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Old 08-09-2015, 01:40 AM   #1
Unabomber
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OMGHi2U Subaru Mid Life: Replacment of aging items

Editor's Note/Disclaimer The advice given here comes from years of experience with local Subarus and countless hours performing trend analysis here on NASIOC. This advice is not only my own, but an amalgamation of quite a few famous name people who have given me their input. If you plan on keeping your Subaru for a year or two and have no aspirations of big power or racing, you likely won't have much enthusiasm for this post and should go look up cat videos on youtube instead. But if you have an interest in performance and longevity, this may provide some eye opening items and food for thought.

What is Subaru Mid Life? This is a term I have made up and patented to denote any Subaru at or around the 100,000 mile marker. At this stage in your Subaru's life is where some small stuff starts to fail and it's worth your time to head these items off at the pass rather than to wait for critical failure that leaves you in a ditch along the highway at night when its raining and your cell phone has zero bars.

What makes Subaru Mid Life special? Many of the "faster" Subarus at this age and mileage are now super affordable for the "Honda Crowd". And by Honda Crowd, this is a pejorative to denote members of the sub-25 year old flat bill crew (not to be confused with the older and equally weird Flat Earth Society). The problem with this crowd is that they have a great Japanese sports car that generally has a long and reliable life and they immediately start bolting on parts for more power while turning a blind eye to the basics like maintenance; and in particular, maintenance items not expressed in the owner's manual. They, and many other Subaru owners without years of car experience, don't know about the things not found in the manual and this post is a wake-up call.

And why exactly is this important? If you have $5000-$10,000 cash in hand to buy a new motor today, it is not important. If you do not have this much lying about, you BEST perform these actions if you are planning on keeping the car for a while and it is DEADLY CRITICAL before you start adding more power to your car. If you build a house on a weak foundation is a great analogy to use as the best turbo will not spool properly on a sketchy 10 year old OEM turbo inlet and weeping vacuum hoses and this can mean lackluster performance at best and a critical failure at worst.

What to check

0. Is the factory maintenance schedule up to date? Subaru.com has the up to date maintenance schedule information and is more accurate that what can be found in your owner's manual. The website link often changes, but as of right now, http://www.subaru.com/owners/index.html, then click on Vehicle Resources, enter VIN/choose car and hit Search. Now find and open the Maintenance and Service .pdf. If you notice a conflict between what your dealer says, what your owner's manual says, or what it says on mysubaru.com, always defer to the advice of the maintenance schedules found online. If you are the original owner, you should know the status. If you are not the original owner, you can visit your local dealer and have the service department run a vehicle history to determine what service(s) were performed at Subaru dealerships. The best practice is to follow this: if you don't know, have it done and documented so you do know.

1. Inspection under the car. With the vehicle on jackstands/lift, get very personal with your under car rubber items. Get under there with a pile of rags and some 409 and spray/clean your CV boots and ball joints. If there is a big issue with the CV boots, it should be noticeable via a train wreck of grease splatter. Otherwise, once the rubber stuff is clean and dry, get all up in them with a flashlight and bare hands. Move and flex the accordion folds to unhide splits and tears. Any split means replacement of said item. Front CV boots usually fail before the rears due to engine heat with the front runner being the one closest to the turbo. Rebooting an axle is fine as are generic ball joints. Unless you are Nelson Piquet, there is no need to buy baller axles or Moog ball joints. Also, put a flashlight and a careful eye where the axles fit into the transmission and rear differential for fluid leaks as well as the rear of the trans where the driveshaft enters. All of these locations have sub $10 oil seals that can give up the ghost.

2. Inspection under the hood.

a. Radiator. Do you have a stock radiator? If so, you are playing Russian Roulette. Replace that jank. Today. Unless you are Parnelli Jones, there is no need to buy some baller radiator as even an eBay Chinese jank will work.

b. Radiator hoses. Give the upper and lower hose a squeeze when the car is cold. Feel that crunch? It's SuperAIDS. It will fail. Replace them janks with your radiator. Today. Unless you are Jacky Ickx, there is no need to buy some baller radiator hoses as even eBay Chinese jank silicone hoses will work.

