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2016 Subaru Outback 3.6r
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. Just bought a 2016 3.6r OB to replace my old Tacoma 4x4 double cab. The car is my daily driver plus our family backroad camping and road trip mobile. To get the most out of the Subaru and keep getting to places we like to camp etc, I'm planning to do a 2" lift plus add slightly larger BFG AT KOs. I think I could maybe tackle the install myself but not sure I want to. I'm looking for recommendations for a competent Subaru mechanic or shop in the SF Bay Area (especially on the peninsula) to do the basic suspension work and possibly the alignment as well.

Any Bay Area members on here with a favorite shop they go to?

Thanks,
David
 

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2016 Subaru Outback 3.6r
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Discussion Starter #2
Maybe I should ask a more specific question about the lift itself, like is it even necessary to find someone who specializes in Subaru's to do say the 2" ADF lift? Or should any competent suspension shop be able to handle it ok without messing things up?
 

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I’m in the Bay Area. Do lots of camping, towing skiing etc. I have a Sequoia too.

Before you go all truck mode on the Outback? Do you do a bunch of Eastern CA off roading highway 395 stuff in rocky desert? Where graded dirt roads are more like jeep trails with sharp shale type rock?

I find that most of the people who have done this end up selling their Ko’s after a yr or so. The performance hit to the Outback is bigger than the off road gain.

My Outback is 100% stock except for the BFG Advantage T/A sports which hands down are my top favorite tire of all the tires I’ve tried. They have been great in the Epic Sierra snow ski trips. Have held up great on our long hot summer trips towing and loaded heavy which just destroyed several other tires.

They have been great on the rocky and muddy stuff. Zero impact on highway mileage or road manners.

Ground clearance hasn’t been an issue but I don’t have illusions that the OB especially loaded with camping gear will go where the trucks can go. Over rocky shelfs or big rocky ungraded trails etc. Even with a lift its not even remotely trail capable as the truck. The biggest issue isn’t tire or lift its the cvt gearing. Its not a crawler in any way or modified form.

Having said that my Outback and prior Legacy saw/see far more dirt than my Sequoia given most trips are in the Subarus.

But!!! My big trips Yellowstone two yrs ago and my up coming Zion,Bryce,Arches,Moab trip 12days towing the 4x6 trailer that the Outback hauls to CA camping trips. I take the Sequoia. #1 reason better load capacity. I can easily carry the extra water weight with very little suspension squat or impact on driving dynamics. The 2.5 OB runs 18-21mpg 70mph or 65mph averages in my camping/trailer mode. The Sequoia runs 15-18mpg averages 85mph or 65mph in the same setup.

The lift on the OB costs 2-3mpg average the KOs are a 4mpg hit. Plus the handling and ride negatives.

My advice put the BFG Advantage Sports on it keep it stock go spend a yr doing all your usual stuff. I think you’ll be surprised and probably decide to skip the mods and get a trailer.
 

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Last yr the OB did a 9 day South Lake Tahoe camping trip. Three coastal camping trips. This fall I’m going to try and make it to Pinicles NP probably with the Subaru. For shorter trips the OB is our family choice. Longer trips Yellowstone etc the Sequoia is the easy choice.

In a couple of yrs I’m replacing the Subaru and the Sequoia with one vehicle. Probably a plugin/hybrid AWD 2020 Explorer/Aviator sized rig. One vehicle that does what two cars currently do.

This is our camping rig 4x6 Life time tent trailer the original design basically a mini Jumping Jack trailer. I have since added fork clamps for mom and dads bikes to the trailer, given now my kids are both on 24’s and those get roof topped. No bikes we run 21mpg with the trailer. Bikes knock us to 18mpg. The OB is 2010 2.5 had it since new 115,000 miles. Going strong but my last Subaru I’ll own.

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/members/15986-subiesailor-albums-subie-camping-version-2.html
 

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2016 Subaru Outback 3.6r
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks subiesailor. I'm coming to my OB from a 2003 Tacoma 4x4 4 door with 2" lift and 31" BFGs. We do mostly top of Sierra's backcountry roads as well as various routes around Oregon (including OR desert SW region), and headed to AZ in a few weeks. Lots of forest service roads, some BLM routes. I don't expect the OB to get me to all the same places my Tacoma did and I never did anything super technical or demanding anyway, but there have been many times where the ground clearance of the Taco was critical to getting over the one or two obstacles between me and our final destination. The BFGs are critical IMO to getting the most of the vehicle in terms of traction and durability off road. I've put them on every truck I've owned and never regretted it! The lift is probably less necessary, except that I see the OB biggest issue for the kind of places we go is going to be it's approach angles (as opposed to clearance). Gaining just an inch or two would help with even smaller ruts and bumps. The change from the Taco to the OB is so significant in terms of ride and MPG that I think I can give up a little to the lift and tires and still enjoy a big change from the truck in efficiency and comfort. So I'm pretty set on it. I don't expect to regret it at all. I MAY go with a 1.5" lift over the 2" though.
 

