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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here goes the starting of my mod/install journal

The car: Satin White Pearl 2010 Forester 2.5XT Limited with 4EAT
Just brought home:

Last Fall:






Brief History: Bought the forester in October of 2009 as I really needed to get a different car for winter and let my 1977 Chevy Nova (as than it was my DD) sit for the winter. While car shopping I just couldn't get Subaru out of my mind, partly because of the superior all wheel drive system, and because I am also into autocross, so was thinking of a WRX or STI to become my new DD and weekend racer. Ended up in the forester because I can't stand the hatchback STI and I was a little cramped in the WRX, whereas in the forester I had more room. Coming from a mild (and on a good day) ~300HP V8, the turbo was a must to keep my lust for speed satisfied as well for me to feel safe (power to get away from idiot drivers) and to be satisfied with the car.

So far I have really enjoyed my Subaru, she sometimes has her quirks, but shes a great vehicle. She also makes me realize just how old my Nova is.


Mods Table of Contents:
Rally Armour Urethane Mudflaps - installed Nov 2009
Kenwood DDX896 Head Unit - installed June 2010
Focal Rear Speakers with dynamatting - installed June 2010
Amplifier Install - installed October 2010
Stereo Trim - installed February 2011
"Temporary" Front Components - installed September 2011
Rear Sway Bar Upgrade - installed September 2011
Focal Front Speaker Upgrade - installed May 2012
SMYCLuster Hood and Defi Racer Boost Gauge - Installed January 2012

Incidents/Accidents:
Rear Tire Blowout - March 2012

Please feel free to comment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Rally Armour Urethane Mudflaps

After trolling around various Subaru forums, I kept hearing about the Rally Armour mudflaps, and after seeing how much of a difference they made in keeping the vehicle cleaner, I quickly found their site and ordered a set for the foz.

Factory cheapo mudflaps:




Awesome RA UR Mudflaps:







I did the install without removing any tires, for the fronts you just have to turn the wheel to the side you are working on and you have plenty of room. For the rears, the car did need to be jacked up and I had the proper angle screwdrivers to install the flaps with the limited space between tire and flap. The fitment of the UR Series is great, everything aligned like they should and with all the mounting points pre-fabbed into the flaps, makes installing them properly and evenly easy. I haven't noticed the included hardware come loose on me like some people have reported, but I probably tightened mine more (slightly dimpled the plastic washers).

The coverage difference is quite significant over the OEM mudlfaps and really makes a difference. The sides stay much cleaner and the spray doesn't reach as far up the side of the body as with just the OEM flaps. Also the RA flaps seemed to also make a hugh difference on the amount of backspray behind the vehicle, which is nice for anyone following me. Why OEMs don't use mudflaps anymore is beyond me (or why when they do add them are so useless), vehicles kick up so much spray without any rear flap (and the odd useless OEM flap makes little difference). In heavy traffic the backspray can be killer and annoying by coating your car with extra salty dirt.

The RA flaps are also really great in the winter, because they are poly-urethane they stay soft and won't get brittle bend or break like other cheap-o brands. They also catch a lot of the snow spray. Overall a really great investment.

Update: Just thought that I would add that I have not had any issues with the included mounting hardware coming loose like the odd person has complained about. I tightened the screws until the washers dimpled slightly and they have not loosened at all.

I also really love how snow and slush will not build up on the Rally Armour flaps unlike many cheap plastic ones. My parents accord will build up so much snow and slush, its ridiculous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Kenwood DDX896 Install

So as most people know, if you want better sound in your car, you have to do it yourself. After much reading online I finally settled on getting the Kenwood Excelon DDX896 deck.

I kinda did the install while jumping between different parts of the install, a little work on the deck, then the speakers, then the deck, then the speakers. It wasn't the most efficient way to work, but did get the job done (eventually :p)

I am not going to go into the details of how to take things apart, it is well documented on this site and in the Subaru Accessory Install Guides.

