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2006 Subaru Baja Turbo

This is my latest project: a '06 Baja Turbo. I purchased it with 114,XXX Miles on it to act as a bit of a jack-of-all-trades car that I could still have fun with but that the wife could drive if needed. Previously, both of my cars were manual transmissions and both didn't have a lot of carrying capacity so we always used her Forester for picking bigger stuff up. But when she's at work and I've got a list of errands to run or things to fix, my STI and my RS Coupe weren't the best options. So a Turbocharged Auto-tragic Baja seemed like a fun answer to our problem!

Besides that, I've always liked the Baja for some reason (although that Yellow/Silver variant is still questionable for me) and this one needs some TLC. Thankfully the body is in great shape and has no signs of rust or damage. Other than a killer cleaning job needed for the interior, the Baja really just needed some mechanical love. I've got a laundry list of things to fix on it and some mods in mind that I might play around with once I get it running right. In the meantime, I'm gonna enjoy this new project and have some Off-Road fun, too!
 

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First things first: gotta make it safe! The brakes were shot when I got this, so OEM Subaru Rotors and Pads were the first thing to go on. Didn't run into too many issues other than having one frozen bolt that took some trial by fire to get out. The Rear Drums for the E-Brake needed to be fixed, too so we got some fresh parts and replaced them while we had the rotors off.



OH! And I should probably mention that the wheels on this are not what it came with. The original owner had these terrible looking MODA Wheels and some mismatched bald tires on 'em, so I got rid of those immediately. Replaced 'em with 2016 Subaru Crosstrek Wheels and Yokohama Ice Guard winter tires. I'll get a different All-Season set in the spring but I figured with it being October already, might as well grab some grip.



And, for it's first errand, I took it to Discount Tire to pick up my new Winter Wheels for my Hyper Blue STI. I've never owned a truck... well the Baja is sort of a truck. Way easier to load stuff in and out than having to deal with the limitations of a trunk in a sedan. It's fun having a Subaru Truck! Plus, my dog came along for the ride to "approve" of the new-to-her Baja. She seemed to like it.
 

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Today a good friend helped polish up the Baja a little more. The headlights have been restored and look fantastic. Instantly noticeable improvement with them at night, too. A few of the scratches got buffed out, too so the body looks even better than it did before. New brakes feel good and the car is running smooth.


I was parking and overheard someone walking past my Baja "Is that a car or a truck?" I shouted out "It's kinda both!" He seemed surprised that I heard him.

IMG_7438 by 86Reverend, on Flickr

Making a bit of a laundry list of things I need to fix or upgrade. It's nearly all suspension-related as I'm pretty sure all of it is still original from 2006.

New Shocks
New Endlinks
New Bushings
Check Bearings
Inspect for Possible Oil Leak
Replace Spare Tire (Dry Rotted and Rusted)

That should get things solid for driving. I've been thinking of doing a simple lift of sorts but a lot of my ideas are just me jumping at all the possibilities. Deciding which direction to go is trickier than I thought!
 

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Thanks, guys! The Crosstrek wheels look sharp on it and I've had a lot of compliments on how they look with the Baja.



Been disassembling the tonneau cover to clean things up more. Can't seem to get the last bit off of the back and I've undone every bolt I can find but it's still hangin on. It's not the Genuine Subaru Part so I've been trying to find out which brand it is so I can remove it properly. One of the locks was busted out and the other I didn't have the key to open.

The next thing I want to tackle is suspension. It isn't completely shot, but it clunks at all four corners. Bushings seem shot, too so I'm planning to assemble a cast of parts to go in and replace things all in one go. I think I wanna keep it at stock ride height, maybe an inch lift at the most. Researching several different possibilities but open to suggestions on what to find! Thanks!
 

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Well, to add to my list of things to do, I apparently need a new radiator. Current one seems to be leaking at the top and I had a slight spike in engine temperature that alerted me of the problem in the first place. Car is still running fine, but now it's time to replace it before things get bad. Debating between an OEM replacement, which I can get for a pretty good price since I work at a Subaru Retailer, or going aftermarket like Koyorad or Mishimoto.

