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Old 04-13-2011, 08:43 PM   #1
Kostamojen
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Subaru Banner The Unofficial "How to Lift your Impreza" Thread

Due to lots of questions and such lately about my car, I've decided to start a semi-"official" thread about lifting Imprezas. For the purposes of this thread, I will presume everyone knows how to install everything without instruction.

NOTE: This thread will remain incomplete pending more information by other members.


Struts:

The basic principle behind Impreza lifting is that as it turns out, Forester struts are aprox. 2" longer between the spring perch and hub mount, providing an instant 2" ride-height lift. These struts ALSO allow for taller tires by providing more clearance between the hub and spring perch. Late 90's Outback struts may also provide lift in this manner (need more information).

Forester struts come in various varieties, and there are aftermarket options too.

Forester XT struts are stiffer than the non-turbo varieties.

KYB offers GR-2 Forester struts, which are also stiffer.

There are also JDM "STI" struts which offer more stiffness, although will cost more.

Comparison photos:




Strut Top Spacers/strut lifts:

Several companies currently offer strut top spacers (Paranoid Fabrications, Subtle Solutions, Jackson Rally). Anything over 3/8" WILL require new strut top bolts in order for enough thread to fit through the spacer.

This is also a way of performing a strut-lift without changing struts... HOWEVER, taller tires will still not clear the spring perch on Impreza's due to clearance issues.

Vendors who carry strut top spacers/lifts:

Paranoid Fabrications
Subtle Solutions
Jackson Rally


Strut Top Mounts:

Front top mounts are the same on all model year Imprezas and Foresters, so front suspensions can be installed without changing tophats. Group-N tophats are available of course for extra stiffness if so desired.

Rear top hats are an issue for 93-01 Imprezas (02-07 Imprezas match up with 03-08 Foresters)

There are two options:

1) Install your stock 93-01 Impreza rear top hats onto the Forester struts. This MAY require some sort of washer/spacer between the top hat and strut (more information required)
2) Keep the Forester top hats, drill a new 3rd hole into your chassis to fit those mounts. This has a couple of issues, including the fact the center of the top hat runs into the strut top hole as they don't match up, and the Forester top hats DO increase the ride height in the rear some more. (I corrected this with a 1/4" spacer in the rear, and a 3/8" spacer up front)

Photo of a 93-01 re-drilled to fit the 03-08 Forester tophat:




Springs:

Forester springs provide MORE lift over just using Forester shocks, because if you use WRX/STI/etc. springs on a stock Forester, it lowers it quite a bit. Various Foresters have different spring rates (more info required).

If you want even MORE lift, King Springs makes lift springs for various Subaru models including Foresters.

If you don't wish to do more than 2-3" of lift and wish to maintain good handling, use WRX or STI springs in order to reduce the amount of lift (Aftermarket springs are also an option).

Rear spring comparison:




Tires:

Taller tires can also provide more lift to your vehicle.

Forester-height tires (IE 215/60/16) can work with a lifted Impreza, but for more radical tire sizes with off-road tread patterns there are other options such as Grabber AT2's (215/75/15 or 215/65/16) and Superswampers.

NOTE: Larger tires can and probably will cause issues with fender clearance. Major modification of fender liners, rolling of fenders, and even trimming of bumpers MAY be required depending on the tires you select, so be warned.

Photo of larger diameter tires:




Trailing Arm Brackets - When performing a lift, the rear trailing arms start to pull the rear tires closer towards the front of the rear fender wells, as well as causing issues with suspension geometry. To fix this, trailing arm brackets that "move" the pivot point are required.

97-99 Outback trailing arm brackets have a pivot mount that is over 1" lower than an Impreza bracket, which will correct the geometry and keep the tire farther away from the fender.

Forester brackets have pivot points that are farther rearward, and move the tire away from the fender, but don't provide as much geometry correction.

Adjustable length trailing arms can also partially solve the trailing arm issue (See: Cusco and OBX trailing arms) but should probably also be used with Outback brackets.

"Spacers" for the trailing arm bracket. Some people have made custom spacers that lower the trailing arm down, which can be especially useful for cars with quite a bit of suspension lift and need more than the stock brackets can provide.

Note: I can't confirm this yet, but apparently some trailing arm brackets from various Impreza and Forester model years have DIFFERENT bolt patterns, I need more information on this.

