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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys,

I an considering lifting my 2019 Limited and I was hoping to have a theory discussion about the liftkit options. Im pretty well versed in street and rally applications but this is my first "truck" I do intend to do some light offroading and overlanding and I have plans to swap the wheels and tires for something more aggressive than the stock compound so all of that out of the way lets talk lifts.

From what i can tell there are really only 2 options for lifts, at least common options. either I puck lift the car or I spring lift the car. Ive been looking at brands I know mostly from the WRX scene, primitive, gorilla and subtle solutions but I have found other budget options that include less hardware like readylift and a few brands that seem common on these forums like ADF and LP.

The theory question I'm having is how necessary are the sub frame spacers in these kits? I've seen ADF 1 inch poly lifts, and ready lift 1.5 without sub frame spacers and primitive selling the spacers by themselves or with king springs. So really how necessary are the spacers, especially in 1-1.5 inch lift applications. Just to follow my train of thought, I recently installed a tow hitch so I can run the bike carrier on the rear of the crosstrek and I used the included floor jack to get some additional clearance under the car. While I was unloading the suspension I had well over the 1.5 inches of lift left in the control arm ball joints and struts before the wheels left the ground. That said is there really a necessity to space the sub frame or is that just an attempt to allow the installer to simply reinstall the camber alignment bolt in its factory position and avoid an alignment? I assume that after making any changes to the suspension setup an alignment would be well worth the money, but I dont see the downside of using the throw of the factory suspension. I suppose its possible that the bushings on the control arms would not be able to handle the full deflection of the new suspension height but i dont know if thats true in application or just in theory.

So please tell me is there something I'm missing? is the slack from lifting the car with the jacks not usable? is a 1.5 inch lift outside the range that the control arm bushings can handle from the factory? is there really a reason to spend an extra $300 on a kit that includes some 1.5 inch aluminium sub frame spacers?

Thanks in advance.
 

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I've thought about opening up this discussion a few times... I've contended with some of the same questions, and I've been able to answer a few of them. For me, it was when the Ready Lift suspension came out that I started asking myself these questions. For background, I worked turning wrenches while I was going to school, with a few classes on chassis dynamics. This has been years ago, but I still recall many of the basics, as I used several of these principles later in life when I tried to start my own business making body armor and offroad accessories for jeeps. I tried to start that in 2006 with a limited budget for advertising, so I'm sure you can guess where that business went.
I also have the benefit of being friends with a local Subaru dealership's parts manager, and they build a bunch of lifted crossies. He'll call me every time they try something new, and occasionally ask if I want to be a guinea pig for a new lift... I almost did with the ready lift, and in looking back, I'm glad I didn't.

As far as spring or basic puck spacer lifts, I've seen several of them, and they all start to have camber issues when you go over an inch. You'll see on the metal spacer lifts, they slightly offset the strut holes to account for the camber change of being lower in the suspension cycle. In my opinion, this puts the drop spacers ahead of the game when compared to any spring or spacer combo over 1/2-3/4 inch.

Now, for what I consider the meat of your question - the rear, where the subframe spacers come into play.

When the ready lift kit was released, the price point made it pretty appealing to me, as was the increased ground clearance under the rear diff. So let's talk about that. The LP and ADF lifts include spacers that lower the rear subframe relative to the wheel opening. This move EVERY rear suspension link down, relative to the main body of the car, keeping the geometry in what I like to call the Happy Space. This means that the bushings, bearings, and I'd argue possibly most significantly, the CV joint angles are all in their comfort zone, you will have the same range of travel as you did stock, but with extra space between the center of the wheel hub and the body, which can be used to fit a larger tire, and increase central ground clearance.
Enter the ready lift - Claims a higher front lift than ADF and LP - when comparing the spacers, it's only about 2mm taller than the LP spacer (in fairness, I didn't actually measure this, just set the two spacers next to each other and eyeballed it. At this point I was gathering information for myself, not intending to write a technical comparison, so my research was good enough for me at the time). The rear of the RL kit is virtually identical to the LP spacer in size, but the RL kit does not drop the subframe. This has one advantage, and several disadvantages. The advantage is increased clearance under the rear diff as compared to the LP and ADF kits, since the diff is not lowered with spacers. The disadvantages include less than idea geometry, accelerated bushing, bearing and component wear, and I would argue most significantly, dramatically accelerated CV joint and boot wear. I use the word dramatically based on the increased operating angle of the joint and boot causing higher operating temperatures, and additional surface friction on the outside of the boot, particularly when dirty.

