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575 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

2004 Forester XT – Manual

2004 STI BBS Wheels
225/50ZR -17 Continental ExtremeContact DW


Cobb AP v2
Tune by TheBoostCreep
Perrin UpPipe
STi Exhaust Manifold
VF39 Turbo
Helix High-flow Downpipe
STI Cat Back Exhaust
Samco Intercooler Hoses
Perrin Post-MAF Intake Hose
STI Top Mount Intercooler
Kartboy Battery Tie down
Resistor 'mod' for Cobb stage 2
Walbro 255 Fuel Pump


04 STI steering rack
Koni Sport strut inserts
STI Sedan springs
06 WRX donor strut bodies
Paranoid Fabrications 1” Saggy Butt spacers
Subtle-Solutions 3/8" front spacers
Whiteline Steering Rack Bushings
STI Front Endlinks
Kartboy Rear Endlinks
STI Rear Sway Bar 22mm
Kartboy Botox bolts

Hawk HP+ front pads
Brembo blanks

JDM 02/03 STI Hood Scoop
Yakima full rack system (Off currently)
5 Rear Windows Tinted (Tint % unknown)
Curt Trailer Hitch
3/8" Tubing installed on front window sills
Rear wiper blade upgrade
DIY Hood Struts
Blacked out grill

Dash Mounted Subaru Boost Gauge
Upgraded Sub Woofer (Nothing Killer, Just Upgraded Stock)
Custom Black Leather Heated Seats
Subaru Alarm System
Auto Dimming Mirror with Compass
Kartboy Shifter Knob
Hard-wired Aux plug for iPhone
Full Dynomatt & Ensolite deadening. Roof, doors, paneling; everything except under the carpet.

To do / wish list:

- Gauge pack: EGT, Oil Pressure, Oil Temp
- Add STI badging
- TRS Mini Morimoto retrofit
- STI Lateral Links
- Brembo Brakes F/R
- WRX or STI seats
- Tint 20% front windows / 5% rear windows
- Subtle Hood scoop splitter
- Cobb Intake
- STI Control Arms

Having a baby and house now makes this a very far down the list toy.

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
And so it begins...

I am currently sitting in a hotel room outside of Philadelphia peering out the window and looking down at my new car. Many of you might be familiar with it, as just a few hours ago, it belonged to STG2FXT (aka Charlie).

In my research for a 2009/2010 FXT for my wife, we came to the conclusion that she doesn't need a new car yet, and that I've been emasculated long enough driving her 2003 Jetta GL Auto in silver. Think about that car for a minute... yes, that's right, I was a sorority girl. But back to the FXT, as we realized that it was not practical to get her a new 09/10 FXT, it was evident that it was my turn to get a car, as I have a "lower standard" for what is acceptable regarding age and looks. I also have a much lower price target.

And so I began searching for an AWD, good handling, reliable, turbo wagon, that was around $10k, with under 60k miles, and in manual; Preferably something a bit bigger than the WRX, but not a Legacy Wagon. Everything Audi fell off when I added reliable to the equation, and the BMW 3--Xi, are freaking expensive. Which led me back to where I started, looking at Foresters. After searching the country using crazedlist, ebay, autotrader,, Nasioc, I-Club, and the list goes on and on. I realized around $10k, with fewer than 60k miles in a manual does not exist. So I bumped it up to 70k, around $10k, nothing still. Then I bumped up to 80k, around $10k, nothing still. Then I tried the classifieds at

I had found it. A 2004 FXT, in my mileage range, around my price, single owner (starting to get excited here), enthusiast! (heart's racing this can go so many ways), AND he's done all the engine work I would want to do! But it's red... Being that I am a Subie guy, I am function over form, so screw it, it's red. I have a few PM conversations with Charlie, and the guy knows his stuff; this is good. Call Charlie to discuss the mods, condition, etc. and he knows the schedule to replace the timing belt. Who knows these things? Someone who it obsessive about maintaining their car, that's who. We talk for about 30 minutes, and it's settled. SOLD!

Now the fun starts, as this was a month ago. I'm in San Francisco and Charlie is in Philly. How the hell and I going to get this car to SF? What about sending the cashier’s check and title? There are a lot of 'what if's' here. After two weeks of trying to find a good shipping company, I'm about to give up, as they are all nearly $2k for an enclosed trailer, and very few can guarantee one truck. So I just check one-way tickets to Philly and shockingly, they are only $100! After doing the math, I have an epiphany: ROAD TRIP! I call all of my buddies; I ask the wife, no go. I'm doing this thing alone.

That was two weeks ago. This morning, my wife dropped me off at SFO at a bright and early 5am. I got into Philly around 5pm, where Charlie was waiting for me. We got the temp tags sorted, and he even told me what hotel to stay at, as the one I chose off Orbitz is in the ‘hood. (BTW, Charlie is the best person I have ever dealt with for an internet sale. Easier and more trustworthy than the people I have ahd face-face dealings with over the last ten years)
Now, as I sit in the hotel looking at the car below, I can only think of one thing: “How in the hell, am I going to get all of that sh-t I bought on Nasioc and over the last two weeks into there?” I ask this because, Charlie had all of his stock exhaust bits, his 3” exhaust, his AccessPort, and about three boxes worth of extras and add-ons he has collected already loaded into the cargo area! I have NO idea how I’m going to fit the Type-C wheels I am picking up in Chicago, the WRX Wagon springs from Pennsylvania, or the WRX take-off strut assemblies from LA.

