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2017 Outback 3.6R Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Like many owners on the forum, I want stiffer springs in the rear. Mountain bike, ski, and camping trips lead to a lot of sag and a less than ideal ride.

The cheapest option seems to be getting king or overload springs for the rear and stick with the stock shocks. Middle price options would be to replace the rear springs and shocks or replace all four springs but leave the factory shocks. I’ve read that stiffer springs on the factory shocks can be less than ideal and also that stiffening up just the rear can lead to its own set of issues (excessive hop, excessive oversteer, etc.)

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been looking at the Flat Out GR-Lite. The adjustable dampening is appealing as is the height adjustability if I want to do a lift in the future. In addition, they seem to get rave reviews on the forum for on and off-road drivability.

I’m stuck between “buy once, cry once” with the GR-Lite (maybe $2000-2400 shipped and installed) and spending like $300 (shipped and installed) for stiffer springs in the rear on factory shocks.

Can anyone speak to the ride quality of stiffening up just the rear of the car? Does anyone have any experience with putting stiffer springs on the factory shocks? Are there any downsides to the GR-Lite at or near factory height (other than price)?
 

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2020 Onyx
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I like sticking with the tried and true - the GR-Lite sounds great but until more people have it, I'd stick with Bilstein shocks - B4 if you want a more supple ride and B6 if you want to significantly firm it up (some people have returned the B6 because the wife didn't like the stiffer ride). The B4 should handle an up-rated spring better than the stock shocks, but there are those who have gotten stiffer rear springs and say it works fine with the stock shocks, especially the Rallitek stock height rear overload springs. Some have put B4 struts in front with the stock springs and B6 in the rear with stiffer springs.
 

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'17 Outback 2.5i Premium
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I put non-lowering Rallitek overload springs in the rear of my '17 Premium OB with stock springs in the front, and used Bilstein B4s in front and B6s in the rear. I also have Whiteline adjustable sways, 24 mm in front and 22 mm in back, both set on soft. The combination works well and the ride is much more controlled than OEM, and squat when carrying a load or trailering is much reduced. I also have Continental 245/50-R19 Extreme Contact DWS 06 tires on Enkei Raijin 19" wheels; they transmit more NVH than OEM, but nothing harsh. With a non-standard alignment (0* toe and -0.5* camber at all 4 corners most of the understeer in the OEM setup is gone and the car really likes to turn; this requires the use of Moog adjustable front and lower links in the rear suspension. I highly recommend this setup.
 

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2020 Onyx
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With a non-standard alignment (0* toe and -0.5* camber at all 4 corners most of the understeer in the OEM setup is gone and the car really likes to turn; this requires the use of Moog adjustable front and lower links in the rear suspension. I highly recommend this setup.
If you want standard alignment then you don't need the adjustable front and lower links in the rear suspension?
 

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2017 Outback 3.6R Limited
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106 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the responses.

Is it just me or does getting overload springs with B6s at all 4 corners (shipped pre-assembled) cost more than the GR-Lite? Are there any significant benefits to having the overload suspension come pre-assembled?
 

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2020 Onyx
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I've never owned GR-Lite and know nothing about them, but Bilstein shocks are essentially lifetime quality in normal use - now if you do high speed off-roading it will wear out any shocks, which is why shocks that are re-buildable are desirable for racing.

On the other hand if you're not racing you probably don't want shocks that need rebuilding - you just want something that you can install and forget for over 100k miles.

But the Bilstein B4 and B6 are not adjustable so you get what you get. You might find it too soft or too firm so choose wisely if you go that route. I like a firm shock myself, overdamped stiff shocks with stock springs work great for me since I don't carry heavy loads.

The only benefit to having them pre-assembled is if you're going to install the set yourself and don't want the hassle of spring compressors, but if you're going to have it installed at a shop, being pre-assembled is a waste of time. Any mechanic shop can install the springs on the struts in a minute - they have tools that make it super easy so it's not as if you'll save much labor rate by having it pre-assembled.

You'll still need to get an alignment done whether you go Bilstein, GR-Lite, pre-assembled or not.
 

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2019 Outback Limited, 3.6R, Abyss Blue
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346 Posts
Like many owners on the forum, I want stiffer springs in the rear. Mountain bike, ski, and camping trips lead to a lot of sag and a less than ideal ride.