My initial idea was that if I could find an adjustable trailing arm for the crosstrek, it might be worth the additional wear to get the extra ground clearance, and that $300 could buy a set of boots or a reman axle. I was after the trailing arm to ensure that I'd be able to at least dial in the toe change that would occur when the car was lifted. I then read that there is enough adjustment in the factory set up to being the toe back where it should be, which I thought was good news, and I was really tempted to be the first one for this store to install the ready lift kit - I would have had the kit at dealer cost, I would have installed, and gotten a free alignment.
I didn't do it, mostly because I couldn't stomach the thought of replacing a brand new tire. I've done this in the past, but apparently I'm now too old and too cheap to waste a perfectly good brand new tire, and I knew that I'd want the wider footprint from the 15" wheels and larger tires to offset the rise in the center of gravity of the car that would come from the lift. So I waited. I got a call that my buddy had installed the lift on a car, and asked if I wanted to see the results.
The rear tires had notable negative camber, like kind of awkward to look at from behind. The CV angles didn't seem unreasonable, but were notably different from stock. After looking over the completed product, I made the personal determination that I'll go with either Anderson or LP when I'm ready to pull the trigger on tires.

I think the ready lift is a decent middle ground, but I wasn't impressed with the way the rear geometry reacted to the height. If a company were to make adjustable rear links for our cars, I'd consider it a more practical option, but at that point, you'd spend as much if not more on links, to where the LP or ADF kits would again be competitive.

This is my nerdy analysis and opinion. I'm not an expert, nor did I stay at a holiday inn last night, but I do have some background in chassis and suspension, a decent amount of experience in offroad reality, and some interesting insight into the automotive business. I'm also a subaru nerd, and absolutely in love with my crosstrek. I hope we can have some more technically focused discussion on this topic, as I haven't seen much real tech discussion on either of the crossie forums that I visit.
 

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I've thought about opening up this discussion a few times... I've contended with some of the same questions, and I've been able to answer a few of them. For me, it was when the Ready Lift suspension came out that I started asking myself these questions. For background, I worked turning wrenches while I was going to school, with a few classes on chassis dynamics. This has been years ago, but I still recall many of the basics, as I used several of these principles later in life when I tried to start my own business making body armor and offroad accessories for jeeps. I tried to start that in 2006 with a limited budget for advertising, so I'm sure you can guess where that business went.
I also have the benefit of being friends with a local Subaru dealership's parts manager, and they build a bunch of lifted crossies. He'll call me every time they try something new, and occasionally ask if I want to be a guinea pig for a new lift... I almost did with the ready lift, and in looking back, I'm glad I didn't.

As far as spring or basic puck spacer lifts, I've seen several of them, and they all start to have camber issues when you go over an inch. You'll see on the metal spacer lifts, they slightly offset the strut holes to account for the camber change of being lower in the suspension cycle. In my opinion, this puts the drop spacers ahead of the game when compared to any spring or spacer combo over 1/2-3/4 inch.

Now, for what I consider the meat of your question - the rear, where the subframe spacers come into play.

