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long travel Outbacks or making Subarus faster and more reliable offroad


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So you're swapping the H6 into your long-travel outback, instead of upgrading the suspension of the H6 car?


The short term plan is to replace the Impreza trans so I have something else reliable to drive.  Just ordered one, 158k miles, $300 shipped. 96 Legacy and Impreza were both 3.90 final drive, right?

Then get an H6 donor car (01-04 OB EZ30) and start paring down the wiring.  Install that in the 99 Outback.

Bunch of other things we want to do to the 99 Outback.  The only other major thing is a six speed trans and possibly R180.  Depending on how that drives, perhaps some kind of gear reduction.  Also electric jacks, rear view camera, tire pressure monitoring system, quick release tire and recovery ramp mounting.

We are also planning on making a few sets of the long travel struts for our cars.  Need to get started on that soon, at least getting the custom springs and some of the machined parts on order.  I'm trying to find out more about the Hot Bits long travel struts first, if those are cheaper and strong enough, might just get those.


Next project is doing bumpers, skidplates, and long travel on a 01-04 H6 Outback for trail riding/expedition, not racing.  Might be the one I just bought, I will probably try to find a nicer one for the wife.  At that point I might sell the Impreza.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got the trans for the Impreza.  Plan on putting that in over the weekend.


The 99 Outback has been acting up recently.  Last week it started running rough.  Pulled over and unplugged the MAF sensor, which didn't help much, so I just limped it home.  I replaced the MAF sensor and drove it later and it seemed fine.  Drove it again a couple days ago and once it warmed up it started running rough again.  This morning I drove it around a little and it was running fine.  I tested it with all three MAF sensors I have, two of them seem good, the Delphi one is definitely bad.  I drove it quite a bit around town this morning and it seems to run fine until it warms up, then it sometimes stalls and runs rough.  The only trouble codes were for:

fuel temp sensor circuit A (this has been coming up for years)

cam sensor range

misfire #2 and #3

So this afternoon I'll probably dig out my other cam sensor and try that.


Also talked to some people about the Hotbits struts and they said they only usually last through a couple of rally weekends before they're shot, so back to planning on making more of our own.  I did find a spring company that appears to have springs off the shelf that should work for the rear at least, maybe the front.

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I tried a different cam position sensor and the car still started running rough when it warmed up.  I tried unplugging the TPS this time after it had warmed up which made basically no difference.  Aside from trying to unplug the O2 sensor, which seemed to be reading pretty normally, I don't know what to try at this point.  This is basically what the car used to do when I first bought it, but back then it would usually go away if I turned the ignition off and restarted it.  Hasn't done this in a year or so until just recently.  Any ideas would be appreciated.

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Do you have a decent OBD2 scanner/logger that lets you see raw sensor readouts?  I'm a fan of Torque on Android.  If there are no codes, that might point you in a direction.


I have a couple.  I do have one that has a USB cable for laptop, but my laptop battery keeps dying so I have to have it plugged in, so can't drive the car with that.

I have a bluetooth OBD2 that I can use with the tablet.  That seems to work about half the time.  I'll try that again, anything in particular to look for?  I guess I could try to see what the TPS, MAF, O2 sensor say when it's cold and then see if any of them changes drastically when it's warm.  Is it possible both cam sensors or MAF sensors read bad when the engine warms up??

Edited by pontoontodd
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I'm surprised you don't have a power inverter to run that laptop.  If you have a Harbor Freight near by, they have some decent ones for about $25.


Your guess would be as good as mine as far as diagnosis.  Just watch the numbers when it's running funny and see if anything jumps out.  Maybe all the sensors are fine, and there is actually an intermittent air or fuel or spark problem.  Either way, if the car is running poorly, the sensors should say something.

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Good to know, Ferp, never really suspected coils to be problematic.  Guess it'd be easy enough to swap and test.


Also, todd, if you have your scanner constantly hooked up to the car, you can instantly be notified when it throws a code, and which code it throws.  So if you're driving along and it starts running crappy, immediately check your codes.  If that's where the misfire codes are coming from, then I'd agree that it's either coils or injectors.  You checked your plugs and wires lately?