Any suggestions?
 

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Well last month I replaced the Radiator. Just went with an OEM Replacement. Ordered the hoses to replace em while I was at it since I had to wait about 3 days anyways. Installed em and haven't had any issues since. All We'll Drive: Baja Blast: First Fixins

So now I'm on to a bit more fun. With the dirt and grime and stains that was in the carpet, I decided just to replace the whole **** thing. I ordered an OEM replacement carpet from Subaru (only $160!). By the way, if you own a Baja and you're planning on ever replacing your carpet, order em soon. I think there's only like 5 left in the US.

While I'm in there with the carpet, seats, console, and everything else out, I'll be doing a bit of remodeling. I picked up 2010 Subaru WRX STI front seats to replace my stock Baja seats. They're more comfortable, will match the interior great, and look cool too. When I picked 'em up, I couldn't help but "mount" them in the rear bed of the Baja upright so they looked like functional rear-facing seats. Had some fun with that before transporting them home before install.





I'll post pictures once I've done my interior remodeling. It'll be a bit before I have time and a warm enough day to get 'em done... but all the parts are here! I just need time and weather on my side!
 

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It's Cyber Monday and I've been looking around to see if I can get any good deals on a 1" Lift Kit for my Baja... but I'm honestly not seeing much. ADF, Subtle Solutions, Gorilla, I'm not really seeing any deals on anything. If anyone knows of a place I can grab a set of 1" Spacers for my '06 Baja, that'd be awesome. Otherwise I'll just hold off and wait until I get the rest of my suspension parts.
 

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Looking great! Should've just left the seats in the back and had yourself a Brat! (Just kidding) Jokes aside, it looks to be in great shape, and although I'm not usually one for fancy wheels, those Crosstrek wheels do look nice on it.
 

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2017 is gone... and so is the old carpet! YAY!!





Fresh OEM carpet (which miraculously only cost me $160 from the dealer!) has replaced the old, smelly, stained carpet. While I had it out, I also cleaned a bunch underneath to get rid of more of the dirt and mold that had been trapped under there. I even managed to make $2.26 doing it! Really glad to have a fresh clean interior in this car. Wasn't too difficult to put in. The whole thing, cleaning and disinfecting time included, took me 2.5 hours. Well worth the trouble!!

While I was at it, I test fit these 2008 WRX STI seats. Gonna need a rail swap, change over some wiring, and hopefully wire in some heated seat elements to get these working right, but I wanted to see what they looked like in the car. 2 of the 4 bolts for the seat line up with the factory mounting points so I took it for a short trip to see if I liked em before removing them again to get things settled with the rest of the swap. I'm really happy with how comfortable these are and how great they look in this interior. Just need to get 'em buttoned up and mounted right!



There's more repairs and upgrades on the way for the Baja. Front and Rear Sway Bar Bushings, Endlinks, and a full suspension refresh should transform this from a clunky jittery mess to the solid Baja Blast I have in mind. Still assembling some of the pieces to this, but it'll be the next big thing I tackle with this project in the New Year.
 

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Got the Baja lifted with new OEM Struts, OEM Top Hats, and 1" ADF Spacers all around. Looks great with a little extra height!



The Baja did have a bit of an earlier-than-I-expected surprise for me though. Just before getting the lift I got a Check Engine light on that I couldn't clear so we checked it out. Turns out I need a new short block sooner than later... as I don't want to ruin the rest of the components in there if this thing lets go. The previous owner wasn't a fan of maintenance. It was 2.5 quarts low on oil when I got the car last fall. I knew it would need engine work at some point, but wasn't planning on tackling that until the spring. So parts are on-order and it'll sit until those come in and we can get things rebuilt.
 

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what caused the block to fail?

Got the Baja lifted with new OEM Struts, OEM Top Hats, and 1" ADF Spacers all around. Looks great with a little extra height!



