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Thread: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

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    Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Ok, let me start this off by saying this project is not for the wimpy. I have a lift and every tool imaginable at my disposal.

    There are a few advantages to doing this to your car.

    1. Suspension options
    A: BD/BG can use any GT/L or GDB length strut
    B: BE/BH can use GT/L or JDM GT-B/B4 suspension.

    2. Increased chassis stiffness lower center of gravity and faster suspension response.

    I've done this project to my BH and BG out back they are very similar.

    The parts that make an Outback an Outback:

    Front: Cross member spacers, dropped rear control arm mounts, longer cross-member bolts, longer steering coupler, longer strut bodies, shorter steering column.

    Center: Longer Pitch stop, Dropped transmission cross members, dropped rear shifter bushing (5mt), lowered drive shaft carrier bearing, heat shield spacers.

    Rear: Cross member spacers, front diff mount spacers, longer cross member bolts, dropped front trailing link mounts, dropped sway bar mounts (BG/BD), longer strut housings.


    Front process:

    Jack the car up and support the front frame rails so you can get to the rear control arm bolts.

    Remove the rear mount bolts and remove the front bolts from the control arms. Let the arms dangle. Remove the rear bushing and replace it with a standard unit (RS/WRX/ALK). Repeat on the other side.

    Support the front cross-member with a jack at the jack plate (a friend would be helpful here). remove the two 17mm nuts holding the passenger side of the cross-member up. remove the drop bolts from on top of the frame rail. Lower the jack slowly. when there is a gap in between spacer and the cross-member. The spacer is held to the frame rail with a plastic clip (BD/BG) or with bolts (BE/BH). Remove the spacer.

    Replace the drop bolts with Legacy parts, jack the cross-member up and reinstall the two 17mm nuts loosely.

    Remove the two steering coupler bolts. Secure the steering wheel in the straight position.

    In the BH/BE you can opt to replace the steering rack with a WRX or 04' STi unit (fine splines) and coupler (no rag joint). You will have to replace the steering column and invert the key spline in the steering coupler.

    In the BG/BD you can use GC8 racks (coarse spline).

    Remove the two passenger side 17mm nuts and let the jack down till you can remove the spacer. The steering wheel coupler will have to be removed to drop this side. Replace the steering coupler with a Legacy L/GT unit. lift the cross member back into position and tighten the four 17mm nuts. reinstall the steering coupler bolts. Reinstall the control arms.

    Once you've reinstalled everything underneath you can replace the struts with the replacement of your choice just make sure they GT/L length.

    Center Process:

    Remove the center heat shield.

    Support the transmission with a jack. Remove the transmission cross member. 5mt cars, replace the rear shifter bushing. Replace the transmission cross member with a standard GT/L one.

    Remove the heat shield spacers.

    Remove the drive shaft and replace with a standard unit. For this to save cost I simply removed the mount bushings and secured the shaft to the floor again. You will get a tad more noise inside but this is how GC8's are.

    Rear Process:

    Support the front of the diff with a jack. Remove the front diff mount bolts. lower the jack and remove the spacers. Jack up the diff and install GT/L length bolts.

    Remove the bolts from the front trailing arm mounts, then remove them from the trailing links. Replace them with L/GT/WRX units. Reinstall the bolts

    Disconnect the rear sway bar end links. (BG/BD)

    Support the rear of the diff with a jack. Remove the cross member bolts. Lower the jack till you can remove the spacers. Jack the cross member back up to meet the body then install L/GT/WRX/RS length bolts.

    Replace the rear struts with the L/GT/GT-B/B4 length struts.

    BG/BD owners will have to swap out the rear sway bar mounts for L/GT/RS units. Reinstall the rear sway bar end links.


