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The Unofficial "How to Lift your Impreza" Thread

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#1 Kostamojen


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Posted 13 April 2011 - 06:51 PM

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.


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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

Posted Image


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).

Posted Image

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).

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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.

Posted Image

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.

Edited by Kostamojen, 13 April 2011 - 10:40 PM.

#2 Kostamojen


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Posted 13 April 2011 - 06:57 PM


#3 Kostamojen


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Posted 13 April 2011 - 07:41 PM

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


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)


Hella 500 foglights drilled into stock bumper with hidden mount (just a flat bar)

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Edited by Kostamojen, 22 April 2011 - 06:49 PM.

#4 ezapar



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Posted 16 April 2011 - 10:02 AM

If you have IMPREZA lift and tire pics, please post them up on this thread.

Please refrain from comments not pertaing to impreza lifts. All other comments will be promptly deleted to keep the integrity of the thread.

#5 gwilson87


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Posted 18 April 2011 - 11:01 PM

Posted Image
-outback struts and springs, swapped rear top hats so no drilling needed.
-215/75R15 Yokohama geolander AT/S Had to bash in fenders a bit and trim bumpers
-Outback trailing arm bracket.
-custom aluminum skid plate
-5 speed dual range swap.
-Tubular steel bumper
Posted Image

#6 Pgh_Scoob


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Posted 04 May 2011 - 10:21 AM

Awesome! This is great, you guys just answered just about every question I had. I'm going to pick up all of my pats today and hopefully will be able to get my wagon some well deserved ground clearance on Sunday!

A couple questions for gwilson87: What did you do about your alignment? Did you go with the rear camber bolts? Or since you used the stock top hats they weren't needed and how did you mount you top hats to the struts? Are you still using your sway bars? Or did you get rid of them, if so how bad is the handling?

Thanks again for any information,

#7 Kostamojen


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Posted 04 May 2011 - 07:32 PM

Get rear camber bolts no matter what you do. They aren't expensive, and its worth it for any suspensions setup.

As for the non-swaybar handling... I tested mine without first and didn't care for it so I put them back on. I'd recommend trying it both ways yourself just to see what you think.

#8 Pgh_Scoob


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Posted 08 May 2011 - 09:24 PM

Hey so I have embarked on my journey to lift my impreza.
What I used and how it's going:
03 forester struts and springs: Swapped out the top hats for the rear. mainly because I didnt have the time to order spacers. I used a couple of washers drilled out to fit the gap between the mounting plate and strut shaft.
97-99 ( I think) Legacy outback Trailing arms brackets and trailing arms( came with the brackets)
For now I dont have my sway bars connected. I need to get longer endlnks for the front and after a bit of confusion and wrong parts being pulled ( first set of trailing arm brackets and swaybar brackets off of a regular legacy not the outback) I got to find out that they never got the correct sway bar brackets. So that needs to be addressed..
As a bit of a bonus I found out my front struts had camber bolts in them or did that come from the factory?
If not would I be able to swap those out with the rear bolts to help with the rear camber issue or will that completely throw out my front end alignment?
(It was a bit of a long day and only got longer)
And after I thought it was all said and done finishing tightening up everything, I hit my brake line gong to my wheel cylinder with my wrench and then see fluid seeping out..:mad:... and then my wheel ctylinder bolt and bleeders were rusted to crap and seized up. Ended up getting new ones and installed them, so I got that taken care but still need to deal with the brake lines. One of which completely stripped what trying to unscrew it.
So I have not had a chance to get my scoob on the ground and see what the new stance looks like. It will be soon.
Then the next issue is tires. I wanted to try and put some 235-75-15 on but sized some up in my wheel well and theres no way for that now. So Im going to check into some 215-225 60-65 15 and see how it goes.
Other than that I should be good to go for now and hopefully I will have the scoob rollin tomorrow.
I will keep you guys posted and try to get some pics up, Im real envious though looking at all your rigs with clean quarter panels. Mine are rotting away with cancer.
Oh and one last thing I HATE RUST, RUSTY BOLTS AND SHARP RUSTY PIECES OF METAL!!!!! Luckily I got a tetanus shot a few months back.


