Struts & coil spring choices?

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SoobyToo58
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Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

Any Subaru mechanics out there who can give me a recommendation for choosing struts and coil springs, front and rear, for my Baja Sport? I'm not looking for any special performance type replacements. Just good parts that perform well like OEM parts and last long. Also, does it makes sense to replace the coil springs when I replace the struts? Do the coil springs wear out over time or can I use the old ones and expect the same performance as new ones?
Anyone else who has objective knowledge of this subject for this vehicle and would also like to chime in here is certainly welcome!
SupeRoo Baja
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SupeRoo Baja »

Struts; any strut should work for normal applications. I have KYB struts and they work just fine. You can get the struts alone, or pay to have them fully assembled if you don't have spring compressors, but these are more expensive as they come with springs already.

KYB Struts: https://www.ebay.com/b/KYB-Shocks-Strut ... n_23902672

Springs however.. The Subie rear springs tend to settle a bit after some time/miles and you get the typical saggy butt Subaru. You can replace with standard springs, but you will have the same problem down the road. The best option is to upgrade your rear springs.The Fronts should be fine as they are larger by default.

If you want to upgrade springs, these should work: https://www.rallitek.com/standard-heigh ... -2003.html

Stock Subaru Baja Rear Springs: https://parts.subaru.com/p/Subaru__Baja ... AE50A.html

There are also other springs that can give you a slight clearance increase such as KING

Hope that helps some!
CNaylor
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by CNaylor »

Or go full Coilovers.
Ground Control built custom coilovers to my specs (2 inch lift)... no top hat spacer, for me for ~$2k three years ago. I was their 1st Baja. Shipped them the full factory units front & rear to build off of. They now have all the specs. They can build OEM height, or lifted/lowered, whatever your looking for.
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

SupeRoo Baja wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 10:23 am Struts; any strut should work for normal applications. I have KYB struts and they work just fine. You can get the struts alone, or pay to have them fully assembled if you don't have spring compressors, but these are more expensive as they come with springs already.

KYB Struts: https://www.ebay.com/b/KYB-Shocks-Strut ... n_23902672

Springs however.. The Subie rear springs tend to settle a bit after some time/miles and you get the typical saggy butt Subaru. You can replace with standard springs, but you will have the same problem down the road. The best option is to upgrade your rear springs.The Fronts should be fine as they are larger by default.

If you want to upgrade springs, these should work: https://www.rallitek.com/standard-heigh ... -2003.html

Stock Subaru Baja Rear Springs: https://parts.subaru.com/p/Subaru__Baja ... AE50A.html

There are also other springs that can give you a slight clearance increase such as KING

Hope that helps some!
Hey!
Thanks for responding!
I really like to evaluate things and learn about the situation when I'm doing something I haven't done before so I really appreciate the detail and the explanation.
Regarding the Rallitek springs, their web sight says they're 40-45% stiffer than OEM springs which sounds like a plus.
Everything else being equal, is "spring stiffness" more desirable than increased spring height for carrying a heavier load?
Is it more desirable for vehicle handling?
Also, at $220 a pair would you know of any other aftermarket springs that might be comparable but cost less?
SupeRoo Baja
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SupeRoo Baja »

Not sure about cheaper options, springs are generally around 100$ per spring or more. Then you have to have them installed. If you have never done springs/struts before, I do not recommend it.. if a spring comes out of the compressor tool, you will have a very bad day.

As far as load is concerned, stiffer spring and elongated springs will work about the same all things being equal. Stiffer gives more resistance to loads sagging, longer gives more travel for loads.. and generally longer springs are also higher rate, or stiffness.

