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Old 02-17-2022, 05:29 PM   #1
REX_WGN
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Member#: 107618
Join Date: Feb 2006
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NY
Vehicle:
2006 WRX Wagon
2009 FXT

Default Florence - The Destined FXT

Summer of 2020, I bought a barely-used Dom 2.5XTR as I was planning for Build 2.0 for my 06 WRX wagon. Seller was a really nice guy who also mentioned he was selling this Forester and how he'll never recoup the money he put into making it a nice daily for himself. I didn't feel comfortable about the price considering my 3rd kid was on her way so I didn't regret it too much not buying it when it finally sold in the beginning of Fall. And as my plans for my WRX became more extensive, the annual inspection expired and my daughter was born, I started to really miss driving my one and only Subaru that I bought new from the dealer in 06. So now I'm sort of wishing I did buy this Forester so I could at least have a modified Subaru to drive around.

End of winter 2021 in February, I was buying some parts for someone on the FB classifieds. Started chatting it up and got along really well with one of the sellers - we were both OG Subaru guys, fathers and husbands and veterans. He was more well versed in Foresters and mentioned he just bought one not too long ago. I had a hunch it was this FXT I had my eye on in the summer and I was right! A month later, his circumstances required him to sell fast but only to another Subaru enthusiast. So this FXT literally came back to me for half the original asking price in the summer - funny how life works! What are the chances of running into the guy who bought it, of this FXT ending up in my hands?

It was DESTINED to be!

Sorry for the corny line. I couldn't figure a name but my son came up with Florence. I think it's quite fitting.

I'm super stoked that this is now my daily driver.

Let's not delay the pictures any further!










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Last edited by REX_WGN; 02-17-2022 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 02-17-2022, 05:29 PM   #2
REX_WGN
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Member#: 107618
Join Date: Feb 2006
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NY
Vehicle:
2006 WRX Wagon
2009 FXT

Default

Reserved for the eventual Table of Contents (hopefully)
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Old 02-17-2022, 05:30 PM   #3
REX_WGN
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NY
Vehicle:
2006 WRX Wagon
2009 FXT

Default

Configuration / History at Time of Possession

2009 Forester base XT with 218,XXX miles on the chassis

Engine
2011 STI engine installed at 209,XXX chassis miles
  • Manley Pistons
  • Wiseco Rods
  • New OEM valvetrain
  • Heads were cut
  • ARP headstuds
  • Simple bolt ons: Process West TMIC, Invidia Downpipe and SPT Catback exhaust
  • Cobb AP with a Protune
Initial Inspection: The TMIC doesn't seem to be the one for the GR WRX so I will look into this a little more. Also, not sure what turbo this car has but based on the configuration of the TMIC inlet coupler, it seems to be VF52 or similar type. A few grounding wires were left loose on the driver side.

Suspension: WRX STI take-offs

Initial Inspection:
The previous previous owner said it was STI suspension but turns out it was WRX based on the wheels it has. I don't blame him as that's what he was told when his friend who runs a shop helped him put this car together. Not a big deal IMO whether or not it was WRX or STI take-offs.

7/12/21 Update: Looked up the part numbers on the dampers and they are 09-10 STI take-offs indeed. This was the info relayed to me by the two previous owners. I assumed otherwise with the 04 STI BBS wheels.

During the test drive, I heard some clicking in the front end during tight left turns in a parking lot. Also happens with tight right turns but just not as consistent. I suspect the axles are shot. Also, I took a highway on ramp really fast and it rubbed on the front driver-side fender. It was a tight right 180 decline. I'll have to monitor this. It rode great on the highway in soaking up bumps. I have no complaints there. During low speed local driving, the front passenger side seems to thump a little too loud when it hits a road imperfection. Something else to monitor.

Wheels: 2004 STI Gold Wheels

Initial Inspection:
The center of the wheels are forged with '17x7.5' and thus how I gathered it was the 2004 STI wheels which are 5x100, and therefore I deducted that the car is riding on WRX suspension above. I noticed it also had spacers all around. Michelin tires but didn't get to see the model or measure the tread depth yet.

