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2001 Legacy L Sedan, 2009 Impreza Sedan, 2013 Crosstrek, 2016 WRX
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134 Posts
Discussion Starter #21
Drilling holes above the rear bolts was not required, they come out easily. The front subframe bolts and toe adjusting bolts are always problematic in the rust belt areas though. The rear subframe mounting bolts are M16x1.5 threads.

I can guarantee your're going to require the use of a torch, as the bolts are very long as well. It was still a pain with the use of a torch for me, but they both came out.
I have a MAP torch, I just wasn't excited about using it near the gas tank. We'll see I guess. Thanks for the input.
 

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2001 Legacy L Sedan, 2009 Impreza Sedan, 2013 Crosstrek, 2016 WRX
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134 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
Welp we got the job done. After taking the old frame out there was not much metal left holding in the driver's side lower front arm. I could bend it with one hand and probably snap it off. Good we did this job when we did.

We did end up snapping one of the front bolts while the other three came out just fine. We probably should have taken more breaks to let the bolt cool as it was resisting removal but live and learn for next time. Overall Took 3 days to do working ~8 hrs each day with breaks, drinks and food. Day 1 was removal and a half attempt at broken bolt extraction. Day 2 was bolt extraction which you can find my post here and re-installing some items. Day 3 was installing the new subframe and the rest of the other items we had to remove.

After the front bolt broke and we realized a torch and eventually welding was needed we dropped and removed the gas tank. Good thing the gas was low. It came out pretty easy but I took pics because unlike my older car there looks to be double the amount of connections running into the tank.

I widened the hole I originally used to spray the broken sub-frame bolt just enough that I could get my cheap Android endoscope camera in and see the top of the bolt as well as the captive nut to monitor progress and continually soak in penetrating oil. After widening I realized there were almost two chambers the captive nut goes through. If you don't drill the original small hole used to soak the bolt high enough, you probably won't get any penetrating oil on the actual bolt. Just a tip for future readers doing this job.

In case you don't check out my extraction post, the short story is that heat and welding didn't do much. Each time we got a nut welded on the broken stub sticking out of the body, the bolt would just snap again in a new spot above the nut we welded. This happened 3 different times and was probably due to the bolt being incredibly brittle after multiple previous MAP torch and then welding hot/cold sessions. To anyone thinking they will just torch it and then put some vice grips on it you are out of your mind, you'll just tear up the threads and eliminate the option of threading on and then welding a nut. I wonder if we skipped the torch and just welded once if it would have worked better as we were getting movement before each snap. Before welding we unplugged the Main Computer under the passenger feet, the Transmission computer above the driver's feet, the ABS Pump under the hood, and of course the battery just in case anything odd happened with the electricity from the welder. Anyways what did work was drilling with cobalt bits, which surprisingly drilled pretty easy, and then hammering a SQAURE extractor (not a crummy spiral one) up into the hole we drilled and putting a wrench on that. Afterwards I cleaned up the hole with a tap which was a M14x1.5 thread (at least on my 2001), not a M16 like previously suggested.

The toe bolts were indeed rusted in too, so bad in fact that our only option would have been to drill them out as the mallet did nothing. Given that the bushings were junk on the connecting arm anyways we just ordered a new set of what the Subaru manual calls the Rear Links, and I called the lower arms. They were $35 ea on Rockauto and had new bushings already in them. At that price it didn't make sense to drill.

We installed the new and old arms onto the frame while it was out. FYI keep the rear differential right-side up. If you flip it upside-down there is a breather on top that will leak out all of your diff fluid. We used new toe and new subframe bolts bought from subaru. I didn't want to take the chance of torquing the old ones to 129ft-lbs, have them snap during re-installation, and be back to square one so I just replaced all.

Getting the 3 arms in on each side took up a good amount of time on day 3. There was a lot of using the jack on the bottom of the trailing hub arm (with a block of wood) to get things aligned. Then using a punch set and pry bars to align up the bolt holes with the bushings, and finally using a small hammer to tap in the bolts when they did line up. I'm not sure if there is a trick to it but doing it in the order the manual specifies (reverse of removal) gives you no leverage to bend the trailing hub arm the way you would need to get the lower front to line up which falls about 1/2-inch short. Instead we installed the upper, then the lower front, then the lower rear. This still took a lot of finesse but worked.

