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I have been told there are Chinese plants that have German quality oversight, there are some that have Chinese oversight. It makes for a very hit-or-miss type of risk.
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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The are also a huge number of Chinese counterfeit bearings being packaged and sold as top-brand bearings. unfortunately, there is no way of knowing until it is too late - even a couple F1 teams got caught out on that a couple years ago.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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^^^^^^^^ Auto Crap sells their brand parts in their branded box. So get this: One of their sales reps came by the lot and wanted us to start buying from them. I said, "No way.". She then goes in to this rant about their parts aren't as bad as they used to be. As a selling point, she pulls out a MAF sensor from her car and brings it to me pointing out that it has "Nissan" embossed on the sensor. I told her I don't care if Rolls Royce is embossed on the sensor, I wasn't going to buy parts from them. Any manufacturer can get their hands on a mold and make a part housing. There is also the "reman" parts that are taken apart and "rebuilt" using the original casing. You have to ask yourself, "How lucky do I feel today?".

You get what you pay for.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
I have noticed zero pattern. I have seen just about every combination of x branded part in y box, name brands made in China or Taiwan, generics made in US. IMO at the end of the day, there are 2 options, OE or aftermarket. The only direct, reliable comparison with aftermarket parts is the warranty (which is usually dealt with through the supplier), how long and how much of a hassle to redeem. AutoZone as a company is very good about warranty parts, so if it's something I'm likely to warranty, I buy from them (I buy all my brake pads there, lifetime warranty, including pad wear). If I'm looking for cheap, I buy from RockAuto, Amazon or eBay, and if I'm looking for quality, I buy OE.

I worked for AutoZone for 5 years, opening 2 brand-new stores (frequently recruiting people from Advance, O'reilly's, NAPA, and dealerships), then I worked at the parts department of the Subaru dealership here for 3 years, where we bought $5-8k in aftermarket parts a week from various suppliers, local and online.


Bearings are pretty much all a 1 year warranty, regardless of supplier, so that doesn't set them apart. And while I am planning to keep this car for parts when I give up on driving it, I probably won't re-use a bearing. So I went cheap.


I do try to only use OE timing belt pullies, consequences of a failure there are a bit different than a wheel bearing.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Some aftermarket is good, some is crap. Over the years you figure it out. My experience with SKF, Auto Crap, and some others has been bad so I don't use them. Not even on the cars I'm turning over. And electronic parts is one area where aftermarket just doesn't work correctly 90% of the time or they don't fit. for example: Hyundai TPS for the older cable driven throttle. Aftermarket will not work. It'll mount and plug in. The resistance and feedback is all wrong for the ECM. You have to use the Hyundai part. Engine mounts is another example. If I call OReilly and get a set of Anchor engine mounts for a Chevy 5.3, they don't fit; the bolt holes are off. If I get them from RA, CarQuest or the dealer, perfect.

As for Rock Auto being "cheap" - Mahle is the OEM manufacturer for Subaru thermostats. I can pay $22 @ Subaru or I can pay $13 @ Rock Auto. 2nd in line would be the Beck Arnley at a dollar or 2 higher than Mahle. Usually with RA I get a discount from the advertised price. It all depends on how fast I want it since Subaru parts has thermostats in stock right down the road and with RA I have to wait a few days. There's the shipping cost, but I usually order a large amount of parts all at once and it all ships in mass.
Which most of the time is fine with me since I check the cars and then schedule out the order of repairs based on each car's need and parts availability.
 

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I do try to only use OE timing belt pullies, consequences of a failure there are a bit different than a wheel bearing.



Ever have a wheel bearing do a total failure on the highway at 80 mph? I have - lost the right front wheel. Totaled the car.


But, as they, to each their own.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Hit a deer last Thursday:

20190228_080919 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Smashed headlight, mangled fender, front edge of the hood folded over, bumper cracked, and a hole in the battery.


Made a run to UPullRParts on Saturday. 6 BE/BH cars, one good fender, one good headlight, no good hoods....oh well, got the hood bent back, and patched back together:

20190303_075907 by Numbchux, on Flickr
 

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2014 Subaru Outback 2.5 Premium
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Glad to see its still alive! Having an old car like that can be fun, especially running to patch it together after an accident. I had a 98 Buick Century that was like that. Got into a small accident, ran to the local junk yard and found a nice hood and bumper and slapped them on, drove it all the way from WI across Canada to Vermont and Maine on a road trip. Only burned some oil and gave me a little check engine light scare in the middle of the night in Canada but it was just a MAF sensor. Now I have 2 newer Vehicles which is nice to not have to worry about the repairs but I love following your thread with this one.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
I had all summer to work on it, but I waited until the last minute, of course. We got a few inches of snow over the weekend, so I finally got to work on this thing. I really wanted to get the rear subframe replaced before I had to rely on it. I went to pull it in the garage last week, and it wouldn't start. Seemed like it wanted to start, but never would. Pulled a P0336 code, and after some diagnostics, a new crank angle sensor had it running again. So I pulled it in the garage (timing cover, fans, and accessories still off, didn't feel like working out in the yard any longer than I had to) and got to work. Pulled the exhaust (it's been welded all one piece, so I had to jack the car up quite a bit to get the muffler/tailpipe enough angle to clear the suspension and trailer hitch), driveshaft (good excuse to grease my aftermarket ujoints), and then really got to work.