Softer springs give better ride quality and handling as they compress easier and allow the struts/shocks to dampen the bumps. With stiffer springs, you will 'feel' the road more as there is less spring action, which leads to less strut dampening.
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

CNaylor wrote: Thu May 20, 2021 3:18 pm Or go full Coilovers.
Ground Control built custom coilovers to my specs (2 inch lift)... no top hat spacer, for me for ~$2k three years ago. I was their 1st Baja. Shipped them the full factory units front & rear to build off of. They now have all the specs. They can build OEM height, or lifted/lowered, whatever your looking for.
I don't think I'll go with a custom set up like yours but Thanks for taking the time to respond.
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

SupeRoo Baja wrote: Wed May 26, 2021 10:30 am Not sure about cheaper options, springs are generally around 100$ per spring or more. Then you have to have them installed. If you have never done springs/struts before, I do not recommend it.. if a spring comes out of the compressor tool, you will have a very bad day.

As far as load is concerned, stiffer spring and elongated springs will work about the same all things being equal. Stiffer gives more resistance to loads sagging, longer gives more travel for loads.. and generally longer springs are also higher rate, or stiffness.

Softer springs give better ride quality and handling as they compress easier and allow the struts/shocks to dampen the bumps. With stiffer springs, you will 'feel' the road more as there is less spring action, which leads to less strut dampening.
Hey SupeRoo!
Thanks for all the information. It is very much appreciated!

I've done struts before. The last strut installation I did was about 4 months ago. I replaced the front struts on an old Toyota Corolla. No springs involved there. As far as I'm concerned, it was a real simple job.
I've done a lot of major stuff on my vehicles over my 45 years of driving. I've replaced heads and changed valves, lifters and cams on older V-8 GM cars when I was younger and a lot of other major stuff as well through the years. Last kind of larger job on my Baja was a timing belt replacement about a year ago. No problem there.
My plan is to get a used engine for the Baja and rebuild it at my leisure and replace the Baja engine when I'm done. The existing Baja engine's got about 130 thousand miles on it and it's got a slow steady oil leak from underneath which is probably from a head gasket but I've never actually pinpointed where it's coming from. Anyway...

As for the rear coil springs on my Baja, a few different people told me that unless they're badly rusted I probably can still use them. They're not rusted at all and the vehicle is totally rust free.
The rear end of the vehicle is not sagging and I don't carry any real heavy stuff in the bed so what's your opinion on not replacing them?

A few other questions!
I'm thinking of going with Monroe OE Spectrum Struts. I can get them for about $90 each. They match the OE struts.
Would the Monroe OE Spectrum Struts be a good choice?

What is a Strut Mounting Kit?
When I did a search for struts on pepboys.com, the Strut Mounting Kit came up with the struts! Same thing on the NAPA web sight.
Here are the links.
https://pepboys.com/rear-shocks-struts/ ... .5L%20SOHC
https://www.napaonline.com/en/search?te ... ViTuJ77xrA
Do I need a Strut Mounting Kit for each strut?

Are bumper boots required or even necessary for the rear struts? There are none on there now!
My assumption is that they're for keeping mud, dirt and debris off the struts when Off-roading but I'm not sure if that assumption is correct!
I don't do any Off-roading so is it a good idea to spend the money for Bumper Boot kits for each strut or are they not really needed?

Everything you've said so far tells me that you understand this stuff and that you think logically about it and that you have a good feel for evaluating what's important.
So that's where my mind is right now!

I hope I'm not overstaying my welcome and
Thanks again for taking the time!
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SupeRoo Baja »

The rear end of the vehicle is not sagging and I don't carry any real heavy stuff in the bed so what's your opinion on not replacing them?

No need to change springs if they have no sag. This normally occurs on Wagons due to the constant weight of the cab. I tend carry things in my bed on a consistent basis and mine were sagging a bit. I upgraded to KING 1.1 lift springs.. but now my suspension is very 'tight'.. wants to push the struts down all the way, all the time.. like it's on tippy toes.

Would the Monroe OE Spectrum Struts be a good choice?

These seem about average, but a priced a little higher than KYB's. They should work just fine for stock use.

What is a Strut Mounting Kit?
Do I need a Strut Mounting Kit for each strut?

