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limited slip differential with Legacy SW


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9 replies to this topic

#1 arnoldharris

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 10:41 PM

I went to the Subaru dealership today in Madison WI. They directed me to a 2002 Legacy L station wagon which supposedly had limited slip differential. This, plus the AWD, is just about the only features I'm interested in. The car was just off one-year rental, priced at $15K, with less than 15K miles.

I got a call from the salesman later in the day, that the car he had shown me and let me drive was just AWD but no LSD, which killed my interest.

Can an LSD unit be added to this model without voiding the remaining factory warranty? Can an authorized Subaru dealer install LSD unit? The Legacy L seemed like an economically priced vehicle. I really have no interest in leather upholstery, rear-end spoilers, fancy hydraulic operated gimcracks, two-tone paint jobs, or anything else. All I want is a station wagon-type vehicle with seats that fold flat into the floor, AWD, LSD, and preferably stick shift. That's what I thought I was looking at.

The reality of life in southern Wisconsin in general are snowy and icy winter roads. My reality is particular is a 500-ft narrow,winding and climbing driveway up to and down from my bluffside house. Get a couple of wheels off that driveway into the sandy soil on either side, and an AAA tow-truck is the only way out. All this is why I must have an LSD.

Arnold Harris
Mount Horeb WI

#2 alias20035

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 11:29 PM

LSD is stock on the WRX, Legacy GT and Outback.

It can be added to any Legacy, but it is not cheap ($500-$1000).

You need the LSD with the correct final drive ratio, as Subaru uses 3.7, 3.9 and 4.11. There is a tag on your new Subaru's rear differential noting the final drive ratio.

Also you MUST get a differential from a 2000 or newer model as the 89-99 models use the Hitachi R160 diff, and 2000 and newer use the R180. It is possible that the R160 and R180 are bolt on compatible, but I don't know for sure. My 93 Legacy had an R160 and my 01 Outback has the R180, they don't look any different on the outside.

In addition to the diff I think you have to change the axle shafts as well. I seem to recall that the outdrives of the LSD diff are different, perhaps this only applies to the older R160's.

So I think you will need a diff and axle shafts from a 2000-2004 Legacy GT, and perhaps one with the same transmission type (5MT and 4EAT's sometimes have different final drive).

I have driven both LSD and non-LSD Subaru AWD wagons for many years, and can only add the following points about the differences:

1. LSD cars will accerate straighter (less wandering) than non-LSD cars, but the surface has to be really slick (ice).

2. LSD cars tend to plow (understeer) through corners in loose traction (like snow and ice), sometimes requiring the driver to slide the rear end around.

3. I have been stuck in snow with both LSD and non-LSD, it doesn't make any difference, as you usually have high centered the Subaru to get it stuck.

4. On anything but hardpack snow and ice, I don't notice difference between LSD and non LSD.

If you had more than 165 hp (like a 227 or 300 hp WRX), you could have a lot of fun with the LSD, but the 165HP Legacy doesn't have the power to make full use of it.

If you have driven Subaru AWD's without LSD in snow and ice you have probably noticed that they tend to drift towards the low side of the road when accelerating from a red light. The LSD does reduce this considerably, but does not eliminate it.

I would beware any used car that was used as a rental, they tend not to be well cared for by the rental agency or by the drivers. And the rental would be 4EAT would it not? You want stick.... Did you mean Leased instead of rental?

If the dealer adds LSD it should be covered under its own warranty (which is 1yr/20000km in Canada) and not impact the warranty on the car.

#3 arnoldharris

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 08:36 AM

Thank you for your answer about limited slip differential.

I have no experience with Subarus whatsoever. Yesterday was the first time I had ever even sat in one, to say nothing of driving it.

I do no off-road driving, and even in this relatively snowy place, I have no expectation of attempting to drive over, and getting snagged upon, snow or ice mounds. My chief concern is getting stock half on and half off my own 500-ft steeply-sloped and curving driveway. For which I need assurance that if I have so much as one of the four wheels on the pavement, it will pull the vehicle so that I can drive away from that spot. (Our hillside is largely sandy soil.)

I have need neither for speed nor "performance", and vehicles for me are strictly utilitarian. (My sports almost exclusively involve guns, and certainly not station wagons.) Therefore, ABS brakes, limited slip differentials, all-wheel drives and standard transmissions are what I need. Also, if I could get one, I would have a vehicle with plain rubber mats on all floor areas, especially the cargo bay. At the same time, my wife requires a vehicle she can drive to and from work, shopping expeditions, etc. Thus, a station wagon.