Interior
  • Android Head Unit
  • LED light bulbs
Initial Inspection:
Didn't realize how much I liked the LED interior lights until I opened the door and noticed the "ground" light was still the orange oem bulbs. Moonroof operates just fine with no apparent signs of leaks. I asked both previous owners and both said no issues with it.

I never had a full-on android head unit like this. My 06 WRX has a Pioneer double-din unit that connects to the phone and has the Android Auto program. Apparently this is like a stand-alone unit, almost like a smart device in the car. It didn't function as intuitively as I liked so I took a picture of the model number and will be googling it and see how I can make it function a little better. Perhaps I just need it to connect to my house's wifi while in the driveway, update the software as well as download all the apps that can possibly sync with my phone? I have no idea. I connected my phone to it via bluetooth but I still had to operate my phone to make calls and play music. Maybe I just need to download android auto on it? I do like the bigger screen.

There's also some wires that are underneath the climate controls. Not sure what it is but I'll ask the previous owners.

I initially thought the car's interior was tan but on the day of purchase, I realized it was gray! Wasted a lot of time looking for part-outs of gray or black interiors.

Other Observations:
Exterior has a few dings and scratches here and there. Has an eyesore of the rear fender rust on the driver side. Hood scoop looks like it wasn't sprayed with enough clear whenever it was replaced in the past. There's some electrical connector dangling loose in the rear right next to the hitch.

Without the car on ramps and me just using my phone's flashlight and laying on the floor, the chassis looks really clean for a 200K+ mile car. All the suspension arms look stock but need to get it up on ramps and get a more thorough inspection laying on a creeper.
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Old 02-25-2022, 02:06 PM   #4
REX_WGN
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NY
Vehicle:
2006 WRX Wagon
2009 FXT

Default

Initial Plans for Modifications

Purpose of car:
Nice Cruiser. Decent acceleration, snappy response, great handling and no shifting.

I bought this car to drive it while my WRX undergoes a substantial rebuild. If I start modifying this Forester like crazy with a bigger turbo and/or a 6-speed swap, then what's the point of having two Subarus that are built alike? I love the fact that this car is an automatic and has essentially most of what I would've wanted from a Forester.

Here's the plan(s) I've come up with the last two weeks.

Priority: Steering and Front Suspension
  • New Axles and Axle Seals
    • need to replace them asap and might as well get new axle seals
  • Whiteline Roll Center Kit KCA313
    • since I will have to disconnect the ball joints and outer tie rods in order to get to the axles, I might as well do this since I am lowered about 3" from stock
    • could've gone with Superpro but found a better deal for the Whiteline ones on streetrays.com
  • Superpro Steering Rack Bushings SPF2889K
    • Found it on amazon for 60% off because it is missing the removal tool kit. No big deal - either I find my old Whiteline one or I just make something with a long bolt, nuts, washers and a big impact socket
  • 08+ STI steering universal joint
  • Custom-wrapped STI steering wheel
    • I bought a DAMD flat-bottom steering wheel for my 06 WRX years ago and I wish I did it sooner. When my wife gave me the green light for this purchase, I was on the hunt for something similar. Worst case I was going to just buy a used STI steering wheel. Then I stumbled upon this gem! I took a chance and texted the seller and it was still available so I snagged it. It looks even better in person!
    • might as well install this before getting an alignment as I might mess up the clocking. probably already will be messed up from the STI u-joint installation.
  • Alignment
After the above, some time down the line I would like to accomplish the following in no particular order:

Engine

NOT. ONE. DAMN. THING.