When the ready lift kit was released, the price point made it pretty appealing to me, as was the increased ground clearance under the rear diff. So let's talk about that. The LP and ADF lifts include spacers that lower the rear subframe relative to the wheel opening. This move EVERY rear suspension link down, relative to the main body of the car, keeping the geometry in what I like to call the Happy Space. This means that the bushings, bearings, and I'd argue possibly most significantly, the CV joint angles are all in their comfort zone, you will have the same range of travel as you did stock, but with extra space between the center of the wheel hub and the body, which can be used to fit a larger tire, and increase central ground clearance.
Enter the ready lift - Claims a higher front lift than ADF and LP - when comparing the spacers, it's only about 2mm taller than the LP spacer (in fairness, I didn't actually measure this, just set the two spacers next to each other and eyeballed it. At this point I was gathering information for myself, not intending to write a technical comparison, so my research was good enough for me at the time). The rear of the RL kit is virtually identical to the LP spacer in size, but the RL kit does not drop the subframe. This has one advantage, and several disadvantages. The advantage is increased clearance under the rear diff as compared to the LP and ADF kits, since the diff is not lowered with spacers. The disadvantages include less than idea geometry, accelerated bushing, bearing and component wear, and I would argue most significantly, dramatically accelerated CV joint and boot wear. I use the word dramatically based on the increased operating angle of the joint and boot causing higher operating temperatures, and additional surface friction on the outside of the boot, particularly when dirty.

My initial idea was that if I could find an adjustable trailing arm for the crosstrek, it might be worth the additional wear to get the extra ground clearance, and that $300 could buy a set of boots or a reman axle. I was after the trailing arm to ensure that I'd be able to at least dial in the toe change that would occur when the car was lifted. I then read that there is enough adjustment in the factory set up to being the toe back where it should be, which I thought was good news, and I was really tempted to be the first one for this store to install the ready lift kit - I would have had the kit at dealer cost, I would have installed, and gotten a free alignment.
I didn't do it, mostly because I couldn't stomach the thought of replacing a brand new tire. I've done this in the past, but apparently I'm now too old and too cheap to waste a perfectly good brand new tire, and I knew that I'd want the wider footprint from the 15" wheels and larger tires to offset the rise in the center of gravity of the car that would come from the lift. So I waited. I got a call that my buddy had installed the lift on a car, and asked if I wanted to see the results.
The rear tires had notable negative camber, like kind of awkward to look at from behind. The CV angles didn't seem unreasonable, but were notably different from stock. After looking over the completed product, I made the personal determination that I'll go with either Anderson or LP when I'm ready to pull the trigger on tires.

I think the ready lift is a decent middle ground, but I wasn't impressed with the way the rear geometry reacted to the height. If a company were to make adjustable rear links for our cars, I'd consider it a more practical option, but at that point, you'd spend as much if not more on links, to where the LP or ADF kits would again be competitive.

This is my nerdy analysis and opinion. I'm not an expert, nor did I stay at a holiday inn last night, but I do have some background in chassis and suspension, a decent amount of experience in offroad reality, and some interesting insight into the automotive business. I'm also a subaru nerd, and absolutely in love with my crosstrek. I hope we can have some more technically focused discussion on this topic, as I haven't seen much real tech discussion on either of the crossie forums that I visit.
I always wondered if lifting the car would cause increased wear on the bushings, bearings, and CV joints.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thats excellent.

Im in a similar boat, I spent my young adulthood turning wrenches on street cars and rally cars and with the kind of aftermarket available for adustable control arms on the WRX there was no reason not to bump it up with taller springs and struts or coilovers. Im just new to this offroad market and other than having done a few Jeep lifts and truck lifts for friends I dont have nearly the same encyclopedia of information that I do if someone were to ask for help with a EJ WRX.

I was getting the impression that the quality of the readylift hardware was adequate but that it might throw the suspension geo out further than Im satisfied with and I was even more concerned when their website suggested that it would disrupt the adaptive headlights on the limited models. I assume that has more to do with the uneven height distribution essentially aiming the headlights higher than they should be and possibly out of spec from SOA.

