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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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Great list! If I'm only looking for ''soft'' off-road. No rock climbing and huge angles to maneuver, just dirt roads and bumps. Stock Forester XT should do the trick or should I be preoccupied? The only thing I might think off is the tires... Can I ''off-road'' with stock tires? Thanks
 

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2011 Forester
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67 Posts
Great list! If I'm only looking for ''soft'' off-road. No rock climbing and huge angles to maneuver, just dirt roads and bumps. Stock Forester XT should do the trick or should I be preoccupied? The only thing I might think off is the tires... Can I ''off-road'' with stock tires? Thanks
I wouldn't off road with stock tires. You are asking for trouble there. Add any moisture to the road surface and you will be slipping around like crazy.

As for lite off roading, I would say adding a slightly taller tire would be very helpful. You want every bit of ground clearance you can get. I can attest to that since I have have a zip-tied on OEM splash guard under the engine, and a dented oil pan to match.

In the end I opted for adding a 2" lift kit and much larger A/T tires than stock. And all I do are northern cali back country fire and river access roads. I'm much more confident now that I have the lift and tires.

Note that it was easy for me to justify since I installed the lift and mounted the tires myself. But if you have to pay someone to do it, it starts getting pricey.
 

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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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Thanks for your feedback! When I'll change my tires, I'm a consider A/T tires for sure, they look really nice too! as for the lift kit, I know they can be really expensive... do you recommend a specific brand?
 

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2011 Forester
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I wouldn't say really expensive. If you go over an inch I'd definitely consider the Anderson complete kit with the subframe spacers (that's what I have). https://andersondesign-fab.com/
I wasn't impressed with the other kits out there. Plus, I sent Anderson an email over the weekend for some help on the kit installation, and they called me on Sunday!
But if you want to keep it simple and cheap, check this out: [ame]https://www.amazon.com/Tema4x4-Complete-SUBARU-Forester-Impreza/dp/B072FN7V1S[/ame]
ForesterLift.jpg
 

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@Freddy Fern

Up there @Anderson Design & Fab is certainly the best way to lift for sure.

As for tires, for the type of offroading you are considering your OEM will be OK until they need replacing; even then you will not need to go with anything too aggressive something like this: https://www.bridgestonetire.com/tire/dueler-at-revo-2-eco

which I think is the equivalent of this down here and has an excellent reputation:
https://www.bridgestonetyres.com.au/dueler-at-d697

The more aggressive the tire the more your gas consumption will increase.

I do recommend a sump guard / skid plate for any adventures offroad.
 

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2015 2.5i Premium CVT
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I'd suggest also going to a smaller diameter wheel. There aren't a lot of options that will fit with the 18 inch wheels. You should be able to use 17 inch wheels without having any issues clearing your brakes. Possibly some of the 16 inch. That will allow to you have tires with more sidewall. Less air and more flex is a good thing on some off road trails. Rocks and sand especially.


Anderson Design lift kits are a bout $400 USD plus shipping.
You could do a simple 1 inch spacer kit for quite a bit less, either HDPE or aluminum.
 

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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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@Kevin

Great tip! Those tires seems like a good in between compromise. I live in Montreal and by law we need to install winter tires from Dec to March. So those ''Summer tires'' need to be good for all kinds of purpose: Highway, dirt roads, etc.

Is the OEM skid plate from the XT not enough?

Thanks!
 

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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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You could do a simple 1 inch spacer kit for quite a bit less, either HDPE or aluminum.
We get a solid amount of snow so that means quite a lot of salt in the streets. I got to watch out for rust. Should I aim toward HDPE in that case? The aluminium might rust?
 

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2011 Forester
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The aluminium might rust?
Nope, aluminum doesn't rust.

Is the OEM skid plate from the XT not enough?
XT is aluminium (or other metal) vs the plastic non-XT
On my 2011 Forester XT the "skid plate" is plastic. And in these cars the oil pan is fairly exposed. But I really don't think you need to worry about that if you are slightly lifted. Unless, you are doing some very uneven rocky roads where one tire will be going lower than the others and you risk having a high rock under the center of your car.
 

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We get a solid amount of snow so that means quite a lot of salt in the streets. I got to watch out for rust. Should I aim toward HDPE in that case? The aluminium might rust?
Aluminum doesn't rust. It can oxidize, but two things make that not really an issue. First is that it's going to be anodized. Turning the surface layer of aluminum into aluminum oxide. That is much harder than aluminum. Or steel for that matter. It's what some synthetic sharpening stones and grinding wheels are made of.
If the anodizing is nicked, the surface will oxidize a little, but stop preventing further oxidation.

Unless you are keeping it constantly wet with high concentrations of salt water it won't be an issue. By the time it were to ever corrode, the salt water will have eaten away at the steel it's attached to.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R 5 EAT
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Great list! If I'm only looking for ''soft'' off-road. No rock climbing and huge angles to maneuver, just dirt roads and bumps. Stock Forester XT should do the trick or should I be preoccupied? The only thing I might think off is the tires... Can I ''off-road'' with stock tires? Thanks
@Freddy Fern

Up there @Anderson Design & Fab is certainly the best way to lift for sure.

