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Front subframe replacement


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Hey y'all. Any insight on replacing the front subframe? (U-shaped frame) I failed inspection because of rust holes on my 2010 legacy 2.5i. Excluding the obligatory seized bolt digressions, is this a tough job? Doable for your average home enthusiast?
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Im sure it is mostly a matter of supporting the drivetrain with a hoist and then unbolting it and dropping out the framework. Getting all those rusted bolts will probably be the hardest part, but then again if the subframe is that bad whats the rest of the underbody look like. It's an 8 year old car and apparently in the rust belt. You might consider the cost of the work vs just replacing it.
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Its rustier down there than it should be, but the subframe got the worst of it; I've taken apart most of whats there already. That having been said it's really only bad in a few key spots thanks to the previous owner's generous lack of a splash guard in a snowy (salty) area. The vehicle itself is 100% worth fixing.

 

So this part (50527AJ00A) is load-bearing? I always thought of it as a secondary support structure.

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Yes that part is most definitely "load bearing", the front section is a jack point as well as the mounting area for the front motor mount. The middle structure is the mounting points for the powertrain side mounts, the lower control arms and the rack and pinion as well as other odds and ends. I would think this would be the better part of a full day job start to finish. But that isn't digging to deeply into it, and assuming you can quickly and easily build an engine support hoist.
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Sorry I can't help you on your sub-frame. I just found out my front sub-frame has rusted out and needs to be replaced. I got a quote from the dealer for ~$500 in parts and ~$1000 in labor. So all in I estimate it's about a $2K job.

 

 

 

It's a bite because the car is in good shape and too valuable to sell off. However when repairs get to over 15% of the car value, I start re-evaluating my fleet strategy.

 

 

The biggest bitch is that the car is 8 years and a couple of months and about 95k miles. Pretty disappointing for a brand that claims to be all about snow and dirt roads. Of course I'll get it fixed but the Subaru love has gone cold.

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Sorry I can't help you on your sub-frame. I just found out my front sub-frame has rusted out and needs to be replaced. I got a quote from the dealer for ~$500 in parts and ~$1000 in labor. So all in I estimate it's about a $2K job.

 

 

 

It's a bite because the car is in good shape and too valuable to sell off. However when repairs get to over 15% of the car value, I start re-evaluating my fleet strategy.

 

 

The biggest bitch is that the car is 8 years and a couple of months and about 95k miles. Pretty disappointing for a brand that claims to be all about snow and dirt roads. Of course I'll get it fixed but the Subaru love has gone cold.

 

You do realize you have to take care of it, as in washing all that road salt off regularly so it doesn't start rusting and proceed to be eaten away by it.

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You do realize you have to take care of it, as in washing all that road salt off regularly so it doesn't start rusting and proceed to be eaten away by it.

No shit? I wondered why we have drive through car washes on every corner. It's a miracle that my oldest car is 15 years old with 160k miles and no problems. But hey, it's not a Subaru.

 

 

You all laugh. But a chronic model problem can emerge at a certain time. Since this is the first year of the 5th generation, in another year or two you can tell me I didn't maintain my car or that I was the leading edge of a scourge for every northern owner of a 5G Legacy. Only time will tell.

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This thing?

 

https://autoparts.beforward.jp/detail/Chassis/Members/PA01715681/

 

It's not too bad to change. Support the engine/trans from overhead and drop the whole thing out the bottom. Electric steering so there's no hydraulic lines to unhook for the steering rack, leave the lower control arms hanging and you don't have to open up the brakes either.

 

It can be a DIY job, I have done it on jacks on a hard surface without issue. Last time I did it was for a collision repair and I dropped the engine/trans out as a unit and fixed the unibody, lifted the engine/trans off the old bent subframe and dropped it onto a used one ($150 at a local junkyard) and rolled it back under the car and bolted it up.

 

Getting the steering rack aligned with the column can be an issue. Center the wheel before you start and tape it into position, then separate the u-joint at the rack and just don't move the rack until you reconnect it with the u-joint.

 

If you put it back out of center you may have to have the dealer re-center the rack with diagnostic equipment. Not a big deal but it's a $100-150 charge you can avoid if you're careful.