Photo of Outback vs. Forester trailing arm mounts:




Swaybars:

When performing a lift, Swaybars become an issue because you are increasing the distance between the swaybar and where the suspension rests at. The EASY solution is to remove the swaybars all together, but at the expense of on-road and higher speed handling.

Rear Swaybar - 97-99 Outbacks have rear swaybar brackets that sit about 2" lower than stock Impreza brackets, which in turn lowers the swaybar to correct for added lift. Forester brackets may also be compatible (need more information).



Front Swaybar - The front swaybar is enclosed by the subframe, so there is no easy way of lowering the swaybar. HOWEVER, longer endlinks will also solve the problem. I recommend running Kartboy STI rear endlinks on the front, since they are longer than stock front endlinks (contact Kartboy for more information, if you have a stock non-sti front control arms, the endlinks may require a different bushing).




Other "required" parts:

Rear Camber bolts - These are important because without them, you can't properly align the rear suspension when lifted.


Body Lift, IE body spacers: (possibly required depending on the amount of lift you are doing)

Outbacks and Foresters over the years have used spacers between their subframes and chassis in order to lower the drivetrain to correct for CV angles.

IF you are doing a lift of several inches, this may be required to prevent your CV's from constantly dying.

There are several items required: Front subframe spacers, Rear subframe spacers, Rear differential support spacers and brackets and bolts, corresponding transmission cross members (MT or AT depending on your application), pitch rod, transverse link bushings, and longer steering joint.



This can also be accomplished via custom work of course, which some people have done.


Optional parts:

Adjustable rear lateral links - These can help with the rear alignment, along with lock bolts, for off-roading purposes. They can also increase the rear track width if so desired.

WRX sedan/STI front control arms - These can increase the track width, which can help with fitting taller tires.

Adjustable rear trailing arms - Can help move the rear tire toward the center of the wheel well when lifted.

Aftermarket subframes - These are starting to show up, and may provide lower mounting points to help with lifts, and perhaps lower drivetrain components as well like a body lift.


NOTE: More to be added soon...

Also, if anyone wants to be credited for the use of there photos, please PM me personally so I can take the necessary steps to do so.
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Last edited by Kostamojen; 04-14-2011 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:44 PM   #2
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Saved.
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Old 04-13-2011, 09:40 PM   #3
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For the purposes of this thread, I'll include the information about my lift. Otheres should feel free to include their lifts, photos, and what they did in this thread too.

1995 Impreza L coupe w/ 2.5 swap

Lifted with:

04 Forester XT Struts with WRX springs
04 Forester rear tophats, drilled chassis to fit
3/8" front and 1/4" rear Paranoid Fabrication spacers
97-99 Outback Trailing Arm Brackets
97-99 Outback Rear swaybar mounts
Kartboy STI rear endlinks on the FRONT (longer than stock)
General Grabber AT2 Tires (215/65/16)
Modification to fenders/fender liners to fit tires.
Eibach rear camber bolts

Other suspension/drivetrain goodies not used specifically for lift, already on car:

Whiteline Adjustable rear lateral links
WRX SPT aluminum front control arms
WRX 20mm Rear swaybar
Kartboy rear endlinks
Superpro rear trailing arm bushings front and rear
Superpro front controm arm bushing
Group-N trailing link bushings
Whiteline differential mount bushings
Braile/Beatrush rear diff support
GT spec fender braces
Group-N transmission/engine mounts
Kartboy pitch rod
Kartboy shifter bushings all around
OEM short shifter kit
OBX front Limited slip diff/WRX rear Limited slip diff

Skidplates/Armor/Bodymods:

OEM Rear diff protector
EA81 (GL wagon) front skid pan and brush bar
Stock front bumper modified for more front clearance
OEM STI rear diffuser (not for protection at all, but it was on the car already, leaving it on)

Lights/lightbar:

Hella 500 foglights drilled into stock bumper with hidden mount (just a flat bar)


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Old 04-13-2011, 11:24 PM   #4
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I'm curious how much suspension travel you have with those enormous tires stuffed in those tiny wheel wells...
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:46 PM   #5
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02-03 wrx rear tophats are different from 04-07 wrx rear tophats.
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:29 AM   #6
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gen 1 (96-99) OB struts allow for taller tires than gen 1 (98-02) FOR struts. The lower spring perch on those FOR struts is a little lower/closer to the hub, allowing for the taller forester spring. BUT if you squeeze gen 1 FOR springs into gen 1 OB struts, you'll gain close to an inch more lift than using OB/Legacy springs in OB struts.