This will depend on which end you need the kit for, but in basic most include the Top Hat (the top of the strut that has a bearing for twisting, these wear out and should be replaced) the Bottom Spacer or spring seat (this is the rubber part the spring sits on which prevents squeaking... Normally are ok, but could be worn.. sometimes hard to tell until the spring is removed, since the spring sits on it) and a new Locking nut (But that comes with a new strut anyhow).
I would just buy new top hats and skip the actual kit. You will need one top hat for each strut. The Fronts are different than the Rears, so 2 of each.

I don't do any Off-roading so is it a good idea to spend the money for Bumper Boot kits for each strut or are they not really needed?

Boots and Bumpers. Are they required? No. Do you want them? Yes. They prevent dirt and debris from sticking to the shaft of the strut, even from normal day to day use (especially in rain). This dirt is pulled down into the seal, then that dirt wears against the shaft/seal and causes pre-mature leaking. So, make sure the boots are installed, if you want your new struts to last.


OK, now.. if you are going to replace your own struts on the Baja, you will have to compress the springs with a spring compressor. You can rent them from the parts store. You need to be very careful when you do this, and take out the entire strut assembly to do it on a bench. Make sure the compressors are installed correctly so they wont slip. Also make sure you tighten each side down evenly so the spring is strait as it compresses. DONT DROP the spring while in the compressor.. be very gentle with it.
Make sure you install the spring in the correct orientation, there is a 'seat' for the spring to sit in, make sure you are fully seated, and you get the top nut fully tightened before you take off the compressor.

The only thing you should be keeping from the old strut assembly is the Boot/Bumper (which you don't have), spring and Seat perch. Install new Struts, Top hats and Nuts.

There are some YouTube vids on how to remove the struts and do the springs.
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

SupeRoo Baja wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 8:35 am The rear end of the vehicle is not sagging and I don't carry any real heavy stuff in the bed so what's your opinion on not replacing them?

No need to change springs if they have no sag. This normally occurs on Wagons due to the constant weight of the cab. I tend carry things in my bed on a consistent basis and mine were sagging a bit. I upgraded to KING 1.1 lift springs.. but now my suspension is very 'tight'.. wants to push the struts down all the way, all the time.. like it's on tippy toes.

Would the Monroe OE Spectrum Struts be a good choice?

These seem about average, but a priced a little higher than KYB's. They should work just fine for stock use.

What is a Strut Mounting Kit?
Do I need a Strut Mounting Kit for each strut?

This will depend on which end you need the kit for, but in basic most include the Top Hat (the top of the strut that has a bearing for twisting, these wear out and should be replaced) the Bottom Spacer or spring seat (this is the rubber part the spring sits on which prevents squeaking... Normally are ok, but could be worn.. sometimes hard to tell until the spring is removed, since the spring sits on it) and a new Locking nut (But that comes with a new strut anyhow).
I would just buy new top hats and skip the actual kit. You will need one top hat for each strut. The Fronts are different than the Rears, so 2 of each.

I don't do any Off-roading so is it a good idea to spend the money for Bumper Boot kits for each strut or are they not really needed?

Boots and Bumpers. Are they required? No. Do you want them? Yes. They prevent dirt and debris from sticking to the shaft of the strut, even from normal day to day use (especially in rain). This dirt is pulled down into the seal, then that dirt wears against the shaft/seal and causes pre-mature leaking. So, make sure the boots are installed, if you want your new struts to last.


OK, now.. if you are going to replace your own struts on the Baja, you will have to compress the springs with a spring compressor. You can rent them from the parts store. You need to be very careful when you do this, and take out the entire strut assembly to do it on a bench. Make sure the compressors are installed correctly so they wont slip. Also make sure you tighten each side down evenly so the spring is strait as it compresses. DONT DROP the spring while in the compressor.. be very gentle with it.
Make sure you install the spring in the correct orientation, there is a 'seat' for the spring to sit in, make sure you are fully seated, and you get the top nut fully tightened before you take off the compressor.

