A Budget Overlander, Forester Part II: Protection

With the necessary capability upgrades sorted, our focus shifted to protecting the soft underbelly of the Forester. Subaru did a fine job keeping most of the vehicle’s components tucked even with the frame rails, but not so well offering skid plates for the vulnerable oil pan, transmission and rear differential. Fortunately, the simplistic design of the chassis makes aftermarket protection both affordable and easy to install.

Mozzy-by-Fozzy-11109

I have a confession to make: when I accepted this assignment I had serious doubts. Before this project I had never thought of a Subaru as anything more than gravel-flinging fun. I found the idea of a mere Forester attacking moderate trails laughable, and I pushed forward expecting to gain little more than a rally-inspired softroader. During a recent trip over the Mojave Road the little Foz shattered all doubts with it’s nimble capability. In the sand and washboard it was the speed demon we expected, cruising along comfortably at around 50mph. On the rocky hill climb after Fort Piute, a trail which rates nearly a 3 after recent storms, it was shockingly unstoppable. We managed to run the entire 140-mile trail in under 24 hours (sight-seeing and camping included) without a single issue.

Primitive Racing

There are two big names in the Subaru off-pavement aftermarket, but Primitive is the only manufacturer to offer comprehensive protection for the SG Forester (model year 2003-2009). Their full armor package includes three thick aluminum skid plates which provide ample protection to the most vulnerable areas on the undercarriage for about $500.

Primitive Plates

The front skid plate is formed like an upside-down 3/16ths hood, and provides complete protection for the bottom of the entire engine bay. Integrated vents allow for airflow, and options are available for an extra-length “stinger tail” and oil drain plug/filter access ports (we opted to skip the access ports for the best possible protection). Installation is extremely easy: remove the factory mud shield, then install the new skid plate onto the pre-existing threaded holes in the frame. Removing the plate for service is an even simpler four-bolt process.

Primitive Engine Skid 01Primitive Engine Skid 02

The 4EAT transmission skid plate takes a little more thought to install: an area on the forward corner of the plate is pre-notched for easy removal, as some Subaru exhaust systems can interfere with the plate (ours did). Otherwise, installation is fairly straightforward using existing bolts on the transmission housing. Ample venting is provided, as is a convenient opening to access the drain plug.

Primitive Trans Skid 01Primitive Trans Skid 02

The rear skid plate is the most difficult of the three to install, requiring loosening of the rear differential then carefully keeping it in place while tightening everything back up (an extra set of hands comes in… handy). Six bolts and a few spacers (included) are used for installation. The leading edge of the skid features a stout approach ramp to help prevent hang-ups on the trail, and the rear has a large opening for easy access to the differential’s drain and fill plugs.

Primitive Diff Skid 01Primitive Diff Skid 02

Out on the Mojave we had the opportunity to thoroughly hammer our shiny new skid plates over the rocky moderate sections of the trail. We also tested the integrity of the skids against a few unexpected impacts at speeds in excess of 65mph*. At one point we pulled to a stop certain we would find something broken, but a quick inspection revealed little more than a scratch on the surface of the wide front skid plate. Needless to say, we were quite impressed. (*performed by a professional driver under controlled conditions, do not attempt, yada-yada…)

Primitive Tested 01

Hi 2006 Outback 25i owner,

2″ of lift is not too realistic for that car.  We find frequent front CV axle failures for cars lifted 1.5″ or more.  The CV angles become too great and the CV’s are already old.
WHEN you do replace the front CV axles, only get the factory REMANUFACTURED ones from SUBARU (can order from us for a few dollars less typically).  $99 CV axles from Auto Zone tend to fail quickly. (FYI)
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND for a good solid lift on ’05-09 Outbacks:
Our King RAISING SPRING kit for $499 (less $30 automatically if ordered online and shipped in the USA)
and also get our KYB struts featuring a thicker shaft, up-rated rear strut: $318 for the set of 4 (F+R)
I would also get our Heavy Duty Front strut tops (listed under fully assembled parts CATEGORY for $145/pair
You can RE-USE all the other bits (dust boots, bump stops, perches, rear tops, etc).
But to get ALL NEW parts, including those HD front tops and make INSTALL a pretty easy affair for you and a buddy on a weekend, get the STRUTS, the SPRING KIT and the options for FULLY ASSEMBLED FRONTs and FULLY ASSEMBLED REARs (found under FULLY ASSEMBLED PARTS category.
You then get “fully loaded” strut and raised spring assemblies ready to bolt in each corner.  No spring compressors or figuring out how to stack parts.  This ~1.2″ of lift is plenty to fit bigger tires and give you more clearance while keeping the car reliable. HANDLES GREAT on the road, much better than a spacer-only lift for sure.
Most customers report it handles better than when  the car was new, and this is due to that heavy duty King Spring combined with the up-rated rear strut.  Eliminates “ghost walking” and it limits how much the rear goes up and down and therefore keeps from toeing-out in a bump in a corner…

” The setup is fantastic Paul, it feels like a totally different car.  Thanks so much for the guidance and help.      Regards,  -Ben ”

Ben ordered KYB struts (with up-rated rear struts) and paired with the King Raised Springs on his ’06 OBXT and appears to love it.

