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Hello! I just bought a new to me 2006 Outback 2.5i limited 5MT, and am super happy about it! But, it has some maintenance due, and some issues that need addressing. It would be awesome to get some advice or get pointed in the right direction. The thing is- it's an 11 year old car. I WANT to replace EVERYTHING NOW and upgrade everything possible.. but it makes more sense to only replace what is actually needed! If I can spread the expense out over time, that would also be better....

1. The timing belt is overdue. I have a continental kit, and will be replacing the belt, tensioner, pulleys, water pump, and thermostat (OEM), this weekend. I also have parts coming to replace the valve cover gaskets, spark plug gaskets, will check/adjust valve clearances, and will do an engine, transmission, and rear diff oil change. Is there anything else I should do in the middle of this job? Since it doesn't seem to have any head gasket issues, I have been told and have been leaning towards leaving them until a later date. (Maybe if the clutch eventually goes I'll get an engine hoist and do the gaskets as well as the clutch easily.. at this point I will have to leave the engine in the car)

2. I have never done exhaust work, but this one has a medium level obnoxious heatshield rattle. The heatshields and exhaust piping are both significantly more corroded than the rest of the car. One shield near the engine is missing a bolt.. Is this something where replacing the exhaust system (reusing the cats and mufflers maybe?) is reasonable? I can try to get some photos tomorrow night. At the very least, the heatshield fasteners are rotting away, perhaps replacing with stainless fasteners would be a good idea?

3. Suspension. It needs an alignment, but the suspension is also old. Weirdly, I have found that I go "too far" in tight low speed turns while driving this car, and my wife did the same thing- so it is specific to the car- I assume a symptom of a bad suspension part:frown2:I'm sure the dampers are shot. I would also like to firm up the handling, this one feels way more like a boat than my old outback (but rather better than the rest I test drove..) - It will be a road trip / family / camping car, so I dont want to get crazy, but I have read that sway bars are a good thing to upgrade. I am sure it also needs bushings all around. I'd like to DIY all of this, ideally in stages, to minimize cost.... Where should I start? (I will be looking for a lifetime alignment place nearby before starting this..)

Thanks for the help!!
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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While you have the timing cover off, check the seals on the cams & crank for leakage. Just because of access, this is also a good time to reseal the oil pump and back-flush the heater core. Give the radiator itself a hard inspection, check it for flow and consider putting a new one in anyway- they're cheap and they often have degraded performance after 10 years. Not good in a car with marginal cooling to begin with.

Working with a rusty old exhaust is hard. Working with two rusty old exhausts is even harder, and doesn't guarantee success. There are other techniques for dealing with heat shield rattle. I tend to favor the addition of steel wool and large screw clamps to fill gaps & create tension to silence them locally. To put this another way- it pays to solve the problem right at the problem location. "Nuke it from orbit" approach just invites other spot-rattles and it's a heck of a lot of work.

The best place to start on suspension is up on a lift. Get access, get a good strong light on it, and have enough room to pry on bits so you can see if a part has play, light shining through where there should be bushing material and so forth. By age the bushing at the rear of the front control arms is probably done. Likely also true for most/all bushings on the rear arms.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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innkeeper, it's a good idea to 'triage' the issues with the car along the lines Rasterman listed. Timing belt service needs doing now (good idea to address anything that overlaps that labor) because $$$$$ damage can be done if it fails - usually the toothed idler fails. TB service can overlap with thermostat and coolant swap as said above - PLEASE research that as there can be pitfalls.

valve cover gaskets are a good overlap with spark plug replacement.

save up for suspension work unless tires are being destroyed or the car cannot be safely driven.


you can 'live with' minor drips, rattles, squeaks, and some burned-out dash light bulbs if need be.
 

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2005 Legacy GT wagon 5MT Limited
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320 Posts
Consider returning the Continental kit for an Aisin kit and leaving the original water pump in place.
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i Auto
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I fixed my heat shield rattle due to a missing bolt with a simple #4-40 bolt and a nyloc nut. That's all that was needed. So don't tie that to larger exhaust work. (also, check the dust shields on the front brake discs - they are fairly flimsy and if bent to touch the disk make horrible noises).

Could the suspension/handling be just anti-roll bar bushes? Those are easy to replace, and cost almost nothing. Next step after that is the rear front lateral link and an alignment, I think, unless the rear bushes on the front control arms are completely shot. It's probably worth doing just a few things until you are sure that the dampers are the limiting factor.

And a +1 to the triage recommendation above.
 

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'18 OB 3.6R
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On my 09 2.5i 5MT legacy (same exact drivetrain you have) I had the heat shield rattle on the front exhaust manifold, and I just removed the heat shield all together. It never caused any issues or melted any wires or anything like that. Just don't park on tall grass afterwards lol.

On the suspension bushings/components - at least on the front you can save yourself a lot of trouble by just buying the whole control arms preloaded with bushing/ball joints. Costs like 20 more than just the bushings and ball joints alone, but totally worth it saving all the hours of effort changing them (available on rockauto).