Edited by Cyfun
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The coils work fine when cold but exspand enuff to create a intermittent short when hot one coil burned a hole in its self from the spark jumping another had a little crack by the plug the rest looked perfectly normal it seems the older EJed rigs have a issue with coils we lost one every 2 years or so on all our subies exsept the 04 it hasent had a issue yet

Edited by ferp420
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The old can style coils like we use on our loyals and older rigs have oil inside the can to help cool the coil also why they need to be mounted mostly upright when they get hot the oil can boil out or harden up they then produce a intermittent spark the distributer less coils are encased in epoxy they don't get as hot because there are basicly 4 small  coils but if there's any resistance it the system ie bad sparkplugs or wires dirt oil whatever they will melt the epoxy internally and some times exturnaly and short out most only short when hot at first because as the spark finds its path it leaves little particles of metal in its path and eventually creates a direct short this is real easy to see with points based ignition system the modern electronic ignitions fixed a lot of this problem but it still happens

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Most of the time I see a po301-po304  code its a bad coil one time it was oil leaking in to the spark plug holes but I must have replace 6 or 7 coils because of the po30_ code


My wife got the 2002 OB stuck in the snow, someone pulled out in front of her and she couldn't stop, so fortunately she swerved into someones yard and no one was hurt.  I pulled her out with the 99 OB and on the way home pulled out two other people who were stuck.  By that time the car had warmed up and started running rough again.  When I got home I put the other coil on, it looks much better than the one that was on there, but it still runs rough.  Planning on putting the junkyard trans in the Impreza this afternoon.  So far the only thing I ran into was the 96 Impreza has a mechanical speedo but that trans is from a 96 Legacy.  The cable from the Impreza trans seemed to fit right in place of the sensor, so hopefully that works.  The plastic nut on the speedo cable is very soft, had to pull the rubber boot off and slide a box end wrench over it to remove it.  If we have time we'll hook up the OBDII to the 99 OB and see if we can figure out the problem.

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Worth a try I guess have you looked under the hood at night to look for spark leak maybe a bad wire or plug maybe a bad ground wire Maybe a bad 02 sensor those cars are so picky it could be anything from a sensor to a vacume leak I really dislike the 2.5D for that reason I guess that's why my outback is sitting in the yard half built lol

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Asked the junkyard if the shifter bushing/u joint on the trans was any good, they thought it was.  Bushing was non existent.  Pin in the original one was sloppy.  Made up a bushing to fix the one from the newer trans and put it back together.  Wish I would have known so I could have just gotten one from the dealer for $30.  We got the trans back in and did a little test drive.  I'm sure this sounds stupid but it's like a whole new car with the tighter shifter, five functional forward gears, and minimal exhaust leaks.  Also I forgot how good snow tires are on hard packed snow.  Significantly better than the mud tires.  The parking brake in the Impreza is definitely not as good as the steering brake in the OB though.


Then we decided to do some troubleshooting on the 99 OB.  First thing we did was unplug the O2 sensor.  I would have tried this earlier but it's a real pain.  Often I just can't do it and have to get my friend to unplug it, which was the case today.  With the O2 sensor unplugged it ran smoothly even after it warmed up, so I guess I'll replace that again.  The ECU was reading .31V on the front O2 sensor the whole time, the rear fluctuated (still plugged in).  We started on the brackets and wiring for the electric jack, I'll post up some pictures of that when it's done.

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99 OB is back to running rough when warmed up.  I plugged the O2 sensor back in and drove around some with the scan tool. 


It seems to be running rich when it's warmed up and rough, the front O2 sensor stays around .8V.  When it's cold and occasionally when warmed up and running well, it fluctuates between .1 and .8V.  So that seems directly related to how well it's running.


The short term fuel trim reads -30% often, seemed like it was always close to 0 before, maybe it's trying to lean out since the O2 sensor is reading rich.  But it can sometimes read 0 and run rough.


The mass air flow and throttle position seem smooth and solid at all times.


I always have a code for fuel temp sensor circuit A high, but have for years, so I don't think that's the problem.  It keeps giving me codes for #2 and #3 misfire, and occasionally #1, when it runs rough.  Often a pending code for cam position sensor voltage range.


The coil pack in the car at the moment is one I bought about a year ago but hasn't been on the car the whole time.  I have tried two different coil packs with the same results.  It would make sense if it's not getting ignition on all four that the exhaust would be rich.  For a while I suspected a fuel pump but it definitely doesn't drive like it's starving for fuel, it's just as likely to run rough at low speeds and RPM as at high speed.  I also suspect the cam sensor, but again I've tried two of those with the same results.


Should I try another coil pack or cam sensor?