The cheapest option seems to be getting king or overload springs for the rear and stick with the stock shocks. Middle price options would be to replace the rear springs and shocks or replace all four springs but leave the factory shocks. I’ve read that stiffer springs on the factory shocks can be less than ideal and also that stiffening up just the rear can lead to its own set of issues (excessive hop, excessive oversteer, etc.)

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been looking at the Flat Out GR-Lite. The adjustable dampening is appealing as is the height adjustability if I want to do a lift in the future. In addition, they seem to get rave reviews on the forum for on and off-road drivability.

I’m stuck between “buy once, cry once” with the GR-Lite (maybe $2000-2400 shipped and installed) and spending like $300 (shipped and installed) for stiffer springs in the rear on factory shocks.

Can anyone speak to the ride quality of stiffening up just the rear of the car? Does anyone have any experience with putting stiffer springs on the factory shocks? Are there any downsides to the GR-Lite at or near factory height (other than price)?
Back in the day you just bought a pair of air shocks and pumped them up until you go the level desired. Easy peasy.
 

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2016 2.5 Limited. LP Aventure, Bilstein, Rallitek, Pirelli, Frontrunner, Diode Dynamics
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176 Posts
Match all four corners with the same springs and dampeners.

There is a dampening/vibration frequency that need to match for optimal performance and comfort.

Mix and matching is incorrect and silly.
 

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2020 Onyx
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If you have a greater mass in the rear than empty, for the correct vibration frequency you need a stiffer spring in the rear. It's mass spring physics, so if you run empty in the rear with stiffer springs and shocks, yes it will be not ideal, but if you have a load in the back it will be more ideal than having soft springs and shocks in the back.

This is the conundrum of suspension tuning - there is no magic spring or dampening rate that will be ideal at all loads. Vehicles like the Outback are optimized for ride and handling when empty, unlike pickup trucks that are extra stiff in the rear from the factory because their defining purpose is to have a load in the back. In a car like the Outback, most people drive around with it empty like most cars. This is why we get sag when towing etc. The spring is weaker than ideal under that load, but the Outback is rarely used as a tow vehicle - only occasionally so it wouldn't make sense for Subaru to optimize it for towing.

If someone builds a wooden kitchen thing in the back of their car they really ought to get "mismatched" stronger springs and shocks in the back to have a uniform "frequency" front and back.
 
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Also a heavier reciprocating mass in the back may need more damping.

if you have the car loaded up more often than you don’t have it loaded up, overload springs make sense, and maybe even heavier damping… the B4 billsteins may be enough of a change, maybe the B6. Depends on how much junk is in the trunk.

unless the spring rates in the rear are really high, the handling won’t be affected enough to matter.

if you go from one driver, totally unloaded to several passengers and entirely too much crap in the car, the difference when empty might be a bit annoying.

I don’t load mine down enough, often enough, to get the overload springs… so the annoyance is only on the fully loaded side. I like the unloaded ride quality. And that’s only if enough load is behind the rear axle line.

I guess the question is down to how often are these camping trips, realistically, compared to how often you ride around empty.

if anything I’d just fox the immediate problem… heavier mass, get heavier springs for the task, and either new OE shocks, or the B4 to start. Unless it’s A LOT of stuff and you’re dragging your bumper, then B6.

cheapest most direct fix.
 

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I want to add that Bilstein considers the B6 to be appropriate for use with stock springs if you want sporty handling. It's not designed to only work with stiff springs, but it's stiff enough that it can. So while it may overdamp stock springs a little bit, it's not by enough to cause a problem. If you want sporty handling it's good. I have used heavy duty Bilsteins with stock springs in 2 vehicles and they were perfectly fine and ideal for my preferences.
 
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I have a similar issue only my extra weight is there all the time and I have a Gen 6 (2020). Bilsteins are not available for Gen 6. My wife wants to lift the car for a better ride height. I'm trying to decide between Flatout coilovers or Ironman ATS. Any thoughts @SilverOnyx ? I'm also wanting to change to wider tires (255/55/18). I don't do much off-roading.
 

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'17 Outback 2.5i Premium
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You might consider getting Wilderness parts - you'd get a lift and more suspension travel (win-win). KYBs are the OEM parts so you would get no benefit. If you have the weight onboard the Rallitek overload springs are definitely the way to go; you could get a mild lift with them. I don't know how stiff the Wilderness springs are, but I would expect them to have the same spring rates as the standard Outback springs.
 

