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2008 Outback XT - Big Louise


lilredwagon
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I decided I'd share my new-to-me 2008 Outback XT. Maybe this thread can be helpful to someone in the future. I suppose you could consider this a build thread, but I'm really trying to not build it. I have a couple other track-prepped cars, so I'm trying to keep this one as a family truckster. Basically, it needs to function as a daily driver that sits in traffic well and can carry my family. That means no hard clutches, a catted exhaust, a soft suspension that I'm not tinkering with all the time, etc...

 

I'll update this thread as I do stuff, along with my thoughts on the mods. But to kick it off, here's a pic of my drive home from picking her up:

 

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It's obviously not a glamour shot, but it's the only shot I have of my first day with her.

 

Fast forward a couple weeks later and I finally got my tags! The day after I put my tags on, she went from this:

 

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To this:

 

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(Please excuse the dirty car - it doesn't seem to stop raining here lately!)

 

The suspension is a set of stock JDM Legacy GT (Rev A) shocks/struts/springs (Bilstein). <-- That's the extent of what I know about them, I don't know if they were off a sedan or wagon. I wanted to post these pics because people don't seem to run the springs that come with these. Most of what I read are people getting a set of these for the shocks, but then trying to pair them with whatever aftermarket spring with mixed results. My thought was: "Well, why don't you just run the springs that the shocks were valved for?!?" I figured I'd at least give them a try before buying a set of aftermarket springs, and I'm glad I did. To go along with the suspension, I also changed the rear upper control arms to Legacy arms but kept the Outback bumpstops, and added SPC camber correcting lower control arms. I also added a 1" rear spacer to avoid a saggy butt.

 

As far as my impression of the suspension, it works great! If these were a set of coilovers, I'd be thrilled with how "streetable" they are. Considering that they are an OEM part, they're just a little firm on the side streets, but totally smooth out on the highway. The good thing is that they have OEM levels of NVH! I guess I should have expected that, with them being (JDM) OEM, but my frame of reference was coilovers, and again, in that world, this suspension would be the smoothest, quietest set of coilovers out there. Best part is that they were about a grand cheaper than the mid-grade coilover I was considering.

Edited by lil'redwagon
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  • 4 weeks later...

Figured I'd update this thread. I've been working through some previous-owner gremlins. Things like the pile of dirt on the cabin air filter, and getting the AC running strong:

 

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In addition to that, I:

 

- Refinished the headlight lenses and installed +100 halogen bulbs from candlepower.com. Huge difference!

 

- Installed a Rev9 catted downpipe, so I could install my boost/AFR gauge. Nothing to show here, but I will mention that the cheapie downpipe didn't really fit. Well, it does fit, but they put the bellmouth piping too close to the holes on the flange by the turbo, so I can't get all of the nuts on. It's fine with 4 out of the 5 nuts holding it in place. When I have more time, I'll grind out some more room to get the last nut on.

 

- Used some rubbing compound on the scratches to make them less noticeable. Yeah the dents are still there, and if someone were to look at it, they'd ask what the point was, considering that it's still dinged. But the car's new to me, so I'll do what I can to clean her up.

 

- I put a tune on it, so it's running pretty strong on the VF-46. I never dynoed it fully stock, so my Virtual Dyno plots will just be for my own reference. I also don't know if I trust the road I'm on, but as long as I keep using the same road, it will show differences.

 

So yes, slow progress, but these little details make all the difference!

 

Finally, I washed her!:

 

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Next up on my list of things:

- VF-52 install

- Ignition coils

- Turbo inlet

(I already have the above parts, just don't have the time)

 

Things I'm still on the lookout for:

- Catback

- Wheels

- Intercooler

- Tint (faded, purpling tint makes any car feel old and used up)

Edited by lil'redwagon
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  • 1 month later...

Time for an update to this thread:

 

Since the last post:

- Ignition coils (Cosmo Racing)

- Silicon turbo inlet (Rev 9)

- Silicon throttle body hose (Perrin)

- VF52

- Tune

- Hogzaust mod

- Wheels (Enkei TS9 18x8.5 +40)

- Tires (Pilot Sport A/S 3+ 245/45/18)

- Maintenance items: cleaned PCV, oil change, fixed the AC, etc.

