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Notice - with the recent site upgrade, my Member Journals have been seriously messed up! The "Table of Contents" links are "hit or miss", but the posts can still be located by the "Post #" shown on the link.
The "Table of Contents" for our Member Journal can be found on Post #2, or on the next post. The Table of Contents makes it easier to navigate our Member Journal (skip over the chitchat).

March 17, 2010​

Thank you for taking the time to look over our Member Journal, or MODding Journal, as we call it (literary license). Your comments, questions or suggestion are always welcome. Post them here or send us a PM.

I should have started a Member Journal for the '03 X Forester a long time ago. It will be a PITA trying to remember & document the MODding, but as the old saying goes, "better late than never!"

The Beginning!​

The '03 X Forester was my first Subaru & not by choice. Let me explain. My vehicle brand was GMC, for me specifically, an S15 4X4 Jimmy. I inherited the Forester when my dad passed away. It had around 4K miles on it. My first thought was to get rid of it but for sentimental reasons, I decided to keep it for awhile. I didn't think it would happen, but the Forester grew on me & I sold the GMC Jimmy!

The craziness starts!​

I have to admit after the power of the Vortec 4.3L V6 in the GMC S15 Jimmy, the Forester felt a bit wimpy. It had good acceleration around town, but seemed to run out of poop on the open road & it was tricky trying to pass on the up side of a hill! While doing some research on how to boost the engine power & in a moment of craziness, I decided to install an AVO Turbo Kit! What a difference it made! Where the NA (naturally aspirated) engine would start running out of power, with the turbo, it would continue on & on! I was hooked & the MODding bug had me! :icon_eek:

Moving on...​

I've enjoyed MODding the '03 X, but I've always wanted a Forester XT to do some major power MODding on. After I retired (June/08), I started searching for my next project Forester. After what seemed like forever... I really wanted an '04 XT, I found my new to me '07 FSXT last year (June/09) & I passed the '03 X to my son. If my dad was still around, I'm sure he'd approve!

My son loves the Forester, but he's not into this aspect of modifying, so dad gets to do the deed...

Bobby...
August 21, 2003
The actual dealership window sticker.

This is how the 2003 2.5X Forester looked stock.

'03 X engine as it looks stock.

The left picture is Alex's lightly modified '95 Neon Sport, now our spare car. He had a car before he learned how to drive! It was my mother's car before she passed away. I offered to buy the Neon, but dad wanted to keep the Neon for sentimental reasons. After a couple years, dad traded in his Ford truck for the Forester & the Neon was given to me, to give to Alex when he learned to drive.

The right picture is Alex at age 15 (much older now!) with his future Forester... I never saw that coming!


Alex's '03 X Forester, as it looks today!

'03 X engine with the AVO Turbo Kit installed.

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found ► here. (post #2) or below on the next post.

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

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Discussion Starter #2
Notice - with the recent site upgrade, my Member Journals have been seriously messed up! The "Table of Contents" links are "hit or miss", but the posts can still be located by the "Post #" shown on the link.
Alex’s Member Journal
Table of Contents

First things first:
  • Murphy's law - "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." I've always like that one!
  • DIY - "If you want something done right, do it yourself!" Yes, another favorite saying.
  • "If it's not broken, don't fix it!" Makes sense to me.
  • The old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words." The reason to include pictures in your postings!
Starting the process:
The Beginning:
The MODding parts box:
A temporary home for project parts before they're installed.

Interior:
Glass:
Audio:
Gauges:
Exterior:
Appearance:

Lighting:
Engine:
Exhaust:
Handling:
Wheels & Tires:

Front & rear sway bars:
Miscellaneous & Off Topic:
 

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Awesome! :biggrin: I've been waiting for this for a while now. :razz:

I keep wondering about the AVO kit vs a supercharger. Supercharger is cheaper, cooler sounding, but less efficient at high RPM (takes a lot of power to spin that thing at 10000 RPM to get 5lbs of boost). If that little turbo spools by 2500RPM, it would work well. Bahh. Too early to be thinking about it now anyway. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Hey Zach!

You're the first poster on this new thread! :cool:

This Journal is going to move slowly at first, since I need to try to put some order to the MODding done over the last 5 years. :icon_eek:

Bobby...

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
New Wheels & Tires!