As for tires, for the type of offroading you are considering your OEM will be OK until they need replacing; even then you will not need to go with anything too aggressive something like this: https://www.bridgestonetire.com/tire/dueler-at-revo-2-eco

which I think is the equivalent of this down here and has an excellent reputation:
https://www.bridgestonetyres.com.au/dueler-at-d697

The more aggressive the tire the more your gas consumption will increase.

I do recommend a sump guard / skid plate for any adventures offroad.
Actually, SubieLiftOZ is the same price delivered as ADF.

What would be needed on dirt roads:

P-metric AT tires. Don't do LT tires unless you also put on a lift and start doing rocky 4x4 trails.

You would also appreciate having aluminum skid plates to cover both the engine and the transmission. Differential skids are much harder to install and unnecessary for a stock car on dirt roads.

You don't need any lift for any dirt roads. However, skid plates will make you lose 0.5" of clearance and since all tires lose diameter over time, a 1" larger dm tire will prevent the 0.5" clearance loss that you will suffer if staying stock. OTOH, you will accelerate and brake a bit more slowly. Basically, a fully stock car with skid plates will have a ground clearance of under 8". This is totally fine for dirt roads and most easy trails, but any 4x4 terrain will cause a lot of scraping. In order to have 8.5" of true running clearance, you will need 0.5" spacers and bigger tires.

To sum it up: 1/ stock size tires, 2/skids for lots of dirt road driving. Add oversize tires and 0.5" spacers for easy trails and for many moderate ones, too (with a lot of time and care). 2" lift for regularly driving moderate 4x4 trails and a highly select few difficult ones. Wrangler or 4Runner for all weather capability on moderate trails and for difficult ones.
 

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2018 Forester Premium
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78 Posts
Hi All,

after reading the thread on Kevin's awesome off-road Forester and having recently purchased one that I'm intending to spend a bit of time in the dirt with I thought it might be a good idea to compile a list of the off-road mods that are avaiable for our cars, and the best order to do them in, so that those of us who are looking to kit out our cars for the dirt know where to start! I don't pretend to know a lot on the subject, so I'll start off with a few but it would be great if the more knowledgeable amongst you could add to it, and let me know if I'e got them in the right order! I've listed the mod, with it's ease of installation and approximate cost (in Aussie $) in brackets.

1: Alloy sump guard (easy DIY bolt-on, $350)
2: Transmission cooler (for autos only) (advanced DIY or minor workshop install, $150)
3: breather extensions for gearbox/diff (DIY, cheap)
4: All-terrain tyres (wide price range)
5: Centre diff lock and fan cut-of switches (intermediate DIY, <$10)
6: Strut lift ($500-$800?, int. workshop install)
7: Spring lift ($300, minor workshop install)
8: spotlights
9: Front bar ($2300)
10: Rear bar ($3500)
11: Off-road rims
10: Snorkel

Your thoughts?
I don't get it! If you are going to spend that kind of money to end up with a "so-so" off road ride, why not get a used Hummer and be done with it?
 

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2011 Forester AT
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I'm off-road all the time in a N/A without a lift, skids..etc. I've put on the largest size AT tires that would fit and off I go. You just have to know what your car can handle and don't take it too far past that (it can always handle more than you think). We have stock subies out with our off-roading group all the time.

While skids and a lift are on my list, they aren't an absolute must have's, yes they would increase the number of places I could go, but without them I go to some pretty gnarly places.
 

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I don't get it! If you are going to spend that kind of money to end up with a "so-so" off road ride, why not get a used Hummer and be done with it?

Too wide for most of our tracks and it seems the original Hummer had to have it's cooling system modified because they couldn't cope going slowly in very hilly terrain - our local Subie club came across a bunch of them that had overheated in just such terrain. Besides, I couldn't afford the fuel costs! :grin2:
 

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2016 Forester XT
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182 Posts
Has anyone heard of aftermarket skid plates (primative racing etc) decreasing the safety of a car? Ex. Will the engine still "drop" in an impact instead of going into the passenger cabin.
 

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2018 Forester XT Premium FOCVT
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Has anyone heard of Fallaise Design Fabrication? They have a decently priced 2 inch lift for the SJ models, but I haven't found out much about them. Does anyone know if they're any good? They look good, but we all know how that goes.
 

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2011 Forester
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Looks like it comes with everything you need. And, frankly, it's hard to go wrong with these kits. I mean, unless they use some cheap artificial metal on the spacers, it really doesn't take much to make a good lift. If you are planning on running really tall tires, you will need the multilink or subframe spacers. I've got General Grabber 235/70R16 on my SH with the Anderson subframe spacers, and there is still barely a half inch of room between the front of the rear wheel and the inner wheel well. On the front wheel well, I had to get very creative to make room for full-lock turns. That inluded the use of an air-hammer :surprise:

Don't forget to factor in the cost of a good alignment. Stay away from the big tire shops that do alignments and take it to a place that knows how to deal with subarus or at least off-road vehicles.

Also, if you are doing the lift yourself, then be extremely careful pulling the struts out up front. I had one nick the CV boot while I was pulling the old ones out (I replaced mine during the lift kit install since they had 70K on them), and ended up having to buy a new front axle -- which already has the CV joint going bad -- on the new one :crying:
 
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