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1987 Subaru GL Wagon 4wd: Which struts?


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Well, it's nearing the end of 2022 and there aren't as many options for struts on these vehicles anymore. Can anyone provide options for quality damping for my GL? I just replaced struts on my Ford Transit Connect with bilstiens B6 series and love them. Also did Bilstiens B4's and Old Man Emu on my '86 Toyota pickup. I would love that quality for the GL, but the options seem to be slim.

 

Part numbers and experience are preferred. 

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So far here's what options I've found and the cheapest prices on a quick google deep dive. I'd like to keep the stock options since they retain the most travel with my SJR lift and stock springs. This vehicle is getting a lot of bumpy Colorado 4x4 roads with some mild wheeling that gets 1 wheel off the ground occasionally.

 

Sachs Front:

031173 (Amazon $58.95, Rockauto $64.99)

031172 (Amazon $77.41, Rockauto is out of stock)

Sachs Rear:

031066 (Rockauto $51.79)

031066 (Rockauto $51.79)

 

KYB Front:

??? Can't find any current information...

KYB Rear:

341065 (Amazon $52, Rockauto $38.99)

341065 (Amazon $52, Rockauto $38.99)

 

I've kind of lost faith in KYB's quality over a few past experiences. What would you go with? Is the Sachs rear really worth $12 more? Which is better suspension? My knowledge and experience are out of date. I thought Sachs used to be really good quality, but I have no idea, now.

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I just replaced the fronts struts on my 87 DL after an odd failure where one of them where it would retract but then lock in the compressed position for several hours. It gave me a low front left and a high right rear and rode really badly. If I jounced it up and down it would finally release back to normal ride height.

I bought the same Sachs numbers you listed for the fronts and the labels show they were made on Mexico but I'm guessing many years ago based upon the amount of dust and dirt on the boxes. In my case these struts were not drop-in substitutes. The brake hose retainer tab was in the incorrect position on the right side strut and the spring perch on both is higher by about 1" compared to what was on my car when I bought it (which appeared to be correct for the application but not OEM). I ended up ordering a second pair from a different vendor thinking I had some factory mistakes on my first set but the second set had the same issues so I figured that is what I had to work with and did so. 

The lower barrel on all struts were a very tight fit into the collar clamp but by sanding off the powdercoat and weld blobs on the strut OD and fully sanding the socket ID of the collar, I was able to get them to just slip in after also wedging the slit open a slight bit with a flat blade chisel. The higher spring perch location was a bigger problem because the spring compressor I rented was pretty much at the compression limit getting the springs safely compressed almost an inch further to have enough threads exposed to get the nut onto the top. Those spring compressors are scary under that much tension. I probably should have found a shop with a better tool to do that job. As for the ride height, I actually am happy it sits a little higher in the front now. To me, it always looked a little nose down but now the wagon sits level and looks the part of a factory 4WD wagon. The ride is great compared to what I had of course. I have not done much to test them except some dirt roads and speed bumps so I can't comment on the real off-roading feel or action.  

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Hi Dave,

 

Thanks for that beta.That's a crazy failure on an automotive shock. Sounds like a blown internal seal that allowed fluid to stack up on the wrong side of the chamber. I've changed struts many times with the spring compressors you mention and am always a little gun-shy. I've also used really expensive wall mounted compressors that are sooo easy to use but are only reasonable in a professional shop. I can confirm that I've had a similar experience with being able to compress the springs enough to get the strut mount on. Nothing new, there.

 

The 1" different could be for a lot of reasons, but it wouldn't bother me. We're 4-wheeling this thing, mostly.

 

What did you use for the rear struts?

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25 minutes ago, kanurys said:

What did you use for the rear struts?

I have not changed them out but someone before me did. I've only had this DL since last spring and have only been driving it for a few months. I've got under 800 miles on it since my purchase but it has 241K miles in total. I can check for part numbers if I see any on them. They feel fine so I won't change them out until I know there is an issue.  

Edited by azdave
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No worries, I'm just looking for new part numbers in this thread so we can all change our struts in the FUTURE!

 

I don't want to go 4-runner rear struts mod (which has a lot of candidates) because I want to keep it really soft and retain 6" travel.

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On 9/20/2022 at 7:48 AM, kanurys said:

Can anyone speak to the differences in compression/rebound damping and quality between the KYB GR-2 series and the Sachs struts that are available for these cars?

I had the Sachs on front of my 87 GL 4WD and they were less stiff than the KYBs I used to have. IIRC KYB discontinued the 4WD struts before the 2WD ones so the KYBs that you might possibly find today are 2WD version with the spring perch 1" lower than the 4WD version. 

Since that time that KYB discontinued those for us GL 4WD wagoneers kanurys, Monroe used to make them. Don't know about nowadays though.

