As stated; I may change the struts myself on my wife's 03 (Legacy) H6
Outback.(it has fairly low miles but one of the rear struts is leaking
oil.) I have some numbers but they appear to be for WRX. I think the
mount plate bolts are likely the same at about 14.5 ft/lbs, but I also
need the strut nut and the 2 bolts at the knuckle.
thanx in advance
The following link will take you to the the Rear Suspension chapter of
the 2003 factory service manual for the Outback.
If you need anything else from that manual, just let me know.
1 Lucky Texan wrote:
Just finished the rear struts. The pages you supplied were a lot of
help - thanx.
I had a slow start yesterday - had to visit 2 places for tools.
Autozone lent me spring compressors but didn't have any tools suitable
for the strut tops. Finally had to 'create' a tool with the help of a
guy at ACE Hardware. We cut the 'L' off a 6mm hex key wrench. Then, I
used a 1/2",to3/8" to 1/4" to 1/4sqr drive 6mm socket stack with the
hex piece in it for the struts! It fit down thru a 17mm deep socket
that I had some vice grips on. This was to disassemble, then
reassemble and torque the top strut mount.
My local dealer (Bob Moore Subaru) had reported the left rear strut
was leaking oil some months back and indeed it had oil on the top as
well as not returning after being depressed. i guess that means it
also lost it's nitrogen.
An impact wrench would have been very helpful. I think I could do it
again in under 5 hours with handtools. An impact would probably knock
an hour off. Maybe more. I may buy one before tackling the fronts. Or
I may farm them out - though I like having an excuse for new tools! It
was a challenge torqueing the bottom bolt back on. A real lift would
I must say - this was a little more challenging for me physically than
I expected. My age is catching up with me.
I broke down and bought an impact wrench.
HOLY ZOMBIE JESUS!
Why, oh why, did I not get one of these 35 years ago!
Anyway, buying it kinda forces me to do the front struts and the axle
myself now. I had a short day today due to a dr's appt I had to take
my wife to and another errand. Only got the oil changed, the bottom
cover off, the strut off, springs compressed, and the new strut
'loosely' placed in the spring. Still have the other side AND its
axle. If I get a long day tomorrow, I might just finish. But I might
run out of steam. I feel like one huge bruise. lol!
BTW - the KYB struts I bought have a 19mm top nut instead of the 17mm
stock. I wonder if that would alter the torque setting I should use?
Also, it seems I SHOULD torque the NUT on the camber bolt (top) but it
seems I'm to torque the BOLT on the lower connection to the knuckle. I
would have to remove the caliper to do that. Does anyone feel it would
be a mistake to either turn the bolt around (if it will clear the
caliper) so it's head is clear at the front. Or, is it OK to torque
the nut on it? (there's clearance for a box-end wrench to 'back it up'
during reassembly either way - just not for the torque wrench.)
OK, if anyone searches though here for strut info, I'm gonna include
There's link there with some good info, the guy has some pics (though
he is putting Baja springs in the rear) and I also placed a coupla
pictures and some photos there with some advice that worked for me.
I think removing the struts with handtools is doable, but using the
spring compressors - it's a real pain without the impact gun. If you
MUST do this yourself - consider taking your struts to a shop and
paying them to swap in the the new strut. I probably should have done
that but, even buying a $150 impact from Lowes, I still saved plenty
over shop labor charges.
Car's back on the road with 4 new struts and a new half axle. The
first front strut may have it's top hat not exactly lined up. Dunno if
it will self-correct or not but, didn't notice any issues on a test
drive. I saved the side that got the new axle till last and that is
where I took the pics shown at the link.
thanx again for all the support, info, advice.
Probably work on the rear struts tomorrow - maybe do an oil change on
the other car.
One other question on struts. Does everything go back together 'dry'?
Or should any grease or other treatment be done anywhere? I know not
to use any lube on nuts/bolts because it can change clamping/torque
forces. Just wondering if springs and/or spring seats need any lube.
Congrats on the impact wrench and the job done.
I always did this kind of work using hand tools for the strut
replacement after having the assembly off the car. I once tried using
the impact wrench to compress the spring, and it only lead to the spring
compressor sliding and getting me into a bind with a bowed spring to one
Yes, these things normally go dry together. Most of the time, when
needed, manufacturers include a rubber or plastic seat for the spring on
the strut or upper mount. It is very important to locate the end of the
spring properly on the strut mount and on the strut to avoid squeaks.
It is always important to protect the spring and repair any scratches to
the paint/rubber coating on the spring itself, to prevent the spring
from rusting and failing.
If the diameter of the strut rod thread changes (most likely not) then
the torque could be adjusted, but because of the strut mounts, the rod
will be most likely the same diamterand the torque remains the same.
Torque measurements are more precise if done on the nut, but for
practical purposes, you should be fine if torquing on the bolt. I
thought that the bolt securing the lower ball joint to the knucle was
threaded on the knucle... do nor memeber a nut there and i could not see
it well in the book. If it has a nut, there is not problem reversing it.