First off I am going to give props to SVXdc for his awesome wire harness pinout guide, it saved me tremendous time and made the install much easier and faster.

One Note, I did the install without disconnecting the battery, but I do not recommend this for most people.

Now for the install, I chopped up the harness and did my wire connections as I always have, with butt-splice connectors. I have never had issues with this kind of connection (and still don't). I just didn't want to try to solder onto the factory wiring in the small opening.



To keep the factory steering wheel controls I installed a PAC-SWI JACK. Using their vehicle specific instructions (for the forester) from their website better describes the install and programming steps and I had no problem programming it to the steering wheel controls. After programming and test (very important to test the programming!!!) I velcroed the module deep inside on a duct.



Since my XT Limited came with the Sirius radio option pre-installed, I decided to keep using the factory antenna instead of routing the new one to the back of the roof. It took some coaxing to get it out of the connector housing for the factory module, but once removed, it plugged right into the SCCC1 adapter. I did insulate the factory antenna connector with electrical tape to prevent shorting (it had a long section of metal surround) This I also velcroed to the ducting at the back of the opening below the clock.



Next came the kenwood ipod cable. I decided to route it to the "factory" location in the middle armrest. To do this, Subarus install guide for the ipod kit was indispensable to remove the paneling. One giant hole later and the cable is routed into the center console.



If you were going to properly hook up the parking brake sense wire, this would be the time to do it as the switch is right on the bottom of the hand brake lever.

Oh, further thing of note, it appears that Subaru has some inconsistencies with the am/fm antenna connector they use at the radio, some factory decks appear to use the industry standard connector, while some use the Subaru only connector as mine did (Factory "Premium" 6CD Changer). I had to buy an adapter cable off of Crutchfield to connect to the antenna.

As this unit has bluetooth built in, I decided to place the hands free mic on the dash cluster below the tach. From people that I have talked with through the hands free, they say it sounds great in this location.



Time for the final deck install, Kenwood provides a cut-to-fit dash piece with this unit, so I trimmed this panel up to fill in the gaps left from the 'Corporate' Double Din factory radio. The mounting brackets from the factory radio bolted up to the new deck with no problem.


The kenwood looks great in place of the old cheap factory deck. When I have some spare money kicking around, I fully intend to buy the jdm trim to make it look more stock.

The pac swi-jack works perfectly, the only complaint i have about it is that it takes a more deliberate press for the command to be processed, it is not as instantaneous as the factory setup was.

As for the deck, its not perfect by any means. I think that it could use a better anti-glare coating, have a much brighter backlight, and actually use a USB 2.0 spec port for the ipod connection instead of USB 1.1 (it does use USB 2 for the additional usb port for other usb devices, dumb I know). Using the tilt feature, the glare can be pretty much eliminated from my view in the drivers seat if I tilt it forward, but then accessing the touch buttons on the bottom is hard. The startup screen is customizable, so I had to put a Subaru themed one on. All in all, I do really like the deck, it has its quirks, but imho its one of the best ones on the market. This unit doesn't have nav built-in, but it is nav-ready (with kenwoods expensive nav module).


 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Focal Rear Speakers with dynamatting

The speaker install was done at the same time as the deck install, as I needed to wait or something fustrated me, I would jump back and forth.

So after tearing into the first rear door, I decided to do the install the right way and fully sound deaden it, so I bought the Dynamat door kit (its what I can get locally) and started my first dynamat install.

Before:


and After:


Only tips I have are take your time, and if you can find a small roller, get it, it will help save your hands from pressing the matting down. Also be careful when cutting next to the door or you will scratch it easily (don't ask how I know this).

Now for the speakers, I went with a pair of Focal Access 165 coaxials. I got them on sale at a local car audio sale. As has been mentioned in other stereo installs, the stock speakers have a very small magnet with a small voice coil.

Here are some comparison pics:







I made my own speaker mounts to bring the speaker closer to the door panels grill and to be able to mount the speaker using the stock anchor nuts. There is plenty of room for a deep speaker to go into the rear doors, there is nothing in the rear doors that the speaker could interfere with (the window doesn't go down far enough).