Tomorrow, I will be meeting up at the Chicago area Thursday night meet to get the wheels. I have a forum buddy from a mountain bike forum that is letting me couch crash just outside of Chicago. Friday it’s Oklahoma City; Saturday to Albuquerque to see a college buddy; Sunday to LA; and Monday back to the Bay Area. Hopefully I’ll have my new parts installed within 2 weeks, at which point things start to get fun.

To be updated as the trip progresses…

The trip was uneventful, minus trying to figure out how to change my 93oct map down to 91oct once I crossed into Texas. Saw a few friends, and even got to celebrate my Dad's 56th birthday. What I was able to pickup along the way however were my wheels and WRX takeoff strut assemblies, and when I returned home my STI rear sway was waiting...

Pics on original ad:

Current Mod list (stolen from original ad)
New Subaru Radiator & Coolant
Cobb STG2 Since 10K
Helix Catted Down Pipe
Helix Un-Catted Up Pipe
STi Exhaust Manifolds
Stock Cat Back
Custom Made 3" Catback With 3 Chamber Flowmaster And Tasteful Chrome Tip
5 Rear Windows Tinted
Dash Mounted Subaru Boost Gauge
Mostly De-Badged
Trailer Hitch
Upgraded Sub Woofer (Nothing Killer, Just Upgraded Stock)
Custom Black Leather Heated Seats
Subaru Alarm System
Auto Dimming Mirror With Compass
Auxiliary Horns
Fog Light Mod

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
4/2/10: Work begins. Given that I just drove the car cross-country, fluid changes are in order. Oil service done.

4/3/10: Work continues. A fellow FXT owner and I spent today doing basic maintenance and cleaning the cars. We had a steam cleaner, so the car got a bath and steam cleaning. Hopefully that gets the must smell out of the interior from when my Styrofoam cooler broke halfway through my cross-country trip, dumping a gallon of melt into the passenger foot well.

We also though it would be a good time to do the remaining fluids on my car, as it is new to me. While bleeding the brakes, we came across a problem on the driver's front wheel... the bleed nipple was stuck and barely moving. Bleeding felt like crap and was nearly impossible. At this point it's after 9pm and no dealership is open, which is not somewhere we wanted to be when I realized I had a spare set of Impreza brakes from my TS in my storage unit downstairs. Luck is on our side! Upon trying to re-thread the new bleed nipple into the caliper we both remembered why we swore to never buy an East Coast cars, as the caliper was rusted heavily. Luck is not on our side. Thankfully we do have a spare caliper, so we bolted it up and proceeded to bleed the brakes. They are still pretty mushy, but at least they now work*. The spilled fluid with necessitate a new set of rotors and pads though (dang...). I just need to explain that this is "normal" with a used car to the wife somehow.

While I was fiddling around with the brakes, James took it upon himself to change out my sway bar to the STI take-off. We again were reminded of the wonders of East Coast winters with this project. It will suffice to say that the car is not currently drive-able with the sway bar being held on by a single stuck bolt. The hacksaw will come out tomorrow.

We also were able to identify a laundry list of parts that will 'need' to be replaced to resolve rust issues:
control arms
down pipe back exhaust
lat links
most bushings
pretty much anything heavily exposed under the car... again, this is a 'dang' moment, as it justifies* an upgrade.

We are progressing though and once we get the core maintenance issues resolved, the new (to me) suspension will be going on.

4/4/10 After a vicious fight with the corroded bolts of the original end links, we were are to get the STI 20mm RSB heavy duty mounts installed. We had just finished the brake bleed from hell, so we had a stack of tools in the rear preventing us from testing the feel of the new sway.
We took a really in depth look at the corrosion on the underbody and I think I will be replacing most every bolt as we get access through other upgrades. It's a mess down there.

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
4/5/10: While I was on my trip, my STI take-off lateral links showed up but my wife noted pick-up on the door tag. After an 1.25 hour drive to the FedEX ground depot in Hercules, I have them sitting in a box on my patio waiting for the install day.
4/14/10: Never work on your FXT with a buddy who also has an FXT and wants his to feel like yours. 12 beers and the internet later, new steering bushings and a normal rear windshield wiper are inbound for me. Same for him plus a Rallitec f/r sway set w/ heavy duty mounts. This is making our installation day look like it will be an installation week.

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Installation of parts has begun. This morning I had my tires installed on the new wheels. The road noise over the geolanders has dropped substantially, however the added grip and lack of road noise made noticeable what is either a dying CV joint or wheel bearing. I need to sort that before I do my suspension installation, as I don't feel like paying for two alignments.
I also did the '3/8" tubing mod' to reduce wind noise from the front windows. It worked phenomenally.