c. Accessory belts. Somewhere along the way, Americans forgot how to check their belts and the manual oddly doesn't mention it. But when you allow them to fail, they can carry away your radiator fan, the other belt, or smell terrific roasting on your header. Check them and replace any belts that are cracking and tighten loose ones.

d. Turbo Inlet. The amount of suck a stock turbo inlet has at 100,000 miles can only be expressed in scientific notation. Replace it. Just be sure to get one that is OEM size and you should be good to go. In theory, this will add a few horsepower, but the main reason is the stock rubber becomes bubble gum over time and you likely have a leak.

e. BCS. Your stock boost control solenoid starts to respond very slowly over time. A new OEM one will wake your car back up. And no, this isn't an excuse to by an aftermarket one as all those require tuning.

f. MAF. Your MAF, like your BCS, becomes tired over time and a replacement will perk things up immensely.

g. Valve Cover Gaskets. Put a GOOD eye on these, top/bottom/front/back on both sides. They are waiting to leak on you if they aren't already. Good news is they are a pretty simple, cheap, and easy replacement item. Some say replace anyway (perhaps at next spark plug change cycle) and some say wait to failure as the only downside is a dirty engine and you can rock weeping VCGs for quite some time. Your call. Good how to thread.

h. Rubber hoses/tubes. Put your hands on every hose/tube under the hood and a critical eye on the ends. Check for splits and tears and replace as needed. DO NOT grab a hose and replace it without knowing:

a. What goes through it...air, vacuum, fuel, oil.
b. What is the internal diameter.
c. Are there any small parts INSIDE the tube that need to be replaced.

If you mess up the internal diameter or use vacuum hose where a fuel safe hose should be, you are in for a bad day down the road. When in doubt, take a picture and have your dealer order it. More help.

3. Inspection under the car (advanced). There are a lot of hidden bits here known as bushings. Many of these are famous for turning into bubble gum over time and their replacement, while not critical, can be just as performance enhancing as a new suspension setup. These bushings include:

Front lower control arm bushings
Engine mounts
Transmission mount
Pitch stop
Various shifter bushings
Transmission mount bushings
Outrigger bushings
Rear differential bushings
Lateral link bushings
Trailing arm bushings

Many of these bushings are inexpensive and easy to do and are a huge suspension/handling bang for buck. Some of them are more difficult to do as having a press helps with the removal process and some suspension bolts can be stubborn to remove. The bottom line is to strongly consider these components as items to replace over time. Want to know more about them? Nice info post about them.

Install Help
The Unabomber's Manifesto contains many helpful posts that support much of the topics listed above.
Youtube is a great research as many people have posted how-to videos
The NASIOC search feature should net some great writeups.
Finally, nothing wrong with good old google as if you put in "valve cover gasket replacement", you will get a bunch of hits for the other Subaru car forums.
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Last edited by Unabomber; 08-14-2017 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 08-09-2015, 01:40 AM   #2
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Placeholder for more if needed. And it's not 100% yet as I'm waiting on more help from some people.
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Old 08-09-2015, 03:19 PM   #3
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Do you know where to find part numbers for oem bcs?
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Old 08-09-2015, 03:38 PM   #4
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Once again, GREAT write up! I still have awhile to go on these, but I drive A LOT and 100k is going to come up in no time! Thank you!
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Old 08-09-2015, 05:44 PM   #5
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Bearings.

If you haven't replaced them at least once before 100k miles, you'll be doing them shortly.
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:02 AM   #6
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Good stuff here. I'm at 257,000 on stock bushings and it feels like a sofa on wheels. Might be nice to have a breakdown on the different bushing materials pros/cons etc. Thanks again.
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Old 08-10-2015, 02:06 AM   #7
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Good info. And the corollary question, what parts should you have on hand when you drive an aging car?
My contribution would be 2 uprights/steering knuckles. You can find them for next to nothing when guys are parting out and when your wheel bearings blow you have a spare to swap in while you rebuild the old one.
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Type2 View Post
Good stuff here. I'm at 257,000 on stock bushings and it feels like a sofa on wheels. Might be nice to have a breakdown on the different bushing materials pros/cons etc. Thanks again.
for a dd/street car the group n bushings for the gd chassis are hard to beat....some are hard to install because they aren't 2 piece like their urethane counterparts....