The only thing you should be keeping from the old strut assembly is the Boot/Bumper (which you don't have), spring and Seat perch. Install new Struts, Top hats and Nuts.

There are some YouTube vids on how to remove the struts and do the springs.
Hey SupeRoo!
I don't think I could have asked for a better response and answers & explanations to my questions. Your responses to everything were very organized, direct and right to the point. I'm very grateful for your time and the fact that you shared your experience and expertise. It's all exactly the kind of information I was looking for.
My hat's off to you for your help!
I've done a lot of big repairs on my vehicles over the years so I knew I'd be able to do it but having your experience is going to make the difference in not wasting time, having everything I need from the start and having a plan of attack before I even jack up the vehicle.
I just junked my old back up car so I wont have the luxury of being able to run to the parts store if I have to get something that I didn't anticipate needing or if I run into an unforeseen problem but now that wont be a concern.
I think I'll be changing those rear struts either this or the next weekend or two and I'll be sure to let you know how it went.
Sorry I can't shake your hand but again,
Many Thanks!
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SupeRoo Baja »

Your very welcome SoobyToo58, I hate vague answers myself.

Should be easy enuf to get a pair done in a weekend. The fronts come out with like 6 bolts total, takes about 15mins to get a strut outta the front once you know what your doing. The rears are a bit more of a chore since you have to take apart some of the interior. I think it's just the passenger side storage box, and the sill plate below the bed passthru hatch. The driver side storage is where the jack is; just remove the jack and you can get to the strut top bolts w/out removing the interior panel.

Have Fun, be careful, and let me know if you have any questions! [smilie=666.gif]
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

SupeRoo Baja wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 11:41 am Your very welcome SoobyToo58, I hate vague answers myself.

Should be easy enuf to get a pair done in a weekend. The fronts come out with like 6 bolts total, takes about 15mins to get a strut outta the front once you know what your doing. The rears are a bit more of a chore since you have to take apart some of the interior. I think it's just the passenger side storage box, and the sill plate below the bed passthru hatch. The driver side storage is where the jack is; just remove the jack and you can get to the strut top bolts w/out removing the interior panel.

Have Fun, be careful, and let me know if you have any questions! [smilie=666.gif]
Hi SupeRoo,
My plan was to do just the rear for now.
Going by your suggestion and if the price is reasonable compared to the Monroes, I thought I would go with KYB Struts, the Strut Mounting Kit and the Boot Kit (which should include the Strut Bumper), but I've been looking around online again and it seems that KYB doesn't make rear struts for a 2005 Baja Sport. It looks like they only have them available for a 2003 and that's it!
I checked on the KYB web sight and eBay but no dice. There's nothing for a 2005! Am I missing something or do you know where I can find them?
Are the Strut Mounting Kit and the Boot Kit specific to the manufacturer and model of the strut or will any Strut Mounting Kit and Boot Kit fit any strut?
BTW, do think I'll need an impact wrench to remove any existing bolts? Those top bolts for each strut are in a very tight area and I was wondering if I'll likely only need a breaker bar. (The vehicle is very clean and totally rust free and I've never had trouble removing any tight bolts by hand anywhere else on it.)
The plot thickens!
My hat's off to you!
Many Thanks!
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SupeRoo Baja »

Hmm, Seems the Subaru PN is 20365AE22A for your rears at 97$ each, Front strut PN is 20310AE44A for 105$ each. It does show they are different from the 03 to the 04-06. Primitive Racing shows a full 4pack of KYB for the 05 at 560$ plus shipping! There are a few places that state the KYB 38FYXR fits 03-06, but for 90$, you might as well get the OEM at 97$. Getting them from the dealer you're at about 400$. I'm an OldSchool 03, so...