    Common Parts (BH/BK/BD/BG):

    Cross member Complete AT 41011AE00A (Auto Trans Cross Member)
    Cross member Complete Front 41011AE020 (5mt Cross member Front)
    Cross member Complete Rear 41021AC240 (5mt Cross member Rear)
    Cushion Rubber-Gear Shift 35036AA010 (Rear Shifter Bushing)
    Front cross member drop bolts 20540AA030
    Transverse Link Bushing- RH 20201FA050 (Rear Control Arm Bushing)
    Transverse Link Bushing- LH 20201FA060 (Rear Control Arm Bushing)
    Rod Assembly-Pitching Stop 41040FA000 (Pitch Stop)

    BE/BH Specific Parts list: (00' BH/BE GT Part Numbers)

    Universal Joint Assembly 34170AE040 (Steering Coupler)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- RH 20540AE000 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- LH 20540AE010 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Flange Bolt 901000179 (Rear Cross Member Bolt)

    BD/BG Specific Parts: (96' BD/BG GT Part Numbers)

    Universal Joint Assembly 34160AE010 (Steering Coupler)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- RH 20520AA030 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- LH 20520AA040 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Flange Bolt 20540FC120 (Rear Cross Member Bolt)
    Bracket-Stabilizer- RH 20520AA001 (Sway Bar Mounting Bracket)
    Bracket-Stabilizer- LH 20520AA011 (Sway Bar Mounting Bracket)

    Still working on some good quality pictures, not the best photo guy

    If I missed anything let me know.

    -Dylan @ DS1 Motorsports

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    Very interesting, and just more proof these cars are legos.I'd love to see b4 and after pics.
    1998 Legacy 2.5GT: Stock to turbo to stock, and given to my Dad, then to my sister that blew it up. Now I've repo'd it and it will once again rise to former glory!

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    Well total cost minus the struts/shocks of your choice would be about $100.

    I used all used Impreza stuff for my BG and on my BH the same except for the rear trailing link mounts and rear cross member bolts which I bought new.

    I have pics of the difference in height on the BG but I'm still waiting on my BH suspension to get here from japan

    Pics should be up later today.

    -Dylan @ DS1

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    I'm thinking of doing this when (and if) I redo the drivetrain in me Outback. Nice to know I figured correctly and missed a couple things that I now know about. Questions though, what's the difference between the LGT and LOB driveshafts and what's the difference between the GC8 rack and regular LOB vs 1st Gen Legacy? Nice work though and definitely need some pics.
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    The drive shafts differ by the height of the carrier bearing in the center, it was lowered to correct drive line angle and reduce the chance of vibration.

    As for steering racks, it's all about ratio. I prefer a high ratio rack for more responsiveness.

    -Dylan @ DS1

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    So, the question I have is can the BG prop shaft be used in a BK? Can you just remove the bushings? I need a prop shaft and BG shafts seem to be easier to find.

    As far as the steering rack goes, you're saying that the GC8 rack is a faster ratio unit and it bolts right up to BG, BH, and BK without any other changes? If that's the case, can you get a reman. or a new one to replace a bad one with?
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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    IIRC, the spacers on the transmission crossmember and carrier bearing are just tack MIG welded on from Subaru. When I did this to my BG I vaguely remember just cutting the welds and using the OB stuff, but that was years ago...

    Did you modify or replace the exhaust? I remember the Outback having a longer S-pipe to hang the muffler in the normal place while also clearing the diff.

    Can't wait to see the pics!
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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    sorry been out of the loop, I actually got t-boned by a teenager in a Escape in a parking lot. :smt010

    She had some fly by night insurance company so I'm still battling to get paid for the damages.

    I'll try and get some pics up in the next few days.

    sorry for the delay

    there is some good news, I picked up a 00' L wagon to continue on as my project car.

    -Dylan @ DS1

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    i have a '98 LOB, are these the correct part numbers for all of the parts i will need to do this??
    more than likely goin to get it all from my friends U Pull, just want to make sure i have a complete parts list.