Ok, maybe a Fluidamper crank pulley but that's it. :ROFLMAO:

Suspension
  • Stage 1
    • Eibach or RaceComp Engineering front and rear swaybars
    • Rallitek front and rear endlinks
    • Hardrace sealed pillowball bushings
    • Hardrace hardened rubber bushings for whatever suspension pivot points that Hardrace doesn't offer sealed pillowball units
    • STI upper control arms
  • Stage 2
    • Either "raise" the car with SJ-specific KYB or Bilstein B6 dampers with Swift Springs, or,
    • new WRX KYB or Bilstein B6 struts with WRX front spring and STI rear spring
Drivetrain
  • Pitchstop
  • Rallitek auto trans mount insert with new OEM trans mount
  • Whiteline polyurethane chassis bushings (non-pivot points)
  • Kartboy Exhaust Hangers - anyone know the final count? 6, right?
Brakes: Grimmspeed Master Cylinder Brace

Interior
  • 2013 WRX heated seats
  • used oem auto shift knob with some black leather to match the steering wheel and seats
  • Tint
    • 5% front windshield top tint
    • 50% front doors
    • 35% rear doors
    • 5% aft of c pillars
  • finish replacing all oem light bulbs with LED bulbs (bottom of doors)
  • build a bracket for phone mount
All the above will probably change in due time. Heck, I haven't even looked underneath yet to see if some of these mods were already accomplished.
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Old 02-25-2022, 05:24 PM   #5
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

Default

Did a little more digging around with the android head unit. I pulled it out and checked the back and there's some chinese words stamped on the back of the unit. So it seems to be just another android smart device with no post-purchase support. I don't really want to spend money on the radio so I will just update the software (if there is one), download a few apps like Android Auto and see how it works.
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Old 03-07-2022, 09:24 AM   #6
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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I was able to find a RaceComp Engineering Rear Swaybar! Since I have time, I will patiently hunt for the matching front one.
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Old 03-08-2022, 01:07 PM   #7
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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Messed with the android head unit again and it sucks because it just a terribly slow system.



Saw a Seicane sticker on the side of the unit in the back, didn't think much of it and somewhat verified it may indeed be Seicane since the unit from the backside looks like the one on Seicane's website.

First, installed Android Auto on it and then I realized it won't be syncing up with my phone since it doesn't have a USB cable to connect to it.

Then I thought ok, let's just have this unit mirror my phone. Tried an app that would allow it to run off of the phone's mobile hotspot wireless connection - that failed because the unit wouldn't pick up on the connection. Then I tried an app that required it to be on the same wifi network and it failed because it wasn't available on the unit's google playstore but was on my phone. So it's clearly either a very old unit or one that is just unsupported.

Took me about an hour just to try the above three things and I had to head back in cause of family-duties. It's just really slow.

Last thing I'll try is to just download Pandora and Googlemaps on the unit itself and let it run off of my phone's mobile hotspot. I like the fact that the SH's have the radio at the highest point of the dash and I like the really big screen. So if I ever need to go somewhere, I'd like to have at least Googlemaps working on it. We'll see how it goes.

If that fails, then I'll just build a bracket to mount my phone. At least the music and phone calls go through the unit just fine. Even the steering wheel controls work so that's a big plus. I've seen some threads in this forum where it needed to be manually wired.

I don't plan on buying the more genuine double-din units since they are really expensive. There's some Pioneer one with a 10" screen that's about $1100 - no thanks.
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Old 03-08-2022, 01:31 PM   #8
500_19B
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Join Date: Apr 2021
Chapter/Region: E. Canada
Location: Toronto, Canada
Vehicle:
2021 STI
2002 WRX

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Great looking machine!

That grey does come across as reminiscent of tan in some of the pics, I can see what you mean.

Stout list of mods. Pillow balls are very performance oriented, but also transmit more NVH... that is one item where I would have a different take and probably go for something with a bit more compliance. However, it is just a personal preference thing...

Good to hear that the car looks solid and clean underneath. It would be ideal to get the driver's side rear fender corrosion spot addressed. It may also require some new metal being welded in on the inner fender well. Somehow moisture has likely gotten in between the two panels there, and usually there is a heavy bead of seam sealer and if the moisture can get between that and the metal it will rust. All should be very fixable. Overall looks like a really nice Forester.
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Old 03-09-2022, 09:09 AM   #9
REX_WGN
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2006 WRX Wagon
2009 FXT

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Thank you!

The grey is growing on me a bit. My 06 WRX and my wife's Rogue have black interiors so the lightness/airyness is a bit refreshing. I'm going to add some black pieces but not a lot. Seats, steering wheel, shift knob, glove center console.