#9 gwilson87


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Posted 09 May 2011 - 07:18 AM

I have no rear sway bar and the handling is... ok. I wouldn't recommend autox thats for sure! For around town its fine. On the freeway it gets a little squirly but not too bad. I do not have camber bolts in my rear and I haven't checked my alignment because frankly, I am too cheap and I hardly drive the car as it is with fuel costs lately and the fact I work too much. I need to get some sometime I just keep hearing that they have a tenancy not to be as solid. Maybe people were wrong tho. I used my stock impreza top hats which bolted right up with the addition of a washer added. I will post pics later today about the spacing problem with the top hat or you can find my build thread.

#10 Pgh_Scoob


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Posted 09 May 2011 - 10:13 PM

My Scoob is back on the road!
Total time was about 7 hours
Things I would suggest to prepare for:
1 The hard line running from the wheel cylinder
2 Wheel cylinders ( mine due to bleeder screw being seized)
3 Brake hose running in between hard line from wheel cylinder and proportioning valve ( Flare nut was seized on left side)
This is all from a car that has lived its whole life in south western pa where the salt is unforgiving. Might not be an issues if your in a fair weather state.
But so be it I got her up and running and sitting so pretty!

Now Yeah I ended up using two washers in between the strut and mounting plate, maybe a little more effort than needed but it works.
No sway bars connected, ride really isn't that bad some bigger dips and pot holes are a little rough but all in all good ride. I was actually really surprised at the ride comfort, didn't know what to expect and am very pleased.
My alignment does not seem to be that far out either ( I know it is) but no bad pulls and a rather straight steering wheel, with this being my daily though I am going to address that with in the week.....hopefully...
I need to take a couple of pics to post up in the next couple of days.
Got a couple from yesterday with my car hanging in limbo on the lift while I was trying to figure out brake lines.
That reminds me the hard line coming from the drum is a very small line, the line I ended up using is a pretty standard large diameter line and now I have a spongy pedal. It brakes fine but is it the really small line that give the stiffer pedal?

#11 ThwopKing


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Posted 14 September 2011 - 02:08 PM

Awesome thread..just learned a lot guys..thanks...any recent updates?

#12 Gravel_sal


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Posted 02 December 2011 - 06:44 AM

I found some camber bolts but they are for 2002-2011, I am pretty sure they will fit my 1996 impreza outback. what do you guys think?

#13 Pgh_Scoob


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Posted 17 December 2011 - 06:59 PM

^I see no reason to why they wouldn't fit. I used the 03 forester strut and all the holes to the hub were the same so it should go for the new and I cant really think to how different a camber bolt would be from one generation to another.......Also update, my sway bars decided to be self adjusting after about 2k miles of bouncing around and went back into place:grin: What a difference it made... Also had to tap my number 2 cylinder because my spark plug decided to blow out:-\ and it recently fouled out the one as well......But thats a whole other story.
sorry for going a little off subject.

#14 monstaru


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Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:13 PM

Here is another HOW TO

#15 wagonryan


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Posted 06 March 2012 - 04:53 PM

Got a lift question,

I'm lifting my 2000 obs with '04 fozzy xt struts + 1 inch strut top spacers. I want to make my own body lift kit but am wondering is the factory outback kit 1"? will that be enough to help my cv angles? its a DD and it needs to be reliable. Tire size I'm shooting for is 215/65/r16.

As for dropping the subframe 1", will I need to get the outback pitch rod or will the stock one work? I have sourced an entire factory body lift kit, but can't spend the $250 the dude wants for it. if anyone has spare pitch rods I'll pay for it! That's the only part I'll actually need to buy since I want to make my own kit out of 1" blocks.

thanks for any and all input!


#16 one eye

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:59 AM

any one have pics or stats of what was done for the D/R cossmember?


#17 NorthCoast


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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:04 AM

As for dropping the subframe 1", will I need to get the outback pitch rod or will the stock one work? I have sourced an entire factory body lift kit, but can't spend the $250 the dude wants for it. if anyone has spare pitch rods I'll pay for it! That's the only part I'll actually need to buy since I want to make my own kit out of 1" blocks.

If you can wait a couple of weeks I'm upgrading to a 6" lift so my 1" factory body lift and strut spacers will be up for sale.

#18 ivans imports

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 10:05 AM

did a outback lift into a 93 impreza 4dr looked good and fit 15 think we put 225 75 15s on it

#19 hondaguy



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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:18 AM

Hey just found this thread so i signed up to talk with ya. I have a 2000 impreza 2.5rs and its been lowered. My wife thinks i should raise it up and im debating on it as well. I like the hight of your car but if i was doing that lift id probobly want a little more tire gap. And id probobly cut out some of the wheel well to give the tire more room all the way around. Your tires are a little too close for my likin but thats for me to deal with on my own car. One question i have is did you do the body lift on your ride or did using the wrx coils make it so you didnt have too??? By the pics and what youve sead and i think the forester coils will give me the hight im thinkin of. And i read that it is suggested that i run 16's on my car but i would like to run a 15" rim for more rubber.