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Here is the b pillar electric jack:








It's hard to get good pictures of it inside the car.  It lifts the rear tire off the ground in about a minute, takes another thirty seconds to get the front tire off the ground, another thirty seconds to go all the way up (another 6" or so).  Takes about a minute to go all the way back down.  I'd tilt it more upright but then it would be even farther back and might not even lift the front tire off the ground, especially after we put in the H6.  I'd move it forward but there's really not room alongside the seat.  It does seem pretty stable when up, I shook the car as hard as I could with the roof rack and it didn't move much.  Definitely plan on making a bigger pad for the bottom.


This is the jack we used:


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Converted the tire mount to quick release.  First thing was to key slot the holes for the jack base.  That will hopefully just stay bolted in the car most of the time, so I added a small bolt hole to hold the top in place while the tire is going in and out.




next step was to do the same to the spare tire mount




jack bolted back in




Got these cam lock handles from Grainger.  Cut down some long 8mm bolts and welded collars on them.  Then turned them to a point and loctited them into the handles.  I'd like to make the heads on these bigger but they barely fit through the lug holes on the wheels as it is.




Tire locked in place




It is definitely fast to remove and no tools are required.  It's a little tricky to get it clamped in right.  It doesn't clamp super tight either, if you push hard you can shift the tire around a bit.  Figure I'll see if it stays in place driving around town and try to think of something a little better.

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I started editing the first post as a sort of guide since this thread has gotten really long.  Let me know what you think.


Also, still haven't figured out why the 99 OB runs rough when warm yet, any more tips on that would be appreciated.


What kind of voltages is your alternator putting out when warm or cold?  If the alt were over or undercharging the system, it will throw off sensor readings, causing your ECU to compensate by messing with the mixture and timing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What kind of voltages is your alternator putting out when warm or cold?  If the alt were over or undercharging the system, it will throw off sensor readings, causing your ECU to compensate by messing with the mixture and timing.


I keep forgetting to try this.  Might try it tomorrow.  It did have good voltage when cold (12.5V off, 14.5V running).


One of my friends suggested unplugging the temp sensor.  Much easier said than done, but I'll probably try that.  If it cures the problem, then it's probably an electrical problem.  If it keeps running rough, then it might be the head gaskets or something, but I haven't seen any white smoke out the exhaust, it doesn't seem to be using much coolant, and haven't seen any bubbles in the overflow.


This week I tried a different ECU and a new O2 sensor, no change.  I sprayed ether around the intake when it warmed up and didn't seem like there were any vacuum leaks.


So far I've tried:

MAF sensor (and unplugging)

O2 sensor (and unplugging)



cam position sensor

fuel pump


This is on the 99 OB EJ25.  It always runs great when it's cold.  As soon as the temp gauge gets to the normal operating spot in the middle, it will gradually run rougher and rougher.  It's still barely driveable, but hesitates, sometimes makes no power, and bucks.  But sometimes runs fairly smooth and steady.  Sometimes it seems like a fuel delivery issue, but not always.

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I forgot to check the voltage again, and now it's cooled off.

After a lot of cussing and tearing apart the crankcase vent hoses, I was able to unplug the coolant temp sensor for the ECU.  For some reason the fans still run, even when cold.  After it warmed up it started running rough again.  So I'm starting to think it's some kind of head gasket or mechanical issue.  Except that it's done this before and I've fixed it by replacing the MAF or O2 sensor.

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Did some work on our Subarus on Sunday.


Impreza trans is still working well.  A little hard to get it in first gear when cold.  One time a couple weeks ago it wouldn't start, no clicking, no cranking, couldn't jump start it, wound up pull starting it with another car.  Started the next day, then I sanded the spade terminal on the starter, no problems since.  Alternator is putting out 14.5V.  I noticed when we did the trans swap that the sleeve over the long heater hose was very rotten.  Since that heater hose burst on the Outback recently, probably because the sleeve holds water around the hose and lets it rot, I figured I should replace them on the Impreza too since they're probably original.  Got that done.


Forester is still running well with fewer codes than before.  Rebuild definitely solved the coolant consumption problem, not sure if there's any change in oil or fuel consumption.  We straightened out one of the rear links that was bent on that and replaced the accessory belts.