4/19/10: 3/8" Tubing installed on front window sills to reduce wind noise.
4/24/10 (78,000 miles): Installation of 225/50ZR -17 Continental ExtremeContact DW onto 17x7 FXT Sport wheels.


575 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
5/23/10: Yesterday was a car work day and we were able to get some smaller issues resolved. We setup my direct to the OEM head unit audio plug (, routed into my armrest. While in there, tightened up the e-brake cable, and also polished the headlamp lenses to remove fogging. Gave her a bath while we were at it.
Next weekend is the big build weekend, so now prep begins.

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
5/29/10: Heavy install day.
We installed the WRX take-off suspension, dropping the car about 1.5". It looks great, but the butt is sagging so I will be installing paranoid 3/8" spacers when they arrive next week. We spent 12 hrs doing the exhaust and suspension due to corroded bolts, forcing a trip to Sears to get a breaker bar and a trip to Subaru to get more hardware. We were unable to install the 07 STI lateral links that I purchased on eBay from Silverline Automotive, as they were bent. I am not sure how this will be resolved, as I am out $180 and the parts sent were broken (despite the ad noting "not bent").

Also converted the exhaust back to stock so that I could get it smogged. It passed, so the exhaust comes back off tomorrow.

Not on my car, but we swapped pads on another Forester from Hawk HPS to Hawk HP+ pads, as the HPS were painfully loud. I now have a spare set of track pads though.

5/30/10: Heavy install Day rd. 2
Today we replaced the stock ehaust with my normal setup of Cobb downpipe to stock mid-pipe and axle-back. We tried setting it up with my 3" mid-pipe and Magnaflow exhaust, but it sat too high and was obnoxious. I will need to find something else in 3" to clean up the airflow without being ricey or too loud... It feels good to have the power back even with my stock mid-pipe back. setup.

The big challenge was installing the new STI steering rack and Whiteline poly steering rack bushings. We found that by removing the wheels and front sway, we were able to easily thread the oem out and slide the STI rack in. We ran into problems with corrosion again with the end-links and wasted another two hours getting the end-links off without damaging them. Our secondary problem came when lining up the steering fluid lines and it became clear that the person who removed it from their car was a hack. The lines were very badly bent costing us another hour plus to get them so we could line them up. Minus the corroded end-link and bent hose lines, we would have been done in an hour. We did not get the alignment anywhere near close, so I will not be driving beyond my initial test drive for safety until I get the alignment done.

Initial feeling on the STI rack is WOW. Normally upon gunning it at apex of a 90* turn, the steering gets a little wild; Even without an alignment, gunning it at apex led to a crisp, controlled planting of the tires and acceleration (see over steer). I can not say yet whether it was worth the $200 and hassle of installation, but it feels really damn good.

Premium Member
10,887 Posts
Congratulations! I'm curious to see how the WRX springs work out for you, I'm thinking of switching to them as well to make the car ride softer.

For $200 that STi rack is absolutely worth it, that's cheap. If you don't have a larger front bar yet, just wait 'till you try one -- you'll be pretty surprised.


575 Posts
Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
6/3/10: Got the FXT back from alignment today. My initial setup was WAY off:
Front: Camber: -.8 / -.4 ; Toe: 1.39 / 1.43
Rear: Camber: -1.3 / -.8 ; Toe: .19 / .21

Front: Camber: -.9 / -.9 ; Toe: -.01 / .00
Rear: Camber: -1.3 / -.8 ; Toe -.01 / .00

I'm going to need to get camber bolts to get my target -1.5 f / -1 r.

Also slid in my 3/8" Paranoid Fab saggy butt spacers.

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
6/6/10: So what I was saying about the rack maybe not being worth it... I lied. I drove up to Mendocino this weekend ~100 miles each way, and the difference is huge. Once we got clear of the City and the roads got better, the steering tightness became apparent. Up towards Cloverdale, there are about 10 miles of freshly paved sweepers that you can easily hit upwards of 100mph. I was taking them around 85 (no traffic around), and the steering feel is amazing. It's on par with my buddy's e43 m3. I did notice a lot of rear end wag at that speed and am attributing that to the stock WRX suspension and springs.

While we were on the vineyard, I did get the chance to do some semi-hot laps around the property's dirt roads. That was a ton of fun. My buddy had never driven over 20mph on a dirt road, and we were pushing 45-50 at some points. Needless to say, the sides of the car are rally pasted with dirt and mud. I'll try to get pics of the muddied Subie posted.

I also need to get my sound deadening installed. The FXT is super loud over 3500rpm.

575 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
6/7/10: I just got a new job with a substantial step up in pay. The mod game just got interesting...

To do list:
- Sound Deadening
- Stromung/Cobb 3" catback exhaust
- STI Intercooler
- Turbo... oh where to go, but to go fast
- STI seats
- STI Shifter trim
- STI Lateral Links
- STI Al Control Arms

Oh, where to stop?!
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