At this point Im leaning towards the ADF kit over the LP kit because the price ( with powder coating ) is about the same as the LP kit without the coatings. The only concern is the method used to stack up the rear end not using a tyhrough bolt design. It appears that thei kid uses 5 sided cubes and 2 bolts to attach the control arms back to the frame with their lifts. Im not sure if that is "as solid" as an alluminium puck and if the single bolt design used in the LP adventures kit would be more reliable ( it would defenitly be easier to torque down correctly because I could get a torque bar in there to be sure.

The other interesting note is that ADF appears to sell a 1 inch puck only lift kit as well, if its really a suspension geo problem and they identified that I wouldnt expect to see any lifts from them that dont include control arm spacers as well. I would think that if they determined that the spacers are needed for 1.5 inches and you need 1.5 inch spacers that they would do the same with the 1 inch puck lifts.

Thanks for indulging me in any case, might I ask you if you decided to go with a particular lift kit, and I assume your suspension geo is within tolerances for alignment?.

If anyone has installed any of the lower priced kits Id love to hear about it, Im leaning towards LP or ADF but Im not against being swayed.
 

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From what ive read/heard, if you go with a 1" lift front and rear, you're more or less ok without rear-subframe spacers. If you go over the 1", then you really should get the spacers.

I personally went with the ADF 1.5" kit. I was one of the first outside of ADF testing to have the kit installed on the 2018 chassis. My friend and I made a DIY install video for the kit as well.

Install was pretty damn straight forward. The rear cube spacers were a bit tricky, but can be done tightening everything.

Ive got over 22,000 miles on the lift (along with larger wheel/tire combo) and everything has been solid.

Here is the main thread from the lift, along with the video: https://www.subaruxvforum.com/forum/subaru-xv-diy-how-tos-tsb/146769-how-lift-your-crosstrek.html
 

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I haven't bought a kit yet... My car is only a couple of months old, and as mentioned, I'm too old and cheap to toss the tires. I also have this nasty habit of getting bored with vehicles after a while, although I've honestly never been quite as overall happy with a vehicle as I am with the crossie. I'm going to ride out these tires for a while, and if I'm still in love with the car, then I'll start making some changes. That should also help with the boredom thing, since I'll make changes to the car, instead of changing cars.

Regarding the design differences between ADF and LP, I haven't seen the specs on the bolts that LP uses with their alloy spacers, but I'd bet they are plenty strong, given all the money they've spent on getting their insurance certifications. I would summarize my opinion as follows: the LP kit would certainly be easier to install and torque to spec, and easier to re-torque if needed/desired. The ADF kit will take more time and work to install, but I doubt it would be any less strong than the LP. Their spacers are beef, and I'd think that the longer bolts of the LP kit might be more prone to bend or deflection than the ADF short bolts and OEM bolts. Assuming there are no new awesome players on the market, and no aftermarket link options for these cars when I'm ready to buy, I'd bet I'd got with ADF, for price and availability reasons, since I'm of the opinion that the relative strength of the kits is similar enough to not be a deciding factor.
Again, I'm not an expert, just a nerd with some background.

The owner of this car is a member here, and a good dude, check out their install of the ADF kit to see how they deal with torquing down the upper bolts through the five side cube.
v=ZYL4TVbs7GA

Edit: That's awesome timing...
 

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Great thread!
I have been looking myself at the ReadyLift and had the same questions, and I liked that it did not have spacers (easier to install, and of course less expensive).

So, reading all this (and other threads) about lifts, I think I will just leave my Crosstrek alone at stock height. I already have the 215/75/15 KO2's anyway and would not switch to the 235 size after doing the lift until the new 215's I have are worn out. I may consider a lift if I decide to do more serious off roading in the future, but the setup I have now is great for what I use the car for.
Thanks for all the great info, love seeing the more "technical" discussions.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
From what ive read/heard, if you go with a 1" lift front and rear, you're more or less ok without rear-subframe spacers. If you go over the 1", then you really should get the spacers.

