How to modify a Subaru Forester Suspension

How to modify a Subaru Forester suspension

Warning: If you choose to follow this “modify a Subaru Forester suspension guide” then the modifications listed below will seriously ruin your Foresters off road capability and also make the ride harder.

Modify a Subaru Forester Suspension
Handling #1 – Firm

Cheapest easiest way to make the backend of a Subaru Forester more taught is, Subframe locking bolts.

Let me explain. The Subaru Forester backend has a separate cradle in which most of the suspension parts sit and these simple bolts are designed to keep the rear suspension cradle from moving side to side under hard cornering while still allowing the subframe to still move up and down. They really do make a massive difference and the best bit is there under £25!

Modify a Subaru Forester Suspension
Handling #2 – Hard

Once you put sub-frame locking bolts in the next thing you want to do to make the back end more rigid is to put on a stiffer anti roll bar and stronger less flexible drop links. The rear suspension on Subaru cars is tied together side to side by a steel rollbar which weaves its way from side to side through the subframe and creates a push pull effect on the suspension. The standard rear anti roll bar is quite thin and this should be replaced by 22mm adjustable anti roll bar and alloy drop links which replace the woeful plastic and rubber standard drop links.

Both of these can be obtained from Whiteline at around £130 for the anti roll bar and £100 for the drop links. My advice for those using the Whiteline items is to paint it before installing on your car as the standard paint used by the Australian company will flake and fall off at the thought of winter salt we use here in the UK. I found this out the hard way and after 1 year on my car it had rusted. Off it came and a liberal coat of Hammerite before re-installation.

Modify a Subaru Forester Suspension
Handling #3 – less roll

Subaru Forester Stb as boughtOne of the biggest problems with any car suspension, is that its fixed to the body of the car which is designed to flex a little both by design and by build. The chassis isn’t fully welded on most cars to save on costs.

There is however ways of preventing certain types of body flex especially on the suspension struts using Strut braces. These bolt to the top of the suspension turrets on either side of the front and rear suspension and prevent the suspension turrets from flexing. Once the brackets are installed on to of each suspension turret they are then tied together with a still steel or alloy brace.

I bought a cheap crappy one of ebay for £30 for the rear and £45 for the front and they took me about 20 minutes to fit each side.

They do make a little difference but more importantly they look COOL!

If you own dogs they also make great dog lead retainers so you can tie you do to them while leaving the tailgate open!

Modify a Subaru Forester Suspension
Handling #4 – Harder

A suspension swap will kill two birds with one stone but will also create two problems what will need to be addressed in step #4. It will give you better handling as well as lower your car. in my case over 80mm

Again my suspension came off a Impreza WR1 STI and bolted straight on apart from a tiny problem with the brake line mounting brackets not lining up properly and me having to use tie wraps instead.

Now there are two problems in doing this:

1. the tyres are now not flat on the floor and the camber will be out of line so the tyre sits more on the inside than the out, creating uneven tyre wear in the long term. To correct this you will need camber bolts which help extend the amount the suspension can be adjusted. These are cheap to buy but once fitted you will need the following.

2. A 4 wheel alignment! See below.

Modify a Subaru Forester Suspension
Handling #5 – Poise

To make the most of your suspension you must get the wheels aligned properly. This process adjusts the camber, castor and toe of each tyre on the car and will leave the optimum patch on the ground.

I had my car initially adjusted locally and found that the best places use Hunter alignment equipment and they have lists of providers around the country.

After my suspension upgrades I actually though “I’ve ruined my car” until a friend said it needed aligning as he’s lowered his car previously. I drove to Warrington like I was at the wheel of a clown car and drove my Forester home like it was on rails. Complete transformation from the drive there.

The price for 4 Wheel alignment shouldn’t be confused with Laser wheel alignment which is a poor relative in comparison. I paid £130 at a famous Mitsubishi tuners in Warrington the first time and on the second occasion I had it done I paid £112 at Restore in Macclesfield.


modify a subaru forester 6: Styling >>


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4 thoughts on “How to modify a Subaru Forester Suspension

  1. Great article. I have a SF5 STI which was imported from Japan with Tien coilovers on and its not as low as yours. How much lower was your forester after you’d fitted the STI suspension? And did you need to fit roll centre adjusters on the front to put more angle on the front wishbones?

    1. The total drop was 5 inches, measured before and afterwards and yes I had to put a roll centre adjustment kit on to put a bit of angle on the front wishbones. I used a whiteline kit to do this.

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