After all that I put some RTV on the holes I originally drilled to spray penetrating oil. I took it for a test drive which went well and now the car is off for an alignment. Good luck to anyone attempting this in the future! These other threads also helped me out:

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/110-gen-2-2000-2004/198538-01-outback-vdc-rear-sub-frame-pics-project-8.html
https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/110-gen-2-2000-2004/96290-rotted-rear-subframe-recall-rebuild.html

Shared a pic below of the old frame. You can see a hole rotted right through as well as 3 of the 4 welded sides were gone so a hand could rock it back/forth:
 

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2000 Outback 2.2L 110K automatic
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7 Posts
I'm replacing the rear subframe on my 2000 Outback-Legacy wagon. I've just removed all (4) subframe bolts successfully. This was done by drilling access holes for penetrating oil application in front of all 4 bolts. See below photos. The two rear bolts had 3/8" drilled in the frame and then 1/8" holes drilled through the 3/8" holes into the top of the bolt sleeve to allow penetrating oil to be sprayed on the bolt. The nuts on the forward bolts appear to be short, as the threads on the bolt could be viewed through the 3/8" hole. Initially I used generic penetrating oil followed by automatic transmission fluid mixed 50/50 with acetone. Let this soak then tried an impact wrench with no luck. Let soak overnight again. Bought a bottle of Kroil the next day, applied it, waited 1 hour after which the rattle gun was able to remove LR, RR, and RF bolts. Took a couple more days of intermittently mildly heating with a propane torch, oiling, rattle gunning, and waiting before I was finally rewarded by getting LF off w/out breaking. This seems to the the bolt that gives people the most grief. It appears that there is a small drain hole next to the bolt in the frame, so I suspect moisture gets in regularly and may cause more corrosion than occurs on the other bolts. Notice in the photos that all 4 holes were drilled fairly high up. The reason for this was that so the inner sleeve access hole would hopefully enter above the end of the bolt. This worked. Although this is not really an issue on the front bolts as there was no sleeve on these, just a short welded on nut of some sort.

I have a subframe being shipped now from southern California.

Question: Any one have the part numbers for the bushings that I will likely be replacing? Good vendors? Any other advice before I start phase 2 of this project? Thanks.

471113
471114
471115
471116
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6 Limited
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9,965 Posts
Does the sub frame come with the arms attached?

The lower arms and bolts were so seized together that we ended up having to replace the alignment bolts and the rear lower arms as well.

I have a thread on my misadventures here:

 

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Thinking about tackling the job of replacing the rear subframe in a 2001 Sedan. Is this a job that's doable in a garage without a lift?

I've dropped transmissions and removed engines in this same garage and have decent access to tools with a 60gal air compressor.

I've just never tackled a subframe so wasn't sure if there were common hang ups, things that are expected to break, or bolts I'll spend an hour wrestling out. I may be wrong but navigating around / dropping the rear diff looks like the biggest part in my way. Thanks in advance for the tips!

Also it looks like the dealer has the subframe for $260 but if anyone in New England sells good condition used ones for a decent price let me know.
Hey.. Im new to this forum. How did your experience go with the sub frame? I did mine, by myself in the driveway. Im currently looking for urethane bushings for the sub frame. What did you do?
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6 Limited
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9,965 Posts
No problem. Rattle gun loosened them up. Do you have a good source on a bushing kit?
The 2000 I did (little red) must have just been in pretty bad shape.

It was pretty horrendous replacing that thing but we didn't do it until the sub frame itself broke in half and the rear end was being held in by the driveshaft.

I don't have a source on the bushings because I replaced with a new OEM frame.
 

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2000 Outback 2.2L 110K automatic
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7 Posts
Done. Rear end is buttoned up. All that is left is to seal up the access holes that I drilled in the unibody to access the subframe mounting bolts. Will likely use some sort of tight fitting plug and a lot of thickened epoxy.
473015

Aside from the (4) subframe bolts, I found this to be a pretty straight forward job. It is one, however, that benefits from a clean protected workspace where the rig can set for several days while parts are ordered, primer dries, etc. Having a Sawsall on hand will help speed things along. I ended up replacing (2) bolts and about 1/2 dozen nuts. I was able to get the subframe out without disconnecting the axles from the rear differential: lowering the differential slowly with a floor jack until it was clear. The drive shaft was blocked and supported just forward of the U-joint during this process. I would suggest having another person on hand to help with setting the new one in place, although I was able to (awkwardly) do it alone. The only significant goat rope I encountered was the eliptical camber adjustment bolts. Both of these were seized in their bushing bores. Bolts and bushings had to be replaced. All of the other bushings were in good shape and so were reused. I did clean, prime, and paint the control arms, sway bar, front lateral tie bar and the lower sway bar. Cleaning, priming and painting is quick and cheap, and helps with rust (I live on the ocean). Anyone contemplating job I would strongly suggest watching the You-Tube videos several times before starting on this project. Good luck.
 

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Which bolts did you end up replacing? The 4 that hold the subframe in or some of the alignment bolts?

My problem is similar, the right rear tire is also leaning into the body and wearing the tire down. I doubt any alignment shop would touch it in this condition since you can see the subframe has rusted in one spot causing the tire to do this.

Nothing else back there other than the brake rotor dirt shields and quarter panel seems to be rusty.
When I did mine I replaced all 4 sub frame bolts, all 4 upper control arm bolts, alignment bolts and diff studs. Along with just about every nut.
 
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