I personally went with the ADF 1.5" kit. I was one of the first outside of ADF testing to have the kit installed on the 2018 chassis. My friend and I made a DIY install video for the kit as well.

Install was pretty damn straight forward. The rear cube spacers were a bit tricky, but can be done tightening everything.

Ive got over 22,000 miles on the lift (along with larger wheel/tire combo) and everything has been solid.

Here is the main thread from the lift, along with the video: https://www.subaruxvforum.com/forum/subaru-xv-diy-how-tos-tsb/146769-how-lift-your-crosstrek.html
I was just watching that video and the only part that seems a bit like a pain is having to run a socket extension through the control arm and through their part to line things op and finger torque them.

I'm leaning towards the LP kit just for the simplicity of the install and its kind of nice knowing that they got the insurance certs as well.

I'm still riding on the stock tires ( only 3500k on the clock ) and I'm with you @DarthZombie I'm not swapping wheels and rubber till they are gone so Ill be rocking stockers until the time comes to swap the rubber, then it'll likley be K02s on MR502V2s but I want the lift sooner rather than later.

Ive been really enjoying the Crosstrek at its current height, its been pleanty dirty with the stock wheels and tires and even the stock ride height hasnt really hindered it out on the camping trails. I really want the lift to raise up the trunk space, I fly racing drones and Ive been using it with the new LEDs as a portable workbench and its been excellent, just about an inch and change too low to be comfortable.

Ill keep you guys Up to date with the install, when it happens but it is defenitly appreciated being able to bounce around ideas.
 

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I'm still riding on the stock tires ( only 3500k on the clock ) and I'm with you @DarthZombie I'm not swapping wheels and rubber till they are gone so Ill be rocking stockers until the time comes to swap the rubber, then it'll likley be K02s on MR502V2s but I want the lift sooner rather than later.
I didn’t get much action on the stock Geos, but my Sumitomo M+S saw plenty of dusty trails in CA. Some kind gentleman in a Chevy 2500 decided to punch a hole in my stock wheel (yes wheel, not tire) just before my tires were to be retired (yes, he also messed up the doors and back bumper, but I restored them to stock). The lift was meant to come first, but only 3 wheels and balding tires, I got the K02s on MR502V2s and am so far happy.

I’d been thinking of the ADF 1.5” lift, but I think I’ll go LP after reading this thread. Nice to see some good details.

Thanks chaps.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So a quick update,

I just placed an order for a set of the ADF 1.5 lifts. After calling ADF and LP adventure I found out that the LP adventure team would not have the parts available for quite some time and the ADF kits would be available for shipping very soon as they keep some stock of parts available. the ADF products also come powder coated at no cost whereas the LP option commands a higher base price and does not include powder coating ( available at a $80 premium )

In the real world it looks like the ADF units will be considerably less expensive by the time I have them installed on the truck. Ill be sure to update this post when I do get the lift kit completed.

Thanks everyone for playing the mind games with me.
 

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From post #2:

"The rear tires had notable negative camber, like kind of awkward to look at from behind. The CV angles didn't seem unreasonable, but were notably different from stock."

Negative camber is often what you get when lowering, not raising. Could this be right?

Also, a change in CV joint angle will take a toll on axles in short order on the highway, much quicker off road.

What's the sense in altering your suspension if you dramatically change your alignment and your axles are required to transmit torque outside their designed operating parameters.


I too have done a lot of suspension alteration on cars, trucks, SUV's and motorcycles, all to enhance handling and make the machine better suited for its intended purpose. If there is any compromise in safety or accelerated wear, I wouldn't consider it.
 

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Negative camber is often what you get when lowering, not raising. Could this be right?
.
I thought it was kind of weird too, but I have a theory.... If the stock upper link is relatively flat on the car at factory ride height, and if the upper link was shorter in length than the lower links (almost always the case), then the suspension cycle would pull the top of the tire inward regardless of up or down movement. I'll take a peek in my fenderwell and see if my upper link is flat. I'm guessing it'll be fairly close to flat.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So the ADF parts came in. Ive got a date on the books to get it installed. Ill take pleanty of before and after photos and If i think about it I might do a quick time lapse video of the install process.