The plain steel wheels just didn't cut it, so I had to have custom wheels. Being "old school" & the dark blue color of the Forester, it had to be chromes! :biggrin:

Bobby...
► Update ◄​
We loved these wheels, but they let us down & we've moved on. The details can be viewed starting on the following link. :frown: New wheels - Part 1 - The Motegi MR7 alloy chromes have to go! :mad:

Motegi MR7 alloy chromes wheels, 17x7, +40 offset.

I replaced the stock geosquealers with Toyo Proxes T1R tires. These had great traction on dry pavement, but were poor in snow or ice! I replaced the Toyo Proxes T1R with Toyo Proxes 4. I needed tires that have great dry traction, as well as decent snow & ice traction to carry me over to my winter tires. I'd recommend these & I have them on all 3 of our vehicles!​
Toyo Proxes T1R

Toyo Proxes 4

The pictures above are not of our wheels, they're just to show the different tire tread patterns.​

Related post:
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I can't believe there wasn't a Journal for this car already man!
guess you've got to dig up all those older threads you made about the mods for it too eh?
We've only had Member Journals for a couple years & I didn't get into them until last year (June/09) when I got the '07 FSXT. :wink:

I have to admit it's kinda of hard putting some order to the previous MODding madness. :icon_eek:

Cannot wait! :)
The nice thing about the Member Journal, is that you can post the MODding out of order or sequence & keep the posts in the correct order via the "Table of Contents". :smile:

I plan on jumping to the "good stuff" & go back later on to complete the story. :wink:

Bobby...

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Rear dust deflector, window tint & a hood protector.

After the new wheels & performance tires, I decided the '03 X needed window tinting. I opted for 20% tint on the rear glass, left the front stock (my preference). I also added a front hood protector (deflector) & a rear dust deflector, which I felt was more functional than the rear spoiler.

The Subaru installation instructions for the Hood Protector & the Rear Dust Deflector are below. :wink:

Bobby...


The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
IMO, they work best on a dark colored Forester. They blend in more & don't become the focal point. :wink:

The wheels are Motegi MR7 alloy chromes, which I don't recommend getting, if you can even find them. They're made in China & the alloy & chrome are reacting... like rust under paint. :mad: I love the look of those wheels, but I'm not going to buy another set to have them go bad in a few years! We're replacing the Motegi with XXR wheels, also chrome. I'll add pictures & more details when they're installed. :cool:

As the the specifications. The ones on there now are 17x7, +42 offset, with Toyo Proxes 4, 235/50. This gives a wider stance, from the stock offset of +48 & of course the wider rubber adds to the stance. :smile:

Bobby...

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Improving the stock sound system!

I'm not into high performance mobile audio, but I do want a nice sounding system. Right off, I knew the factory/OEM system wasn't going to cut it! It wouldn't play my MP3 CD & the volume stepping was odd...?! :icon_eek: The '03 X didn't come with door tweeter or the upgraded premium speakers. I bought the premium speaker upgrade, but haven't installed them (still in the box!). After upgrading the head unit, installing the tweeter upgrade & a subwoofer, the sound was perfect for me & my son says it sounds great! Eventually we'll install the premium speakers, but there's no hurry. :wink:

Bobby...
This is the stock factory/OEM head unit that came in the '03 X.

The upper picture is the Sony CDX-MP450 head unit that started out in my 4.3L GMC Jimmy 4X4. I pulled it out before I sold it, wanting it to go in the Forester. I loved this head unit, but it was an early MP3 player & it finally needed to be replaced. :frown: The lower picture is the Sony CDX-GT610Ui that we have in all 3 of our vehicles. Yes, we like this Sony head unit! :cool:

Sony CDX-MP450

Sony CDX-GT610Ui

I wanted a HD Radio option, so I added a Directed Electronics HD Radio to work with the above head unit.​

This picture shows the door tweeter upgrade kit, H630SSA100, fitment is '03-'08. If you don't have door tweeters, this is a must have + it's a simple "plug & play" installation!

This picture shows where I mounted the HD Radio display in the '03 X. I placed the HD Radio display in a different location in my '07 FSXT. You can view it here.​

► Update ◄​
Funny how things come around! I recently relocated the HD radio display panel to this same location in my '07 FSXT. You can view the write up starting here. The HD radio receiver module (commander) is mounted under the dash in both installations.

