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2003 Forester XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I’ve been a fan of the forum for a long time now this is my first post. I want to lift my 03 4EAT XS... but I’m torn between investing in springs or a kit.

I work in New Mexico traveling to ranchers wells to monitor their groundwater, which often involved carrying a bunch of heavy gear on ‘roads’ which are usually a complete mess. Even with skid plates and and an extra tire size up, the risk of high centering or tearing off my exhaust is pretty high, especially because my foz likes to ride low if I have a full set of passengers or gear.

I’m just graduating college and definitely don’t have much cash to throw at modifications, but I can definitely justify the investiment in the hopes of saving on inevitable repairs. Still, I want to keep it cheap if I can.

Basically, I’m hoping you kind folk can tell me wether to go with a 2inch kit (probably from ADF), or raising springs (from iron man or king).
I don’t have a garage to do the work myself, so unfortunately I have to think about install costs too. Whatever I wind up doing will definitely end up here.

The prices seem comparable, but would raising springs require trailing arm spacers or any other hardware?

Are there other options I should consider? 1in lift and 215/16 70 tires perhaps?

Which option would have less stress on CV joints and the like? She miraculously has under 70k miles on her, and I want to keep her on the road for many more to come... with the least headache possible. Not to mention the risk of getting stranded.

I truly appreciate any advice y’all can give, I’m sure what obvious to some of you aren’t even on my radar

Oh... and ranchers think a subie in Jeep country is a laugh or a liability. Give me a hand so I can change their minds
 

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If you want the ride to remain the same then 2" lift blocks is the way to go. This option would also require less labor to install because the strut does not need to be pulled apart to install springs.

However if the springs have not been changed in an MY'03 they're probably getting very saggy and may need replacing anyway. You could check your wheel arch height to get an idea if and by how much the springs have sagged. Measure the distance from the center of the wheel to the wheel arch above; front should be 437mm and the rear 440mm (I'll let you do the conversion!)

Do you know if you have self-leveling suspension in the rear?
 

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2003 Forester XS 4EAT
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
(Apologies for the formatting on the first post, I did it from my phone)

The springs have never been replaced and are definitely sagging, which makes me wonder if I should go ahead and go that route.
If I were to go the suspension lift route, would I need hardware/adjustments aside from the lifting springs themselves?
Ive read that lift blocks can do a number on your CV joints etc over time, which worries me.
At the very least, the extra ~1.5 of height in the springs would allow bigger tires down the line correct? I like the GO15s I have on there, but I would really like a to fit a 8+ ply tire to hold up against the lava rock and cactus that I have to deal with.
One more concern is how the stiffness of a lift spring would affect driving in general.. as far as travel and offroad ride is concern. Comfort is great and all, but performance and longevity of the vehicle/build are number one.

As far as whether it's self leveling.. I have no idea. Its the XS model which supposedly has the rear LSD so I imagine it has all the bells and whistles that were available that year. If it does have it, it definitely dosent work well (or cant compensate for how bad the springs are)

thanks a bunch for the replies! for as much research Ive done, straight answers to these questions have been hard to find
 

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2003 Forester XS 4EAT
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
After doing some research, it seems like lift blocks are the way I want to go, as I wouldnt want to drive around with the travel on all 4 wheels close to maxed out, as this might make her less inclined to keep all 4 wheels on the ground when things get uneven.

With that said, would compensating for the sag in the back with 2-3/8 spacers in the back be advisable given the increased potential for long term CV wear?

I also wonder if Im better off keeping everything under 2 inches, just because I foresee putting 20,000+ miles on it over a given year for work. Id definitely like to upgrade the springs down the road still, but with something closer to stock length
 

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The springs have never been replaced and are definitely sagging, which makes me wonder if I should go ahead and go that route.
Then seems like you should replace the springs as well - either standard height or raised.