What attracted me to the possibility of purchasing a Subaru was its reputation for ease of service,infrequent need for major drivetrain repairs, body panels galvanized on both surfaces, and ubiquitous all-wheel drive, plus the expectation that I could get such a vehicle with a limited slip differential. The people I approached about such information were working vehicle mechanics, rather than sales persons, whose opinions about vehicles I dismiss as propaganda. When I purchase any kind of vehicle, the first thing I check out is not their vehicles but the quality of their shops, their hourly shop rates, the terms of the warranties, availability of loan vehicles, etc.

In the above context, any information you or anyone else could supply me about limited skip differentials on Subarus would be useful.

Arnold Harris
Mount Horeb WI

#4 alias20035

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 09:55 PM

Originally posted by arnoldharris
Thank you for your answer about limited slip differential.

I have no experience with Subarus whatsoever. Yesterday was the first time I had ever even sat in one, to say nothing of driving it.

I do no off-road driving, and even in this relatively snowy place, I have no expectation of attempting to drive over, and getting snagged upon, snow or ice mounds. My chief concern is getting stock half on and half off my own 500-ft steeply-sloped and curving driveway. For which I need assurance that if I have so much as one of the four wheels on the pavement, it will pull the vehicle so that I can drive away from that spot. (Our hillside is largely sandy soil.)

I have need neither for speed nor "performance", and vehicles for me are strictly utilitarian. (My sports almost exclusively involve guns, and certainly not station wagons.) Therefore, ABS brakes, limited slip differentials, all-wheel drives and standard transmissions are what I need. Also, if I could get one, I would have a vehicle with plain rubber mats on all floor areas, especially the cargo bay. At the same time, my wife requires a vehicle she can drive to and from work, shopping expeditions, etc. Thus, a station wagon.

What attracted me to the possibility of purchasing a Subaru was its reputation for ease of service,infrequent need for major drivetrain repairs, body panels galvanized on both surfaces, and ubiquitous all-wheel drive, plus the expectation that I could get such a vehicle with a limited slip differential. The people I approached about such information were working vehicle mechanics, rather than sales persons, whose opinions about vehicles I dismiss as propaganda. When I purchase any kind of vehicle, the first thing I check out is not their vehicles but the quality of their shops, their hourly shop rates, the terms of the warranties, availability of loan vehicles, etc.

In the above context, any information you or anyone else could supply me about limited skip differentials on Subarus would be useful.

Arnold Harris
Mount Horeb WI



I drove a non LSD AWD Legacy for many years in Quebec, Northern Ontario and the Canadian Rockies. All of which are similar to Wisconsin weather conditions (I am in Sault Ste Marie Ontario now, which like WI has lake effect snow). I have had very few traction problems. I have occassionally droped a side of the car off the road, but I have never had an issue with getting the car unstuck by reversing out of it. The only time I get stuck is when I high center the car, which tends to lift the wheels off the ground, or creates too much friction by grabbing the floor plan. I had my 93 Legacy teeter tottering on a 16 inch snow bank left by a slow plow once, that was not a fun dig to get the wheels back on the ground!

Subaru's are very light compared to other 4WD vehicles (F150 for instance), and are very good at distributing traction. They do not tend to dig in, unless you like to spin the wheels.

One thing to note is that the viscous coupled rear diff will not completely lock. If you get the car stuck, I don't think the LSD will get you unstuck. In fact you might overheat and fail the viscous coupler. The LSD rear diff is actually not an LSD like a Quaife or other locking diff. It has a viscous coupler which is there to prevent all of torque from going to one wheel. But once you get one side stuck, it may not be able to lock.

The center differential is also viscous coupled and will not completely lock. I got stuck in mud once where only one front wheel was turning. If this happens you can quickly destroy the center diff if you don't free the stuck wheels.

You are not likely to get stuck with one or two wheels of the road, just be sure that you don't accelerate if this happens and make the situation worse. Usually turning back onto the road and holding speed will work. Once the vehicle starts to come back on the road, you can start to apply power to pull it back up.

If you have driven a 4WD pickup in the conditions you describe, the Subaru is just is capable in all but the deepest snow (like 12 inches or more). And the Subaru is a much more controllable vehicle, especially at speed.

A good set of snow tires will do far more than any LSD ever would. I recommend Michelin Arctic Alpin or Yokohama Guardex tires, they are not cheap but the difference compared to all season tires is astounding. And I recommend mounting them on their own rims, as swapping tires off of rims each spring and fall is not good for the tire (and rims) and costs about $100 a year, which means the snow tire rims will pay for themselves in 3-4 years. Also by having winter tires on rims, all you need is a jack and lug nut wrench to change over the tires on your own. All four tires on Subaru's must be the same make, model and size, otherwise the AWD system will fail.

If you really think you need LSD, then you'll have to get an Outback or GT, or try to secure the required components. Talk to a local dealer, they may know of a local wrecked Subaru with the correct ratio LSD.