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I had a J80 LC before the Sequoia with Kos they were needed on that heavy beast. The Sequoia I did 5 yrs on BFG Rugged Terrains didn’t like them on that rig as much as the KOs on the LC. I’m doing an experiment just put the BFG Advantage Sports on the Sequoia. I have about 2500 miles on them and to be perfectly honest I really like them on the Sequoia too. It will be interesting to see how they do on our June 3000 mile to Moab and back trip.

But on the much lighter and very anti wheel spin Subaru the tire thing is way different! I haven’t had enough wheel spin ever to cause shredded tire risk on the Subaru. The sharp desert rock areas yeah the Advantage Sports would be the border line tire anything less no way. BFG KO’s I would skip and do a lighter tire like the Cooper AT. The KO is just way way over kill on the Subaru with a big hit to road performance.

Unless you switch to a stiffer spring pack I wouldn’t even bother with a lift. The stock spring loose too much ride height when packed for a big trip with high clearance needs at the other end.
 

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Our Moab trip will have quite a bit on Graded roads. Might do Moki Dugway pending wife’s response to some of the more mild stuff. If I were solo and doing the light back packer in the car trip the OB on the Advantage Sports hands down would be my choice. I could pack light enough to retain ground clearance and have taken the OB through enough stuff already it would easily do everything but jeep trails with zero issues.

But this trip is with 4 and all the crap a family of 4 requires. The OB in that mode is strictly a road rig or graded high use road type rig with 4 + gear.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Stiffer springs are on the list, but I'm going to wait to see how the OB does with our uses and how I ned up loading it for trips. We are relatively compact travelers (fam of 4). But it is still a lot of gear. I will eventually be pulling a small light gear trailer for our bulkier items. But we often don't camp and instead do cabins for a home base and go out in the truck for day trips deeper into the woods etc. In those cases we're not fully loaded and the Frontrunner rack should handle overflow. But I'm curious to see how the ride changes with loading.

This is ultimately an experiment in replacing body on frame trucks for our trips. I've been a Toyota driver more or less since I could drive (coincidentally the only non Toyota I've ever owned was an old Subaru wagon! many years ago). I was set to upgrade the 5th gen 4runner but decided to try something less expensive that I thought would do at least 80 or 90 percent of what I ask the trucks to do. We'll see how it turns out.
 

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I found shifting roof gear as far forward as possible helps keep the rear sag factor as minimized as possible. If you do cabin stays then you should easily be able to swing the stock springs. Its just the camping gear crap that really starts to kill the ride height. Even bikes I like to keep it to the light bikes 2 at most on the hitch rack. Rest on the lid given the levered load weight off the hitch is still a big ride height penalty
 

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I was eyeing Rallitek springs at one point. Slightly higher load ratings 1.5ish bump which is max before you start getting drive line angle issues and vibration plus added wear on that stuff from the bigger angles.

In the end I skipped it. I just deal with the loaded sag few times a yr isn’t worth the added lift issues lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was eyeing Rallitek springs at one point. Slightly higher load ratings 1.5ish bump which is max before you start getting drive line angle issues and vibration plus added wear on that stuff from the bigger angles.

In the end I skipped it. I just deal with the loaded sag few times a yr isn’t worth the added lift issues lol.
If I did springs, I'd actually do the 0" lift overload springs. Lift by pre loading a strut wastes down travel IMO, but the higher spring rate would work to keep the end from sagging too much under load. Trade off being stiffer handling un loaded.
 

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That would for sure help. But it would ride worse than the Taco with KOs on it. If you can find some running KOs go for a ride. Even with stock suspension the KOs transmit quite a bit of sharp feedback to the cabin. Thats why the softer Coopers are popular.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Reading up on the Coopers per Expedition Portal and they do sound like a good tire. I may have to investigate.
 

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The KOs are “the” tire for heavier trucks 4x4’s but just wrong on the light Subaru. The Coopers are pretty good great alternative for the lighter rigs.
 

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Hi all. Just bought a 2016 3.6r OB to replace my old Tacoma 4x4 double cab. The car is my daily driver plus our family backroad camping and road trip mobile. To get the most out of the Subaru and keep getting to places we like to camp etc, I'm planning to do a 2" lift plus add slightly larger BFG AT KOs. I think I could maybe tackle the install myself but not sure I want to. I'm looking for recommendations for a competent Subaru mechanic or shop in the SF Bay Area (especially on the peninsula) to do the basic suspension work and possibly the alignment as well.

Any Bay Area members on here with a favorite shop they go to?

Thanks,
David
Hey MapBliss, I have been going to Mann Engineering in Santa Clara for about the past 6 years. All they do is Subaru and Subaru racing development. I highly recommend these guys.

https://www.mann-engineering.com/

Ask for Gary

Have fun
 

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Discussion Starter #18
FWIW I found a great Subaru shop in San Mateo: Bo Jonsson's. Great reviews and seemed like a decent guy when we talked over the phone. Quote to do lift etc. was much closer to what I'd expected than the quote I got from Mann. I suspect Mann specializes in higher end builds though.
 

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FWIW I found a great Subaru shop in San Mateo: Bo Jonsson's. Great reviews and seemed like a decent guy when we talked over the phone. Quote to do lift etc. was much closer to what I'd expected than the quote I got from Mann. I suspect Mann specializes in higher end builds though.
Did you ever get the lift done with Bo Jonsson?
 
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