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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

I figured I'd make a journal for my CPO 2011 SH PZEV. I recently picked it up to replace a 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac 2WD 4.0 V6, which was a great thing, but not so great for living out West (having moved somewhat recently from FL). It was very prone to oversteer even just in wet conditions or gravel/dirt (even with overly wide Grabber AT2s fitted), it was great fun, but not the sort of thing you drive to work in the snow, and LWB + 2WD isn't exactly brilliant offroad.

The SH is very confidence inspiring and has a sort of plucky underdog feel, as opposed to my Sport Trac, which usually felt like an overly optimistic land yacht. Admittedly though, I really wish Subaru would've added a ~0.70 5th gear to the 4EAT; I think 2800-3000rpm at highway cruising is just too high in the 21st century. I'm happy with the NA engine though.



Photobucket Link








I bought some WeatherTech liners for it recently (very nice, I just bought the fronts though since 90+% of the time it's just me). I'm probably going to pick up an aFe Filter soon (I had a K&N on my Sport Trac; the intake noise was great, but after more research I worried about dust/dirt going into the engine), and I'm considering some RokBlokz short mudflaps, but sort of waffling about ground clearance worries.

I'm not entirely sure what direction I want to take with the SH at the moment. I always thought, if I got a Subaru, I would get a manual, but I decided this particular SH was quite a good deal and I do enjoy being able to relax in the car. It'll probably just end up being a modest do-it-all machine (probably some Cooper AT3 215-70R16s when the Kuhmo's from the dealer wear out, but most likely no lift), and if I really had money to blow I'd look into getting some Rallisport UELs and 2 glasspacks to replace the resonator & muffler (so very free-flowing, but quiet below 3500ish-rpm, and liven up when I get my foot down).

All of that is probably months or years off though, for now I'm enjoying the AWD, comforting suspension (my Sport Trac was extremely firm) and the nearly 1000lb weight loss compared to my Sport Trac.

Also, over the 500 or so miles I've owned it, I haven't noticed any oil loss. Although, there is often a hot smell after coming back to the garage (more time driving, stronger smell), but just yesterday I removed the rubber seal at the top back of the engine bay, so hopefully that'll encourage more air circulation (cowl should be a low pressure area at speed, so it should suck engine air out).
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I decided to go for a little trip after work on Friday - a little trail complex leading to the top of a nearby mountain (Black Mtn, WY) that I'd driven before with my 2wd truck. However, some heavy rains we had seriously eroded some areas of the trail, and this time there was some patchy snow towards the top of the trail.

I found this nice patch of 7-10in of virgin snow and it chugged right through despite the street tires. The engine/accelerator bogged 2-3 times, but that's normal with traction control.

I also drove through a pretty long 4-7in deep patch of snow with some mud around it on a pretty serious uphill, but that time I used momentum.







Unfortunately, I got absent minded for a few seconds on the way back and ended up in a hole:




It ended up with the Foz being supported by the driver front tire, pass rear tire and the bottom of the bumper. The driver rear and pass front were both 4-6in in the air. My pass front tire was hovering over those rocks which I was trying to wedge in after the incident.

The crescent shape on the mid-left is where my bumper was beached:


Thankfully, some nice farmer/rancher types happened across me, and I was able to reverse out just with them sitting on the tailgate.

And the damage was light:


When I first crashed down on my bumper was I very worried because if I had done that in my truck I would've taken out at least some radiator hoses, if not the radiator itself. Thankfully, Subaru has a nice piece of sturdy metal just below the radiator, so that saved me. And, after many hours, there isn't a big pool of coolant in my garage, so that's good.

So, moral of the story is probably - maybe it's not such a brilliant idea to go offroading after work when you've been up since 3am every day of the week. And I should probably put skids before seat covers on my list of stuff to save up for.
 

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Welcome to the forum! I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with your car. I've got a 2012 Silver N/A SH myself.

I may be wrong, but I don't believe there are UELs for the NA Forester. I haven't looked for them myself, but from the threads I've read, I feel like I remember the consensus being that UELs don't exist for us.