BUT, if you use (98-02) FOR springs in (96-99) OB struts, you need to use the upper spring perch for the forester springs in front, under the top hat. Those FOR spring coils get smaller whereas OB and legacy springs do not.

99 FOR front spring


97 OB front spring


Gen 2 FOR struts are best used as a complete assembly. Best to get some take-offs then they just bolt right up to most imprezas.

When I lifted a 93 IMP on 99 FOR struts, I had to use the IMp rear top hats as the early IMP top hat bolt spacing was smaller than the FOR and OB (later IMPs and WRXs are like the OBs and FORs)

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Old 04-14-2011, 12:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honns View Post
I'm curious how much suspension travel you have with those enormous tires stuffed in those tiny wheel wells...
It has as much droop as a Forester, but with the WRX springs it does sit lower on those struts.

I've made PLENTY of room for the tires to travel though, they could go rather far up into the fender wells if they needed to without hitting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_art View Post
02-03 wrx rear tophats are different from 04-07 wrx rear tophats.
I need a comprehensive list of tophats!
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skunkman View Post
gen 1 (96-99) OB struts allow for taller tires than gen 1 (98-02) FOR struts. The lower spring perch on those FOR struts is a little lower/closer to the hub, allowing for the taller forester spring. BUT if you squeeze gen 1 FOR springs into gen 1 OB struts, you'll gain close to an inch more lift than using OB/Legacy springs in OB struts.

BUT, if you use (98-02) FOR springs in (96-99) OB struts, you need to use the upper spring perch for the forester springs in front, under the top hat. Those FOR spring coils get smaller whereas OB and legacy springs do not.
So basically, Gen 1 outback struts are better than gen 1 forester struts.

Most of this seems to apply to using with a Legacy (which I know you have experience with) but since 90-99 Legacies have somewhat-compatible suspension setups with Imprezas, this would apply depending on what struts you can get your hands on.
Quote:
Gen 2 FOR struts are best used as a complete assembly. Best to get some take-offs then they just bolt right up to most imprezas.
...and Gen 2 Forester struts are the best of the lot in terms of lift I'm assuming from your experience.

Currently it seems as though its easier to find Gen 2 forester struts than it is to find Gen 1 outback/forester struts, and they are usually in better shape if they are take offs.
Quote:
When I lifted a 93 IMP on 99 FOR struts, I had to use the IMp rear top hats as the early IMP top hat bolt spacing was smaller than the FOR and OB (later IMPs and WRXs are like the OBs and FORs)
Ya, definitely need to compile a list of tophats for this.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:43 AM   #9
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d000000000000000d....I'm diggin it
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:35 PM   #10
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I can't wait to unlift the bugeye I recently purchased. It's on 98 Fozzy struts/springs and that's it. Handles like doo-doo for various reasons because of it. Suspension geometry is all whack.
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Old 04-14-2011, 12:48 PM   #11
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If you swap in 02-07 rear tophats into an older car the holes should really be slotted instead of a new hole added. Without the use of a spacer back there and with only one new hole drilled the tophat will not fit.

Something like this.

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Old 04-14-2011, 01:12 PM   #12
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'04 STi struts with 02 -03 WRX springs and 225/50-16 street tires:





You can fist the rear wheel gap.

You can use stock GC rear spring perches and tops with 02 - 03 WRX style springs. If you have 02 -03 style rear struts, you need the TiC spacer to run the GC rear tops.

I don't run a rear sway, so no issues with making one fit...

Alignment came out to like -0.4 in the front with just the stock camber bolts. -0.8 in the rear with aftermarket bolts in the top holes.
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Old 04-14-2011, 03:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homemade WRX View Post
I can't wait to unlift the bugeye I recently purchased. It's on 98 Fozzy struts/springs and that's it. Handles like doo-doo for various reasons because of it. Suspension geometry is all whack.
The 98-01 stuff isn't as solid as say a 04 FXT suspension. But also with the Forester springs, it will not handle as well as if it were using the WRX or some STI springs (although I suspect those struts are probably blown anyway).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
If you swap in 02-07 rear tophats into an older car the holes should really be slotted instead of a new hole added. Without the use of a spacer back there and with only one new hole drilled the tophat will not fit.

Something like this.

I'm not sure I feel comfortable recommending people to modify ALL three bolt holes on each side... That makes it 3x more likely for a novice to permanently ruin their chassis.

