Subaru Outback 2004 advice

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 20:33
ThreadID: 103097 Views:3721 Replies:7 FollowUps:6
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Hi everyone,

Before I start I'll just say that I have very little experience when it comes to offroading, and cars in general. So forgive me if I'm asking silly questions here.

I've just purchased a 2004 outback and planning to take it to the occasional beach to do some fishing. I definitely don't plan on taking it on any hardcore 4wd tracks or anywhere crazy, and I realise its not really made for that.

I've noticed the ground clearance is average, and I've read posts about it having issues bottoming out in sand and mud, so I'm curious as to if it's a good idea to try and raise its ground clearance, what the pros/cons of doing this are, maybe a rough cost? and how to go about getting this done if it is a good idea.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and dumb it down as much as you can!

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Reply By: Chris_K - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 20:53

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 20:53
Hi Adam

We had a Subaru Outback for a few years, and had it on the beach quite a few times. Our car was a manual, with the "low range" gear reduction...not much "reducton" in the "low" range though! We looked at lifting the car, but the advice we had at the time was not to bother. The real issue is that the Outback runs out of torque pretty quickly in the really soft stuff, lift or no lift. In any case with a little momentum, it was a pretty good vehicle in the sand - two pieces of advice we received at the time were pretty much on the money :

1. Lower your tyre pressures for the sand (maybe 20-22psi) - makes a huge difference in the end. You can go even lower if you need to.
2. Remove the stone guard under the engine. It's almost "plastic cardboard" like - but acts as a scoop in the sand if you need to reverse - which you will. This was the best advice...cause it will rip off in the sand if you don't - and you can put it back on later anyway.

I'm sure that others will have comments about the lift options - but as I said, we didn't bother in the end. Ooh - and the third piece of advice we learnt the hard way - wind the window up when you are in the really soft stuff...if you get stuck - a lot of sand will end up in the car if you don't :) .


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Follow Up By: Adamjm - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:01

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:01
Thanks for the tips! What year did you have? I've heard the 05's onwards have a higher clearance than the previous models.
FollowupID: 793250

Follow Up By: Chris_K - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:12

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:12
Hi Adam

We actually had two - the first one was a manual 2001 model (4cyl) -then we had the auto 6cylinder 2005 model. From memory, the ground clearance was about the same, as the 2001 model. There was definitely no noticeable difference between the two.

I do remember clearly that the 6cylinder sucked fuel like there was no tomorrow...something to remember on a long trip...all of a sudden - it's empty! The 4cly was pretty good though...and with some careful wheel placement and common sense - it went places that nobody thought possible.


FollowupID: 793255

Follow Up By: Chris_K - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:31

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:31
Hi Adam

I was just about to sign off, when my other (better) half also reminded me:

1. Buy a snatch strap,
2. Buy some MaxTrax,
3. If you are following behind another 4wd up an incline on the beach, leave some room. You will need momentum, and if they are just grinding away slowly - it will be "all over",
4. In really soft sand, you can try to run a little off centre (to the left)...the highest part of the sand is at the centre - which we found to be about the height of the front spoiler in the Outback. Makes a really nice scoop if you don't.


FollowupID: 793259

Reply By: Ross M - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 20:56

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 20:56
G'day Adam
Usually Subaru's can be lifted a bit and some kits are available for that purpose.

If raised too high CV joints do suffer.
I have never done anything much on Subaru's but if you search Subaru forum s there will be people who have and use them regularly and far better informed on what can and can't be done.

The extra clearance will sure help in soft sand when tyre will be low in pressure for sand floatation and traction.

A bit of a lift and higher profile tyres will both help the cause, within reason of course.

Blokes called Suzie is what you need.

Ross M
AnswerID: 514287

Reply By: Col T - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:00

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 21:00
The car you have purchased need to be under driver control, when running on loose sand.

I would lower the tyre pressures and at the slightest sign of bogging, stop and rectify the issue. If you continue the wheels start to spin and will go downwards until the engine sump is resting on the ground.