So I've had 95A poly bushings throughout my 06 WRX so the NVH thing IMO may be just the same except the articulation of the suspension would be smoother. Hopefully that is the case.

That rear quarter rust is an eye sore for sure. I've been dragging ass trying to find someone who can fix it.
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Old 03-09-2022, 09:11 AM   #10
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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April 4, 2021:

Had a nice drive into the city and back 2 days ago. The suspension is definitely super soft during lane changes but comfortable. A little too soft for my liking but maybe it will grow on me. I guess I am a little spoiled with my TIC-spec AST Coilovers on my WRX wagon plus other suspension goodies.

Made me think about upgrading my suspension system a little more. I started a thread about strut/shock/spring combos but now I also started this journal so I'm not sure which to update about this topic. I'm leaning towards updating that thread and just post my decision and installation (eventually) in here.

The way I see it, the most cost effective option is to get 11-14 STI takeoffs but do some modifications with the struts to make it work. Plus add spacers to raise the rear since these STI springs dropped a little more. Total cost would be around $400. If I'm serious about upgrading, then GR WRX King springs standard height with either Konis, GT Worx/Bilstein, or Feal struts. This brings the cost closer to $1600. Not sure if the latter would justify the 4X cost.

My head is just spinning with all the mods I want to do. I think I just need to settle down and refresh the suspension/drivetrain bushings/mounts first. Then I could really understand what's going on with my current WRX take-offs.
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Old 03-16-2022, 07:15 PM   #11
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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April 7, 2021

Paid for a detailing service for the new ride. I love how the car looks now all clean and shiny but it does bring out the scratches! I'm going to leave them alone and tell myself they give the car character.





Also gave my WRX wagon a wash too.





Can't have a mobile detailer come by and not also wash the wife's car lol.



Folks in Queens and Nassau County, if you're looking for a mobile car wash and detailing service where you don't need to supply water or power, hit these guys up and ask for Sid. Great guy. We had another business transaction that went bad due to a 3rd party and Sid made it right with me. Speaks to his integrity.

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Old 03-17-2022, 04:42 PM   #12
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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April 19, 2021:

I think I'm having a little paralysis by analysis with the whole replacement axle situation. When it's resolved, I'll post the resolution / update here.

In the meantime, I utilized the Forester for what it's meant to be used for. The local Sears was shutting down and I saw a FB post about their backroom shelving. Bought all the shelves below for $100. I'll be figuring out how to maximize the storage in my 2-car garage-turned-shed.






I thought that there would be some rubbing in the rear because of how low the car is but it rode just fine!
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Old 03-17-2022, 07:23 PM   #13
DrTrae
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Loves Park, IL
Vehicle:
2004 WRX Wagon
Java Black Pearl

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Heck yeah, nice shelving score! Your cars are looking great.
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Old 03-17-2022, 11:54 PM   #14
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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Thanks. Unfortunately, the 06 WRX wagon just looks pretty. Engine went on me in the summer so it'll be parked in the driveway for awhile.
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Old 03-18-2022, 07:58 AM   #15
D-Rodman
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02 Bugeye JDM STi
OBP BLACK

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Did you buy that Forester from Tyler ?


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Old 03-18-2022, 11:43 AM   #16
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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small world? It sure was Tyler and he bought it from Paul, who sold me his Dom 2.5 turbo
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Old 03-18-2022, 12:08 PM   #17
samagon
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of TXIC
I also like (oYo)!!!!

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Florence and the Machine?

Florence is the machine!
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Old 03-18-2022, 12:08 PM   #18
D-Rodman
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I know Tyler, not Paul. I was wondering who ended up with Tylerís forester. I was actually considering buying it but by the time I inquired it was already sold. Anyway, glad you got it. Gotta get with you about replacing bushings on my wagon and my bugeye, if you are interested.


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Old 03-18-2022, 12:27 PM   #19
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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Quote:
Originally Posted by samagon View Post
Florence and the Machine?