Mounted in door:




I also used ~ 0.5 inch total thickness of foam weather stripping to seal the speaker ring to the door.

Note on using the stock wiring, the speaker wire colors at the deck harness did not match what was at the speaker itself, comparing to SVXdc's guide I came to the conclusion that the speaker wire was the same color code as the impreza and hooked up the speakers according to that.

The sound deadening of the rear doors makes them close with a solid thud, and it seems like it really cut down on the road noise. Bass also seems to be more pronounced (but also because of the higher power from the deck). The only thing that bugs me slightly about it is the realization that it makes it hard to access anything inside the door for repair/modification.

The focals sound much better then the factory speakers, and I haven't even got them broken in yet. The only thing is that they appear to be power hungry and the decks internal amp is def not going to cut it. My components for the front and amps will really need to be installed asap to complete the sound upgrade and make the focal's sing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Amplifier Install

Well, its about time that I actually updated my mod journal with my amp install from last October. I installed two Clarion amps under the seats of the Forester to provide me with ~700 Wrms of speaker power.

I started by delving back into my rear doors to re-wire the speakers with new 16 gauge wire. Running the wire back up through the door boot was tricky, there isn't a whole lot of room left in it to run wire, 16 fits good, but I hear the max is about 14 gauge for the rear doors, and 16 gauge for the front doors.



Next came removal of the lower B pillar trim. These are a pain in the butt to get off as they use real stiff plugs to hold them in place. I started a thread here: Removal of Lower B PIllar Trim for tips and pics of removal of the trim. The door sill trim pieces also need to come off, but they pry off pretty easily. Running wire down the column is now easy.



I put the 4 channel under the drivers seat and to run the speaker wire to the passenger side I ran the wire over the trans tunnel and under the passenger seat, entering under the B pillar trim. For my sub I ran a 12 gauge wire up the rear passenger door sill under the rear deck.

For power I ran a 4 gauge (unfortunately not quite a true 4AWG wire, but close) from the battery and entered through an unused grommet in the firewall. I think the grommet I used is for the clutch cylinder in manual cars, so people with stick cars would need to use the trickier grommets higher up and in the middle of the firewall.



150 Amp fuse mounted with velcro (for now) above the engine fuse block:


I also ran an extra 4AWG ground from the battery to the ground bolt hiding on the side of the drivers strut tower:


To prevent any possibility of water intrusion, I had my dad seal the wire to the grommet with black RTV sealant.


The power wire comes in above the gas pedal and I routed it under the center console to the cubby hole under the armrest.


I am using a fused 4 gauge to two 8 gauge distribution block. I had planned to have it underneath, but there is no room underneath, so next best place was the cubby hole, and it allows easier access to the fuses if I ever need to change them.


I also ran my RCA cables under the center as well, keeping the power wire on one side and the RCA's on the other, and anytime that they crossed, tried to have them cross at 90 degrees to minimize noise intrusion.

To ground the amps I removed the rear bolt securing the seats to the trans tunnel and put a ring terminal on the screw,


removed some paint from the bracket and routed the wire forwards under the seat.




With the the bracket cover back on, you can't even see the wire. NOTE: this bolt hole is open all the way through to outside, so you want to reseal the bolt threads when reinstalling it. I think the proper torque for the bolt is ~40 ft lbs.

Finally I reached the point of wiring the amplifiers. To keep everything neat and to have better connection to the screw terminals, I terminated all bare wires with fork lugs.

Heres the drivers side 4 channel hooked up (I haven't installed front speakers yet, so no wire for them yet either):


I used wire wrap to clean up and hide the wires:



Here is a final shot with the seat forward:


And with the seat in normal back position you can't even see them!


Install under the passenger seat is identical. I lucked out with these amps as they fit perfectly under the seats and are somewhat wedged in. Maybe someday I will add some velcro to help secure them, but since they are wedged between the seat brackets, it doesn't go anywhere.

