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2005 Forester X and XT Manual and Auto
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969 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So i type this with very banged up and sore hands from the joy of boxer engine plug swaps (with less than stellar tools). I have a new to me Forester 05 XT with an EJ20X JDM engine. Over the weekend i've done a turbo swap for a rebuilt OEM TD04 (old one was blowing oil). Before the swap, my mechanic and now friend helped me out with a compression test, so of course I had the plugs out.

I was able to get them all back in, but when i started the car i had a misfire on #4 (driver's rear). I knew #2 had a cracked ceramic on the plug so a swapped out #2 for due diligence, then swapped #4 - when it hit me - i'm not getting the coil boot seated on the plug for #4. The #2 coil i can feel seat. The #4 coil never seats and i've had to force on (oblivious it wasn't going on until now - i'm not much of a mechanic).

So i'm done for the night, but will try again tomorrow with encouragement from my mechanic friend, who apparently has more faith in my skills than me. Anyone have any tips for getting this on besides "just keep playing with it". The problem is the complete lack of clearance to guide the boot into the center of the hole.

The good news is everything else appears to be OK - no coolant or oil leaks with the new turbo.
 

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2004 Subaru Forester 5 Speed Manual
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36 Posts
In my experience, but on my Forester XT ej205 engine, I had to turn the coils on all sides until I found a way to make them clear the frame and the cover and get in between them, then I started bending the rubber parts of the coils and rotating them again until they were seated and in the correct position so that I could put the screws back on. For the number 4, if that’s the one closest to the turbo, the screw also holds a bracket for the O2 sensor. This is all without moving the engine off of the engine mounts.
The only thing I can think of is that your coil inner tube is a bit bent so that it’s got a smaller diameter than the plug, mine went in pretty easy after I got them in the right position :)


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2004 Subaru Forester 5 Speed Manual
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36 Posts
In my experience, but on my Forester XT ej205 engine, I had to turn the coils on all sides until I found a way to make them clear the frame and the cover and get in between them, then I started bending the rubber parts of the coils and rotating them again until they were seated and in the correct position so that I could put the screws back on. For the number 4, if that’s the one closest to the turbo, the screw also holds a bracket for the O2 sensor. This is all without moving the engine off of the engine mounts.
The only thing I can think of is that your coil inner tube is a bit bent so that it’s got a smaller diameter than the plug, mine went in pretty easy after I got them in the right position :)


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'17 Impreza Hatchback CVT
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830 Posts
Only encouragement to offer! Sometimes, just a good night's sleep can help you sort things out! Good luck!
 

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2001 Forester stb STI II
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24 Posts
All i can say is also to keep fiddling wit it - you'll eventually get there. I lay a thin screwdriver on the bottom and slid the boot down then so at least i knew i wasn't going too low with the boot. Great and all as the engines are, it's a really awkward design!!
 

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2017 Touring CVT
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128 Posts
Thanks for the video link, NinoS. BTW, it triggered all the claustrophobic-type memories I had from changing plugs in several Outbacks with the 2.5 engine. I never thought of the loosened motor mounts--it might have saved a lot of the aggravation! I tried doing the plugs from the top and from the bottom, but I don't think I ever was able to complete the job in less than 4 hours, i.e. 1 hour per plug--and without coils. There was so little clearance between the frame rails and the EXTREMELY recessed plugs that I sweated bullets trying to use ratchet extensions and a universal extension to do the job. And to top it off, I was told by a Subaru mechanic that the H6 engine was far worse! Thank God for iridium plugs.
 

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2005 Forester X and XT Manual and Auto
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969 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks guys for all the good responses and encouragement. Absolutely im betting on a good night sleep to help! I will try that with screwdriver...i used a flexible extention yesterday as a guide but it was probably too fat and over shot the plug. Rotation - def had to do that just to get them between rail and valve cover...ugh like you all say this job sucks! Glad i dont have the h6 then! (Well would be kinda cool in my 03x 😉 )

Armed with ideas for tonight thanks all!
 

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2005 Forester X and XT Manual and Auto
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Discussion Starter #9
Got that son of a..... i tried the taking the coil apart method but dont recommend it. Not sure if my coil was dead before that, but once i got it in it was dead. Did the swap test and sure enough coil was bad. Got a new coil from oreilly, popped it in (im at pit crew speeds on these plugs and coils by now) and she's purring, no misfire, no smoke problems that were the initial issue with turbo swap, but well see on that.

