Subaru Forester Build

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DharmaBum

Rank IV
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Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

Hello all,

I thought I’d start a build thread on my ‘18 Forester XT Premium (Stella). I figure this could provide inspiration along with insight on what other might do with their SJ Forester. Also I’m hopeful this will motivate me and hold me accountable to maintain momentum on my build. I’m pretty happy with a lot of the components on the rig but want to start building out certain systems such as lighting. Here’s a run down on current mods:

Suspension:
ADF 1.5” multi link lift kit
King Standard height springs
Bilstein B6 struts
Rallitek front and rear endlinks
SSD front Strut bar
Beatrush rear strut bar
17” Black Rhino Rumble wheels
225/65/r17 Falken Wildpeak A/T Trails
Perrin Steering Dampener

Engine:
Perrin AOS
Perrin Charge pipe
AEM dry box filter
Invidia Q300 Catback Exhaust
Perrin Master Cylinder Brace
Perrin Pitch Stop Brace
Derale 8000 Plate-Fin Transmission Cooler

Exterior:
OEM Weather Deflectors
OEM Hood Deflector
Rear label delete: flat black
Emblem swap: black & red
Aftermarket Sport Grill
Hella Supertone horns
Diode Dynamics Luxeon fog light kit
Diode dynamics LED drive lights (turn signals, parking lights, reverse lights)
Diode Dynamic Tail-as-Turn module
Smoke tinted amber side lights
Rhino Rack Vortex cross bars (1260mm)
Rhino Rack 2.0m Awning system
Thule Canyon XL cargo basket:
Holds 2 x 2gal RotopaX gas cans & 2gal water can;
Rhino Rack spare tire mount for 5th wheel;
Rhino Rack shovel mount
Raceseng Tow Hook
Etrailor Trailer Hitch
Agency 6 Recovery shackle block
Primitive Racing triple armor: front, trans, & diff

Interior:
Subaru Kicker speaker upgrade: doors and tweeters
Kicker Hideaway 10” Bass w/ 150w amp system
STI shift knob
GCS Paddle shifter extensions
Carbon Fiber E-Brake Handle
Perrin Drift E-Brake Button
OEM Synthetic leather driver/passenger door handle trim swap
JDM S4 sliding red stitched arm rest
Piano black & silver dash trim swap
Scangauge II digital gauge unit
OEM All weather trunk and rear seat liners
OEM Side and door netting storage.
Custom built trunk storage tray
Factory donut and foam were deleted for storage; custom support brace in its place
ADF Molle racks for rear trunk windows w/ extinguisher mount plate
H3R performance MaxOut fire extinguisher
MyMedic FA & Trauma kit
RAM mounts

Recovery:
ARB weekender recovery kit
Pro-lift 4-ton bottle jack
Hi-Lift jack platform
2 2x6 blocks cut to fit jack platform: for jacking or levelers
Hulkman Alpha85s jump starter
Tire repair kit
Smittybilt 2780 air compressor
ECOTRIC recovery boards


Things I would like to do:

Lighting system:
Diode Dynamic 30” amber driving light bar; mounted behind the bumper
Diode Dynamic S2 Sport pods spot white; mounted to side view mirror panel; Extreme LED lighting makes a bracket for this
Diode Dynamic SSC2 pods; flanking Amber or Red floods for camp lighting and white floods for reverse
30-40” LED light bar mounted to basket
Upgrade roof rack to Prinsu’s system
Spare wheel hitch mount
Convert Invidia exhaust back to stock-- gain back the clearance I’ve lost
Possibly install Torque Locker

Well that’s it...for now...haha. Look forward to the next mod and hope this thread inspires and motivates!!

Cheers
 
Last edited:

DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

Finally finished the fabrication of my recovery board mounts. Happy with the outcome, but still waiting on the knobs from Amazon—delivery this Friday. The Hi-Lift locking wing knob is clutch for security! Mounting photos coming soon.

I’ve also picked up some drawer sliders to instal a worktop for the cargo tray I built for my RIDGID kitchen setup; detailed photos of that coming soon as well.
 

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mep1811

Rank IV

Pathfinder I

1,212
El Paso, Texas
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Perez
Very nice. My wife has a 2019 Forester Sport I'm building up. So far I have an ironman 2" suspension. I have a Rally innovations lightbar waiting to be installed.

Where did you mount the Scan Gauge?
 

DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

Very nice. My wife has a 2019 Forester Sport I'm building up. So far I have an ironman 2" suspension. I have a Rally innovations lightbar waiting to be installed.

Where did you mount the Scan Gauge?
I've temporarily mounted the scan gauge on the topside of steering column using the velcro tape it comes with. Not a fan of it, but I am trying to figure out a solution that looks more clean. Only reason I mounted it that way was so I can monitor the Trans fluid temp with the new Trans cooler.
 