If I were to go the suspension lift route, would I need hardware/adjustments aside from the lifting springs themselves?
Ive read that lift blocks can do a number on your CV joints etc over time, which worries me.
I've had one CV joint go bad in 16 years!


At the very least, the extra ~1.5 of height in the springs would allow bigger tires down the line correct?
Not correct. Tire size is still limited by the distance from the top of the tire to the bottom of the spring perch. I ran 21565R16 when I had 16" wheels; now I have 21575R15.

One more concern is how the stiffness of a lift spring would affect driving in general.. as far as travel and offroad ride is concern. Comfort is great and all, but performance and longevity of the vehicle/build are number one.
A "progressive" spring (e.g. Kings) will stiffen as the load increases so the ride should be OK.

As far as whether it's self leveling.. I have no idea.
Have a look at the side of the rear strut - if there is a small "cannister" on the side of the strut then it is self-leveling. If it's self-leveling you cannot just replace with raised springs but must swap the strut as well. Most, myself included, got rid of the self-leveling and replaced with normal struts and (raised) springs.

After doing some research, it seems like lift blocks are the way I want to go,

With that said, would compensating for the sag in the back with 2-3/8 spacers in the back be advisable given the increased potential for long term CV wear?

I also wonder if Im better off keeping everything under 2 inches, just because I foresee putting 20,000+ miles on it over a given year for work. Id definitely like to upgrade the springs down the road still, but with something closer to stock length
The end result is the same no matter if raised springs or lift blocks - you are still pushing the suspension down (and the vehicle body up).

Rather than "compensate" for sag I suggest you get new springs and fix the sag.

For your purposes I would get new standard springs and 2" lift blocks. Also if the struts have not been replaced they are probably past their use by date as well ;-)
 

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2003 Forester XS 4EAT
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Suggestions for original ride spring replacements?

Thanks in advance folks,

Im looking to freshen up my suspension with new struts and springs. It seems like KYBs are the community's go to for the struts, but I haven't come across any suggestions for a quality spring replacement, short of going through subaru themselves or getting a stiffer/lifting spring.

Any suggestions? The springs are the last part of the puzzle... except the 2in ADF lift of course.

Cheers!
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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40,109 Posts
@Chistery your threads have been merged. No need to create a new thread when you have an active thread on the same subject... it's better to keep everything together, in one thread. :wink:

Have fun with your '03 XS project!

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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2006 Forester 2.5x 5MT
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19 Posts
I put King Lift Springs on my old '03 and now on my '06. Looked great! Now, I'm getting ready to put 1" lift blocks all the way around. Enjoy!
 

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2004 SG9 manual
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24 Posts
I too am suffering from the dreaded saggy bum! The previous owner lifted with 2" spacers and has left the suspension stock on my SG9. I've spent most of the night searching for standard height FRONT coils but have come up with nothing. On Kings site they only show lifted for the front. Pedders site doesn't list any lift info on their springs.

I only want to use standard height coils on new struts - I prefer keeping the stock geometry. What are my options for standard fronts? It cant be good using one manufacturers spring in the back and another in the front, right??
 

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How about Lovells, Dobinsons? I would avoid Pedders like the plague!

The manufacturer of the spring does not matter so much as it's more about the spring rating.
 

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2003 Forester XS 4EAT
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
532683


Thanks all for your help! Here she is all grown up.

Current mods: 2in ADF strut top lift, standard king springs, rear sway bar delete, skid plates, 27" Ko2s, Center lock switch, rock sliders and front bumper. It has 25k miles on this setup and going strong.

I have a torq locker that im going to swap in, and add a rear diff breather. Does anyone know if the front diff in the auto breaths through the transmission dipstick?
 

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@Chistery
Looking good! The auto breathers are on top of the "bell housing"; there are 2 breathers there somewhere as I recall #10 is one
532684


And I can't remember where the 2nd attaches :unsure: You should find them under the air filter

But as you can see I have two; the clear tubing with the little fuel filters on the ends on each side of the engine bay in front of the fire wall

532685
 
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