***Note about buying OEM parts.. use the online Subaru parts dealer websites. When you select your item, change the location to your local Subaru dealer.. then go pick up local and never pay shipping on them. And the website normally has discounted prices compared to over the counter***


Are the Strut Mounting Kit and the Boot Kit specific to the manufacturer and model of the strut or will any Strut Mounting Kit and Boot Kit fit any strut?

Any strut kit should work all the same. Don't need to match up companies, but they are vehicle specific. And I don't think there's a difference between an 03 and 05 on this one.

do think I'll need an impact wrench to remove any existing bolts?

You shouldn't need an Impact for the interiors bolts, they are tight, but are protected from corrosion, so they will come out fine (should). The bottom bolt on the strut that connects to the Hub however is a whole other story. This one will be tight and exposed to the elements.. so possibly rusted down. If I remember right, the Rear strut is held in by 1 large bolt on the bottom, 3 nuts on the top. The front is 2 large bolts on the bottom (Mark for alignment), 2 small bolts holding brake line/sensor wire, and 3 top nuts. The only one you might need power tools for is the rear lower.. or a large breaker bar and cheater bar.
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

Hey Hey!
I'm just remembering reading somewhere that the Baja suspension for 04 through 06 was changed slightly from the 2003. I'm a bit hazy but I think it was raised slightly to increase wheel clearance... or something like that. That would explain the KYB struts only being available for the 03 when looking them up individually.
I'm only doing the rear now so I think I'll go with the Monroes. I'll check Subarus online prices for the Mounting Kit and Boot Kit against local parts shops. Those extras add up to roughly an extra $60 per strut through local parts shops. Differences of $10 here and $15 there really add up in the end.
I didn't know until you mentioned it that I could order parts online and get them delivered for free to my local dealership. Thanks for that. That's real good to know.
I usually buy from https://parts.subaruonlineparts.com/ which in general seems to have the lowest prices BUT I always check other Subaru parts dealers online before I buy and I always include shipping in my bottom line.
Oh well. It looks like it will definitely be at least a week or two until I can get to it.
My best regards to you my friend!
SoobyToo58
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by SoobyToo58 »

SoobyToo58 wrote: Sat Jun 05, 2021 8:10 am Hey Hey!
I'm just remembering reading somewhere that the Baja suspension for 04 through 06 was changed slightly from the 2003. I'm a bit hazy but I think it was raised slightly to increase wheel clearance... or something like that. That would explain the KYB struts only being available for the 03 when looking them up individually.
I'm only doing the rear now so I think I'll go with the Monroes. I'll check Subarus online prices for the Mounting Kit and Boot Kit against local parts shops. Those extras add up to roughly an extra $60 per strut through local parts shops. Differences of $10 here and $15 there really add up in the end.
I didn't know until you mentioned it that I could order parts online and get them delivered for free to my local dealership. Thanks for that. That's real good to know.
I usually buy from https://parts.subaruonlineparts.com/ which in general seems to have the lowest prices BUT I always check other Subaru parts dealers online before I buy and I always include shipping in my bottom line.
Oh well. It looks like it will definitely be at least a week or two until I can get to it.
My best regards to you my friend!
Hey SupeRoo,
A quick question while I'm still waiting for my Strut Mount Kit to arrive. After replacing these rear struts, will the vehicle require an alignment?
I asked the service Dept. of my local dealership but I don't trust their answer. They said it would probably be a good idea which doesn't explain much and it's not a definitive answer. I tried to get more of an explanation but their response sounded wishy washy to me!
What do you know about it?
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Re: Struts & coil spring choices?

Post by ZUBAJA »

JUST the rear should not affect alignment. They are 2 fixed bolt holes at the tops, and a fixed stud mount at the bottom. Really not that much different than changing regular shocks. I did find it necessary to have something to push down on the trailing arm in order to get the bottom hole to align with the stud.
While you're under there, have a good look at the rest of the rear suspension components. There are rubber bushings at the front of the trailing arms that go bad (and these can be a booger to replace) Dennis
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