Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tricking out the Subaru

Ok, so we're not really tricking out our Subaru, per se, but we are making some improvements and upgrades to make our travels in Chile more comfortable and safe.

Why bother, you ask?
Because we love our Subaru (yes, just like those commercials promise) and we only owe 5K; that with the combined cost of shipping it to Chile is STILL LESS than buying a new one in Chile. So that's why we're bringing it along. Due to the nature of our project, traveling north to south and documenting the family food traditions and meals, we need mobility and flexibility. Our beloved Subaru will give us that. However, there are some things that have reached the 100K-mile marker and need replacement. For instance, the suspension.

Camping outside of Steamboat Springs, August 2015

Replace suspension
The bounce had gone out of our Subaru months ago but with this trip looming as a possibility, we waited. When our project was set in motion, we could finally do this. (By "we," I really mean "Mark.") Replacing the suspension on a car isn't like changing a tire. Replacing the suspension involves several different moving pieces - struts, springs, top mount, spacers - and involves a lot of grunting from underneath the car (so far as I can tell).

 Our Subaru in the midst of the repairs in my parent's garage.

The most complicated repairs occurred at the front suspension. Mark knew the drive shaft on the right side was damaged but if he were to replace only one, the other one might give out at some point so he bought two. When taking the car apart, he discovered the problem. The axle was broken.

And as usually happens when doing work on a car, he found some other things needing repair as well. When replacing the drive shift, he needed to replace the oil seals for new ones. After that he discovered that the sway bar links needed to be replaced on both ends; the tie rod ends also needed to be replaced. The biggest surprise was the front control arm bushings were degrading and cracked - therefore we were faced with two options: (1) to buy a complete control arm that would cost around $270 each or (2) to buy the bushings but that implied that he needed to press the old ones out of the control arm and then put the new bushings back on (requiring equipment we didn't have but much less expensive). Needless to say we went with option 2. With the help of Dan Chase, a good friend of ours, who let Mark use his press, we were able to accomplish the less expensive repair.

So in the end, the repairs entailed replacing all of the following: new struts, springs, top mount, spacers, tie rod end, sway bar link, sway bar bushings, bushings for control arm, and complete ball join.

But were we done? (And by "we," remember I mean Mark.)

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