I installed the earlier version Kenwood subwoofer, the KSC-SW1 in the '03 X. IMO, it sounds better than the later version, the KSC-SW10, which I have in my '07 FSXT. The right picture shows where the wired subwoofer remote was placed. If you're wondering what the switches are for, one is "audio mute" & the other one is "subwoofer on/off". No seat heaters in the '03 X, so I installed the switches in the blank covers. I hate blank covers!​

For step-by-step installation instructions, check out the MODding Journal for my '07 FSXT here. The installation in the '03-'08 models are nearly identical! :smile:

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Time to add gauges!

The first gauge I added to my '03 X was a Scangauge II. It's hard to beat all the features you get in this very small device. My complete installation write up can viewed here.​
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/attachment.php?attachmentid=422002&d=1500675297[/IMG]​
I love gauges, traditional gauges, so I decided to do this. The entire '03 X gauge POD v2 write up can be viewed on my post here. I used Nordskog gauges for the fuel pressure & oil temperature. Nordskog doesn't offer a 100 psi oil pressure gauge, so I stayed with a VDO Vision series gauge. All 3 gauges are 52mm/2-1/16" with electric senders.​

I selected a mechanical 52mm/2-1/16" VDO Vision series 0-15 psi boost gauge. I prefer a boost (pressure) only gauge. A VUMAXX mounting cup is used to mount the boost gauge on the steering column cover. The detailed installation on my '07 FSXT can be viewed here.​
I replaced the incandescent gauge illumination bulbs with green LEDs. This closely matches the factory instrument cluster illumination.

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Suspension upgrades!

Trying to document the order the MODding was done to the '03 X is rather difficuilt after so many years! :icon_eek: Not to worry, I will get to the AVO Turbo kit! :wink:

The '03 X was leaning too much on tight corners, so I decided it was time to correct this problem! :cool:

I went with a RalliTEK 22mm front sway bar & a RalliTEK 19mm rear sway bar, both solid. I also upgraded to AVO link ends & Whiteline KBR16 lateral link brace (a must with a heavier RSB!). The complete installation write up can be viewed here.

You can view my '07 FSXT sway bar installation write up starting here in my Member Journal.



I recommend installing Whiteline KBR16 lateral link brace kit.

► Update - The endlinks have been upgraded: RalliTEK HD front & rear endlinks! :biggrin:

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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'04 STi seats installed!

This upgrade made a world of difference on the seating comfort & support. Installing '04 STi seats in the '03 X was a piece-of-cake! The only thing to keep in mind, is that the seat belt buckle from the stock Forester seats need to be moved to the STi seats. Other than that, it's completely plug & play, no sensors to mess with at all!

As an option to have the STi seats sit higher, as the stock Forester seat sit, the stock seat mounting rails can be used with the STi seats. This will set the seats about an 1-1/2" higher. This is the direction we opted to go. 😄
Keep in mind the driver seat is height adjustable, but not the passenger seat. Placing the passenger seat 1-1/2" lower may not be appreciated by your shorter copilot.

The original '04 STi seat installation write up for the '03 X, done before we got Member Journals, can be viewed here.

Bobby...
The upper picture shows the stock '03 X seats minus the headrests. The lower picture shows the '04 STi seats.


The upper picture shows the '04 STi seats installed. The lower picture shows the optional armrest extension installed.

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found ► here. (post #2)

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

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Will you adopt me? I want STI seats too! :lol: :lol: :lol:

The RSB is on my list for the Outback. All of my offroading is gravel (rallycross style) or simply sliding around in the mud. Nothing articulation related... and the body roll is annoying me.

Keep it going! Looking great so far. The detail you put into your posts is just awesome.
 

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AVO Turbo Kit - Part 1 - Why you shouldn't do this!

I'm going to do this in "parts" to make it easier to write up & easier for you to read.

Bobby...

First, here's how the AVO 2.5L Turbo Kit is described in the sales ad. Note that it's not specifically made for the Forester!

2.5i Turbo Kit [Impreza] [S2108K07A001T] ◄​
What kind of power can you expect? Over 200 whp on a dyno where stock N/A cars barely break 100whp. And it's easy power too, generated at just 4.5-5psi. This is thanks to our specially designed boost actuators that will run at these lower boost levels, keeping your system from overboosting.

These pictures don't show all the parts that come in the kit. There are many more parts!

