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Discussion Starter #1
So, after a lot of reading through various threads, including a bunch of the Suspension FAQ thread, I really just need some final advice before making my choice for upgrades.

I have a 2005 Outback XT (just purchased) and it has 145k miles and everything is still original. So, suspension is definitely tired by now. Mainly in the rear.

So, I know I need new struts and, potentially, springs. Then there are sway bars, but I'm not sure I need that added stiffness if I plan to use the car "off-road" (dirt roads and such when going hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, etc... no rock crawling).

I would love the Bilstein BTS Kit, but that now seems cost prohibitive (and they stopped producing?). But from the reviews, it seemed like a great compromise between the stiffness of the KYB GR-2 '00-'04 and the softness KYB GR-2 '05 (or stock).

Anyway, my options...

Rear-end:


1. '00 - '04 KYB GR-2 and Springs (Rallitek or King... I want same ride height, so Rallitek would get me that since I believe Kings raise 1"?). My only fear with this would be too much stiffness. I want to reduce bodyroll, sagging, and improve handling... but not at the expense of getting a headache when going "off-road" (as stated above, nothing crazy, just unpaved roads and trails to get me kayaking, hiking, etc.). I don't doubt this is great for road performance... but what do people think about it when off -road?

2. '05 KYB GR-2 and Springs - if the above truly would be too stiff for off-road driving... would this be a middle ground? Or will it be similar to stock (too soft!)?

*Ultimately, because I have to go on trips and haul gear and people sometimes (nothing crazy, but wouldn't doubt getting to a few hundred pounds at times) I feel as if the springs would be necessary? Especially because they can help eliminate potential ghostwalking issue.

Front-end

1. Do nothing. I'm not really bothered by the front-end to be honest. A little more stiffness wouldn't hurt, but I don't find it bad. But not sure if I'll change my mind when I add stiffness to the back.

2. '05 KYB GR - 2 only. Next step from doing nothing I'd think. Keeps ride softness in front for improved comfort... could be good if I plan to go off road? Since the KYB GR - 2 up front could be too stiff?

3. 00' - '04 KYB GR-2 only. Too stiff? Again, stiffness is great if I were to only drive on nice roads but I don't want to have a terrible ride every time I'm on a bad road, unpaved road, etc.

4. One of the above options AND springs. I'd think replacing with stiffer springs would be overkill? Since I'm not adding any significant weight to the front of the car and I don't find the front end bad to begin with... stiffer struts, say the '00 - '04 should be stiff enough? I'm not a suspension expert though, so perhaps there's another benefit to new springs (and I don't believe the original springs are a "wear" item that I'd need to replace?)



What do you guys believe the best option would be for someone like me, who wants to reduce the bodyroll, rear sagging, and performance (as well as potential ghostwalking) without significantly sacrificing comfort when off-road (unpaved roads, dirt roads, etc.). In some ways, stiffness is good when off-road so I don't bottom out and am not getting seasick from bouncing... I just need to know what is the best "happy medium."

Any and all help is appreciated... thanks!
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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I think going more towards stock or the 'normal' KYB replacements with heavier anti-sway bar (in the rear) might be a good compromise. If you want additional height in the rear too, go with the springs I guess. Be careful about a heavier AS bar in the front as handling can get squirrely from what I've read. Better endlinks in the front might be a good compromise there - not sure.

coupla points - heavier antisway bars won't increase NVH much going straight on smooth roads - stiffer springs and harsher shocks will.


If your suspension is wornout, ANY new/working/non-sagging parts (even stock OEM) will seem harsher after the install.


hopefully a real suspension guru will respond.
 

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Somebody Else's XT
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14,438 Posts
Just tossing in my 2 cents. I have the 00-04 KYB rears, factory original (due for replacement) fronts. All original springs and rallitek swaybars front and rear. I have the AVO reinforcement kit in the rear as well. I also switched my lower control arm bushings to stiffer whitleline units. I drive a few hundred miles per year on bumpy dirt roads. I love the setup the way it is now, and the only further upgrade in the works is new 05-09 KYBs up front, when I get around to it. Parts sitting on the shelf, just need a day off...

The car can get a little skittery if I corner a bit fast on washboard, but it isn't unpleasant. On pavement it's dreamy. I get compliments from other outback owners and mechanics.

The rear KYBs made the biggest positive improvement overall, the rest was much more subtle.

Good luck and have fun!
 

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2005 xt limited gone but not forgotten
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343 Posts
I put KYB 05's on my son's 05 obxt. It improved the ride, but the old right shock was leaking and the left one was limping along, so two new rubberbands and a pogo stick would have improved the ride. I think the key would be to increase the size of the rear sway bar as 1LT suggested above:29:.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So it looks like we have one person with '05 rear and another with '00 - '04... and both seem to like it.

Man, this is not an easy decision.

I read through each page of Bimmer's "Rear Suspesion Upgrade on '05 - '09" thread and am still thoroughly indecisive. There are a few with each setup. It seems more go with '00 - '04 in the rear and most are happy with it. I guess I'd like to see if more of those drivers could come here and say how they feel it drives "off road" since that's my big question mark for now.

And it seems very few go with the '00 - '04 in the front and most are happy with the '05 in the front... so that seems to be an easier decision.

And the Rallitek springs are more or less a must have in the rear for me.

So, I think I've probably made my mind up about the front struts and back springs.

But what about rear struts?! I was leaning towards the '05 at first. But now I'm really leaning towards the '00 - '04 after what the above poster mentioned about driving on washboards...

Decisions, decisions...
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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I have a 2004 (Gen2), but I can't say enough good about the King Springs. I have those with KYB Excel-G Struts (same as GR2s) all around. Gives an extra inch or so of height, no more rear-end sagging, handles better, etc. I actually thought it looked like it was doing a little bit of a nose-dive all the time when I put in just the rears (I did them one day and the fronts the next).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll definitely put them in front then. And it looks like you went with '05 all around then? How is it in the back on road? Do you wish you had gone with the '00 - '04 so they'd be a bit stiffer and have improved handling? Or are the '05 ones sufficient while getting better off road performance / comfort?

Since I think that's the major decision for me.

But bringing up King Spring option is a good point. I will be getting rear springs for sure... but I don't think I'd want any extra height. And those king springs gave you an inch? I was leaning towards the Rallitek because they'd keep me more towards stock ride height...
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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I'll definitely put them in front then. And it looks like you went with '05 all around then? How is it in the back on road? Do you wish you had gone with the '00 - '04 so they'd be a bit stiffer and have improved handling? Or are the '05 ones sufficient while getting better off road performance / comfort?

Since I think that's the major decision for me.

But bringing up King Spring option is a good point. I will be getting rear springs for sure... but I don't think I'd want any extra height. And those king springs gave you an inch? I was leaning towards the Rallitek because they'd keep me more towards stock ride height...
I used 00-04 all around since mine is an 04. It definitely got rid of the wallowing Buick feeling it had before, but it still absorbs bumps very well (not too stiff).

King Springs are designed to give about 1.5" on an Outback, I saw 1"...possibly because the Gen2 H6 is the heaviest Outback ever made.
 
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