The Baja did have a bit of an earlier-than-I-expected surprise for me though. Just before getting the lift I got a Check Engine light on that I couldn't clear so we checked it out. Turns out I need a new short block sooner than later... as I don't want to ruin the rest of the components in there if this thing lets go. The previous owner wasn't a fan of maintenance. It was 2.5 quarts low on oil when I got the car last fall. I knew it would need engine work at some point, but wasn't planning on tackling that until the spring. So parts are on-order and it'll sit until those come in and we can get things rebuilt.
First I gatta say, love this thread. Great guide for anyone like me whos about to get into one of these things.

Do you know what made the block go bad? I'd love to know as a haggle point for when I go to get mine.
Best of luck on yours.
 

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Do you know what made the block go bad? I'd love to know as a haggle point for when I go to get mine.
Turns out if the previous owner doesn't like to do basic maintenance, things can go bad. Who knew?

I was aware of the condition of things when I got it. When he sold it, it was 2.5 quarts low on oil... which is bad for any car and especially bad for a turbo engine. I knew a short block would be in this things future anyways. Just wasn't planning on it coming up so soon.

No oil = bad rings. Blow by, lots of oil getting burnt off, lots of crap getting in the oil that ruins the lubrication oil is supposed to do anyways. It all just kinda self destructs and, if you let it go long enough, you'll need more than just a short block to fix it. I didn't wanna risk that, so when the AVCS code came up, I knew it was probably a good indication that things were getting worse.

Most of what I've done with the Baja so far have been things to make up for the lack of maintenance that this jack-hole did with this car. New Radiator & coolant, replaced the Diff Fluid, Auto Transmission Fluid, keep an eye on oil levels and changed it every month, cleaned the disgusting interior out, suspension, brakes, I'm proud of what I've done with it so far. This is just a bigger ticket item to tackle. Once it's buttoned up, she'll be good to go.
 

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Thanks for the detailed reply. Its always depressing to see when car owners cant even be bothered with basic maintenance. I'll be sure to look out for those things when I go to buy.

Hopefully, your short block swap doesn't give you to much trouble and you'll be tearing up the road in style soon!
 

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Are you then Reverend I’m following on Instagram? Please post a write up on the Subaru driving experience! I was interested as it’s not far from me but I couldn’t spend the cash. I’d love to hear about it though!
 

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Are you then Reverend I’m following on Instagram? Please post a write up on the Subaru driving experience! I was interested as it’s not far from me but I couldn’t spend the cash. I’d love to hear about it though!
I sure am! I'll soon have a writeup on my blog: All We'll Drive

All buttoned up and ready to roll! Just got it back from the shop. Runs so smooth and quiet, it really feels it's brand new! Well... that shouldn't be surprising considering how many things were either rebuilt, refinished, or entirely replaced!

All We'll Drive: Baja Blast: Heart Transplant

Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr
Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr
Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr
Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr
Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr
 

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Tell me about the ‘06 STI pan and it’s benefits. Is it baffled? What type of pickup did you use? Are you using an OEM oil cooler still?

I’m about 24k post turbo implosion, so I’m on borrowed time. That’s ok though. When it’s time I’m planning on sticking with the existing bolt ons and stick size turbo but was thinking about going aftermarket pan/baffle/pickup/cooler. Possibly even a remote filter. As happy as I am with the Mazda filter I’ve been using I may want to switch to an STI or aftermarket header as I already have an upgraded up-pipe and turboback.
 

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The STI oil pan has better baffling inside and seems to help with oil flow through the engine. I'd heard it recommended on the turbo Subies if the opportunity presented itself, so I did it while everything was out. Used the OEM Pickup, Oil Cooler, and swapped the dipstick to the STI one so it reads properly.

Nearly have it broken in. Oil Levels look good, car has been running smooth and seamless since the rebuild! Once the break-in period is over, I'll switch out the oil and be on to a few more things with it during the spring. Skid Plates, Method Wheels, and new tires are on the docket.

Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr

In other news, the Baja makes a great Rallycross Setup vehicle. Tall enough to drive through any ruts or muddy spots on the site without fear of getting stuck or not clearing anything. Enough room in the back for a slew of cones to drop as the course is designed. Quick enough to still have a little fun while testing out parts of the course. It was perfect for me last weekend!

Untitled by 86Reverend, on Flickr
 
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