 

Next up:

- Bulletproof TMIC mod

- Brakes

- Continue working on all the dings and cosmetic stuff

 

Pics:

 

Reminder for why I bought the Outback in the first place. GF says, "Hey can you help me pick up some stuff from Lowes? It's just yard stuff." Sure, I said... It was a pallet of patio pavers (bricks)!:

 

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Dyno (322whp/315wtq on Virtual Dyno):

 

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Glamour shots with the new wheels:

 

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Perfect offset and width:

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Edited by lil'redwagon
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Thanks! I'm already down that path - I picked up a set of calipers from the FS section, and am probably ordering the rotors/pads/SS lines/fluid/speedbleeders next week. Excited to get the braking taken care of.

 

Also, I forgot to include my thoughts on the updated parts.

 

Cosmo Racing coils - They're a bargain! And they work well. Well enough to get rid of my ignition stumble and occasional misfire CELs. The question is how long will they last, I guess we'll see. Incidentally, when I was changing the coils, I learned that the right side motor mount bolt was rounded. So that was a fun surprise.

 

Rev9 turbo inlet - I've installed so many silicone turbo inlets on Subarus over the years when I used to work at a shop. They all do the same thing, but some are easier to install than others. Cheapie ebay inlets are always the easiest. But if you're running high boost (>23psi or so) put a couple hose clamps around the middle of it. IMO, there's no reason to spend $250+ for this part. Mine was $90 and it works just fine!

 

Perrin throttle body hose - I had it, so I threw it on. It fits worse than the stock piece, and was an annoying install to make sure it was clocked correctly. If you don't have a problem with the stock piece, don't change it.

 

VF52 - This was more of a diagnostic change than a mod. I gained maybe +50whp, and it cost just a couple hundred RPM in spool. So it was a positive change, but not a huge difference. You get used to it in a day, and it's just like driving the VF46. I changed it out because I thought my VF46 was making a noise at startup, but it turned out to be the starter motor, so I kept it on.

 

Hogzaust mod - Two words: Hell. Yeah. I only really did this because I was pissed that the coils took so long. I was doing maintenance work and just wanted to do something that I would notice a difference. Turns out, it's not bad. It gurgles a little and never gets loud - no drone, which is good. Thinking about it more though, it DOES work to relieve pressure. I noticed a slight difference in spool and throttle response, so I tuned for it, and it allowed a tiny bit more power. Consistency is difficult with a road dyno, but averaging out the many different pulls, I'd say it may have added +5-7hp. Something in that range. Within the margin of error, but most of the runs were a tiny bit higher.

 

Wheels/Tires - I'm very happy with them! The wheels were on sale at Tirerack for cheaper than STi takeoffs (I was looking for a set of '08-11 STi BBS). So they were a great buy. And they weigh ~21 lbs, so they're about as light as the STi BBS. Plus I would have had to run spacers with the STi wheels, which would add weight. I also like that they remind me of the old school Prodrive P1's but in a more favorable size.

 

Overall, so far I'm really enjoying this car. I'm sticking with the budget build theme since I really can't justify dumping a ton of money into a car worth under $10K. Really looking forward to sorting out the brakes.

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  • 1 month later...

Quick update: put Tein H-Techs on and had a hell of a time with alignment - the rear the stock eccentric bolt is rusted to the inner sleeve of the bushing so it's limiting the movement. But it's pretty good now. Glamour shots from my usual spot coming soon!

 

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As stated in the previous post, I finally got an alignment in her. I also got some better photos from my usual spot over the weekend, so it's time for an update!

 

Since the last update, I performed the following changes:

 

- Bulletproof TMIC mod

- Tein H-Tech springs (over the same JDM LGT Bilsteins)

- Alignment

- LGT calipers, rotors, and LGT Techna-fit SS lines

- High temp fluid

- Carbotech XP8 pads all around

- Stuffed the side bolstering in the front seats

- Treated the only two rust spots on the car (little 1" spots on the roof)

 

Here are some of the new glamour shots:

 

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Once I had the alignment under her, I had a chance to finally give her a good shakedown of all the parts. So I spent a couple hours in the canyons (120 miles!) giving her a good workout. Here are my thoughts on the parts:

 

- Bulletproof mod: it's a reliability mod, so it ran the same as it did before I braced the intercooler. But it didn't split open, so I guess it works!