I had a strong oil smell when I bought my Forester, as well (Used - Private Party). It ended up being the valve cover gaskets leaking. It was covered under warranty, so it got fixed, but it might be worth just looking at (oil pooling around your spark plugs).

Lastly, people may argue, but in my opinion, an auto transmission is much nicer to have for off roading. It's not nearly as fun on road, but I find it helps a ton on trails.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Schmee, I've been enjoying your build thread - I'm looking forward to your plastidip pictures.

As far as the UELs, I've read somewhere that somebody 'confirmed' FA20 UEL compatibility (I'm slightly sceptical though) and Rallisport's UEL for 2013+ Legacy's should fit considering how they have the FB25 too. Also, I found this thread on NASIOC about Rallisport's development of the FB20 UEL, and the layout and construction of the OE exhaust & front undercarriage seem very similar to the SH Foresters.

I'll definitely look into the valve cover gasket, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I decided a take a little adventure to a nearby mountaintop with some radio towers on it. Not long after leaving the pavement it started to snow slightly, and throughout the drive it kept intensifying.



It got pretty bad by the time I was reaching the top, and the fresh snow over the road had me worrying about hidden obstacles, but the Forester kept on going with only occasional wheel spin.








Now, for the return:


After sliding down a moderate incline into a small ditch, and then being bounced out of the ditch, I decided to cheat, reverse back up the incline, and go for a well groomed, wide dirt road that was about 0.25mi to pavement, as opposed to the 3+ miles of single width dirt road awash with inclines, descents and drop-offs that I had taken on the way out before the snow started building up.





The original route / way I didn't go back:


Weathertech's holding up nicely:


Happily, I found a nice sign for some poser shots on the way out:

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Installed an aFe drop-in filter today with only a bit of a kerfuffle.


Needless thing removed...

Everything came out easily, but I had some trouble getting the rear-half (MAF-containing portion) back in. I'm certain that was just my fault though because I'd done this sort of thing many times on my previous Ford, but the Subaru's not really the same.

I got the aFe filter from Mueller Motorsports via Amazon (Amazon says it's for Tribeca, but part # matched up and it fit great). About $53 with free shipping (from Mueller, not Amazon) and it managed to travel from Wisconsin to Utah in about 48 hours. Also, the aFe filter came with this great little caution sticker telling people not to throw away my precious reusable filter; I stuck it to the top of the airbox, hopefully it'll stay there.

My Foz decided to throw a CEL when I started it back up, and I had a bit of a heart attack, especially when it threw a CEL again after waiting, turning it off and turning it on again. Thankfully, just before I was about to rush down to the dealership, the MAF reset itself and the CEL went away. The dealership mechanic explained over the phone that, unlike my Ford, Subaru's tend to mind if you pull the MAF plug out when messing about.


I had a drop-in K&N on the 4.0 V6 Ford, and I absolutely loved the loud intake noise, especially on cold start-up or hard acceleration. I decided to forgo the K&N this time because I spend a lot of time in dirty/dusty conditions, and the aFe filters better than the K&N, while not requiring any oil or special cleaning kit. I don't expect any sort of actual performance again; I'm just hoping for a non-disposable filter (check) with better filtering than a K&N (check) and hopefully some nice intake noise (dunno yet really).

I just started it up in the garage because it's sleeting, etc. outside, but I'm going to have a bit of an excursion on the Transcontinental Railroad grade in NE Utah and down to Wendover, so I'll get some photos and a better idea of what the aFe changed (if anything).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, the aFe filter is hardly noticeable from stock. The intake/acceleration/revving noise sounds a little bit nicer / not as belaboured as stock, but I would say the overall volume is about equal with stock.
I'm eyeing the sports grill just for aesthetics, but it might also help me in my desire for better/more intake noise because, as I understand it, the sports grill does not have a little 'L' of plastic covering the front of the intake ram, which the normal grill has.

