This 06 Forester Started Out As A Cheap Beater Before Being Turned into a trail car

I’ve always been a huge Subaru fan and naturally decided to lift one as soon as my hiking trips began taking me on challenging forest roads. My first lifted Forester was a 5 speed manual but I really didn’t like burning the clutch to slowly crawl over obstacles. Finally I decided to sell it and find an automatic Subaru. I found this 2006 Forester that needed a little work and drove it home for under $2000.

Mod List On The Forester:

Lighting:

  • Cheap 14 inch LED light bar
  • Ni-lite yellow LED fog lights
  • Osram Night Breaker headlight bulbs
  • LED interior lights
lifted subaru forester with all terrain tires and lift kit 2006 in the woods with lights

What Kind Of Tires Have You Run On The Forester?

First, I was running a set of Federal Couragia MT’s on it. They were 29 inches and were really aggressive. They looked great and they held up against even the most abusive terrain. However, they weighed 38 lbs and were just a bit heavy for the 2.5 boxer paired with the 4EAT transmission. So I started thinking about switching out for a slightly less meaty tire. I finally decided to pull the trigger on a new set after taking the MT’s in the snow and realizing how bad they did in cold temperatures.

I did a bunch of research and looked around for a tire that would be large, aggressive, 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake rated, and have a good appearance. A lot of people run the Falken Wildpeak and the Ko2’s but I wanted to try something a little different. I didn’t see a lot of Subaru guys using the Kumho Road Ventures, so I thought it could be a great tire for our cars. They weighed in at 34 lbs in the 235/75/15 size and had a really good tread pattern, and are severe weather rated.

Even though performance is most important to me, I also wanted a tire that also looked good. The shoulder pattern on the Kumho’s looked great without being too bulky. The main tread pattern also looks good and is very functional in offering grip and quieting road noise.

How hard was it to fit Big all-terrain tires on the Forester?

The 235/75r15’s rub a lot without doing some things to the wheel well area. I had to make a few modifications in order to fit them.

Here’s how I fit the bigger tires:

  • Remove mudflaps
  • Remove sideskirts
  • Trim back the fender liners
  • Fold the front pinch welds over with a mini-sledge
  • Use a rally style wheel with a low off set to pull the tires away from the struts (I used the Method MR502)
  • I also cut my front bumper a little. This helps reduce rubbing but I liked the look and the ground clearance on my front corners.

It’s hard to see in the photo, but this is a picture of my mud terrain tires rubbing against the wheel well at full lock even after folding the pinch weld over with a hammer. It’s hard to tell what’s going on, but the tire is on the right side of the picture, and the fender liner and pinch weld are on the left.

What are your wheel specs?

I’m currently running the Method MR502 VT spec wheels. I know everyone has them, but they really are a great wheel and a fellow Subaru owner needed to get rid of them. So I took them off his hands and ended up loving them. They’re a great fit right out of the box. They have the perfect offset for clearing big tires without wheel spacers.

Getting the best fitment with a lift kit on the Forester:

I shopped around for kits to see what was available but I ultimately decided to go with the Anderson Design Fab kit. I’ve used their stuff before and really wanted the peace of mind that comes with getting a good kit. They’ve been making quality products for years and always offer good support.

I got the 2/2.5 inch strut spacers and installed them in my driveway before the weather got too bad to work in. The install was pretty straight forward with basic mechanic’s tools. I did it in about 3 evenings after work but I also installed new front brakes and took my time fixing little issues that I found as I went.

TIP: check your strut tops before you get started with the install. Some people have run into issues with non-OEM spec strut mounts during the installation.

Capability Of the lifted forester:

I’m fully aware that Subarus are not rock crawlers, but I’ve been extremely surprised by how far I can push this thing. I’ve been able to drive through 2 feet of snow without stopping.

I have right around 12 inches of clearance at the rear diff. This makes navigating rocky forest roads very doable. I’ve been out on trail runs with lifted Toyotas and Nissan trucks without much issue at all. I drive the car well within its ability, but there are a few times when I’ve had to winch out in deep snow.

 

What kind of gear do you carry with you?

Most of my adventures are just day trips. So I typically pack really light. However, there are a few things I never go into the wilderness without taking in the Forester.

This is my bare minimum kit:

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