► In "Part 1" I'm going to tell you why you shouldn't do this "craziness"! You may not want to hear this, but if you decide to do something this expensive & this extreme, you need to know the facts.
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  • The AVO Turbo Kit is expensive! The last AVO Turbo Kit I bought was $3500 on sale from $4250 & that's just for a box of parts. You still have to install it! This kit is getting very difficult to find, since they're being closed out. That's the reason I decided this was a great time to purchase a second kit to replace some of the parts that were installed 5 years ago. This also gives us lots spare parts, which may get difficult to find as these kits are phased out.
  • You will need a hood with a scoop for the TMIC (Top Mounted Intercooler).
    On hindsight, if I was doing this again, I might choose to delete the TMIC, figuring with a maximum boost of 6 psi, do you really need the intercooler? This would save the cost of a new hood, installation & the painting, plus it would simplify the installation!
  • The installation is "NOT" plug & play. Not everything you'll need to know is in the instructions. The installation instructions that come with the AVO Turbo Kit can be view here (PDF).
  • The engine management is done with a Perfect Power SMT 6, piggyback smart tuner. The wiring harness from the PP SMT 6 has to be wired (soldered) to specific ECM wires & don't expect much in the way of instructions!
  • You're going to have a difficult time finding a tuner that can tune with a Perfect Power SMT 6 piggyback Smart Tuner, so be prepared to DIY!
  • The maximum safe boost is 6 psi. Going above this recommended maximum boost pressure will destroy your engine!
  • You will need to run premium fuel, 91 octane or higher.
  • You may need to install a higher output fuel pump. We installed a Walbro GSS342.
  • You may need to install a boost controller. We installed a GiZZMO MS-IBC boost controller.
  • You may need an Air/Fuel gauge, since you'll be doing your own tuning. You can view our installation write up here.
  • You may need iridium plugs (recommended). We upgraded to NGK Iridium IX BKR5EIX-11.
  • Installing this engine upgrade will most likely complicate any warranty claims.
  • You've over modified your Forester & may not be able to sell it or trade it in.
  • If you need shop repairs, it may be difficult to find a shop. Not many shops will know how to repair problems with the AVO Turbo kit. Odds are good any AVO Turbo kit related parts will have to be special ordered or custom made.
  • After going thru all the hassle & expense, you'll be making less hp than a Forester XT can make! This should scare away anyone thinking about doing this craziness!
► For those that are still with us, the craziness will continue on "Part 2"!

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The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found ► here. (post #2)

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

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Will you adopt me? I want STI seats too! :lol: :lol: :lol:

The RSB is on my list for the Outback. All of my offroading is gravel (rallycross style) or simply sliding around in the mud. Nothing articulation related... and the body roll is annoying me.

Keep it going! Looking great so far. The detail you put into your posts is just awesome.
You should be able to find STi seats where you're located. Both sets that I found were from the East coast & the shipping was a killer! :frown:

I was so busy on the last post, thinking up all the reasons not to add an AVO Turbo kit, that I missed your post! :icon_eek: Now that's out of the way, "Part 2" will be fun! :cool:

I recall reading about rear sway bars with a quick release. That would be great for off roading where you'd want the maximum articulation. :smile:

Thanks for the encouragement! I've been racking my brain trying to remember what I did when. Then I have to look over the my photos to see if I have the pictures to go with the MODding! As hard as it's been writing up the MODding on the '07 FSXT, it's easier since the experience is still fresh. :wink:

BTW, what did you think of the dealerhip window sticker on the first post? I had to scan it in two parts & place the two pictures side by side on the post. I thought it came out pretty good! :biggrin:

Bobby...

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 

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I'll probably just get a set of Wet Okole seat covers for my stockers. :smile:


I was wondering how you did that! I have the window sticker for our '05, and it's big. :lol: Looks awesome!
 

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I'll probably just get a set of Wet Okole seat covers for my stockers. :smile:
dwmoss has those in his Forester. They look pretty good & I'd considered them before finding a set of STi seats. You can view the seats on his Member Journal. :cool:

I was wondering how you did that! I have the window sticker for our '05, and it's big. :lol: Looks awesome!
Thanks! If I'd gone with a larger picture, I'm sure the misalignment would be more obvious. :wink:

Bobby...

The Table of Contents for Alex's Member Journal can be found :icon_arrow: here. (post #2)
 
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