Its all about driving to the cars limitations and the surface conditions


AnswerID: 514288

Reply By: mikehzz - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 22:35

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 22:35
I had a Subaru Outback 2004 6 cylinder auto for around 3 years. It was a lovely car, comfortable and very reliable. It was let down off road by 17" rims and lowish profile tyres. Also, the traction control wasn't as sophisticated as the newer models. Front and rear overhangs also get in the way. Unless you have better tyres than I had, then I would steer clear of soft fluffy sand. I'm a member of the Subaru club...Foresters are better off road in my opinion.
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Reply By: gbc - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 04:01

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 04:01
Stooge around some oz and O.S. forums like for a while and ask a few questions. Knowing that what you want from the car in the end is achievable from the start is important, as is making sure it is the correct car for the job at all. 2" block lift and a set of offroad tyres will get you a long way in an outback. do a replacement bash plate as well.
I've not done any real offroading in sube's (drove the wife's b4 liberty into Harrys hut once...), however I've had single and twin turbo liberty's and now have a current tribeca so there's some badge love here. If your outback is a 5 speed auto it will have the torque sharing diffs which is a very big plus - I wish I had them in every 4by I owned.
There are companies around who will lift and engineer (if required) your car. I've altered the suspension setup on every 4wd I ever had, because there are gains in ability to be had - your car is no different depending on your desired outcome.
AnswerID: 514294

Reply By: Jeremy W - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 09:07

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 09:07
Please may I issue a word of caution.

Beach driving on firm sand is a joy ... Take the drive of about 80km from Rainbow Beach to Noosa. BUT getting to the beaches may be a different story. Some of the tracks ( well used) are narrow and can have really deep sand also you need to " read " the track as there are " submerged" hazzards in the form of tree roots.

Some beaches are not " really sand" as in the case of the Coorong beaches in SA where there is a large proportion of fine shell grit that makes up a large proportion of the sand ... This material has minimal load bearing qualities.

Please be aware of the tides and try not to do U turns towards the sea. Some beaches on KI are " short" with loose sand all round.

Finally watchout for beach hazards ... The most innocent rock hazard is legendary please see " Mudlo Rocks".

Good luck and tight lines,


AnswerID: 514306

Follow Up By: Jeremy W - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 09:22

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 09:22
Just an addition :

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Follow Up By: Member - Vince B (NSW) - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 11:01

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 11:01
Hi Jeremy.
That Sunshine Coast daily article was unreal. There is no way I would head up that way over any holiday break!
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Follow Up By: Jeremy W - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 18:42

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 18:42
Hi Vince,

By all means go to Rainbow Beach as it is very nice ... Fishing off the main beach is a bit iffy I have seen heaps of Tuna and never caught one there! Re: Mudlo Rocks. I usually join the crowd on the cliff watching the 4 WD's negotiate the rocks. If I need to get on the beach I take the fresh water track ... At least I get on the beach with my bus intact ... Lol.

FollowupID: 793331

Reply By: Sigmund - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 13:12

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 13:12
We run a manual Forester and tow a camper trailer with it.

No troubles on std outback tracks and roads even when classed as 4WD only due to rain - but we avoid 'high clearance' tracks as labelled on some maps and guides. It has 20cm clearance and a track similar to most proper 4bies and it copes fine with rutted tracks/roads. The current and previous models have 22cm clearance.

But you have to have a solid sump guard fitted (may be avail. for the Outback from Subaxtreme here in Aus) and light truck construction tyres. AT treads have worked for us.

As posted, this is a good source for finding out what your vehicle can do with and without mods:

We were surprised to see what the Foz could do; have done 4 outback trips now. Climbed the 'little red' dune outside of Birdsville but the +1 wasn't wearing an experiment on 'big red'. It would've done it I'm sure, with the tyres deflated and carrying a compressor to reinflate of course.

For sandy terrain next time I'll carry a pair of Maxtrax for the insurance as we drive solo.

AnswerID: 514333

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