Drilling one hole was somewhat difficult enough, but I understand why the slotting make sense, since it keeps the tophat centered and supported by the "hub-centric" type hole.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jard View Post
If you have 02 -03 style rear struts, you need the TiC spacer to run the GC rear tops.
Does that apply to Forester struts as well?

I need more info on this for sure.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post
Does that apply to Forester struts as well?

I need more info on this for sure.
I would need to see the bare tops of the strut pistons to know for sure. I can't see many pics at work either.

If they look like an 02 - 03 strut with the shoulder on top, then yes. If they look like a GC or 04 - 07 strut, then no.


It appears to me from your picture above comparing the "GC8" strut to the "FXT" strut, that they are 04 - 07 style pistons, so you should not need the TiC strut top spacer to run the GC rear spring perch and top. IMHO...

I would use the washer that you normally get with Group-N tops under that top nut that holds everything together...
Washer for rear top hats, part #: 031012000

Last edited by Jard; 04-14-2011 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post

I need a comprehensive list of tophats!
the 02-03 top hats are shaped like triangles
the 04-07 top hats are shaped like D
both have the same bolt spacing and same sized studs.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PARANOID56 View Post
the 02-03 top hats are shaped like triangles
the 04-07 top hats are shaped like D
both have the same bolt spacing and same sized studs.
So they actually have the same bolt pattern?

The 04-07 D shaped tophats are the same as the 03-08 Forester tophats, I know that for sure.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:06 AM   #17
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Yes, all GD WRX (02 - 07) rear tops have the same bolt pattern.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:34 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post
So they actually have the same bolt pattern?

The 04-07 D shaped tophats are the same as the 03-08 Forester tophats, I know that for sure.
same bolt pattern or same shape? or both?
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Old 04-15-2011, 03:19 PM   #19
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Both. Check out the first pic in the thread.
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:38 PM   #20
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If the weather cooperates I will pull mine out the garage and take a few pics and list what we have done.

This is a good idea.....a one stop place for all your lifting needs/desires. I vote sticky! Oh, and someone should cross post this on DI.
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:56 PM   #21
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I'm diggin' the thread, very nice.

I wish I could comment on the tire issue in terms of rubbing. As a Forester owner, the wheel wells are flaired stock to fit tires happily. Unlike the old sedans, a Forester can fit a 245 wide tire without fuss, possibly some 255s, and this also means it can fit tall tires up to the point of rubbing on the lower perch (>27.5") without issue other than a spot here or there on the fender liner. For the sedan folks, you guys may have to roll the fenders to prevent rubbing.

The Grabber AT2 is basically the only off-road truck tire out there that will fit these cars. Another option if you want smaller is winter tires. There are plenty of knobby options if need be. The BFG T/A KO is one of the best off-road truck tires out there, but it's an inch bigger than the Grabber AT2. I know it's been used, but it won't sit under a stock spring perch. If you step to Ground Control's coilover kit, you could cut the stock perch off almost completely (leaving enough to hold the threaded collar) and get away using a taller tire. You may have to trim some of the fender liner both front and back to make it work though. As well, this will limit camber depending on wheel offset and tire width.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:10 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoWork View Post
This is a good idea.....a one stop place for all your lifting needs/desires. I vote sticky! Oh, and someone should cross post this on DI.
Already did. I'm just not sure its in the right place (Impreza general)
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:24 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post
Already did. I'm just not sure its in the right place (Impreza general)
Good deal. If its in the wrong place, I am sure they will move it for you.

On a side note, I am working on another option to drop the rear sway(and maybe the trailing arm bracket) into the correct place. I will be sure to post pics tomorrow when I post some of the car and list our "parts"
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:25 PM   #24
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Spacers?
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:21 PM   #25
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Yes, I fabbed up a 1" spacer that brings the bracket for the sway down. They arent pretty as I only have 110v at my apartment, so no TIG welder , but they seem pretty bulletproof. I just put them on this afternoon. I will post up pics as soon as I can steal the laptop from my fiance(no card reader on my desktop).

I think I am going to leave the trailing arm bracket where it sits, and try to correct the rest with my adjustable lats and trailing arms.

Oh, for front endlinks....I am going to order some heim joints and an adjuster. I should be able to put together a front set for under $55. I will post up pics of those as soon as I get them done, but it may have to wait until next payday.
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