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Check with Subaru? They periodically pull in stock from Japan.....

Options will not increase they will continue to decline. Old Subaru's are not old Chevy's. Try to find ANY part for an 360 or even an EA63 or earlier.... crickets. There will not be more made or more suppliers interested in making these parts. There's essentially zero market for them and it's not profitable. 

GD

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On 9/18/2022 at 2:14 PM, kanurys said:

So far here's what options I've found and the cheapest prices on a quick google deep dive. I'd like to keep the stock options since they retain the most travel with my SJR lift and stock springs. This vehicle is getting a lot of bumpy Colorado 4x4 roads with some mild wheeling that gets 1 wheel off the ground occasionally.

 

Sachs Front:

031173 (Amazon $58.95, Rockauto $64.99)

031172 (Amazon $77.41, Rockauto is out of stock)

Sachs Rear:

031066 (Rockauto $51.79)

031066 (Rockauto $51.79)

 

KYB Front:

??? Can't find any current information...

KYB Rear:

341065 (Amazon $52, Rockauto $38.99)

341065 (Amazon $52, Rockauto $38.99)

 

I've kind of lost faith in KYB's quality over a few past experiences. What would you go with? Is the Sachs rear really worth $12 more? Which is better suspension? My knowledge and experience are out of date. I thought Sachs used to be really good quality, but I have no idea, now.

I've spent literally hours and days searching for them for my '86 GL 5pd., 4WD wagon. There aren't any compatible front struts to be found online. I've looked at every seller online that sells parts for vintage Subarus. You name it, I've looked there. I've talked to the technical person at the KYB plant in Indiana. I've gotten the original Subaru part numbers for the left and right front struts, just to use for cross-referencing. KYB has nothing at all their catalog for front struts so I couldn't even get KYB part numbers. I've talked to my auto mechanic and he couldn't find any from his suppliers.

Sachs has some front struts that are for '86 4WD, for coupes, not wagons, so no help there. I bought the 2 rear KYBs (#341065) but there is no point installing them if I can't get some for the front.

I'm out of options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These vehicles are an orphaned, dead product. Your options are searching for new old stock, finding used parts, or modification to use parts from newer cars like the Legacy platform - which can be done but if you have to pay someone to do it for you it's a waste of money. Just buy a Legacy. They are dirt cheap for the 90's models which are also going to be unsupported and orphaned in the next few years and mostly already are in terms of cosmetic parts. Most mechanical stuff is still easily obtainable though. 

OTOH I can buy virtually every part for my 80's GM's. Lots of reproduction and tons of options. The choice is easy for me. 

GD

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superbeetle front struts work on the front of the ea82 they might be easyer to find there not as strong though

you can use ford tempo springs on the stock ea82 strut if you just want stiffer or some spring lift if you dont want to lift it and just have stiffer spring cut a coil off

ive used nissan 300zx front struts on the rear of my loyale and they not ony have more traval but a larger shaft so there alot stonger than ones made for the ea82 

i want to say there the same ride hight as the stock fwd rear struts but im not 100% sure 

Edited by ferp420
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts and knowledge. GD, I know parts support for these vehicles is dwindling, but I feel their uniqueness is part of why they're so cool and why I'm inspired to keep mine. The car is a bit of a hobby for me, not so much something I rely on for a living. ferp420, that is interesting about the 300zx and superbeetle, thanks for the info. I do believe the Sachs numbers I listed are for 4wd unless I'm mistaken.

 

I currently have Ford Tempo springs in my car (with an ej22) and they are a little too stiff for wheeling, but great for street use. I'm going back to stock for the flex and comfort. I wouldn't be opposed to slightly higher damping rates, though.

 

I hope this thread can lead to a discussion (maybe inspiring other threads of the future!) for alternative parts that could keep our cars going, just like conversation on the 4runner struts from Loyale 2.7 Turbo. I'll probably just get the Sachs parts if nothing else bubbles to the surface, but let's kick it off with this:

I know that the Ford Transit Connects use the same style strut. There are two generations: 2010-2013 and 2014-present. I have access to the latter. I'll take some measurements and compare some numbers and post back here.

Edited by kanurys
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15 hours ago, ferp420 said:

superbeetle front struts work on the front of the ea82 they might be easyer to find there not as strong though

you can use ford tempo springs on the stock ea82 strut if you just want stiffer or some spring lift if you dont want to lift it and just have stiffer spring cut a coil off

ive used nissan 300zx front struts on the rear of my loyale and they not ony have more traval but a larger shaft so there alot stonger than ones made for the ea82 

i want to say there the same ride hight as the stock fwd rear struts but im not 100% sure 

can you speak to any mods you had to do to get them to fit? (clearancing, widened bolt holes, shimming, spring fittment, etc...) How does the location of the spring perch differ from the stock height?

 

Edited by kanurys
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