 

- H-Tech springs: honestly, I think the suspension worked better with the stock JDM LGT springs. I don't have the numbers off the top of my head, but the H-Tech's are right in between the USDM LGT spring rates and the JDM LGT spring rates, while riding about 1" lower. They feel fine, but I feel like the JDM Bilsteins (Non-Spec-B, Rev A) liked the JDM LGT springs more (obviously, they were valved or each other). But the stock setup offered more support and stability while also offering more travel. So with the H-Techs being a softer spring, they only firm up when they "take a set" on the bump stops. In my opinion, to make these springs work well, a larger set of swaybars would go a long way for controlling the side to side motion. But they're ok. I have to keep reminding myself that it's just a family truckster, and as a family car, it handles really well!

 

- LGT Brakes: Yes, they are a night and day difference compared to the stock Outback brakes. That seems to be the general consensus if you do a search here. As far as a cheap upgrade, you can't beat them. Throw light-duty track pads on them (XP-8s), and you've got a vehicle that stops amazingly short, and doesn't overheat (at least with A/S street tires). And that's where the mismatch is - the A/S street tires. I've used track pads on the street before, but not with A/S tires. In this case, the coefficient of friction of the pads are so high, that I barely have to get into the brake pedal and the tires lock and the abs gets triggered. So I don't know if I have a hard pedal or not, because I can't push it down that hard. Stickier tires wouldn't lock up so quickly and I'd be able to use the pedal more. That's my impression of the setup on the street just going to the store or whatnot. But when I was in the canyons, everything came into their own, and they worked out pretty well. I had a real pedal and they didn't fade. Which is notable on a 95 degree day and having covered 120 miles in the canyons. So to recap: the pads and brake setup are overkill on the street, but just right under hard conditions.

 

- Bolstering the front seats: If you haven't heard of this mod, there's a video of it here:

 

 

I've heard of it more in the WRX/STi community. But it's a cheap way to get a little more support out of the stock seats. Basically, you open up the back of the seat, and add some firm seat cushion foam BEHIND the stock foam. So it makes the side bolsters stick out further. The key is that since you're adding foam behind the stock padding, then your actual seating surface is still the stock padding. It works as a subtle change, no, it doesn't turn your seat into a racing seat like he says in the video, but it helped in the canyons.

 

Overall, I'm really happy with the car after the shakedown. I feel like I've accomplished the main goals for this car, which are to have a car that can hold it's own in the canyons while still offering the utility and comfort to be used as a family car. In fact, we did the last leg of the drive with the AC on, and my GF fell asleep in the passenger seat! She woke up a couple times and was amazed at how comfortable it was, considering how hard I was whipping it! Highest priority accomplished - it has her approval!

 

Next on the list:

 

- Change the left side valve cover gasket

- Have a closer look at the AC - it seems to overheat/overpressurize in hot ambient temps with minimal airflow over the condenser

- More cosmetic stuff

- Hope she holds together!

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Your build thread is awesome!

I also have an 08 OBXT in the same color, and definitely have a few questions for you.

 

I did the LGT brake upgrade you did, along with a lot of suspension work (but keeping it at stock ride height). I'm surprised at how well this car can handle for the amount of ground clearance it has.

 

Since your car is the Limited trim like mine, were the leather seats any different than the ones in that video? I can't remember ever seeing a zipper back there.

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Thanks! Yeah, if it wasn't a mater of doubling the work I just did, I would put the stock LGT springs back on. I think the wheel travel is key for these cars.

 

To answer your question about the seats, yes, they're different than the WRX seats, but the principals are the same. On our seats, there are plastic covers on the seat backs. They pop off with a flathead screw driver. Here's the image in the service manual:

 

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You pop off the top three first, then the rest are little brackets/clips that can be spread open with the same flathead. After getting the cover off, you have the same side hooks that the WRX seats have in the video, and they also release the lumbar support mechanism. Once the side hooks are out of the way, you just start cramming foam behind the sides trying to be as even as possible. Good luck, and let me know if there's anything else I can answer for you!

