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Thread: The Unofficial "How to Lift your Impreza" Thread

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    Arrow 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.
    Last edited by Kostamojen; 04-13-2011 at 08:39 PM.


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    Saved.

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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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    Looks good!

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    Great little writeup, this is exactly the info I need to start working on a lift.

    Just to clarify, when you say Outback, I assume you mean the Legacy Outback, not the Impreza Outback Sport, correct? I've got the OBS, so I'm just after a bit of clarification on how this translates to that, as I believe the Impreza OBS has about 1" of extra clearance over the standard Imprezas, due to the "heavy duty" suspension.
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    I think wheel specs are also important to talk about when doing this lift. Some people might fit a certain size tire with this lift while someone else can't fit the same size tire due to a different size wheel. (it mainly will come down to offset of the wheel and how you align the tires).

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    Quote Originally Posted by pope_face View Post
    Just to clarify, when you say Outback, I assume you mean the Legacy Outback, not the Impreza Outback Sport, correct? I've got the OBS, so I'm just after a bit of clarification on how this translates to that, as I believe the Impreza OBS has about 1" of extra clearance over the standard Imprezas, due to the "heavy duty" suspension.
    Its just springs with the OBS that gives the extra lift, but im not 100% on that. Struts are different in terms of dampening, but the struts do not provide a lift like the Forester struts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aeraceranthony View Post
    I think wheel specs are also important to talk about when doing this lift. Some people might fit a certain size tire with this lift while someone else can't fit the same size tire due to a different size wheel. (it mainly will come down to offset of the wheel and how you align the tires).
    Yes, a lower offset can allow a larger tire to turn in the fenders up front, but in turn you have to modify the fenders more of course. Anything over say a +1 size for 93-01's is an issue, 02-07's have more leway, possibly +2 without trouble.

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    I'm sure this has been covered a billion times in other threads, but what kind of tire clearance increase could I expect if I put (2002?) forester struts on my 02 OBS, and keep the stock OBS springs? I want some added clearance and the possibility of running Grabbers or 205/70/16 (too much? 65? 60?) winter tires, but I don't want a harsher ride. The stock suspension already causes a good jolt or two on my regular commute.

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    Probably 1-2" more lift.

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    Made this a sticky, thanks for getting this thread going!
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    I'm sure If you could Include Installation info (though most don't need it, & it's half way common sense) & also include the aftermarket route as well. You could make this the official how to lift your "Impreza"

    Other wise this is a Darn good thread & certainly I did learn a thing or two. Also props on those side by side photos. very useful
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    if I dont get rid of the obs. This winter it will be raised up! Nice write up guys

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    Default Strut Top Spacer patterns?

    Does anyone have the dimensions (pattern or template) for the spacers on a 2005 Impreza RS2.5?

    Thanks
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post
    Struts:

    The basic principle behind Impreza lifting is that as it turns out, Late 90's Legacy Outback & 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.

    Basically, to run tall tires you need a strut from a Legacy Outback or a Forester. This will give added lift and throw off geometry so driveline spacers are advised but not always necessary

    Strut Top Mounts:

    Rear top hats are an issue for 93-01 Imprezas (02-07 Imprezas match up with 03-08 Foresters) 95-99 Legacy and 98-02 Forester share the same rear tophats too

    Springs:

    What I've gathered is that Legacy Outback struts are the tallest and that Forester springs are the tallest, I've yet to see all the parts side by side so this is just from other members. I wish Zap would chime in...

    Tires:

    Stock is 205/55-16 for the short struts of Impreza and Legacy and 205/70-15 for taller Outback or Forester struts. A good site to play with sizes is http://www.rimsntires.com/specs.jsp

    Trailing Arm Brackets:

    Front control arm mounts are the samw on Legacy Outback and Forester, they do the same thing but for the front and correct your caster, I would say these are a must and a good upgrade for low cars too as there is never too much caster

    Swaybars:

    Rear Swaybar - 97-99 Outbacks and Forester 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 are the same as Legacy Outback

    The Legacy Outback bar itself is also larger, 18mm vs 15 or 16mm on most models including Forester


    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). Note: Longer front endlinks are not necessary when front subframe spacers are used and longer rear endlinks are not necessary with the taller brackets

    Other "required" parts:

    Rear Camber bolts - These are important because without them, you can't properly align the rear suspension when lifted. ??? No problems here, I'm running 0 camber instead of -5 though


    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. From what I've noticed the Forester doesn't have any removeable lift spacers in the rear but the front subframe has the same spacers as Outback. The Forester has flat brackets for the rear differential carrier too, basically it looks like just the front subframe and the transmission crossmember are spaced and the rear is the same as Legacy and Impreza

    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. The steering joint on Forester is all sorts of funky, definately not the same as the Legacy Outback. This is pretty much all or nothing, one thing leads to another which interferes with another and you need ALL the parts for it to work properly. The center axle bushing is also taller on the Legacy Outback but it's much easier to just space that down with longer bolts, enough to move comfortably is all I did.

    Optional parts:

    Exhaust sheild spacer bolts - from the Legacy Outback keep the sheild from contacting the center axle and making horrible noise that scares the crap out of you when you got all the body lift parts from the junkyard after going back 3 times only to find that these 4 little bolts were the cause of your frustration. Forester has none but the shield is shorter and bent differently

    Exhaust hangers - When you do the body lift, not all the hangers will work. Your exhaust can either hang lower using longer mounts for the end of the muffler and the mid-pipe or you can bring it back up close to the body by eliminating the mount at the front of the muffler. Clearances are tight with the body lift so I actually think the muffler pipes are bent differently. Forester uses a longer rubber mount for the mid pipe and brackets for the rear end of the muffler, it still sits close to the bumper though so either the Forester and Outback bumpers are cut lower or the pipe is bent differently on Forester and Outback mufflers

    Speedometer sensor - I'm not sure how to solve this one, I'm going to try and just swap sensors with the Forester and the GT and see if it works. I think since hers runs faster and mine runs slower...
    I was like, I know those pictures from somewhere... Quoted just the parts that I added or changed. Good work btw, this is exactly what we needed. I just lowered the wife's Forester using my old Legacy GT struts/springs so a lot of this stuff is fresh in my mind right now.

    In summary; there are many parts that Subaru designed to compensate for lifitng the suspension so they obviously knew it would cause problems. Depending on your application all, some or none of these parts will be required.
    Last edited by i5racer; 07-30-2011 at 10:42 AM. Reason: fresh look at the wife's forester


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