For getting the boot on, "keep playing with it" proved best. You can also get your finger in there to see if the boot is lining up.

It may be time for a new journal.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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39,446 Posts
@NinoS sounds like way too much work! Besides, it's winter & that's time for indoor projects, like computer builds! :biggrin:

Thank you for updating your thread with the solution! I'll add "SOLVED!" to your thread title. :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 
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2005 Forester X and XT Manual and Auto
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Discussion Starter #11
@NinoS sounds like way too much work! Besides, it's winter & that's time for indoor projects, like computer builds! :biggrin:
Hey Bobby! 100% agree, except i've run out of PC's around the house to build or upgrade! They are all serving their purpose well - I should be grateful. Well, sure i could spring for a 2080ti on the VR machine but that isn't happening!

On the flip side, i love the cold weather - must be my English blood or something.

Drove the car to work this morning (under 3K rpm until i get a tune since i don't know car's history) and no smoke still, very happy about that!
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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3,752 Posts
<snip> so of course I had the plugs out
Here's a method to minimize the pain. Remove the two nuts from the front engine mount. Then, using the on-vehicle jack and a 2 x 2 x 12" piece of wood, jack up one side of the engine. Wood length is not critical - pick a length of wood that permits you to use an extended jack - improves the mechanical advantage so you can twist the jack by hand.

Place the end of the wood piece against the motor-mount bolt head. Twist the jack until you lift the side of the motor about 2". You will have a straight shot at the plugs. Repeat these steps to do the other side. When all done, replace the nuts.

Jacking on one side, then the other, means the motor will be cocked at an angle. So, 2" lift on one side only might be the equivalent of lifting the whole motor 3" or 4". Plus, when you lift the whole motor, there's no guarantee that the motor won't rock over on one side, defeating your efforts. You don't need to remove or even mess with the dog-bone.

This greatly speeds up plug changes - so much so that I can remove the two nuts and jack up the engine and change the plugs more quickly than simply suffering through an in-place plug change. And, in the latter case, there's no guarantee that you can reach every plug or coil pack.

The first time I tried this, I noticed that the motor mount nuts are soft (too soft, IMHO). They round off easily. So, use a 6-point socket to remove them, being very careful not to let the socket slip. Then, replace the nuts (12x1.25, as I recall) with Dorman nuts from an auto-parts store. The Dorman nuts are harder material, plus they are slightly taller giving more socket grip area. After replacing the nuts, I can remove them and replace them without even raising the front of the vehicle - you really just need to 'reach' under.

What else to remove? On the passenger side, remove the whole air filter box. On the driver's side, pull the battery (you needed to clean the terminals, right?). That's about it. It might seem like a lot of extra work but not really so.

I initially learned to do this on my '06XT but the same method works fine on the '12XT. The motor mounts are slightly different, but access to the rear plugs is still a PITA. Lifting one side of the motor, then the other, is THE fix.
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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@dave5358 Thanks! I may try that next time as i may need to do a valve cover at some point. My mechanic advised against it for the plugs but you make it sound pretty simple. I have a decent jack and plenty of wood for such occasions.
It is simple, particularly after the first-time removal of the nuts. It saves a lot of foul language and broken insulators on the plugs. And, it means you can start the plugs by hand (using a socket and short extension) and run them most of the way in by hand. And, it means you can get a 'straight shot' with your torque wrench for the final tightening. The final two items (start by hand, accurate torque) are good shop practices.

One more thought: When you're lowering the engine for the final time, you may discover that the motor mount stud goes through the hole properly, but not the little plastic alignment mound or ***. The fix is easy: put a nut finger tight on the stud, then tap or lever the nut. Once in place, you can remove the nut, put on the washer and nut together and tighten things up.

In the pic below, in the right half, you can see the stud (no nut) and the plastic mound (it has dropped into place). That usually happens, but... sometimes things get strange. Also, in the left half of the picture is the motor mount bolt head... where you want to place the piece of wood to lift. The pics were from a 2006 XT, but it's about the same on other years, including the 09-13 Foresters.



In the pic below, the Dorman replacement nut is on the right - the OEM nut on the left (already starting to round ;-)

 

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2004 Subaru Forester 5 Speed Manual
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36 Posts
I guess you don’t have en ej205 like I do, on mine I also did an engine cover gasket change on both sides and the lower rear bolts have exactly enough room to clear the frame, but I managed all the work without having to move the engine a bit and I also tightened the plugs (with some extensions) by hand :)


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