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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #1
Imo the Suspension FAQ bears improvement

I am a new owner of a 2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean with 3.0R H6 Motor, that I bought with 170k miles on it.

It needed shocks badly, as it would bounce up and down repeatedly, lacking any damping, when going over road irregularities, undulations, bridges, and overpass seams.

I read the FAQ where, which recommends Generation 3 front KYB shocks, and Generation 2 rear KYB shocks.

After 5000 miles of being very unhappy with the harsh rear and mismatched damping rates, I spent an additional $300 to replace the Gen2 rear with Gen 3 Rear shocks.

I am ECSTATIC at the improvement in ride quality. There is still plenty of damping, but I no longer cringe, hold my breath, or brace myself, going over irregular surfaces, seams, small bumps, and even Speed Bumps!

I LOVE the MATCHED performance of the Gen 3 rear shocks with the Gen 3 front shocks.

I strongly urge anyone who followed the advice of the FAQ, to replace your Gen2 rears with Gen3 rears IF you feel, like I do, that the back is a bit too harsh with Gen2

Do NOT Be Afraid of some peoples comments that the Gen3 shocks bounce up and down too much. That is definitely NOT accurate with NEW shocks. It IS correct with worn out shocks.

imo, Gen 3 rear shocks got a bad reputation based on peoples experience with worn out shocks. I agree they bounce too much when they are no longer working.

So, I paid for this opinion, and it is mine. I believe it is completely misguided, wrong, and a very BAD IDEA, to mix Gen 2 with Gen 3 shocks. I ABSOLUTELY believe it is MUCH better to use MATCHED shocks front and rear. If you want stiff Gen 2 shocks, then put them on all 4 corners. If you want a smooth comfortable ride, in which the springs and shocks work together to make a pleasant balanced ride, then use Gen 3 both front and rear.

bottom line, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would I EVER recommend someone use Gen 2 rears with Gen3 fronts.

Im MUCH Happier Now. Especially because I have ZERO remorse about the Gen 3 rears I just had installed, and I will NOT be putting the Gen 2 rears back on unless I decide to go Gen2 in front also.

Pics of foods I eat, cars I drive, and a mug shot
My rear tires wear faster than my fronts
Quicker shifting with Premium Gas
Scenic drives, car pics, and free camping
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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Not to disagree, but to dis...agree. I think it completely depend on handling that you prefer as a driver and the intended use of the car. My XT was all over the road at 65K on the clock. My struts...front or rear were NOT failing. The suspension was by no means in tune with the rest of the car.

I am much happier now. I am not you, and not everyone is. You might disagree with what many have said. But the FAQ thread...is not WRONG. You just choose to disagree, that's definitely valid. And I guarantee most of you would hate my car. IMPO.
 

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2005 Outback XT limited
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384 Posts
Thanks for your honest input Jon! And totally understood. In chatting with two dealers they have said, like a few members here go with either gen2 all the way or gen3. But like you said, never just slap on used springs with new struts...that's just spelling disaster.

Interested to hear how your set up is in a few months to a year!
 

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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #4
My XT was all over the road at 65K on the clock. My struts...front or rear were NOT failing. The suspension was by no means in tune with the rest of the car.

I am much happier now. …

the FAQ thread...is not WRONG. You just choose to disagree
I agree the stock suspension on the OBW is at the soft end of the spectrum, especially the front imo

the only thing I am saying the FAQ is wrong about is to recommend gen 2 rear with gen 3 front

I agree that some driving styles are better with tighter suspension. And I respect that for your application, tighter is much better.

But I want to be very clear, that my comments are not about the individual preference for degree of firmness in a suspension system, I am ONLY calling out the FAQ as Wrong to suggest using a firm suspension in the rear, with a soft suspension in the front.

That Half a Marshmallow Recommendation is NOT what YOU drive. I DID. I paid for it, drove it for 5k miles, and just paid to make the rear match the front, and I can tell you unequivocally, that the matched, all same generation shocks, at all 4 corners is THE Way To Go!

I yield to those who want lower profile tires, shorter springs, etc, but this is not that discussion.. its ONLY about stiff rear with soft front, and Im shouting from my pulpit, that it is just plain WRONG!

with all due respect for the many other ways a suspension can be modified for personal preference.

like you said, never just slap on used springs with new struts...that's just spelling disaster.
wait, no, stop, I did not say that and do not agree

Im not talking about spring swaps at all. I am ONLY talking about this FAQ quote on Page 1
Mix'n'match dampers: Front KYB 2005-2009 damper with rear KYB 2004 dampers reported to offer good results

this is wrong!, the rear will be considerably stiffer than the front, thats wrong.. no amount of spring swapping will change the fact that gen2 are stiffer than gen3

now, with all due respect, regarding springs…
I have a stock car, Im using stock springs. imo there is nothing wrong with them, for how I use the car.