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In the future I'd look into something like Fluid Film or Krown for protection. Something that stays "wet" so salt water can't get between it and the chassis like with spray on lining. Unusual, that this can happen on 5th gens, nothing like this has seem to pop up on 4th gen forums.
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No shit? I wondered why we have drive through car washes on every corner. It's a miracle that my oldest car is 15 years old with 160k miles and no problems. But hey, it's not a Subaru.

 

 

You all laugh. But a chronic model problem can emerge at a certain time. Since this is the first year of the 5th generation, in another year or two you can tell me I didn't maintain my car or that I was the leading edge of a scourge for every northern owner of a 5G Legacy. Only time will tell.

 

Agree it's systemic among certain brands.

 

I just bought an 03 Silverado 2500HD at auction that was much rustier than I originally thought (fender flares did a great job at hiding it). While it's nigh impossible to find a decent used bed even down here, I can at least buy all the new aftermarket sheet metal I need at very reasonable prices to cure its cancer. Far less problems finding an unrusty Ford bed of the same vintage, but that also might be because the powerjoke 6.0/6.4's die off before the truck has a chance to rust.

 

Rust has always been an issue *somewhere* on every generation of Subaru. 3g's rust around the quarters/rear bumper and at the dogleg on the rear door, and in extreme cases, the rear subframe has been known to rot. 4g's got better but I still see them with quarter rot, plus they had brake line issues. Probably some of the worst stuff to fix is the rear strut towers on Impreza and Forester. This is the first I've heard of 5g's having issues with the front subframe but I suppose it's bound to happen sooner or later. I will say it's at least a bolt-on, non cosmetic part so it'll be easy to fix and no paint work needed. They're also not terribly expensive for as complex as they are.

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No shit? I wondered why we have drive through car washes on every corner. It's a miracle that my oldest car is 15 years old with 160k miles and no problems. But hey, it's not a Subaru.

 

 

You all laugh. But a chronic model problem can emerge at a certain time. Since this is the first year of the 5th generation, in another year or two you can tell me I didn't maintain my car or that I was the leading edge of a scourge for every northern owner of a 5G Legacy. Only time will tell.

 

 

he's got a point. This is not the first time Subaru has rust issues with structural parts.

 

With that said, when you install the new subframe coat it with

fluid film rust proofing and repeat every year

 

I live in another salty state and my other Subaru is 17 years old and still solid in the structural department.

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I think the biggest thing to watch out for is supporting the engine.

 

If you find my walk through on dropping the transmission to do a clutch replacement or blast plate install you can see the rig I built. It's an old mechanics trick that takes only a few minutes to make and works great. Other than that you'll need to do some fancy supporting or removal of suspension bits. I'm pretty sure there is enough other frame support for the radiator and bits up front to avoid having to support or remove that stuff.

 

 

EDIT: Is this the right part? 50527AJ00A

Edited by A_A_ron
add part and link
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  • 1 year later...

I have a 2010 Legacy 3.6R with ~200k miles. It lived in Michigan all its life and has seen snow and salt every year. Structure and suspension has surface rust on the welds but nowhere close to structurally unsafe. But I do also wash the underside often during winter months and then scrub everything down after the season.

 

I also have a 2009 Tribeca, that also has been driven in the snow in New Jersey by the previous owner. That thing does not look good. Heavy rust on frame and suspension components. Exhaust had rust holes and bolts were not even identifiable. Engine oil cooler lines on the EZ36D rusted through and started leaking. Transmission fluid lines are in bad shape. Don't even bother trying dropping the spare tire mounted under the car (the entire mechanism is rusted). And surprisingly it only has 90k miles on it and has a higher ride height than the Legacy.

 

Sometimes it may be Subaru's fault, but I guess it depends how the car was "winterized" or cared for during the winter season.

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ssulb care and cleaning during the winter will definitely help. I know my subframe isn't the greatest and I've thought about replacing it. Since I lowered my car I've had some scrapes and bumps, one incident with summer tires, a freak early snow dusting, and a curb. My subframe is probably structurally sound but as I am building this into a track car I want to have one that's not dinged up and rusted. It'll last the life of the car if all you are doing is commuting but when you start modding requirements can change.
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I wonder if the plastic under car shields make a big difference. I notice a lot them get tossed. My 2011GT looks remarkably well, I doubt prior owner did anything to clean it.

 

I tossed mine because it got too damaged but I have been running the Primitive Racing skid plate.

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