Last edited:

mep1811

Rank IV

Pathfinder I

1,212
El Paso, Texas
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Perez
I've temporarily mounted the scan gauge using the velcro tape it comes with. Not a fan of it, but I am trying to figure out a solution that looks more clean. Only reason I mounted it that way was so I can monitor the Trans fluid temp with the new Trans cooler.
It is hard to mount due to the rounded dash .
 

DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

I've temporarily mounted the scan gauge using the velcro tape it comes with. Not a fan of it, but I am trying to figure out a solution that looks more clean. Only reason I mounted it that way was so I can monitor the Trans fluid temp with the new Trans cooler.
It is hard to mount due to the rounded dash .
Absolutely. I’ve been thinking trying to mount it to the left of the steering wheel just above the air vent; that would be ideal for me.
 

m.jw.brown

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Contributor I

30
Redondo Beach, CA
First Name
Mike
Last Name
Brown
Ham Callsign
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Very nice. My wife has a 2019 Forester Sport I'm building up. So far I have an ironman 2" suspension. I have a Rally innovations lightbar waiting to be installed.

Where did you mount the Scan Gauge?
- How do you like the Ironman 4x4 2" suspension & lift kit.?
 

m.jw.brown

Rank 0

Contributor I

30
Redondo Beach, CA
First Name
Mike
Last Name
Brown
Ham Callsign
N/A
I am a new novice to overlanding and I am wanting to outfit my 2017 Forester 2.5i. I want to make sure I love this before I go cray with upgrades/mods so what would you recommend for the first steps for overlanding.

My girlfriend and I are going to build out a sleeping platform for in-car camping (during winter) and proceed with mainly storage on the roof racks.

Any tips for first steps are much appreciated.
 

mep1811

Rank IV

Pathfinder I

1,212
El Paso, Texas
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Perez
I am a new novice to overlanding and I am wanting to outfit my 2017 Forester 2.5i. I want to make sure I love this before I go cray with upgrades/mods so what would you recommend for the first steps for overlanding.

My girlfriend and I are going to build out a sleeping platform for in-car camping (during winter) and proceed with mainly storage on the roof racks.

Any tips for first steps are much appreciated.
If you can remove the rear seats, you will open up a lot of inside storage.
 

DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

The last iteration of my storage tray--added the sliding tray. This holds all of my RIDGID pack-out tool boxes which I use for my kitchen/pantry/bathroom storage. It has definitely added weight to the vehicle, especially with the addition of the tray and the drawer sliders (100lb weight capacity). I can't say how much weight for certain--guessing 30-40lb. I 'm digging the set up though.
The storage tubs I used before took up so much lateral space and I couldn't really stack too much on top of them, otherwise I would need to unpack/move stuff around to get into them. Now I just roll up and the first things I need when I get to camp are at the top and ready to go. I'm really stoked to have the tray! I have a new cooler coming which, if I did the math correctly, should fit to the side. I am contemplating building an additional tray to go over the cooler to store my LP growler and other items. I will have to think on this though as I don't want to have all this in the rig for city driving, and I don't have much space as it is in the house. Something to ponder...
tempImage5D4K38.jpg
 

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Last edited:

DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

I am a new novice to overlanding and I am wanting to outfit my 2017 Forester 2.5i. I want to make sure I love this before I go cray with upgrades/mods so what would you recommend for the first steps for overlanding.

My girlfriend and I are going to build out a sleeping platform for in-car camping (during winter) and proceed with mainly storage on the roof racks.

Any tips for first steps are much appreciated.
Decide if you are wanting to keep the stock wheels (18"?). If you want to keep the stock wheel size then upgrade the tires to A/Ts. This is a great first step. The Forester, like other Subarus, have great clearance to work with stock. Start with the sleeping unit and see how much gear you will be adding to the vehicle first. This will let you know how much sag you are dealing with. After you feel out how much weight and its effects on how far you want to get out there, then look at lifting. I can't say one lift is better than the other. I have been really happy with the ADF paired with the King Standard height springs. I bought this setup because in time I wan't to get a tire hitch and knew I would need stiffer springs for the weight, and was going to add substantial weight all around. When you do decide on which kit you want to go with I recommend 1.5".

In summation, be realistic with your goals and know what it is you want to do with your vehicle. If it's simple fire service roads you want to drive you don't need a super aggressive kit.
 

mep1811

Rank IV

Pathfinder I

1,212
El Paso, Texas
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Perez
I am a new novice to overlanding and I am wanting to outfit my 2017 Forester 2.5i. I want to make sure I love this before I go cray with upgrades/mods so what would you recommend for the first steps for overlanding.

My girlfriend and I are going to build out a sleeping platform for in-car camping (during winter) and proceed with mainly storage on the roof racks.

Any tips for first steps are much appreciated.
I suggest sticking with your stock wheels and upgrade your tires. No reason to spend a bunch of money on cosmetic stuff.

if you want a lift, I recommend a suspension lift. The Ironman I have is designed for offroad and extra loads.
 

DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

I am a new novice to overlanding and I am wanting to outfit my 2017 Forester 2.5i. I want to make sure I love this before I go cray with upgrades/mods so what would you recommend for the first steps for overlanding.

My girlfriend and I are going to build out a sleeping platform for in-car camping (during winter) and proceed with mainly storage on the roof racks.

Any tips for first steps are much appreciated.
I suggest sticking with your stock wheels and upgrade your tires. No reason to spend a bunch of money on cosmetic stuff.

if you want a lift, I recommend a suspension lift. The Ironman I have is designed for offroad and extra loads.
I agree. When I first got my Forester I didn’t really know what my goal was as far as it being an overland vehicle. I spent more money and time on cosmetics because it was my first new car and I’d always wanted to “trick” out my ride but never had a vehicle I felt was worth the investment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with what I’ve done, but in hind sight that money could have been used for more adventures, which in turn would have given me more experience and insight on how to better build it for overlanding.
 

mep1811

Rank IV

Pathfinder I

1,212
El Paso, Texas
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Perez
I found these two reverse light brackets. I'll probably get the ATP bracket.


 
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DharmaBum

Rank IV
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Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
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Michael
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Sniezak
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@mep1811 Those are nice, I have contemplated the Rallitek in past. Still thinking about how I wan't my lights set up. Diode Dynamics makes a kit that converts the rear turn signal into reverse lights and shifts the braking lights to turn signals: Tail as Turn Module. I have thought about going this route as a cheaper alternative for "reverse floods" if you will. Not a true substitute I know, but even if I were to get more lights it is always nice to have extra without the additional harnesses, etc. The draw back seems they will not be controlled by switch and when reversing own the roads or parking lots you might be blinding others.

Also with respects to the ScanGauge, I never answered your question, I have it mounted on the steering column. Not really enjoying there as I can't see if some type cautionary light is on. I think I am going to mount a RAM mount to the pillar. I found this bracket from the Scangauge: Wits End. I might try to make my own as this is pretty darn expensive, but my tools are limited and I don't think I have the means to cut & drill a 1/4" peace of steel.
 
Last edited:

m.jw.brown

Rank 0

Contributor I

30
Redondo Beach, CA
First Name
Mike
Last Name
Brown
Ham Callsign
N/A
I suggest sticking with your stock wheels and upgrade your tires. No reason to spend a bunch of money on cosmetic stuff.

if you want a lift, I recommend a suspension lift. The Ironman I have is designed for offroad and extra loads.
Do you know what is the maximum tire size that works with the stock forester?
Using Tiresize.com size comparison tool (screen shot below) I have found out that 215/75/15 (overall size of 27.7" dia x 8.5" depth) is almost the exact size of my stock 225/60R17 (overall size of 27.6" dia x 8.9" depth).
1610570724164.png

I have thought about a set 235/75/R15 - but the overall dims are 28.9" dia x 9.3" depth and I am not sure if they will fit in the stock wheel well without upgrading the suspension.
1610570690061.png

Also I am uncertain on the tires, see below for the tires I am looking at:
  • BFGoodrich K02
  • Yokohama Geolandar AT G015
  • Toyo Open Country AT III
Another issue is the wheels. If i change wheel size to a 15" wheel I am not sure of a good brand for off roading that will work with the subaru brakes, etc.

I am just thinking out loud. Thanks.
 
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DharmaBum

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Enthusiast I

1,016
Long Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Sniezak
Member #

26286

I suggest sticking with your stock wheels and upgrade your tires. No reason to spend a bunch of money on cosmetic stuff.

if you want a lift, I recommend a suspension lift. The Ironman I have is designed for offroad and extra loads.
Do you know what is the maximum tire size that works with the stock forester?
Using Tiresize.com size comparison tool (screen shot below) I have found out that 215/75/15 (overall size of 27.7" dia x 8.5" depth) is almost the exact size of my stock 225/60R17 (overall size of 27.6" dia x 8.9" depth).
View attachment 183776

I have thought about a set 235/75/R15 - but the overall dims are 28.9" dia x 9.3" depth and I am not sure if they will fit in the stock wheel well without upgrading the suspension.
View attachment 183775

Also I am uncertain on the tires, see below for the tires I am looking at:
  • BFGoodrich K02
  • Yokohama Geolandar AT G015
  • Toyo Open Country AT III
Another issue is the wheels. If i change wheel size to a 15" wheel I am not sure of a good brand for off roading that will work with the subaru brakes, etc.

I am just thinking out loud. Thanks.
There is a wealth of information on subaruforester.org regarding tires and size. If the ‘19 and up Foresters are similar to the ‘18, you will need to change the size of the brakes to fit anything less than a 17” rim. WAY too expensive. I have heard of people fitting 235/65/r17 tires on the ‘18 SJ stock suspension. This requires some modifications to the wheel well: either heat gun or cutting to the plastic liner. I can’t speak on Toyo or the Yokohama’s. The KO2’s are gonna be heavy albeit battle proven.
 
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