I dont say it is wrong for someone else to have shorter and stiffer springs. Im just saying, changing to new shocks does NOT require any change in springs.

you got me right on the keep a matched set, whatever you choose.. matched springs, matched shocks..

Im really just sounding the alarm about the large number of people, including myself, who interpret the FAQ to recommend gen2 rear with gen3 front. It made me unhappy, and it was expensive because I dont wrench.

just say no to mixed generation shocks.. pick one, or the other, and rock on! :)
 

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Premium Member
2006 Outback LL Bean 3.0 H6 - 1989 Range Rover Classic
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312 Posts
Hey hey! Looks like the rear 3rd gens are working out for you!!! I was a little worried with the way you drove, I figured you'd want a little stiffer all around, but as long as you're happy, I'm happy!
 

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85BRAT97SVX03Baja5mtHonda's
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I like the ride and handling of using rear 04 shocks on the rear of a 06 outback, keeping the 06 springs on all 4
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,175 Posts
See how different we all are.

I do think there is a fine point made about mis-matching the front and rear of the car. Whether is be springs, dampener, or anti sway...That creates an unbalanced condition. However, the feeling of being unbalanced is also subjective to handling preference and specific intended use for the car.
 

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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #8
I was a little worried with the way you drove
lol! I was trying pretty hard to impress you that Im not the guy in the slow lane..

but yes, Im very much happier, Thanks!

I still need to put the car through its paces in the curves over the mountain, but so far, everything else is better

I like the ride and handling of using rear 04 shocks on the rear of a 06 outback, keeping the 06 springs on all 4
whatever rocks half your boat :)

just for detail, is your car a daily driver, and have you tried 06 shocks in the rear?

or did you only go from worn out 06, straight to 04 in rear?

also, do you tend to run very lightly loaded, like I do.. or are you one of the people that tows a trailer, carries four passengers plus luggage, and a roof box?:)

inquiring minds want to know some specifics about how you use your car and what you think the hybrid shock setup is doing for you..

are you sensitive enough to be aware of the difference in front and rear damping rates? Dont you hate that?!!

See how different we all are.

I do think there is a fine point made about mis-matching the front and rear of the car.
I agree we have different setups for different needs.

otoh, I think anyone who has tried a matched set of shocks, be they gen 2 all around or gen 3 all around, will understand that a hybrid blend is just not taking full advantage of the handling potential of a matched front and rear suspension system.

Im beginning to think most people who are happy with the hybrid, just dont really know what theyre feeling, enough to know any better.. They are just plain ignorant. I mean that in the nicest way.. Not stupid or unwilling, simply uninformed..

as you said.. a "fine point" about balance.. To me it is a very FAT fine point :)

anyway, Ive made my case.. roll em if you got em

and thanks to everyone for the cordial discussion
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Glad you found a good fit.

Has any one else ever been this turned off by this combination?

I no longer cringe, hold my breath, or brace myself, going over irregular surfaces, seams, small bumps, and even Speed Bumps!
That describes a terrible ride. Anyone else have that experience? Without a corroborating data point it's hard to determine causation. Might it be....

1. Very specific and intensely scrutinizing personal preference. Comments regarding tire pressure, this issue, rebounding, compression, rates, etc, might suggest a very discerning approach to the driving experience.

or

2. The vehicle has other weaknesses exacerbated by certain strut combinations. This might not be hard to imagine given the lacking condition the suspension was in when you bought it which suggests it was driven like that for awhile:

with 170k miles on it.

It needed shocks badly, as it would bounce up and down repeatedly, lacking any damping, when going over road irregularities, undulations, bridges, and overpass seams.
The car was bought like this - which tells us it was driven in this condition for a while. That repeated bouncing is like an impact gun on all the bushings, links, sway bars, springs, mounts, etc...

Seems hard to verify that this is comparing apples to apples.
 

