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Old 11-25-2006, 10:20 PM   #1
rlwaters
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Default Problem with rear suspension 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback

I'm wondering if anyone has heard of this problem I'm having with my 96 Legacy Outback.

The story told to me was the original owner was in a slow speed accident that damaged the rear quater panel and nothing else. He was a subaru tech and said everything was good. He also replaced the rear struts as one of the things before he sold it.

I drove it about 2000 miles with no problems but then hit something on the road and had a blow out. The tire shop said I would need 4 new tires but also that I was running the wrong size tire. I questioned why they thought this and they showed me on the rear struts the tires were rubbing above the spring. Turns out they were wrong, I was running the correct size tire but it was for some reason rubbing. At the time I was on a road trip and loaded down so the rear of my subaru was sagging.

Since then I've noticed the rear of my car sags quite a bit, so much that snow and ice build up in the wheel well and rub the tire. I also cant run the correct size tire because of the rubbing problem, currently I'm running a size smaller.

I recently spoke with a tire guy who was the first person that I've talked to that has heard of this before. He said on another car just like mine they had the same problem and it turned out the shock towers/body were bent from overloading.

I have looked at this many times but cant figure out what could be bent. I know the springs/strut length wont matter, yes that will cause it to sag but not to rub like it is. So it could have blown springs but that wouldnt explain why it rubs. The rear wheels tops are actually tilted in slightly, both of them about the same. Does anyone know what could be causing this? If it is the shock towers (which as far as I can tell are part of the body) then how can it be fixed?
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Old 11-26-2006, 08:25 AM   #2
North Ursalia
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The lower spring perch is fixed- no matter how much load you put on the strut, it will never rub on the lower spring perch unless the strut is bent, it's the wrong strut, or the tire size is wrong. Being that there are so many different but similar struts, I would hazard to guess the wrong struts were put in the car (probably Legacy L struts instead of the slightly longer Legacy Outback struts). I have never heard of bending due to overloading in an Outback.


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Old 11-26-2006, 08:47 AM   #3
ten80
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^ Brian is correct. If you have rubbing on the strut body, something is definatly fishy!

Fyi, if it turns out that you need new suspension and you don't want to spend a lot of cash, an 04+ FXT setup will bolt right up and give you a slightly firmer ride with pretty much the same ride height as stock. I did the swap a few months ago with excellent results.
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Old 11-26-2006, 11:45 AM   #4
rlwaters
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Thanks guys. This is EXACTLY what I thought too, that the struts must be wrong (probably from the lower riding legacy and not the outback). But I just had it at a tire shop that also replaces struts and the mechanic said he wouldnt even touch it becaues its a 'waiste of time'. (he doesnt think its the struts, he thinks somthings bent). I think he's full of **** and was busy enough with new winter tire sales that he didnt want to mess with my situation.

So I guess I'll be doing this work myself.
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Old 11-26-2006, 12:12 PM   #5
North Ursalia
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Ask him if he's making so much money he can turn business away. If he says no, ask him to do the job. If he says yes, ask him for some money . In all honesty, you can do the job if you are mechanically inclined event a little. You can rent the spring compressors from Autozone, and I've done more than one suspension swap without air tools. If you are anywhere near southern NH, I'd be happy to help you do the swap- I think you're in Wyoming though .


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Old 11-26-2006, 12:25 PM   #6
UkNuck
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Other factors in rubbing the strut perch could be wheel offset (are they Subaru wheels or aftermarket?) and camber. The wheels should be tilted in slightly - negative camber - but it should not be excessive: check to see if aftermarket rear camber bolts have been fitted at some point. (For example the previous owner might have been running low offset wheels and needed to adjust the camber to prevent rubbing on the fenders... then re-fitted OEM wheels without setting the camber back.) Just a couple of things to check before diving in and replacing the struts.
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Old 11-26-2006, 01:27 PM   #7
rlwaters
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UkNuck, I think it is more then just camber because the rear of my car is sagging so much. I'm running stock wheels and the PO didnt do any mods at all.

Brian, thanks for the offer! I actually have a full shop, every air tool you could want, and everything I could imagine I'd need to do this. I even have the original service manuals, the big 3 ring binders full of all the tech info. Problem is ALL of this stuff is back in AZ in storage, while I'm in Wyoming.

I looked in my haynes manual and it doesnt look very hard, so I'm going attempt this with just my basic tool kit and rent a spring tool from a shop. This is my only vehicle and I live at the top of a big icy hill so I pretty much need to do it in one shot. Any tips or tricks other then whats in the Haynes?
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Old 11-26-2006, 01:35 PM   #8
North Ursalia
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Soak all your bolts every day for a week if you were from the Northeast, but it's an AZ car so it should all come right apart . Just do one at a time and take your time- it's pretty straightforward.


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Old 11-26-2006, 02:21 PM   #9
rlwaters
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Can anyone verify that this is the incorrect size strut? It measures about 11 3/4 inches from the bottom of the spring retainer to the bottom of the strut (red line). And does anyone know if the springs for the legacy and legacy outback are the same? In other words will I have to switch springs with the new struts.

Also you can see where the tires from before were rubbing the strut on the spring retainer area. (now covered with some rust).

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Old 11-26-2006, 04:09 PM   #10
Patrick Olsen
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My stock '97 2.5GT rear struts are sitting in my basement and measure the same 11-3/4", so it does seem like you have regular Legacy struts rather than Outback struts. The Outback used different springs than normal Legacys, so you'd need to change those out, too. Your best bet would probably be to find some take-offs from a salvage yard - strut/spring/top mount already assembled.

What size tires are you running?

Oh, your other (somewhat more expensive) option would be to get some regular Legacy front struts/springs and just make the car a normal ride height. Then you'd have to buy the correct size tires, too, though, which is what makes this the more expensive option.

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Old 11-26-2006, 06:35 PM   #11
rlwaters
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Olsen View Post
My stock '97 2.5GT rear struts are sitting in my basement and measure the same 11-3/4", so it does seem like you have regular Legacy struts rather than Outback struts. The Outback used different springs than normal Legacys, so you'd need to change those out, too. Your best bet would probably be to find some take-offs from a salvage yard - strut/spring/top mount already assembled.

What size tires are you running?

Oh, your other (somewhat more expensive) option would be to get some regular Legacy front struts/springs and just make the car a normal ride height. Then you'd have to buy the correct size tires, too, though, which is what makes this the more expensive option.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan

I'm running one size smaller tire then is stock, without looking I think it is a 215/70/r15. I think stock is a 215/75.

I dont want to lower my front end to match, I would like to run the correct (larger) size tire.

Is there anyway these springs could be outback springs somehow working on the legacy struts. The reason I ask is the PO said he changed the struts but did not mention anything about the springs so I would assume they are stock.

I wish there was a junk yard close to me, but it would be a few hours drive round trip so I might just order these parts online or through a local auto parts store. I'm hoping I dont need new springs and struts but I guess there is no way to tell until I get it all torn apart?
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