The underseat floor vents are blocked now, I haven't decided yet if I am going to try to reroute them, or raise the amps so the air can flow to the rear seat floor again.

Installing the amps have brought the Focal speakers I previously installed to life! They sound phenomenal now that they are getting 60Wrms, clear, crisp and defined! I am currently running a single 12" Phoenix Gold Octane ZR subwoofer in a box that takes up have the hatch floor. But with the 400Wrms it gets, can rattle the heck out of both passengers and the car. It is fun to feel your organs vibrating occasionally :rock:.

Now to save up for some focal components for the front and build a custom fiberglass enclosure into the hatch for the sub...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Stereo Trim Installed

This is also documented here: SH owners with aftermarket decks and stock center trim look here!

I had my forester in for service and was browsing the showroom when I noticed that the 2011 forester had the proper sized trim, so I went to the parts counter and had them order one in. The first attempt was the same corporate sized opening, but upon further venturing into the part numbers, he brought in another trim, and this one was the proper double din opening!

It is part number: 66065SC130


Now the deck install is truly finished:



 

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That is absolutely what I wanted to see. Fantastic stuff. I'd debated laying in any deadening material, but I have so much of it laying around from my last install that there is no way I'm not going to use it.

Was it totally necessary to make the speaker mounts? I'm throwing these in, and I've seen other people with similar stuff not use them. I know you said you did it to get them closer to the grill, so it doesn't seem like a must, but I'm still intrigued. The Polks come with an adapter ring that may work, but I've also seen kits from Scosche that do the same thing.

This just makes me really want to get home and go to work on it. I can't decide if I am more excited to get the speakers in, or get the new HU in. Good thing it'll all happen at about the same time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The speaker ring serves a few purposes, first and foremost was to adapt the speaker to the factory mounting points to save drilling into the door. Second was to put the speaker closer to the grill so the sound wouldn't bounce around as much between the speaker and the grill, allowing the sound to exit the grill with less disturbance. Third, it helps to seal the speaker to the door, and finally, may help give the speaker the resemblance of an enclosure, but I don't know if that effect actually occurs.

Sound deadening is a must. If you have the material, use it, its helpful in so many ways.
 

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Sound deadening is a must. If you have the material, use it, its helpful in so many ways.
I deadened my entire previous car. The gains were incredible, from sound quality to quietness. It really does exponentially increase the enjoyment of being in the vehicle, particularly if you travel a fair amount in it. At this point, I won't go quite as far as I did with the last car, but the doors will be taken care of, for sure. If I have leftover materials and time, I'll go after the hatch area. Always another rainy day project I can have, however.

Did you put a backup camera in, btw?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I deadened my entire previous car. The gains were incredible, from sound quality to quietness. It really does exponentially increase the enjoyment of being in the vehicle, particularly if you travel a fair amount in it. At this point, I won't go quite as far as I did with the last car, but the doors will be taken care of, for sure. If I have leftover materials and time, I'll go after the hatch area. Always another rainy day project I can have, however.

Did you put a backup camera in, btw?
I had my Forester undercoated when I bought it, and I think that that will be able to let me get away without having to dynamat the floor, otherwise I would love to dynamat everything. Actually I think I have been pretty lucky, vibrations from my sub in the hatch area isn't really audible inside. If I have it cranked it vibrates pretty good outside though.

As for a backup camera, I thought about it as it would be really nice, but I didn't put one in as I felt that its lens would always be covered in dirt, mud, snow, ice, salt, etc and become useless. My hatch is always dirty, it drives me nuts, I love keeping my car clean and shiny but I drive daily on dirt roads, so my car is always covered in dust/dirt.
 

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You get to drive on dirt roads daily? If only I were that lucky.

Snow, ice, and salt are a legitimate concern for me six months out of the year, so you bring up an excellent point. I suppose I've gotten along just fine without a camera for the nearly ten years I've been driving. Other than that, save for the odd camping trip, I doubt I encounter much else.