My spelling sucks so bare with me.

Ive got pics on my phone of what im thinkin but i cant post them off of my phone. Id like to give you a idea of what im looking for.

#20 Jonty



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Posted 24 March 2014 - 05:45 AM

Thanks for this great forum. This is the reason I signed up here.


I've had my '05 Impreza for two months now, and next week I am setting off on a road trip through Lesotho. Some gorgeous views, and sticky roads will be the otrdr of the week, including Sani Pass, where people debate driving in Forresters. To make things worse, I will be carrying three people, two Jerry cans, three bikes, and enough food and luggage for camping, mountain biking and over night hiking... and I don't have the time to lift her properly.


So, my friend recently changed his self leveling shocks ('05 Forrester XS) for standard ones, and put in stronger coils... I nabbed his old coils and popped them into my standard set up.


Before the change my front arch sat at 27" and rear arch at 25" (unlaiden) afterwards 27" all around. The ride feels just as comfortable, but the rear body roll is less. I am not using camber bolts in the rear, as you can adjust camber but moving both adjusting bolts in the same direction. While they were adjusting the alignment I snapped these shots of my drive shafts. The front lean down slightly but the rear are still straight (meaning no strain for the CVs) These were taken unlaiden with the new coils (2" lift)



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#21 rippinlips



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Posted 20 May 2014 - 12:43 PM

Hey guys..... Just got together with Method Race Wheels on a custom 1 in a lifetime order for wheels that I think all of us would die for.... I have em on my 99OBS with a 05FXT strut lift... There are only 120 made and they are the official subaru rally team wheel. The specs are perfect for us lifted guys and the price you cannot beat.




What they are: Method Race Wheels - Subaru Rally Team Wheel - 15x7 +15 offset All are 5-100 bolt patterns and are powder coated Flat Black.


Check out this link here on sf.org, send me an email if you are interested in ordering a set.. Currently I am running a 215/70R15 Yokohama Geolander AT/S on my OBS and I plan on putting the 225/70R15 General Grabber AT2 on my 11 Forester XT with no lift (fits perfect).. I currently have 03 WRX calipers all around my OBS with a disc swap and no clearance issues as well as no clearance issues on the 11 FXT.. 



#22 Drums_right_now



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Posted 05 November 2014 - 10:12 PM

Alright, so I'm doing research before I endeavor on my journey to raising the height in my Impreza. Everything seems petty straight forward and I get how it has to be done, am looking for a few more answers. Are all generation of forester struts need an extra bolt hold drilled or are the top hats the same? Also when doing the lift what other variation of subaru parts can you use? Such as grabbing trailing arms from a 00-04 legacy instead of a legacy outback? Making sure that I have all the info I need before I start this.

#23 bratman18



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Posted 06 November 2014 - 04:40 AM

98-08 foresters all have the same top hat spacing, and those are the ones that'll fit, but as said in this thread, you'll either have to drill a hole in the impreza body, or change the rear top hats to the impreza ones.

You don't need the actual trailing arms, just the bracket they mount to. And they will not be the same on any 2000 or newer. It has to come from a 96-99 outback.

#24 AZdevilYJ



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Posted 10 February 2015 - 08:02 PM

First post fella's! Quick question. 


I've been doing lots of reading on several forums and cannot seem to find the answer to my particular question. 


I'm picking up a '98 Legacy (non outback) that's in need of struts. What I believe I've concluded is i can slap some Gen1 leggy outback struts (keeping existing springs) in for a small ~1.5-2" lift, is this correct? Will this allow me to run 205/75r15 General AT2s on stock wheels without any negative effect?


This will be my DD cruiser but will occationally see a dirt road or two and take me snowboarding during the winters on the rare AZ pow days up north. Ive got a gnarly '95 Wrangler for anything that requires more than what my soob can handle. 

#25 AdventureSubaru


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Posted 26 February 2015 - 11:47 AM

Yep. Outback struts are direct bolt in. Good to go.


You should clear those tires. I had 28s on my impreza with forester suspension. Cleared 27.5 on my wife's stock outback. those 205s are a tad abot 27 inch diameter which should clear just fine. If not, a set of wheel spacers will give extra room.

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