99 Outback is barely running now with the coolant temp sensor unplugged.  Plan is to get an EZ30, harness, ECU, TCM, etc soon and just swap it out.  Junkyard not too far from here has one with 140k miles, they'll sell me all that for $1050.  Changed the mount for the electric jack a bit, and used that to work on the car again.  Replaced the rear brake shoes and caliper pin boots.  Replaced the left front inboard CV boot that had a little tear in it.  Also changed the quick release fasteners for the spare tire to use a C washer instead of the keyslots.  Seems to work a little better but I think we'll wind up just threading them into the jack.


02 Outback has General Altimax Arctic snow tires now, they can stay on the car year round.  We've used them on one of our other cars for a few years now and they seem to work well.  Sold the old summer tires, which were still in good shape.  After the car sat for a week or two, the battery was completely dead.  Couldn't even charge it.  Put the three year old battery from the 99 OB in it.  Alternator seems to be charging to 14.5V, but one time my wife said it cranked really slow but did start.  This was the day after we drove it about 400 miles on the highway.  Been starting fine before and since then.  Rear pads were getting thin so I replaced those.  The front rack boots are both shot and at least one of the tie rods is sloppy.  I noticed on Rockauto you can get a boot and tie rod kit for not much more than buying either separately, so I got a pair of those.  I'll probably put them on sometime this week.

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Picture of the double slotted retainer for the spare tire mount.




Replaced the inner tie rods and rack boots in the 02 Outback.  Both tie rods were sloppy and both boots torn.  The boot/tie rod package deal from Rock Auto is definitely the way to go.  I also noticed the left front outboard CV boot was torn, so I pulled the axle too.  It's almost a pleasure to work on a car that has almost no rust.  While I was at it, I completely removed both lower ball joints and covered them with anti seize before putting everything back together.  They were set firmly in the taper in the control arms, but I've never removed ball joints from spindles so easily before.  Even the CV axle splines, which were completely dry, slid right out of the hub.  I think someone had replaced the outer tie rod ends, they were still stiff and had small cotter pins holding them in place.  While I had the axle out, I greased both ends and replaced both boots, the inner one was dry rotted.




I still haven't tried to disable the alarm on the 02 Outback yet.  The power driver's seat no longer moves back.  It worked intermittently when we first bought the car.  Moves in every other direction.  There's still wind noise coming from the driver's mirror.  It's still consuming coolant too, but I doubt it's used a gallon since I got back from California.  So overall not too bad considering it just rolled over 230,000 miles.  Can't wait to have an H6 in the 99, I definitely put my foot to the floor much less often in the 02 just driving around town.  Part of that is that it is eager to downshift, but it definitely gets up to speed quickly.


Getting started on new long travel struts too - upgraded parts for the 99, a new set for my friend's Forester, and some extra parts while we're at it.

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02 Outback didn't start again the other day but we were able to jump start it.  Battery showed 12.5V on the multimeter but wouldn't even try to start the engine.  It is from 2013 and lived in the 99 Outback for most of that time.  Got an AGM battery at O Reillys (35PLT I think) and it's been fine since.


My friend stopped by yesterday and we did some more test fitting of the long travel parts on his Forester.  His cruise had stopped working a little while before the engine rebuild.  Seems like it's getting vacuum and the fuse is good, light comes on when he pushes the cruise button, but it doesn't work.  What else should we check?


We measured a few more things on the 99 OB long travel before we make more parts.  I'm going to order the shocks, tubing, and machined parts this week. 

I plugged the coolant temp sensor back in and put new vent hoses from the dealer on in place of the ones I tore up.  Seems to run OK when cold again at least.


New electric jack mount:






We managed to get the dash out.  That was a pain with the rollcage in the way, but we eventually pulled it past the tube on the passenger side and then it came out fairly easily.  Hopefully I can get an H6 and a crapload of wiring and black boxes this week.







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We're planning on making lateral links since we've bent them repeatedly on the Outback and at least one on the Forester.  Not a big deal when it happens, and fairly easy to straighten out, just figure if we actually finish the V2R they're sure to all be bent.  Figure we just make them fit the stock bushings but make the main tube 1" .095" or .120" 4130 or something stronger than stock.  So I was looking at bushings and the dealer wants a silly amount for them, $10-$24 each.


I did find this place that sells them for $6 each:


Anybody know if they're any good?  Couldn't find any mention of them online.


These Group N lateral link bushings are cheaper than the standard ones from the dealer:



Am I missing something?


We've discussed making them tie rod style, heim joints / rod ends at both ends and a threaded tube in the middle.  My experience with rod ends is that they would get sloppy pretty fast on a street car.  The stock bushings seem to last almost forever.

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