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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #10
Seems hard to verify that this is comparing apples to apples.
same car, same driver, same speed bumps, same roads, same speeds.. the only thing that changed is that after 5000 unhappy miles on mismatched damping rates from front to rear, Im suddenly very relieved to have a balanced suspension that is supple, responsive, and handles speed bumps and road irregularities in a balanced and comfortable way.

It is a disservice to encourage others to straddle the fence.

Make a commitment and try a full matched set of whatever stiffness you want, as long as its same generation front and rear, I guarantee it will be more BALANCED :)

And I can also tell you that the Gen3 rear is NOT softer than the Gen3 front, so for those who think the gen3 setup is too soft, its the Front that really needs gen2.. but I would only do that with matching gen2 rears.. :)
 

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'14 3.6R Outback
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same car, same driver, same speed bumps, same roads, same speeds.. the only thing that changed is that after 5000 unhappy miles on mismatched damping rates from front to rear, Im suddenly very relieved to have a balanced suspension that is supple, responsive, and handles speed bumps and road irregularities in a balanced and comfortable way.

It is a disservice to encourage others to straddle the fence.

Make a commitment and try a full matched set of whatever stiffness you want, as long as its same generation front and rear, I guarantee it will be more BALANCED :)

And I can also tell you that the Gen3 rear is NOT softer than the Gen3 front, so for those who think the gen3 setup is too soft, its the Front that really needs gen2.. but I would only do that with matching gen2 rears.. :)
I think all @grossgary was trying to say was that your car was abused (before you got it), so that means your experience could be unique. Try the same thing on a different car, you might see a different result. As such it not "apples to apples..."

Suspension feel is very subjective but performance can be more objective to a point. To the point of this car and this driver...

There is wisdom in keeping with OEM parts and specs.

There are those that will test and tinker. To them we are very happy they do that because then we don't have to (and save tones of money!!!)

Some people love the new WRX and STI harsher ride for example. On the older WRX (and I'm sure even the new ones) owners would drive a 500 mile or less car in the suspension shop and get a new suspension. Most people now feel the new car is "good enough" when it leaves the showroom.

When I bought me FXT I remeber someone saying it drives "like a floaty boat" and it the FXT has the stiffest and harshest ride of anything I've ever owned, I almost didn't buy it. I could not understand that person and they can not understand me. Neither is wrong, it's personal taste.

Most people who come on this site will not be looking for an OEM setup per-say. We are by definition enthusiasts and we are looking for that little edge that makes something good, better.

You tried something someone else liked and hated it.

To each their own.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Well, you've more or less created the alternate 3rd generation suspension thread, so now folks get to choose.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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Well, you've more or less created the alternate 3rd generation suspension thread, so now folks get to choose.
And in it's present state...way shorter. At least fro now. But she's growing.
 

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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #14
I think all @grossgary was trying to say was that your car was abused (before you got it), so that means your experience could be unique. Try the same thing on a different car, you might see a different result. As such it not "apples to apples..."
I completely disagree. Though my car is high miles, it was owned by a rich old lady that drove 150 miles each way, twice a week on the freeway. She is a nurse and spends 3 days at the job and then comes home. The household owns 3 subarus. The Husband is an aficionado.

I am reporting the difference in damping rates using gen3 front and gen 2 rear, on the exact same car, with the exact same driver. And then changing to Gen 3 rear also.

No One on here has ever reported that test. You can all benefit from my experience.

your comments that different people like different setups is correct, but this is not that thread

this is ONLY about the effect of MISMATCHED versus Matched Generation shocks.

No amount of sidetracking into other suspension components changes the undeniable FACT that Gen2 is stiffer, considerably, than Gen 3.

I do not know why anyone would want to mismatch. Especially an afficionado.

And fwiw, I found one person who used gen 3 front with gen 2 rear, and being fully aware of the mismatch, decided to go with gen 2 in front. I Totally respect that decision. I would even do it myself if I wanted a tighter ship.

All Im saying is putting Gen 2 on the back and gen 3 on the front is completely NON optimal, no matter who, or how, or what other mods are on the car.

I mean seriously! Are you going to say you have tried matched sets, like I have, compared to mismatched sets, and that you actually Prefer the Mismatch?

Raise your hand if you have tried gen2 Front with gen 2 Rear, and you prefer gen 3 front with gen 2 rear.. I have yet to read any report of someone going from a matched set of new shocks, to a mismatched set.

Almost all reports are people with old, worn shocks, being very happy with new mismatched shocks. I agree that is an improvement, but we CAN do better.

Friends dont let friends think half a suspension job is the way to go.. Go All the Way, make the front and rear match!

