more.
 

·
Registered
'17 Outback Limited 3.6R in Venetian Red.
Joined
·
474 Posts
Why not just get a Legacy GT, just curious? I realize there are some OB-specifics that still differ, but it seems like that's more what you were going for, ultimately, and then you would've had the higher-rate springs, fancy struts, better sways, etc, to-start?
I actually owned a' '09 Legacy GT manual transmission many years ago. I did a few mods, tune, and a SPT catback. That was awhile ago. Back then I didn't have 4 children. I needed an Outback for the space and room, especially if I need to haul something in the back. I wanted a car that was bigger, and I love the features my '17 has. If I were single, trust me, I'd get another kind of car, but the Outback 3.6R was a happy medium for me. Plenty of space, great interior, options, no head gasket issue like on my '09 LGT, and great looks. Looking back my Outback drives soooo much better than my LGT did. Has a more solid feeling to it, and has plenty of room.

I don't drive manual cars anymore as I have developed chronic pain back and sciatica. So when I bought my Outback in 2016 I knew I needed an automatic.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SilverOnyx

·
Registered
2020 Outback Limited XT, 2013 Outback Limited 3.6R
Joined
·
573 Posts
Hmm, I guess I didn't realize they never made a Legacy GT Wagon (at least for the US), beyond Gen-4, weird.
I think it was a tough model to differentiate/sell though, for most buyers, who were probably looking more for utility, in a (Subaru) wagon, and not considering a sport-model. Plus, they were competing (somewhat, not necessarily in price, but in use-case) with BMW, Audi, maybe Mercedes, Mini, and some others, it was probably a tough niche-market for them to break into, for Subaru, in the US.

I truly miss manual transmissions. I still have my motorcycle, and my 6sp R32 is technically a manual, but with the dual-hydraulic-clutch, it really drives a lot more like an automatic...
I have an injured elbow-tendon (one of the many tennis-elbow variety), so I haven't been on the motorcycle much, as it really irritates it, similarly. Still doing my PT, 18 months out, and it's 85-90% healed, but tough to get that last 10%, without being fairly sedentary...

I have a fused/trapped/tight-strung L5 nerve (had to have fused, or I would've lost my tibialis-anterior nerve/muscle, it was getting squashed), so I can appreciate this side of things; it does irritate my nerve, but not enough to offset driving a manual, for me (I'm a little nutty like that though, I'm still pedaling 125-175/week, summers, and a bit less in the winter, despite the fact it gets irritated, it also gets irritated if I do nothing, so...).
 

·
Registered
'17 Outback Limited 3.6R in Venetian Red.
Joined
·
474 Posts
I truly miss manual transmissions. I still have my motorcycle, and my 6sp R32 is technically a manual, but with the dual-hydraulic-clutch, it really drives a lot more like an automatic...
I have an injured elbow-tendon (one of the many tennis-elbow variety), so I haven't been on the motorcycle much, as it really irritates it, similarly. Still doing my PT, 18 months out, and it's 85-90% healed, but tough to get that last 10%, without being fairly sedentary...

I have a fused/trapped/tight-strung L5 nerve (had to have fused, or I would've lost my tibialis-anterior nerve/muscle, it was getting squashed), so I can appreciate this side of things; it does irritate my nerve, but not enough to offset driving a manual, for me (I'm a little nutty like that though, I'm still pedaling 125-175/week, summers, and a bit less in the winter, despite the fact it gets irritated, it also gets irritated if I do nothing, so...).
Thanks for sharing. You feel my pain, literally lol. Yeah there is nothing like driving a manual transmission car. All cars now are loaded with electronic gizmos which drive the car for you. Can't stand thinking of electric cars that you operate with a touch screen. Cars drive you now, whereas before you were in control by driving the car itself. Driving is one of the best coping skills, and it was tough to say goodbye to driving a manual. Getting old happens, and I never thought I would be wanting an automatic over a stick shift.

I always laughed as a youngster as to why only old men drove automatic Corvettes, but now I get it. Heck, I might even become one of those old men someday, unless my back gets worse and I can't crouch down haha. I don't have the money, but a used C5 Z06, or C6 would be nice. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: SilverOnyx
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top