#5 arnoldharris

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 09:47 AM

Both the replies you people have kindly provided me indicate that Subaru Legacy models tend to get stuck on top of snowbanks, for which no LSD will get you unstuck.

What you both are telling me, unless I have misinterpreted your information, is that the chassis of the Legacy models have less ground clearance than that of the Outback models. That indeed can be a problem in rural Wisconsin. How much difference is there in the ground clearance between Outback and Legacy models?

A key problem for me is not getting stuck on off-road snowbanks, but getting up and down my 500-ft long highly sloped and curving driveway up the side of my bluff. The soil on either side of the paved driveway is sandy and loose. Slide off onto the stuff in winter and you don't easily get out again. I must be one of AAA's prime customers in this part of Wisconsin for stuck vehicles on this driveway.

Assuming solid traction on one side of the car, or at least with one wheel on one side, I hope I can set a vehicle that will drive its way back onto the blacktop.

I know better than to overheat the viscous couplers in the LSD unit. If it came to that point, I would just wait for the tow-truck.

If need be, I can purchase a new Legacy GT station wagon or its equivalent in the Outback series. But I was hoping to take advantage of the $15,000 pricetags at the local dealership on some nice Legacy station wagons coming off year-long leases with 15,000 or fewer miles. None of these are GTs, and consequently, none of them have LSD equipment.

From what I read on this excellent website, Subaru seems a AWD station wagon of preference in Canada. Is that borne out by fact?

Arnold Harris
Mount Horeb WI

#6 Subarunation 713

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 09:48 AM

Arnold,

I think you are on the right track looking at Subarus (go figure that comment coming from a Subaru message board!) I did a quick search of the auto recycler (pc for junk yard) online inventories. There were 2 locking rear axel assemblies. 1 for $700 and 1 for $1000. They were both 2002.

As you and alias20035 have discussed the LSD will do better in snow and ice, but an LSD AWD Legacy wagon is no substitute for a Hummer H-1 when it comes to offroad capability and the ability to power out with only 1 wheel gripping. On the other hand the Legacy will save you $70,000 on the Hummer H-1 and a supertanker of fuel to boot.

The Legacy wagon you are looking at, as it comes off the dealers lot, will do your hill fine 97 times out of 100. I am not saying 8 to 10 of those 97 will give you white knuckles!

I have debated this before on this message board but this is my opionion based on my own personal experience. I live due east of you in southwest Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. I have experienced lake effect snow, more than once :-) A Legacy wagon with AWD and a good set of dedicated winter tires (Blizzaks, Graspics, Michelins Alpins, Nokis and the like) should get you up and down your drive 99 times out of 100 and the white knuckle trips will be Greatly reduced.

Last winter I pulled a car out of the ditch in my Legacy L wagon. I have Dunlop Graspics on it. ROCK SOLID in snow, slush and ice. My wife has Bridgestone Blizzaks on her Legacy Outback. Stopping distances were halved compared to the factory all season tire. No exagerations here at all, I am serious on how much better a Subaru is with dedicated winter tires. Don't get me wrong, a Subaru with factory tires is Great in winter but winter tires make it even better.

Others to consider: Passat with 4motion, Volvo wagon with AWD, Audi wagon with Quattro or Toyota Highlander.

Good luck and
Go Pack GO! (can't help myself, I was born in Oconto County)
Greg

#7 alias20035

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 04:54 PM

Originally posted by arnoldharris
Both the replies you people have kindly provided me indicate that Subaru Legacy models tend to get stuck on top of snowbanks, for which no LSD will get you unstuck.

What you both are telling me, unless I have misinterpreted your information, is that the chassis of the Legacy models have less ground clearance than that of the Outback models. That indeed can be a problem in rural Wisconsin. How much difference is there in the ground clearance between Outback and Legacy models?



The ground clearance of the Outback is perhaps 1.5 - 2 inches higher, not a significant difference. I get my Outback stuck as often as I get my Legacy stuck, which is not very often. My Outback is 7.3 inches, the H6-3.0 models are 7.9 inches and I think the Legacy's are about 5.5 inches. My old 93 Legacy was 6.5 inches, so perhaps Subaru lowered the Legacy to make the Outback look taller when it arrived in 96.

If you get a significant amount of snow under any vehicle's body the friction will prevent it from being moved. Subaru or not you have to shovel the snow out from under the car. I have done this a few times, like the one time when I could not see where I was going in a blizzard (no contrast between snowcovered roads and snowbanks) and I drove from a plowed section of a parking lot to an unplowed section with 3 feet of snow on it, my car made it about 15 feet into the unplowed area. I could not even open the doors, I had to climb out the window. After some digging an old dual range 4WD Subaru pulled me out.