Ill keep everyone updated.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So I worked on the Installation over the Weekend with a good buddy.

Realistically the project was a 3 beer job if your working solo and with 1 friend helping thats a full 6 pack.

total install time was between 3 and 4 hours and that included plenty of time for shooting the breeze and planning on the job.

A few notes for those interested in the same,

1. The 22mm you think you have in your tool box is 1/2 inch drive and youll need to go to the hardware store to buy on with a 3/8 drive.
2. When you remove the subframe bolts and have the differential on a jack it is very easy to move around but not easy to move into place.
3. Aligning the subframe bolts takes alot of shaking and shimmying, but the easiest way to go about it is to get the rearmost bolts in first, after that everything else falls into place.
4. Its much easier to install the rear struts if you drop the rear control arms from the hubs and install the struts then compress them with a jack and a wood block to prevent marring.
5. the bottom of the main subframe bolts that connect to the lift blocks each require an additional washer not included in the instructions. 1 washer under each is enough, otherwise the bolts cannot be torqued to spec as the bottom bolts make contact with the top bolts in the blocks.
6. get your alignment done when you finish, even if you eye ball it and it looks good its better to have the piece of midn that things are within spec.

Anyway overall the installation was pretty low stress, I was off on the alignment by a few tenths of a degree on my driver side when I finished but the alignment shop got it all put back in spec for $79 with a 1 year guarantee.

Honestly i think this is how the car should have come from the factory, while it didnt impact the suspension geometry or the total throw of the suspension it did give the Crosstrek a bit more clearance and put the nose just barely over the height of a standard curb so the tires will touch before the front bumper :p

Heres a photo after the install.
IMG_20190126_125943.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I didnt make any changes to the rear uppers on mine, As far as I can see the bushings are not being exceptionally stressed in this configuration and the allignment on the rear was within spec when i had the shop run a 4 wheel alignment.

With the 1.5 inch lift the rear wheels are moved slighty forward and there is no adjustment in the uppers. If a company like cusco made rear uppers it might be worth running an adjustable one in the future but its not necessary for the lift kit and the kit will currently allow me to fit 235x75x15 or 215x75x15 tires as it sits now.
 

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Thread revive because looks like readylift is saying the 2018+ do not need subframes pacers from their website:


The newer Subaru global platforms are far more adaptable than prior generations, so cradle drops are no longer required to achieve proper geometry. To learn more about the 'cradle drop' myth click here: https://www.readylift.com/blog/2018/12/14/mythbusting-dont-need-cradle-drops-new-generation-subarus/. The Crosstrek kit has front sway bar drop brackets - rears aren't needed.
Finally, we offer our ReadyGuard powertrain warranty protection on all our SST lift kits. The coverage ensures our lift kits will cause no harm to the driveline. If something in the powertrain breaks as a result of the kit we'll cover the repairs...”

What are your thoughts? In the Toyota world we didn’t really need to worry about cv angles unless you where going more than 2.5 inches on a lift. Surely any lift amount will cause your cvs to wear out faster compared to stock. I was just planning on light off-roading/dd, not rock crawling that’s why I have a Toyota truck!
 

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So kids this is the newest lifting thread I found. So here goes a resurrection.

I'm scoping out a 2020 Limited.
I'm looking at 2" front, 1.5" rear lift. Tuff Country are under $300 and have a correction for camber. Hardware for relocating everything as opposed to "spacers". From my ignorant view, I'm not seeing a problem with this kit.

Especially since everything else is way north ($100+) over that. Including the polymer 1 that uses studs for extensions and no offset. I have no issue with the polymer in and of itself but I do not like the stud extensions.

Any reason not to go with tough country?
 
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