I saw, a couple of days ago, an impact wrench, 1/2" drive, Campbell
Hausfeld at Walmart for around $25 bucks. The pneumatic rachet was 40
something... go figure.
Sorry for replying to your post this late.
1 Lucky Texan wrote:
I was able to alternate use of the impact and didn't seem to have a
big problem with 'bending'. Perhaps because i bought a 'fairly
inexpensive' electric wrench and the air-guns are faster/more
Still, due to occasional clearance problems, I did use the open/boxend
wrench some on the compressors. And I used the torque wrench for all
actual assembly - no impact..
Also, I did torque the nuts, top and bottom, on the lower strut. Just
figured clamping force is clamping force. I did not try to turn the
lower bolt around. No problem backing-up with the boxend wrench
either. I felt like a huge walking cramped muscle for a day and half.
But overall, things went OK. Not perfect, but I think well enough to
be safe and practical. Still no reported squeaks or groans. car
actually feels tight. Probably get alignment in the next few months
(toe is not 'centered on the steering wheel - that was pre-existing
and is not severe). No problems though marking and replacing the
camber bolt. I also used the floor jack on the front to put a little
upward pressure on the hub before final torquing. Kinda like the
instructions mentioned for the rear struts. Using some vice grips
helped me keep the top hat oriented on the spring. that helped a lot
on the last strut. Wish i had done it on the first front strut.
again, I added some comments and pictures to this thread;http://
Thanx for everyone's support.
I was able to find numbers at NASIOC but the discussion was for
Impreza model - I just wanted to make sure they were the same for a
Legacy OBW. They were.
I guess I've been spoiled by the internet. In the past, I always had
a Petersen or Haynes manual for my cars.
The challenge is gonna be doing this with handtools. I don't have an
impact wrench/gun. But I have a cheater bar so....we'll see. I've done
half axles before.(on Honda and Mitsubishi) but never changed struts.
It just so happens my wife's Outback needs a half-axle and has a rear
strut that leaked its oil out. Though it is still low miles at 64K,
97% of those miles are local/secondary roads and short trips. And of
course it still needs its sparkplugs changed. I may not get everything
done this October - but I plan to get most of it done. (and I may get
discouraged and farm it out lol!)
Don't repair shops in your area have a surcharge for basket jobs? :^)
I had a knack for enriching MacTools & Snapon when I lived in the
And then there is Craftsman@Sears for your basic needs :-]
Since you don't plan to expatriate yourself professional grade tools
outlast you though and your descendants will have to spend fewer $$s
craftsman do not look so attractive in that regard: i have (possibly
unfounded) doubts about
longevity of the hobbyist grade tools.
Would anyone who has a large toolbox in the garage comment which
are ok in the long run and where you'd better come up with $$$ for pro
... and then there is some questionable implements at walmart :^)
I don' tknow how Craftsman tools are nowadays, but I hope good. I fear
not as good as they once were though. I got a Craftsman set when I got
my first car in 1990/1991. I replaced the 1/4 inch drive about three
years ago because I had bled one too many car's worth of brakes with
it getting brake fluid into the pawl drive mechanism and probably
wrenched on it a little too hard. The 1/4 inch drive just failed two
weeks ago when I put oh-my-God amounts of force on it with a breaker
bar used as a pry bar. It still worked if you pushed the lever in the
correct position when you started applying torque. It would hold there
until you took the force off, then go back to freewheeling. So
useable, but not right. Both of them were easy exchanges at Sears.
The only othe rbreak I had was a 7/16 socket. for that I didn't even
have to wait in line. The guy saw me at the back of a holiday season
line holding a socket, called me up, told me to go grab a new one, and
once he compared them, sent me on my way.
My first set of wrenches (and some other tools) after I moved out were
bought at a pawnshop - all different brands, I think I still have
I never mind paying top dollar for a tool IF I DECIDE IT'S NECESSARY.
It often isn't.
Now THAT's the service. I hope you are abusing 3/8th or 1/2th now
instead of the poor
1/4th. 1/4 with a pry bar, eeesh.
I trashed a ($70? $50? I remember it was not cheap) craftsman torque
myself stupidly using it for untying some nut instead of swapping the
a regular 1/4 drive wrench and keeping the precision tool for the
Somehow I think snapon tool would not have
survived my idiotic use as well.
You might laugh, I took a motorcycle mechanic correspondence course a
decade ago :-]
After that I became extremely picky tool wise. using 6 point sockets
instead of the 12 pointers.
That and prolonged contact with an ex-promechanic coworker pulling his
bmw opposite twin
apart for a major rebuild and putting it back together, being
mechanically inept at the time
I was impressed. The guy did not have many good things to say about
durability of craftsman tool.
But that has to be taken in the heavy tool use (pro shop) context I
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