Had enjoyable trip on the Transcontinental Grade down to Wendover and Bonneville.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
I went out to the local national forest today, mostly to try out my new camera (AW120) and check out a small ford that I spotted on Google Earth, where a creek dumps onto a forestry road. Unfortunately, although the ford had hard bottom, the far end would've been above the top of my wheels, possibly even the tires too. So, I turned around and went to a nearby ridge line.

Found a nice rock for some poser shots, then decided to head back on a trail I'd passed on the way in (FR122, UWCNF). It turned out to be pretty technical in some spots, especially with many of the rocks not being firmly stuck in the ground (maybe the dry weather?). On one descent, my back tires slid off a small-medium rock and off to one side. I'd had that happen before in other vehicles, but nothing like a Forester.
It performed great though, and I just had to do my part with tire placement. The suspension was also just a dream on the craggy sections, where in a typical 4x4 I would've been bouncing all over.
Unfortunately, adrenaline got the better of me and I completely forgot to take any photos in the challenging spots. But, I did get some great looks from fullsize truck guys as I neared the bottom of the trail.

Regardless, I'm sure I'll be back there later this summer to check on the ford's depth and by then my tripod will have arrived, so I can do some video on FR122.
 

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If you attempt fording I would suggest extending your rear diff breather to avoid water ingestion. Thankfully the SH (starting in 2010?) doesn't have such a joke cap as years past in stock form at least. Allegedly Subaru Australia declared the SH is rated at 18 inches for water fording, but I've never seen any confirmation of this.

Also, nice thread! Glad to see others who off road their SH in mostly stock form. I went with the 5mt, and it's never had an issue off road. Though in really slow crawling I would prefer an automatic. Thankfully my typical off roading doesn't require speeds lower than the car idles forward without my foot on the gas and clutch engaged :grin2:
 

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That'd be the time to do it. On my 2010 I ended up cutting through the spare tire well to get to the breather. Went pretty well except the cap is now all metal and I could only remove the top most cap from the diff. The portion that is inserted into the cover I couldn't break loose, so I had to use a hose clamp to put a line over the whole cap. It holds a vacuum when I suck on it, but there is very little material sticking out to clamp to. Another option may be putting a barb fitting down into the hole, which may have longer longevity.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Outerwears Prefilter

I recently got an Outerwears prefilter sheet after seeing how muddy I managed to get my snorkus and airbox with just some light messing around when I was down in Moab and it was pouring.

I ordered the Outerwears 18x18" WR18BK on amazon so that I would have plenty of fabric to work with (they also sell a 12x12").

For a while I was waffling on whether to wedge the sheet in front of the snorkus (around the front of the plastic surround by the grille) or wedge it in front of the filter itself for, presumably, more surefire prefiltering. I went with right in front of the filter.




If I were to do it again, I just would've bought the 12x12" sheet and stuck that in front of the filter (I cut a ~10x10" bit off my 18x18", but having a little more fabric wouldn't have hurt for ease of install).



For a sheet in front of the snorkus, one would need about 3"x13" (maybe 12" might work). So, I happily still have enough fabric left over to do that if I ever decide to.

In the final photo, you can actually sort of see the vacuum effect created on the prefilter as the engine runs. I revved up to 3k with no issues.



I ordered a Sports grille and parts/materials for a tranny cooler install, so hopefully that all arrives before the long weekend

I got a Tactrix as well (very fast shipping btw), but I'm still working on manning up to contact Throttlehappy again and get a tune. I'm delaying because I got some CELs in recent months (had no code reader then, just did ECU resets), but I think, after doing some forum-based research, they were just from aggressive accelerating/braking. It's just so odd to me that my Foz throws codes when I occasionally put it through 'the ringer', sort of speak. My 08 Ford never did that, and 2008 and 2011 aren't that far apart, but I guess the tech and tolerances could be very different.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Finally remembered to take a half way descent photo of my completed sports grille and aux tranny cooler.
I was too busy playing with how the 'sport'/select-shift function affects stability control to remember to take any photos with really good scenery (as a side note, using the select-shift function makes it so, on loose gravel at least, you can just barely start to have fun before the safety nanny kicks in. For a Foz with stock suspension, tires and bushings, it's not a bad compromise because it does a little bit to fight understeer and it stops lift-off oversteer just before anything really interesting happens. Not a way to test your limits or work on your skills, but it lets a little silliness happen).


