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Discussion Starter #1
My road is bad! Large pot holes, rocks, etc. I have a 2001 outback with a 2 inch spacer lift, and stock suspension. Wore the struts out in one year. I need something tougher. I'm using the car mostly on the highway except for 3 miles of very bad road. The lift was necessary. Any suggestions? KYB, King springs, or some type of off road kit? I don't want to comprise the car.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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is there any chance of getting the bad road graded or have some holes filled?

heavier springs will certainly extend the life of struts but they will transfer more NVH into the body of the car. There's always a trade-off

hope others respond
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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Assuming that your struts are not gas charged, here's an old trick from decades ago. If they are gas charged, buy new ones.

Pull the struts off. Drill a small hole at both ends and accurately measure the amount of fluid that is drained out. Weld on an internally threaded bung at both ends that can be sealed with a bolt and crush washer ( or Dowty seal). Refill the struts with a higher viscosity motorcycle damper fluid. Repeat the drain and fill, but with the next higher viscosity fluid when they wear out again.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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I used to live in a semi-rural region with roads that had issues, and didn't always get the maintenance they needed. Wheels, tires, suspension parts, etc. had a much shorter life than what I now experience. And I was always driving small pickups at that point in my life, so these components generally were a little more robust than they were for cars.

That's just part of the cost of living in such a region, and it's going to be factored into real estate prices.

If you can't get your political jurisdiction to maintain the road, sorry to say that moving is probably your one option.
 

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heavier springs will certainly extend the life of struts
arguable. I certainly wouldn't plan on it as a solution.



I don't have a clear-cut answer, but here's what I know, that might give you a direction to research.



It's probably possible to find something for the front suspension, as there's nothing unique about that. But most heavy-duty suspension offerings are in a set of 4.

Rear suspension is unique to the '00-'09 Legacy/Outback, it was not ever shared with the Impreza/Forester/WRX platform. So there aren't any nice Rally-spec options (and even if there were, you probably wouldn't like the price tag). You might be able to use something for the '08+ Impreza/WRX/'09+ Forester/'10+ Legacy multilink rear, but I know the tophat is larger on those, and I think larger diameter spring... You'll either end up with something cobbled, or something custom ($$$$$).


KYB Excel-G is probably the stiffest shock designed specifically for that chassis. KYB definitely has a good lifetime warranty, so you wouldn't have to pay for new ones, of course, they still have to be installed...

If you pay the labor and parts markup to have a shop order and install aftermarket shocks for it, the parts supplier would pay labor on them for awhile, might be worth looking into.
 

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and stock suspension. Wore the struts out in one year. I need something tougher.
i wouldn't expect any strut to perform well after 18 years then tossed into rugged or performance use. maybe it would perform fine with new struts.

it's tough living in areas like that.

could larger or wider or different tires help?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Fixing the road is not an option. I'm off grid in the middle of nowhere on a old gold mining road, and moving is definitely not an option because I love it here. Im handy with a wrench but just not sure what route to take. I've been thinking maybe I should throw on some KYB struts and just see how long they last. Do you think this is the best choice? My tires are the largest I could fit under it. 235x65x16. I would go a little smaller if I did it again because now my snow chains won't fit.
 

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KYB is the preferred brand so, yeah, maybe do that first. Check amazon, rock auto, etc. for pricing. probably under $70-$75 for a front strut.

if your present struts have been bad for some time - consider new springs.

plenty of online guides and probably a few Youtube videos on strut swaps. Or, if you have other transportation, take your assemblies off, and take them and the new parts to a shop - pay them to re-build the assemblies.

you might also consider posting at ultimatesubaru.org - just to get some more 'mountain road' input.
 

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can't fix a road? rent a 25-40hp small backhoe by the day. (including pickup/ delivery)
using either the gravel that is right there or some of the various types that pass for "item 4".


if its a group driveway, start a homeowners association to pay the expense of keeping it up enough a subaru outback can make it without dragging or breaking anything. (or everyone buys a Hummer H1).

you can also get a lift kit. or a Hummer H1..
 