” Hey, I just wanted to say that I received the kit and got everything installed. Everything was spot-on and fit up perfectly. I loved how each different stage of the install had its own separate set of instructions, parts list, and photos. It was really nice to never second guess which hardware to use or what parts went where. Install was smooth sailing. Thank you so much for putting the extra time and effort to get such a great product on the market! ” -Eli  purchased  2″ Lift Kit  3/19

The team of Paul Eklund and Yulia Smolyansky lead the field at the 2018 Totem Rally (November) in Cache Creek, BC   See results below (hope formatting is not too messed up)  Conditions were slippery and variable, but MOST cars made it thru unscathed.  The team of Eklund/Smolyansky had a commanding win at Totem in 2016 in heavy snow conditions.  They finished 3rd in 2017 after an early mistake put them down by 20 seconds.

Can’t wait for the snowy THUNDERBIRD RALLY in early Feb 2019.  See www.rallybc.com for info and details!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Results
updated: November 18, 2018
Totem Rally,
Nov 17-18 2018
Final Results
All checkpoints entered, time decs applied
Driver Navigator Vehicle Class

Points

Car # 3
Paul Eklund Yulia Smolyansky 2008 Subaru FXT Unlimited 24
Car # 7
Bill Walsh Marvin Crippen 2003 Mazda Protege Unlimited 32
Car # 1
Tom Kreger Cynthia Bushell 2002 subaru wrx Unlimited 34
Car # 2
Jim Bowie Tom Burgess 2002 Subaru Forester Unlimited 42
Car #11
David Fox Simon Fox 2002 Subaru WRX Calculator 44
Car # 8
Frank McKinnon Peter Schneider 2018 Ford Escape Unlimited 45
Car # 5
David Williams Geoff Hill 1997 Mitsubishi Pajero Evo Calculator 47
Car # 4
Don Gibson Ed Millman 2005 Subaru Forester Unlimited 54
Car # 9
Stephen Ban Chris Peake 2006 Subaru Legacy Calculator 66
Car # 6
Bob Chandler Mark Clemmens 2001 Audi TT Calculator 85
Car #10
Martin Kubala Josef Antal 1998 Subaru Forester Paper 311
Car #12
Steve Gunner Andrea Gunner 2007 Honda Civic Coupe Paper 660
Car #13
Taylor Moran Christopher Van Dijk 1997 Mitsubishi Evo Novice 663
Car #15
Oliver Orlie Ross Buchanan 2005 Toyota Echo Novice 810
Car #16
Nom de Plume Nom de Plume 1996 Cadillac Rallye DeVille Unlimited 1431
Car #14
Joe Simonji Brendan Brown 2006 Subaru Impreza Wagon 2.5 Novice DNF
Officials of the Event:
Route Master/Organizer: Paul Westwick paul@rallybc.com Registrar: Paul Westwick paul@rallybc.com
Steward: Alex Schubel

I get asked what makes a PRIMITIVE LIFT kit superior to other SPACER ONLY (cheaper) lift kits on the market.  The answer is pretty simple.  Our lift kits are designed around HEAVY DUTY King Springs.  This makes our lifted car HANDLE much better than a spacer only lift, AND the heavy duty nature of the springs included with the kit, allow for much more load with less sag.  Perfect for those doing OVERLANDING and loading the vehicle with people or gear or both!  Also great if towing or putting any weight on the back of the car (spare tire or gas cans, etc)  The other advantage of our kits is that they come COMPLETE with everything needed to lift and correct alignment.  You don’t have to seek out those missing pieces like other “low cost” lifts. Our kits include springs, spacers, shock extensions, PRSS (Primitive Rear Subframe Spacers), brakeline brackets, and new heavy duty rear strut tops (reinforced) in some kits.

The spacer only lifts tend to give pretty vague handling and a soft ride (which is not always bad)

We have been in business for 21 years and have plenty of experience in designing, developing and manufacturing the best Subaru accessories out there.  We carefully select the springs and components for our lifts for best ride, handling and longevity of the car.  Most Subaru dealers buy our lifts that you see in the showrooms.

Look for our brand new Ascent TRIPLE ARMOR to come out soon.  It will blow you away!

You can order SKIDPLATES online at: http://www.get-primitive.com
  1. Click on “SHOP” at the top right next to the yellow “PRIMITIVE” logo.
  2. In the blue banner select your YEAR/MAKE/MODEL/SUBMODEL and hit the “GO” button.
  3. Click the plus sign next to the “Protection/Skidplates” category in the gray panel on the left.
  4. Finally click the “Skidplate” sub-category and all the Skidplates that fit year, make, model and submodel that you’ve entered.

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From: “Chris”

Re: King STD height springs and Koni Shocks – 2008 WRX

HOLY CRAP! I am so unbelievably impressed with them. They feel great for the 4 days worth of driving I have on them now. The suspension feels more articulate and I am fully pleased with the front and rear spring rate. The ride is sporty yet supple and comfortable with a softer Koni setting, but can still feel tight and aggressive if I crank the Koni’s up. Granted, I couldn’t care less about that! Best of all, my wife is willing to ride in the WRX again! Continue reading

Hi Paul,

Just wanted to let you know how happy we are with the triple armour skid plates and brushbar on our 2012 Outback. Have some Lightforce auxiliary lights on it which makes the driving in our long dark winters up here in the Yukon much safer and enjoyable, definitely have helped spot the wildlife, and it’s nice having the extra protection. This will make the next trip up the Dempster Highway so much more enjoyable this winter.

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