If you drive at a steady pace up your hill I doubt that you would have any problem at all, especially if you install winter ice radial tires. Only when your driveway turns to a hockey rink like surface will you have a problem.

All 2000 and newer Outbacks have rear viscous diffs (at least they all do in Canada, not 100% positive on US models, I think it was part of the winter package (heated seats) which most WI models would have been ordered with. If you do go the Outback route for the the higher ground clearance (which will only help a little) and the LSD (again will only help a little) you should still install winter ice radials.

The Dunlop Graspics are also good, as are the Bridgestone Blizzaks which I find that they wear out too quickly. I have 3 winters and about 35,000 km on my Michelin Arctic Alpins, and they should be good for another 2 years as the still have 3/4 of the treadlife remaining.

Off lease vehicles can be ok, just check the service records for regular oil changes and the like. If the mileage is below 24,000 it is before its first major service (all fluid and filter change). I thought you had shopped a rental, which is generally not a good idea. The dealer should be able to tell you if any GT or Outbacks are coming off lease, they usually have the dates in their computers so they can call the leasee to sell or lease them a new Subaru. My dealer realized my bumper to bumper warranty is over and now they are mailing me monthly with deals on new Subarus.

BTW the Legacy/Outback are about to be redesigned for 2005, so there are major rebates on 2003's and there will be even larger rebates on 2004's in the April-June period of 2004. You can check out the 2005 Legacy/Outback at Subaru Australia. Australian 2004's become North American 2005's (more or less). In Australia the Legacy is called the Liberty, as another brand has a Legacy nameplate.

Subaru's have pockets of fans all over the world. In WA, UT, CO VT, NH, ME and MA Subaru's and Volvo's seem to rule the road. In Canada, aside from British Columbia, Subaru's have only recentely started to hit it big. I am in Sault Ste Marie now, which has the ideal climate for Subaru, but the local dealer had thier Subaru franchise revoked for low sales (maybe 40/year). They dealer told me it was because the Subaru dealer sold a lot more Kia and Hyudai vehicles and Subaru Canada wanted a dedicated dealership. Note to Subaru Canada: Subaru customers will not cross shop against Hyundai/Kia, so lay off on this exclusivity thing..... your not going to sell any with no dealer let alone an exclusive one.....

There is also the issue of dealer support in Canada, in the US there are a lot more small town Subaru dealerships. If you live in more than 100 KM from any major centre in Canada, your SOL if something goes wrong. GM and Subaru were supposed arrange a deal so that GM dealers could sell and service Subaru's where no Subaru dealer was in range, but it did not come to be.

#8 Hondasucks

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 05:06 PM

well, from my experience with Datsuns, the R160 and R180 are interchangable, it's the R200 that is not a bolt-in replacement.

#9 intrigueing

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 10:07 AM

Arnold,

Here's my 2 cents. I went to UW Madison - and visited Mt Horeb many times. I know the terrain and weather there. When I was in Madison I had a 86 Subaru GL wagon, heck of a car with dual range 4WD, but no where close to the Legacy AWD setup for daily driving IMHO. My parents live in Eagle River Wisconsin, so I made many trips "up north". After college I lived in Duluth MN = tons of snow and big hills. I have many stories with my current 1995 Legacy, the car has always amazes me what it can do in inclement weather. I have gone up hills with oncoming cars coming down with tires turned into the curb brakes locked that couldn't stop. I have pulled out several pickups, and driven past many abandoned vehicles. I've made many trips through Hurley WI, with 8+ inches of snow on the ground, and snow plowed higher than the roof of the car. Bottom line the Subaru AWD will amaze you even without LSD. My parents have a Jeep Grand Cherokee AWD - also good in the snow, however it gets 10mpg less than I do and have spent more in repairs than I purchased my subaru for.

You mentioned " What attracted me to the possibility of purchasing a Subaru was its reputation for ease of service,infrequent need for major drivetrain repairs, body panels galvanized on both surfaces, and ubiquitous all-wheel drive, plus the expectation that I could get such a vehicle with a limited slip differential."

I am not sold on the 2.5 engine, headgasket problems, and an interference engine are not worth 30 HP in my book. I'd take a 2.2L, over a 2.5 any day.

#10 99obw

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 12:32 PM

FWIW,

A good friend of mine has a '97 legacy wagon with a 2.2 and a '01 outback wagon with a 2.5, both with 5 speeds. His driveway is about a 40% grade (mine has a section that is about 20%). He doesn't run snow tires at all, and he says that the '97 will climb his driveway better than the '01. Our '99 outback will climb our driveway with snow tires with virtually no slipping, certainly no loss of control.

I find a good set of snow tires to be the most important feature of any car in the winter.

My point is that I think you will be pleased with a Subaru LSD or not.




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