Unbolted the front and upper control arms from the control arm, and the rear one from the knuckle (I was expecting the toe adjustment to be seized, and was prepared with new arms). The sway bar links were kind enough to fall apart long ago, so I didn't have to worry about those.

Popped the axles out of the diff, and dropped it.

Then I began battle with the 4 big mounting bolts to hold the subframe to the body. I did not like the idea of drilling holes to spray some lube in there, so I left it alone. The rears came out without a fight, but the fronts were a different story. I had to use a breaker bar with a cheater bar on it, and because of the access, I could only barely get it to turn 1/6 of a turn to be able to reset the socket (for awhile, on the passenger side, I had to rotate the socket on the bar so I was only going 1/12 of a turn). I discovered that the lift blocks are aluminum, so I took advantage of the thermal properties there, and pointed my torch at them, which helped a ton.

2019-10-14_08-20-28
by Numbchux, on Flickr

After some time, the subframe dropped out. Yea, it was pretty bad, I've seen worse, but glad to get it out:

20191012_175953
by Numbchux, on Flickr


20191012_174210
by Numbchux, on Flickr

Here's how the bolts looked, after cleaning them up on the wire wheel. Rears were perfect, but this was the worse of the 2 fronts. Nasty

20191012_163008
by Numbchux, on Flickr

These are M14x1.5, I did not have a tap or chaser in that size, and didn't expect to have any luck finding one (it was late Saturday night by then, and I'm 10 miles from anything, so I didn't try). Luckily I have a parts car, so I zipped one of the rear bolts out of it, to replace this one, and turned this one into a chaser. I used a grinder to taper out the nasty threads, a cutoff wheel on a dremel to cut 3 flutes in the threads, and then a thread repair file to finish it off. Ran this through the holes and then didn't have any trouble threading the good bolts in by hand.
20191012_170936 by Numbchux, on Flickr

I wanted to "index" the bushings at ride height, so I unbolted the shock and used a jack to hold the knuckle up to about ride height before tightening all the control arm bolts down, then I needed to use a scissors jack to extend the suspension to get the shock back on. I simply set the toe adjustments in the middle of their travel, and put everything back together.


While I had stuff apart, I put a new side seal in the original diff, and swapped it back in (I had some bearing noise, and clearly the diff was leaking oil and I had a spare open diff the right ratio, so I swapped it in. Didn't fix the noise). So now it has a VLSD again (a high mileage one, but better than not).

Late last night, I took it for a short test drive. I need to get an alignment, but it drives well so far.



So yea, to anyone thinking of doing this. It's not too terrible. Things I would recommend, be prepared to lift and secure the entire car up as high as you can (I had the front on ramps, and nice tall stands for the rear). A good breaker bar and extensions, as you'll need a lot of torque in some poor-access places. Buy at least one, preferrably 2 of those mounting bolts (901000254, MSRP about $15), I would have been dead in the water if it weren't for the parts car. And try to track down a M14x1.5 thread chaser (cutting tap wouldn't be the end of the world if it's used carefully).
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Very nice detailed info. Good Job. Did you fluid film the new subframe?
Not during install, but I plan to get under both our winter cars and go after them closer to road grime season.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
I appear to have a bit of a gear oil leak since the project, I must have damaged the output seal when I had the driveshaft out. Not enough to have a noticeable loss on the dipstick, but enough to drip gear oil on the exhaust and smell like burning gear oil every time I drive it....

Several years ago, I bought an AuxBeam 22" 120W flood/spot light bar and pair of 4" 18w flood pods, the pods went on to my lawn tractor for snow removal, and the bar was supposed to go on our '04. I cleared those lenses, and put LED bulbs in it, and the light bar hung on the wall of the garage. The headlights on this one suck, and I didn't want to buy LED bulbs (especially since the exact ones I used in the '04 aren't available anymore, so I'm back to the drawing board to find good ones), so I mounted the light bar.

I wanted it above and behind the bumper beam to keep it protected. Since the grill is mounted to the hood, I couldn't just cut it down to fit around the bar, so it came out. Doesn't look great, but it works.

20191114_180426
by Numbchux, on Flickr

It's just mounted on a pair of 1/8" thick pieces of steel bent and drilled to bolt to the radiator support mounts. They're a little flimsy, and the light wobbles over bumps a bit, but the section of road that I use it on every day is paved, so it's ok.

20191114_180449
by Numbchux, on Flickr

The bar was on clearance, and they only had the 8" amber covers available....so they don't cover the whole thing. I think I'll slide them to the center so they cover the Spot lenses, but not the Flood ones.

It's just wired to the stock Fog Light circuit. Next project is to rewire that to come one only with the High Beams, so I can easily turn it off when another car comes.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
I appear to have a bit of a gear oil leak since the project, I must have damaged the output seal when I had the driveshaft out. Not enough to have a noticeable loss on the dipstick, but enough to drip gear oil on the exhaust and smell like burning gear oil every time I drive it....
I underestimated the severity of the leak....checked the level on my lunch break yesterday, and had to add 2 quarts to get it back in an acceptable range. So, I stopped by the dealership and grabbed a seal, and after my daughter went to bed last night I swapped it out. Took me an hour and a half or so, and I probably spent 20 minutes repairing a damaged thread on one of the driveshaft hanger bolts.

32mm (axle nut) socket made a perfect seal driver.
 
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