How's the Kenwood unit? I had a DNX5120 that was great, and I love the look of a solid screen with few external controls...but I don't think I can convince myself to pony up the money for something like that. I may do it, just because I want rear iPod connections, instead of front ones on the Pioneer 3300BT I'm leaning towards.

Maybe I'll just win the lottery and get what I want.
 

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Nice job with the audio upgrade. I'd like to upgrade a couple of things like the door speakers someday, but not right now because my 'capitol' is limited at the moment. Just out of curiosity, where did you purchase those speakers(for future reference)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
You get to drive on dirt roads daily? If only I were that lucky.

Snow, ice, and salt are a legitimate concern for me six months out of the year, so you bring up an excellent point. I suppose I've gotten along just fine without a camera for the nearly ten years I've been driving. Other than that, save for the odd camping trip, I doubt I encounter much else.

How's the Kenwood unit? I had a DNX5120 that was great, and I love the look of a solid screen with few external controls...but I don't think I can convince myself to pony up the money for something like that. I may do it, just because I want rear iPod connections, instead of front ones on the Pioneer 3300BT I'm leaning towards.

Maybe I'll just win the lottery and get what I want.
the DDX896 is a good unit, imo it has some of the best hardware and audio features available in the double din market. Truthfully the worst thing about it is that Kenwood needs better UI engineers, the UI is slow and on this generation they only used USB 1.1 for the ipod connection (which appears to have upgraded to USB 2 for the newest models). But really once it is setup I pretty much just use the steering wheel controls. I do still need to do a full tuning of the system, but it sounds great.


Nice job with the audio upgrade. I'd like to upgrade a couple of things like the door speakers someday, but not right now because my 'capitol' is limited at the moment. Just out of curiosity, where did you purchase those speakers(for future reference)?
Audio upgrades are always the first mods I have done when I get a car. I get most of my equipment from Auto Expressions in 'toon town, its the car customization division of Audio Warehouse. Its the best car audio place in the city, the guys know their stuff. Its also the only place that carries Focal speakers, of which I am now a huge fan of.
 

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the DDX896 is a good unit, imo it has some of the best hardware and audio features available in the double din market. Truthfully the worst thing about it is that Kenwood needs better UI engineers, the UI is slow and on this generation they only used USB 1.1 for the ipod connection (which appears to have upgraded to USB 2 for the newest models). But really once it is setup I pretty much just use the steering wheel controls. I do still need to do a full tuning of the system, but it sounds great.
The DNX5120 I had was a great unit, but I agree on the UI front. The sad thing is...your 896 has a much better UI than my old Kenwood. Funny. I just don't know if I can convince myself to spend a ton of extra money.

I really just need to move somewhere where I have to drive on dirt roads daily. I love Chicago, but the outdoors are calling me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The DNX5120 I had was a great unit, but I agree on the UI front. The sad thing is...your 896 has a much better UI than my old Kenwood. Funny. I just don't know if I can convince myself to spend a ton of extra money.

I really just need to move somewhere where I have to drive on dirt roads daily. I love Chicago, but the outdoors are calling me.
One of the main reasons I got the 896 was for the 13 band separate front/rear equalizer, and the crossovers (variable slope up to -24db). There was not much out there that offered anything near the audio features of this unit (or the DNX9960, but much more $$$). Unfortunately, Kenwood no longer offers a unit like mine anymore, you have to get the top of the line navigation model, where the 896 was the top navi model minus the nav.

Living in a rural area is great. It is so nice to leave the noise and other city issues behind. I just wish there wasn't so many farms around, there are not really any fields to play in :icon_frown:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Very nice, well documented clean installs. I truly enjoyed visiting and reading through your journal. Awesome work!
Thanks a lot! I really take my time working on the foz so that everything looks just right and is done right. I rushed some things in my Nova and have regretted some of the things I did to it.
 
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