If people want to speculate, there is little I can say. Otoh, I put my money where my mouth is, and I respect others who do the same.

If anyone here has NEW Gen3 front and rear, and wants to try my Gen2 rears, they are available. I challenge anyone to actually try both ways, and then tell me half and half is better. Once you know what a matched set feels like, if you can't tell how wrong a mismatched setup is, then I yield the podium to your preference.

But again, individual preferences in Overall suspension setup, is not what this thread is about. It is all and only about Mismatched front and rear damping rates.

I don't think some people understand what I keep saying.. I will try to stop repeating myself.. soon :)
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Raise your hand if you have tried gen2 front with gen 2 front, and you prefer gen 3 front with gen 2 rear.. I have yet to read any report of someone going from a matched set of new shocks, to a mismatched set.
I think you have a typo in there, could create confusion. Unless you've got an ultra-rare double-fronted Subaru. ;)
 

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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #16
I think you have a typo in there, could create confusion. Unless you've got an ultra-rare double-fronted Subaru. ;)
fixed.. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my posts. :)

Clearly it would be a mismatch to use a gen2 on front on driver side, and a gen 3 on front on passenger side.. So why would anyone mismatch front to rear, unless they just dont realize there is a better option.. matched front and rear, and matched side to side..
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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26,564 Posts
a whole lot of miles?, maybe tired springs. (metal fatigue).



maybe the big fix to all 2005-2009 cars is Megan Racing and other aftermarket bits that can be fully adjusted.
@traildogck likes his blue megan bits a whole bunch, and is only thirsty for more. (possibly trading rare unused craft beer)

Edit: sorry @AWDFTW I thought it was a Lycra costume.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
a whole lot of miles?, maybe tired springs. (metal fatigue).
The body sits level on the springs, no fatigue problem with the springs at all. I have checked carefully by measuring from fender lip to edge of center cap, at all 4 corners. The rear of the body does NOT sit lower than the front.

I also make sure that my sidewall heights match, per Subaru, such that when there is heavy cargo in the rear, the rear tire pressure is increased to create matching contact patches front and rear. I measure carefully from edge of center cap to ground at all 4 corners. And I look carefully at the tire contact patch, including by counting the number of tread blocks touching the ground.

Here is a post about contact patch measurements:
tire pressure effect on contact patch.. here are some pics, cold. The credit cards are slip up against the tire until they stop, then I measure the distance between the cards
front


rear:


the car has 50lbs of cargo, but you can see the rear tires are not as squished as the front ones.

a couple more data references.. measuring from the ground to the edge of the center cap, to compare sidewall heights
front


here you can see the rear is taller, even though the PSI is lower (because the motor in front weighs more than the cargo in the rear. I believe weight distribution is about 60%front, 40% rear on an unloaded Subaru)
Here is the background on my shocks buying experience, along with some outstanding discussion with JDcruiser about his experience with both gen3 front gen2 rear, and then changing to gen2 front with gen2 rear.

My contrarian MythBuster opinions:
myth, when you buy shocks you need to buy springs (stock springs are fine unless you want to lower the ride)
myth, its ok to use Regular gas in an H6 (Premium Gas completely transforms the way the Transmission shifts)
myth, to prevent ghost walking put gen 2 shocks in rear (good lateral links are the key actually)
myth, to carry heavy cargo, buy overload springs and gen 2 shocks, for the rear only (more air in the rear tires is actually the key, note I cant find a link to where subaru addresses changing rear tire pressure with heavy loads.. I may be confused by info on my Jetta.. but I think it illustrates the concept, so here is a pic)

myth, if you buy 2 new tires, put them on front (in my experience the rear actually wears faster)
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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@jon_slider you are committed Man. Or rather like me...maybe you should be. (pun on us both intended) But thorough is good. More of your cross references and findings should find their way here.

Like I said. This one is shorter...and doesn't have the tangents...Not Yet.
 

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2006 Subaru Outback Wagon LLBean 3.0R Automatic
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Discussion Starter #20
@jon_slider you are committed Man.
thanks, I do resemble that remark, and I always appreciate your kind spirited feedback

Too much time on my hands.. I spend an inordinate amount of time checking my tire pressures, measuring ride heights and sidewall heights, and I carry a compressor so I can make changes as I go. I even have preset Stauns (from my 4x4 Van life with 245x75x16 BFG AT Ko's) to set baselines from which to test variations.
 
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