Edited by lil'redwagon
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Thanks so much for the response and the attached photo!

 

I definitely want to get to work on modifying the seats, I'm too skinny to really be served well by the wide bolstering they come with. Still liking the Hogzaust mod? I'm interested in trying that out and I'm impressed that you even saw a performance increase with that done.

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I think it's alright. It doesn't sound mean when you get on it, it sounds more like a vacuum cleaner. But it gurgles, an you can hear the motor more. Best part is that it's free, so you can't really complain about that! As far as the increase in performance, it mostly makes a difference by allowing the turbo to hold boost a little better. It's a difference of say, .5-1 psi, which is worth some power. However, I am using a VF52, which supposedly holds boost better than the VF46 up high. So with my setup, relieving the restriction at the mufflers, allowed the turbo to boost more. If the turbo itself was the choke point, then it wouldn't make a difference what you did with the restriction in the catback. So in other words, YMMV. But it's free, give it a try!
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  • 10 months later...

- H-Tech springs: honestly, I think the suspension worked better with the stock JDM LGT springs. I don't have the numbers off the top of my head, but the H-Tech's are right in between the USDM LGT spring rates and the JDM LGT spring rates, while riding about 1" lower. They feel fine, but I feel like the JDM Bilsteins (Non-Spec-B, Rev A) liked the JDM LGT springs more (obviously, they were valved or each other). But the stock setup offered more support and stability while also offering more travel. So with the H-Techs being a softer spring, they only firm up when they "take a set" on the bump stops. In my opinion, to make these springs work well, a larger set of swaybars would go a long way for controlling the side to side motion. But they're ok. I have to keep reminding myself that it's just a family truckster, and as a family car, it handles really well!

 

 

My thoughts on the H-Techs are similar. They are too soft for how low they are when pushed into a corner. But the other 95% of the time, they are a compromise I can live with. LGT springs on Koni's were an amazing combo, especially on the stock 55 series tire. I could hit uneven pavement edges without slowing down and it just got absorbed. With the H-techs and 40 series tires, I have to tread more carefully and the chassis crashes over harsh bumps more frequently. They're not for everybody, and I've been curious to try a completely different combo. But too busy to mess around with shocks, which means, like I said, it's a compromise I can live with. With the 3/4" rear spacer they're still great on family road trips. I softened the Koni's up on the last road trip 1/2 a turn and keep forgetting to tighten them back up. That says something.

 

100% on needing stiffer sway bars with this setup.

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  • 1 year later...
I just purchased an 08 xt in Blue recently. Pretty much same condition to yours. Nice work on your car. I just did a cat back on mine using 2013 wrx sti midpipe and mufflers. Its quite nice actually. no drone, not loud and has very nice sound. Im gonna get a piture up as soon as the forum lets me. I would recommend a cobb tuning catted downpipe, i know they are expensive (650.00) but, the results speak for themselves. Are you using a cobb accessport? just curious...
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Awesome, congrats on the new ride! So you used a stock STI midpipe and mufflers - doesn't that mean the whole 2013 STI catback? I didn't know they were interchangeable with our platform. Huh, good to know! I haven't updated this thread in a while, but I ended up fitting a generic Amazon catback onto the car with resonated tips to extend them out past the bumper. With the stock downpipe, it's great!

 

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As far as the downpipe, I just put my stock downpipe back on because of fumes and complaints from the lady. Plus I'm in California, and it's not worth it.

 

For tuning, I tuned it myself with open source. I've been tuning Subarus since 2004, so this was no problem at all, especially since it is such a mild build.

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You have to lengthen the mid-pipe just in front of the y(pipe) a bit. And also change the angle a little upwards. Also cut the factory hanger, fab a new one on the mid pipe. Fab new hangers on the mufflers to hang where you want them to sit. But that is pretty easy tho. I will get a picture posted when the forum will let me.

 

I should also mention that the material that the mid-pipe is made out of is very thin stainless and difficult to weld to. I had to clean the surface good first. I used my miller mig welder with a spoolgun and a combo wire for stainless and steel.

 

I think that it would be better to use a tig machine to weld this material with.

Edited by tobesswind
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