Florence is the machine!
I'm assuming the pop rock reference but it isn't my cup of tea lol. I'm glad I have this Forester considering my hawkeye wagon is down for awhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Rodman View Post
I know Tyler, not Paul. I was wondering who ended up with Tyler's forester. I was actually considering buying it but by the time I inquired it was already sold. Anyway, glad you got it. Gotta get with you about replacing bushings on my wagon and my bugeye, if you are interested.
It truly was meant to be. Just how things transpired between me and him. What a great guy and wife. They literally threw me the keys and told me to go for a test drive alone.

What's great is that we are local so we don't have to deal with shipping and a lot of down time if we time it right. Right now, I'm tied up to about end of April and about to be mid-May. PM me when you're ready.
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Old 03-22-2022, 09:34 AM   #20
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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April 26, 2021

So my son named it Florence - not too bad.

No exciting updates. I changed out my cabin air filter this weekend.



When I took off the glove compartment, I was pleasantly surprised to find two USB female-end cables. Now I thought I could get android auto to work once I plug it in to my phone. WRONG. It got my hopes up for a few minutes but oh well.

Not feeling the all gray interior so I will add a few black interior pieces. I already talked about the steering wheel as well as purchased WRX heated seats and black carpet and all-weather mats. Also purchased a used black center console off eBay. $100 and it came with the heater dial switch as well as that "privacy" attachment cubby that blocks the exposed view of the center console. It just needs a good cleaning.

I kind of want to figure out the wiring for the heated seats since I already have the switch. I didn't have too good of luck over at sf.org. And yes, I'm shamelessly using fathertime as a crutch; I'm looking for a DIY thread that's well documented. If someone reading this has experience at least messing with your factory switch and seats for whatever reason, like pulling the center console out, let me know if there's any helpful tips or advice. I'm hoping there's already harnesses available buried under my existing center console.



By the way, if the pictures are not working, please let me know. Sometimes I forget to grab the link from my shared folder instead of my private-by-default main folder.
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Old 03-23-2022, 03:11 PM   #21
REX_WGN
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July 12, 2021

Not much of an update again. Father time really does remain undefeated.

I have been prepping the car for the axles change by spraying the ball joints and tie rod hardware with rust penetrant. Turns out both tie rods are shot with ripped boots. Good thing I was already planning on installing a Superpro Roll Center Kit. While under the front, I also saw some part numbers on the struts so I snapped a few pictures. I looked them up and, to my surprise, they were STI struts! 2008-10. I assumed the rear are also STI but I wanted to confirm it by looking up the part numbers on the shocks because of how low the rear sags. And yes, both front and rear, the dampers are STI. Rears were on the 09-10 STI. Again, maybe I expected too much considering how I would currently describe how it handles (post #30). Also, I didn't get to see how the previous previous owner modified the front struts to mount to the knuckle. I'll do that when I get to the front suspension/drivetrain project. It would seem logical to also swap in the 2013 STI take-offs I already bought at the same time since an alignment will be needed anyway.
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Old 03-24-2022, 11:27 AM   #22
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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July 19, 2021

I was going to overhaul the front suspension and axles this past weekend but then I realized my tools are disorganized right now between my shed, my house and my two Subarus. I would spend more time looking for sockets and tools than doing the actual modifications. I'll spend the weeknights this week organizing everything to finally tackle this first project.

With the little time I had, I figure I do the little things. I discovered the AC isn't working and I also wanted to fix my annoying loose gas cap.

I was charging the AC system and realized the gauge needle wasn't really getting to the "filled" green section. Looked over at my compressor and saw the charge leaking out of both ports. Time to add the o-rings to my list of Subaru parts to buy. Pretty confident there's no issues with me replacing the o-rings with the engine off.




So in my betrayal of the forums, I've been hanging out in the Facebook groups. Saw a guy selling 3D printed goodies. He had single and double cupholders as well as this 2-piece gas cap set. It's a lanyard as well as a gas cap holder that slides right into the back of the cover. After taking the photos below, I realized I inserted the lanyard clip into the wrong hole. No wonder it felt a little loose; I thought it was just a worn out piece. I'll debut the cupholders when my interior is done. If interested, PM me for the contact.