 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
It's been a while since I've updated this, so here goes:

I got some Kartboy F&R endlinks and a 19mm RSB. My original plan was to DIY install, but on the first bolt I attempted my tools began marring the bolt.


So, after seeking help in the suspension subforums, I eventually just went to a place in Salt Lake (Despian Auto).

A few weeks later, I took my Foz down to a Wide Open Wednesday at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT. I haven't bothered uploading any of my videos from the day; they're pretty boring. I didn't really have any notions of being fast, etc., I just wanted to give it a go. I definitely had the dirtiest car that day.



On the other end of the spectrum, my Foz keeps impressing me with its ability to do just about any forestry road I'm willing to attempt. The pictures below aren't anything challenging, I just thought they looked good. At the other end of that trail, I got some pretty funny looks from an elderly group in a 4 seat UTV.




More recently, I've been playing around with the intake and the helmholtz resonator (aka milkjug). After having a Scangauge for a few months, I'd been noticing that, even at highway cruising speeds, my posted intake temp was ~10°F higher than the car's posted outside temp. Also, I noticed the intake temp would quickly get up to +~20°F when stopped or driving under 5-10mph.
Furthermore, I've never really been happy with what I view as a constricted intake pathway from the filter to the outside, and I wanted a bit more intake noise.
So, I removed the helmoltz resonator, and I took the dremel to my pass. side fog light bezel/cover; I cut the top 4 slats. The cuts are totally unnoticeable from the outside unless you get really close.


So, for the past week, I'd been driving around with my intake slats and sans helmholtz resonator. My intake temps at 45-70mph were consistently within 1°F of the outside air temp, and I only noticed a negligible power loss (it is often said that removing the helmholtz can take away low end power / cause dead-spots in the power curve). In the 25-45mph range, my intake temps would usually be within 5°F of the outside air temp. Also, even travelling below 25mph, my intake temp would heat up somewhat quickly, just like before, but it cooled down a lot faster (it seemed that any accelerating, by foot or by downhill, would lead to noticeably cooler temps) than before. In stock form, my intake temps when offroading would be 15-30°F over outside air temp, and it would be very hard to get them lower, as it is hard to find spots to exceed 10mph on a lot of the trails that I drive.

So, sounds great, right? However, about 50% of the time that I was in the 3000-4000rpm range I would get this loud and super bass-y resonance from the intake. It didn't bother me that much, but I imagined it probably sounded terrible and ridiculous on the outside.

To try to find a compromise, today, I reinstalled the helmholtz, but I first drilled some additional venting holes in the part of the resonator that would be behind my intake slats. I also bored out the bottom drain hole a bit (less than +1cm in diameter) just in case any water/mud gets in there (I'm not worried about the intake, ref: Outwears water-resistant pre-filter).



Now the droning seems to be gone, but, on my quick test drive this evening, my intake temps are within 2-5°F of where they were originally. So, I'll probably keep fiddling with it long term just to experiment.


In other news, seems I need to re-order the Kartboy front endlink spacer kit. When I first got my endlinks installed at Despian, everything looked more or less okay, and there was just some occasional clunking. However, more recently, I noticed more noise (like squeaking, sometimes constant) from my front endlinks, and looking down there the bushings are getting slightly pinched. Despian didn't use the front spacer kit I bought the first time, but they also forgot to give them back to me.
So, I'll be ordering those soon (I'll take some before/after shots too), and then I'll slightly loosen and re-tighten all my endlink bolts to try to stop any clunking (Despian also torqued the bolts down A. with a cordless drill and B. while the vehicle was still on the lift, which I wasn't super excited about that, and now I'll have a chance to fix it).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Been visiting the forums less lately, but I figured I should throw some photos up and do a small update.