When you do your timing belt - might as well check the condition of your regular accessory belts. If they're off already that'd be a good time to replace. And inspect cam seals for any oil leaks while you've got the plastic covers off the timing belt.
 

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2013 BRZ 2005 OBXT
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On the suspension bushings/components - at least on the front you can save yourself a lot of trouble by just buying the whole control arms preloaded with bushing/ball joints. Costs like 20 more than just the bushings and ball joints alone, but totally worth it saving all the hours of effort changing them (available on rockauto).
Make sure if you do this that your getting something with OEM or better quality bushings though.
 

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2007 Outback Limited
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[
2. I have never done exhaust work, but this one has a medium level obnoxious heatshield rattle. The heatshields and exhaust piping are both significantly more corroded than the rest of the car. One shield near the engine is missing a bolt.. Is this something where replacing the exhaust system (reusing the cats and mufflers maybe?) is reasonable? I can try to get some photos tomorrow night. At the very least, the heatshield fasteners are rotting away, perhaps replacing with stainless fasteners would be a good idea?



For that heat shield rattle I have just used some stainless band clamps - tightened them at an angle across the rattle point. Work well for years on the old forester and on my "new" 07 outback.
 

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06 Outback 2.5i
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For that heat shield rattle I have just used some stainless band clamps - tightened them at an angle across the rattle point. Work well for years on the old forester and on my "new" 07 outback.
+1, worked for my old legacy. I just used hose clamps
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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12,306 Posts
One car work wonders with steel wool and band clamps for a long time...usually until one has to get welding or replacing done.

You want KYB for struts. Replace any bushing that needs it on visual inspection. It is sometimes more effective to replace the front control arms with new units with ball joints and rear lateral arms with new units that having new bushings pressed in, depends on your resources. For me, I don't always have a spare vehicle to use while one is taken apart, so taking something apart, getting the part somewhere with a press, and returning to reinstall is not always an option.

You can swap in 2003-04 rear struts, they are a bit more firm than the 05-09 parts but will bolt right in.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone! This has been quite helpful. I'll be starting on the timing belt replacement tonight, and will get that all done before looking at the heatshields, then gear oil replacements, and only then will I start looking at the suspension. I'll leave the head gaskets and clutch for a later date. I found out a neighbor has an engine hoist I could borrow eventually for that, but both seem fine for now..
 

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2006 Outback 3.0L
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Good advice above - do the belt and a suspension/steering/brakes safety check asap and rank the rest.

Suggest using check book muscle where it makes sense - after spending too much time on exhaust I now leave replacement to pros, either quality owner operated shops familiar with these cars (check Car Talk's "Mechanics Files" for customers' recommendations) or Subaru dealers when I can find one with a good reputation. Use Subaru or better parts and absolutely avoid the chain shops (not even for oil changes). When traveling coast-to-coast I found that Subaru dealers' are reasonable for oil changes, and trustworthy, just don't let them up-sell you. They often give the car a good going over and one saved us much woe by noticing a bad tire last summer.

Check your half shafts (boots torn, click in tight turns?) If the boots are torn pull them out, clean, and check internal condition - mine just needed a boot/grease kit from NAPA. If worn out check the forums as many have had problems with cheap aftermarket parts - some believe reconditioned original shafts are better.

The forums (fora?) and youtube have been a great help while going over ours - fluids, plugs, brake pads, front dampers and bushings, cat. shield. They're fine cars, great in snow and on unpaved roads, but demand more attention than some brands.

You probably know by now that matched tire type and circumference are critical to Subaru center differential life. Use a flat tape measure or something similar to measure them around the tread centerline - should be within 0.25in. When buying new measure circumferences yourself to ensure a matched set - measuring tread depth isn't sufficient as the diameter below the tread can vary, especially if from different molds even if the same date. If the tires on your new car aren't matched just buy new ones. If you'll be driving All Season tires in winter, snow and ice performance varies radically between brands - I've had good experience with Michelin and Pirelli AS tires on snow/ice in the Sierra, relatives in Maine are very happy with Continentals on their Outbacks and Foresters, and there may be others. Had bad winter experiences with OEM Bridgestones on 2006 Subaru and 2006 Civic, no traction, but that was a decade ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks! I am planning to have an inspection soon, but will take care of the known maintenance items first. It has matched tires, but cheap ones. I'll likely replace them before summer road trips. Also, I'll try to do as much work as possible myself. I may hire some out, but simple stuff like oil/gear oil and belts I can handle easily. The local subaru dealer wanted $1200 for the timing belt service, and over $100 for a transmission oil change! Crazy.

Boots look OK, but I'll look closer, and will have a shop check over everything before any long trips.

I do know the tire requirements- this is actually my third subaru. We have a 2WD honda civic (Also 06..), and I would still feel weird if it had mismatched tires, even though it would be fine! I'll just be doing all seasons for now, since I only have one set of wheels. We have winter tires for our other car, but didn't actually bother this year... we just don't get nearly enough snow here in Colorado for it to be worth it. I liked the all season Pirellis on my old outback (Sold it with 227k on the clock) but am open to other brands depending on deals at the time!
 
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