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I have a similar issue only my extra weight is there all the time and I have a Gen 6 (2020). Bilsteins are not available for Gen 6. My wife wants to lift the car for a better ride height. I'm trying to decide between Flatout coilovers or Ironman ATS. Any thoughts @SilverOnyx ? I'm also wanting to change to wider tires (255/55/18). I don't do much off-roading.
You have several needs:
  • Stiffer rear springs to prevent sag because the rear of your vehicle is loaded all the time.
  • Wife wants more ride height (why?) - no off-road use.
  • Ironman ATS I think is the one Brucey had, and he noticed that it did not cope well with extra weight in the rear, as the rear springs are too soft.
  • Flatout had some quality issues but they seem to be fixed.
If you don't really need that extra ride height I would just get overload springs for the rear. It's the simplest fix.
If you really need the extra ride height, talk to the Flatout guys about getting custom rear springs in the kit for whatever extra weight you always carry in the back.

255's will be great for on-road dry traction but I would pair it with light weight wheels since it's a tad wide for the stock 7" wheels and you can partly compensate for the heavier tires by getting lighter wheels. Method MR503 would be fantastic.
 

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Thanks guys, great responses. I'm going reach out to Flatout. I think it will meet all my needs. A little pricey for sure. It looks to be a quality product. I just watched a youtube video about the revisions. It does look like they fixed the past issues and also comes with a 3 year warranty. It can also be taken apart and overhauled in the future after about 60,000 miles. I'll talk myself into anything. My wife simply likes the feeling of being up higher. She feels like she can see better and be more confident. She never gets mad when i spend money, so i can make that compromise. I'd personally rather lower the car. I'll just have to talk her into a BRZ.
 

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You have several needs:
  • Stiffer rear springs to prevent sag because the rear of your vehicle is loaded all the time.
  • Wife wants more ride height (why?) - no off-road use.
  • Ironman ATS I think is the one Brucey had, and he noticed that it did not cope well with extra weight in the rear, as the rear springs are too soft.
  • Flatout had some quality issues but they seem to be fixed.
If you don't really need that extra ride height I would just get overload springs for the rear. It's the simplest fix.
If you really need the extra ride height, talk to the Flatout guys about getting custom rear springs in the kit for whatever extra weight you always carry in the back.

255's will be great for on-road dry traction but I would pair it with light weight wheels since it's a tad wide for the stock 7" wheels and you can partly compensate for the heavier tires by getting lighter wheels. Method MR503 would be fantastic.
hey @SilverOnyx, new to the forum here and really appreciate your input of knowledge on many of these suspension topics and was hoping if I could acquire some myself. My work horse is a 17 OB 2.5, 40k miles on 245/65/17 with a leaking rear strut I need to replace so I figured I would do them all and upgrade. Mostly a pavement princess so I'm looking to get that sportier/stiffer ride with a tiny bit of lift in the rear for my constant 30-50lbs of gear and roof rack. Was thinking standard height Kings with KYBs or B4s and 1/4" spacer in the rear. Anything to avoid a subframe spacer drop kit Thoughts?
 

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2020 Onyx
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I have opinions but haven't tried those combos, but just based on digesting other people's experiences and extrapolating some of my own:

Even the standard height King spring will raise the rear a tad, so I don't think you need a spacer on top of it and it should pair well with a B4, or even a B6 if you want a firmer sportier ride.

Because the car tends to understeer putting stiffer springs in the rear and leaving stock springs in the front, with B6 all-round should give you a really sporty experience. Someone put B4 in front with the stock springs and B6 in the rear with firm springs and happy with that combo.
 

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Someone put B4 in front with the stock springs and B6 in the rear with firm springs and happy with that combo
That was me - the damping seems well matched that way; there are no oscillations, but the car feels well composed over impacts but not brutal until I hit some big potholes at speed. I used Rallitek non-lowering springs in the back, but IIRC the increase in spring rate is similar to the Kings.

I used to own an MR2, but I got as much fun turning Subaru wagons into Q-ships and didn't have the expense of owning 2 cars. It's amazing what you can do with an Outback with the right tweaks.
 

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I had a 1992 MR2 turbo myself. :)
 
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