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yeah, I was gonna suggest a mild lift could be helpful if the road is that bad - and maybe a diff protector and primitive racing skid plate?

expect to be spending money on bushings and tie rods too.
 

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How long is the stretch of road that is causing the issue? I lived on 7 miles of dirt road growing up and I know your pain. The one free easy thing you can do to help things last longer is simply slow down. Don't drive so fast and your suspension will last a heck of alot longer. Perhaps post some pictures of the road issues you have so we can better understand what road conditions your dealing with.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Trust me, there is no fixing this road unless if you had access to lots of dinamite and heavier equipment then what I already have. In the rainy seasons it literally becomes a river washing out all the gravel and leaving big rock. My missionary friends from Africa said that I have it as bad as they did in the bush. Ideally a light truck would be best to drive but I like subaru, especially it's fuel mileage over a truck.

I think if I keep the subaru I will definitely have to put on some skid plates. Only a few people come up here but last year I saw 2 vehicles brake there oil pans. I'm sure I'm making it sound worst then it is but I will need to do something with this thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes... driving slower does help. It's not that I drive fast on it but I don't want to just crawl; I'd rather pay the extra in fuel for a different vehicle then by grandma-ing it.
 

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if it is so bad, you maybe out getting a old jeep or old truck and just parking the subaru on the good end of the road, and then getting in the old beater and using that to get to your place.

(don't need plates....subaru brings the gas to the beater in 5 gallon cans,....and I have known a few people that have done that).

cheap beaters that need little and can go 300,000 miles: jeep cherokee sport 4.0. 1988-1999 chevy 1500 4.3, 5.0, 5.7.
 

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Yes... driving slower does help. It's not that I drive fast on it but I don't want to just crawl; I'd rather pay the extra in fuel for a different vehicle then by grandma-ing it.
What is your definition of "grandma-ing it"? If the road is like posted in your profile photo and your driving over 20mph I don't care what what vehicle you have anything short of a full off road race truck is going to have the same results as your having... Have to drive your vehicle to the terrain and conditions that your putting it through thats really all it comes down to. Also you never did answer how long of a drive your talking over the conditions.

*edit* I am Blind you have it listed as 3 miles in the original post.

That said even if you did that 3 miles at 10mph and not killing your struts you would have to leave only minutes earlier then if you raced through that 3 miles and kept destroying your suspension. Just a thought.
 

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Sounds like 100lbs of suspension parts per year isn't actually that bad of a price. I'd be tempted to leave things stock or close to it, knowing that it's cheap and easy to replace that every year or so vs. specialty parts and more expensive tires.

Our family summer spot is 4 miles down a bad (but not usually awful) road. I've seen 90+ year old antique cars run down there without losing a splinter and I've also seen a shined up Hummer H1 break an axle when trying to do it in a hurry.
 

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fancy suspension parts may reduce the chance of breaking the car - but are unlikely to add much 'speed' to the trip.

fixing the worst sections of the road will let you speed-up.

otherwise, I'm with the 2 car approach suggested by eagleeye.


Subarus are great 'soft-road' cars, not great 'rock crawlers'.
 

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Sounds like 100lbs of suspension parts per year isn't actually that bad of a price. I'd be tempted to leave things stock or close to it, knowing that it's cheap and easy to replace that every year or so vs. specialty parts and more expensive tires.

Our family summer spot is 4 miles down a bad (but not usually awful) road. I've seen 90+ year old antique cars run down there without losing a splinter and I've also seen a shined up Hummer H1 break an axle when trying to do it in a hurry.
model T? =

like a 2wd jeep wrangler on tall suspension. and something you got to step up into.

....car designs then were for driving on muddy unpaved roads, ....providing you kept a grease gun and tool box on the vehicle for use at all times.
 

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I have a similar circumstance with the road situation.
My best suggestion is, the next time you buy tires, buy tires with the highest possible Profile that will fit in your wheel wells and run the tire pressure low (like 28 psi). By doing this, its like adding a couple extra inches of suspension and it cushions the hard blows quite well. I have been doing this for the past couple of years and so far, it has help me avoid
damage.
 
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