Last edited by REX_WGN; 03-24-2022 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 03-25-2022, 10:19 AM   #23
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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November 2, 2021

Long overdue post.

By far one of my most difficult mods in the past 15 years:



and that's it for the last 3 months...lol

So to recap the last few updates, I only wanted to change out the axles and then discovered the ball joints were shot so I added the Roll Center Kit to the project.

This is what I see after putting the rear on ramps, lifting the front and taking off the front wheels for the first time.



First thing I noticed was that the wheel spacers kit required trimming of the oem studs in order to have clearance for the wheel mating surface due to the spacers being only ~1/2 inch. I was not really feeling this.

Second thing I noticed was how the struts were mounted on the knuckles. Recall I was initially confused about what suspension I had - STI or WRX take-offs - since the wheels were 5x100 04 STI. I then found the part number on the back and confirmed they were STI. So I was expecting metal washers or something to shim the gap between knuckles and struts. Nope.



Looks like the installer just impacted the ***** out of the strut ears until the gap disappeared o_O

They notched the lower holes of the struts as expected.




So eventhough there are these few things that I did not like about the setup, I decided to just do what I needed to do which is still the axles, tie rods and ball joints. I proceeded full speed ahead with the plan and used this tool to separate the OTRs from the knuckles and the ball joints from the LCAs.



I spent the next 4 hours as well as another 2 the next day to try to remove the ball joint from the knuckle. it barely budged. I sprayed the opening with rust penetrant, used a propane torch to heat it up and used this OG ball joint tugger tool over and over - spray, heat, tug - to no avail. I would not be surprised that it's the original ball joint in that knuckle.



I was at a crossroads after failing to get the ball joint out. Keep trying or just order used knuckles off eBay that already had the ball joints out. But the latter also meant that I might as well do the following:
  1. new oem wheel bearings since I don't know the condition of the ones on the eBay knuckles I will be buying
  2. ARP extended studs to use in conjunction with "free-floating" spacers - if I'm getting new wheel bearings, I'm not going to trim the new studs just to install the same wheel spacer kit I already don't prefer
  3. install the 2013 STI take-off struts and do it right
    1. modify the lower bolt holes
    2. make my own spacers to shim between the knuckles and struts
    3. SPT front strut brace
    4. tophat spacers - I think it's a bit too low
    5. extended tophat "studs" since 3 and 4 above
I went with the latter and started working on the 2013 STI take-offs as I waited for the eBay knuckles to arrive.
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Old 03-25-2022, 06:26 PM   #24
500_19B
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2002 WRX

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I have replacement knuckles ready to go back on the bugeye, and like you I replaced the wheel bearings "just to be sure" although the replacement knuckles seemed to be low mileage. Those knuckles also came with the ball joints still in. I am also replacing those. To remove them, I ended up using an air hammer to "walk them out". So, even in those low mileage pieces, the ball joints were in there very tight.

A for the originals, when I was disassembling the old stuff, I was not too concerned about the ball joints, since both the knuckles and LCAs are being replaced. Still, I tried to remove the old ball joints and I was not successful and they are still in the old knuckles.

I think I would have to use strong heat (oxy-acetylene) to have a chance...

Looking forward to seeing your progress!
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Old 03-27-2022, 11:07 AM   #25
REX_WGN
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2009 FXT

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thanks for your interest in the progress. these damn ball joints are a pain in the butt. I just saw on facebook where someone who lives in salt-free winters - Sacramento, CA) - easily remove the ball joints and pinch bolts at 200K miles!!! The ball joint cup looked FREE of any rust, like a brand new knuckle. I am extremely envious of his fortunes.

So I was able to get it out with a bunch of tools (in the next post) but there's three main physical actions needed for rust-seized ball joints in my experience:

1) spread the ball joint ears progressively (so you don't break one of the ears off)
2) lateral impact all around the ball joint
3) pulling force to get the ball joint out (a slide hammer or ball joint specific pulling tool)

and for installation, clean the ball joint cup and liberally apply anti-seize
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