    Cross member Complete Front 41011AE020 (5mt Cross member Front)
    Cross member Complete Rear 41021AC240 (5mt Cross member Rear)
    Cushion Rubber-Gear Shift 35036AA010 (Rear Shifter Bushing)
    Front cross member drop bolts 20540AA030
    Transverse Link Bushing- RH 20201FA050 (Rear Control Arm Bushing)
    Transverse Link Bushing- LH 20201FA060 (Rear Control Arm Bushing)
    Rod Assembly-Pitching Stop 41040FA000 (Pitch Stop)
    Universal Joint Assembly 34160AE010 (Steering Coupler)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- RH 20520AA030 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- LH 20520AA040 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Flange Bolt 20540FC120 (Rear Cross Member Bolt)
    Bracket-Stabilizer- RH 20520AA001 (Sway Bar Mounting Bracket)
    Bracket-Stabilizer- LH 20520AA011 (Sway Bar Mounting Bracket)
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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Wow, I was coming to look for a thread like this... Crap I have a lot of work ahead of me to lower my 99 OB the right way.

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    I know this is an old thread, but I've been considering getting rid of the spacers on my stock 99 LOB. It might even get a little lift first. I generally hear 2" is what you can get away with before CV angles become a problem, so if I lift it an inch and raise everything else up an inch I keep a better center of gravity than 2" of lift, while gaining significant ground clearance.

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Quote Originally Posted by Downshift1
    BE/BH Specific Parts list: (00' BH/BE GT Part Numbers)

    Universal Joint Assembly 34170AE040 (Steering Coupler)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- RH 20540AE000 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Trailing Arm Bracket- LH 20540AE010 (Front Trailing Link Mount)
    Flange Bolt 901000179 (Rear Cross Member Bolt)
    I have some information to add to this based on my information gathering and observations while preparing to do this to my car.

    On a Legacy that does not have subframe spacers, there is a washer between the subframe and the chassis. Subaru calls these the "Upper Stopper" You will need 4 of them in total.

    The 2003-2004 model years have a different Trailing Arm Bracket that also includes a subframe brace. The brace is the same between Legacy and Outback, but the brackets are not.

    There are also two subframe support brackets for all BE/BH cars that was not mentioned. They attach from the bottom of the subframe to the spare tire well. There are also different versions of the left one depending on model year.

    These are the part numbers for all of the Legacy versions of these parts:
    Code:
    Upper Stopper                       20176AE01A
    Trailing Arm Bracket - RH           20540AE080 (2003-2004 only)
    Trailing Arm Bracket - LH           20540AE090 (2003-2004 only)
    Sub Support - RH                    20157AE000
    Sub Support - LH                    20157AE010 (2000-2002)
    Sub Support - LH                    20157AE070 (2003-2004 only)
    For reference, I have pictures of some of these parts. First is the flange bolts and "Upper Stopper"s for the rear subframe:


    Second, these are the trailing arm brackets with the 2003-2004 subframe brace attached, and the "Sub Supports"

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Just did the conversion on my '03 Outback. Dropped it with KYB shocks and H&R springs and put it on Einkei PF01s.
    Originally tried doing it myself, but could only lift it up about 1 and a half to 2 feet off the ground and that just doesn't give you much room to play with so ended up taking it to a shop to have it done.



    One thing I think you guys forgot to mention is anew steering column. The shop told me that with the new subframe position and universal joint for the steering, the original Outback steering column is now too short and you need a GT column assembly.
    The GT column is part 34500AE04A for the '03s.
    The shop managed to bolt the original column and GT U-joint together with 1 bolt just so it can be slowly and carefully gotten off the lift and parked outside, but it's pretty much undrivable until the GT column I ordered comes in.

    So to anyone thinking of doing this, the OP is right. This is not the kinda job you gonna pull off in your driveway unless you got air tools and other fun equipment to play with. And do your research. Nothing sucks more than having to leave your car sitting in pieces for a week because you ordered only 1 flange bolt when you needed 4
    2003 Outback wagon.
    Lowered on KYB shocks and H&R springs.