First, I bought more Kartboy endlink spacers and redid the front endlink properly (to stop binding in the bushings, which the Subie shop I originally went to had ignored). Also, my intake resonator mod still seems to be going well - occasionally, at idle speed, I get some vibration from up there, but I think it is just the jug rattling from being removed/replaced multiple times. As soon as I accelerate all the rattling stops.


In early 2016, I picked up a nail while messing about in about 2-3ft of snow piled up by plows. They weren't able/willing to repair, so I got some 215/70R16s Grabber AT2s



They are more grippy in every way (tarmac, light snow, deep snow, mud, etc.) than the Kuhmo tires from the dealer. There is notable road noise, but I had AT2s on my truck and it's about the same. Tire shop put them at 40psi, which was pretty annoying - I have since set them to 32psi front and 35psi rear.







Currently, I'd say my Subie is capable of 70-80% of the stuff I'd reasonably like to do offroad, and it's a great car overall (I still get avg 24.5mpg, and that's with about 20-30min of idling per day between warming up and waiting outside work in the morning).
With a 1.5-2in lift and skids, I might be able to do 75-90% of reasonable offroading, and I'd really like to find a shop to delete the first cat in the factory header. However, I probably won't be going any further with the mods.


While my Forester is impressive and suitable in many ways, I have three main concerns that make me question long-term ownership:
One, I have learned I definitely prefer 6 cylinder noise to 4 cylinder noise (minor thing, but it's important to me).
Two, the more I think about it, I prefer the idea of selectable fourwheel drive; not even necessarily low range, but just having the ability to swap between RWD or strong RWD bias and 50-50 split or similar is very appealing to me. I guess having my Sport Trac made me very used to RWD handling characteristics, and, while I have somewhat adapted to FWD-bias / AWD handling, I still prefer RWD style handling (using the throttle to steer, what produces oversteer vs understeer, etc.). Also, being able to drive in 2WD and then fall back on 4WD would provide some confidence, as I would have a backup plan (other than my shovel, which is very much a last resort).
Three, I really despise how I have to remove a fuse in order to do any shenanigans. I understand cars are manufactured to be safe, etc., and I generally appreciate the idea of technology keeping me from crashing, but after a long, tedious day at work, I'd like to be able to turn off the pavement and play around in the dirt/mud/snow without having to stop, turn the car off, pull a fuse and restart the vehicle (and then do that all over again when I'm done). Even if VDC were less intrusive, I'd probably be happy with that, but the slightest bit of rotation, and the safety nannies come down hard.

So, maybe I'll keep it, maybe I'll keep it and pick up a cheap 80s/90s 4wd to enjoy (although storage/working space is a major issue) or maybe I'll move on to something else. Regardless, I'll probably hold on to it another year at minimum.
 

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I really enjoy reading your posts. I agree very much with your assessment and appreciate your thorough thinking. I think my office blocks photo-sharing sites, so I'll have to check this when I get home.

One thing I keep coming back to with this car when thinking about something more off-road capable is that this is definitely an all-around car. It does a lot of things pretty well. There are more comfortable cars, there are better off-road cars, there are better looking cars, there are roomier cars, but (in my opinion) there are few cars that combine all of those things as well as the Forester does. And that's why I don't think I'll change any time soon. If I had more space and money, maybe I'd get a few cars that would perform each function individually, but for now, this car suits me pretty damn well.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks Schmee; I enjoy your journal as well.

If I had more space and money, maybe I'd get a few cars that would perform each function individually, but for now, this car suits me pretty damn well.
This statement totally applies to my scenario, I just have a hard time accepting certain compromises. Honestly, if I could somehow get a 40-60 torque split F-R, I'd probably just do that, a Throttle Happy tune, a front skid, the tires I have now and maybe a 1in lift, and I would be absolutely elated.

The crazy, idealist part of me says to eventually try to swap a 5eat (and maybe 3.6R if it would fit) b/c they at least do 45/55 split, -or- do a 5spd swap and get one of those rear bias center diffs, but I'd probably just stall it constantly trying to drive slowly on FS roads.
 
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