I would be very careful choosing too many urethane bushings as NVH can increase a LOT and make you

the group n bushings(and fengine/trans mounts) DO take a week or 2 to 'break in' and loose some of their original firmness, but as long as you know this going in...
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:18 AM   #9
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Where were you a month ago with this when I was scouring the forum like crazy looking for things to do at 200k miles on my Forester?

Seriously though, awesome write up.

For those suggesting wheel bearings. Try and find the hub assembly and replace the entire thing, much easier.

Accessory belts: my '08 WRX uses a "stretch fit" belt on the AC Compressor. Gates makes a belt ramp tool to aid in installing these. Be very careful because if you screw it up, you have to cut it off and buy a new one (ask me how I know).

Here's a good video showing how to install those buggers:
https://youtu.be/9iuN_O6igpg

Good stuff...
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Old 08-10-2015, 02:04 PM   #10
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This is one of those posts that you don't want to read because it has too many truths and creates a lot of work you might have been otherwise mentally subduing. LOL. Thankfully I've been spending rekackulous amounts of money on upgrades and doing this stuff along the way... otherwise I'd be pretty annoyed at this whole deal.
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Old 08-10-2015, 02:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmaninjapan View Post
Where were you a month ago with this when I was scouring the forum like crazy looking for things to do at 200k miles on my Forester?

Seriously though, awesome write up.

For those suggesting wheel bearings. Try and find the hub assembly and replace the entire thing, much easier.

Accessory belts: my '08 WRX uses a "stretch fit" belt on the AC Compressor. Gates makes a belt ramp tool to aid in installing these. Be very careful because if you screw it up, you have to cut it off and buy a new one (ask me how I know).

Here's a good video showing how to install those buggers:
https://youtu.be/9iuN_O6igpg

Good stuff...
How do you know?
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Old 08-10-2015, 04:22 PM   #12
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its amazing reading this as i am going through it right now. I need my right valve cover replaced, timing belt and Turbo inlet. Big shop bill coming up but it will be worth it to get her healthy again.
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:56 PM   #13
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Tore my CV boot after one quick turn of the wheel...it probably had 90K by then...resealed it myself instead of going with a new cheap axle.
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:13 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty View Post
for a dd/street car the group n bushings for the gd chassis are hard to beat....some are hard to install because they aren't 2 piece like their urethane counterparts....

I would be very careful choosing too many urethane bushings as NVH can increase a LOT and make you

the group n bushings(and fengine/trans mounts) DO take a week or 2 to 'break in' and loose some of their original firmness, but as long as you know this going in...
Thanks US. I'll start obsessively researching Group N bushings now.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:28 AM   #15
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Great Info, Thank you!
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Type2 View Post
Thanks US. I'll start obsessively researching Group N bushings now.
No need to research obsessively. Just start with front strut tops then go from there.
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:54 PM   #17
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Was planning on doing a refresh soon, but a new radiator wasn't even on my radar. Great post, will update my list...
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stretch18 View Post
Was planning on doing a refresh soon, but a new radiator wasn't even on my radar. Great post, will update my list...
If your doing a timing belt replacement and you're removing the radiator then yeah. My wrx is approaching 100k and I have a large list of things I need done since I plan on driving it till it rusts in half.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:15 PM   #19
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This should be plastered all over the newbe section.
I do mean all over!!!

Nice job UB!!!
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:33 PM   #20
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Bookmarked! Thanks UB!
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bushflyr View Post
No need to research obsessively. Just start with front strut tops then go from there.
Too late
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Old 08-12-2015, 01:04 PM   #22
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This is great! With so many older Subarus out there, this should be essential for so many. Thanks for taking the time to write this up!

Rick
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Old 08-12-2015, 01:17 PM   #23
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Living in Canada in Alberta with 8 months of winter,would it still be a decent idea to replace the Rad?? The only time it gets really hot is July and Aug.
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Old 08-12-2015, 04:21 PM   #24
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power steering fluid 'refresh' ?
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Old 08-12-2015, 04:57 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtouchdown View Post
Living in Canada in Alberta with 8 months of winter,would it still be a decent idea to replace the Rad?? The only time it gets really hot is July and Aug.
The radiator of your car is fully functional in winter. The hoses go through the same heat cycling they do in summer. They become brittle and weak for that reason so outside weather shouldn't determine the replacement interval.
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