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Yeah I bought the Legacy U-joint that was pointed out in the OP's post.
    The problem is that the Outback's steering column is already too short so a shorter Legacy U-joint makes things even worse.

    That's why you need the longer Legacy column to compensate for the shorter Legacy U-joint........is how I'm understanding it here. Otherwise why would Subaru bother making 2 different steering columns if one worked with either U-joint? Look at the parts diagrams, there is clearly a separate column for the Legacy and the Outback.

    Basically right now I have the original Outback column with the legacy U-joint and it don't work. It's all just kinda held together with one bolt just so I could barely get it out of the shop and clear out space on the lift until the new column comes in.
    2003 Outback wagon.
    Lowered on KYB shocks and H&R springs.

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Nickel Plated is absolutely correct. I am not sure why this is the case, but the Legacy steering column is 32mm longer than the Outback one. At least for the 2003 and 2004 models. I need to check the other manuals for other years.

    This is an excerpt of the 2004 FSM:

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Oh, and yet another difference discovered this weekend for the BE/BH. Bump stops, and rear upper control arms.

    bump stop differences, Legacy on left, Outback on right.


    Rear upper control arm differences, Legacy in foreground, Outback in background.


    The bump stop itself is obviously shorter, and the stop landing location on the control arm is lower. Between both of these changes, it gives more suspension travel in the rear.

    And, in other news, there is some sort of mounting bracket attached to the outback rear subframe that needs to be removed. I will try to get pictures of it later this evening, but it is on the rear passenger corner of the rear subframe. You need to remove the swaybar mount to remove the tab. It is marked as "1" on this diagram:

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    I took a pic of the body spacers used on a 97 outback. Took the whole engine/drivetrain/suspension out of the outback and installed it on a 97 GT wagon. This will give you an idea on what to take out (if you want to lower the outback the right way) or to add (to raise your non outback the right way)

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way




    Legacy on left, Outback on right. Big difference in the center bearing carrier..

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    Re: Lowering my Outbacks the hard (Right) way

    Had these posted on my MR and it'll be useful here. Apparently even the 2nd gen's have different steering column. Both are from a 97
    GT on the left, Outback on the right

    GT about 5" from the lip

    Outback a little over 3.5" from the lip

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    For BH Outback Wagon lowered to stock Legacy GT or GT-B height, will the stock tires (225/60R16) still fit or is the drop so substantial that they will rub?

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    Administrator rkrenicki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by radu416 View Post
    For BH Outback Wagon lowered to stock Legacy GT or GT-B height, will the stock tires (225/60R16) still fit or is the drop so substantial that they will rub?
    Outback sized tires will fit on the Legacy suspension, as long as the front camber is 0 (or positive) and you are still using an Outback steering rack. The rears will clear fine.

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    Just want to say thanks. I followed the instructions here, and with some guidace from rkrenicki I was able to delete the spacers in my Outback. I did have a Legacy donor car, and I did the swap with both car side-by-side.

    A couple of things I'd like to add.

    1. For manual cars you'll need to change the shifter assembly. I used one from a 06/07 Impreza. I had the COBB 5MT bushing kit (replaces #17 and #21) installed before, but that wasn't enough. The length/curve of #18 and #7 is different between OB one and what I used.

    2. The wedge looking piece (#19 - compression member) is different between LEG and OB. #21 is missing altogether from LEG.

    3. Outback sized tires may rub on the front spring perch depending on wheel offset. My winter setup (16X7"+53, 225/60R16) fit fine, summer (17x7"+55, 225/55R17) did not. I had to manually set the camber to something positive just to be able to roll into the tire shop. I needed new summer tires anyway so I got a different size. If you're attempting this and are attatched to a set of wheels or tires you may need to use a spacer to push the tire away from the spring perch. I didn't have any problems with the rear tires

    Bonus tip: Just because your steering column is out and the steering wheel is not attached to anything, it doesn't mean you can pretend to be drifting and spin the wheel as many times as you want. RIP clockspring

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