As many of you probably already know, you can't easily replace the staked-in u-joints in these 4th Gen Subaru driveshafts. Sure, with some ingenuity and a machine shop you could pull it off like this guy did in his many part YouTube series (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJIL1vJDILY
) but do you really want to go through all of that trouble for a lousy u-joint?
For most of us, that means we're stuck replacing the entire driveshaft assembly which costs about $350-400 from eBay sources and more than $700 from Subaru.
you can find a used driveshaft on eBay like I did for about $140-150 shipped. Mine happened to be out of a lower mileage vehicle (~85k). The seller provided a full money back guarantee, free return shipping if needed, and even a 6 month warranty on the part (pretty damn amazing for a used part). It arrived a couple days later with the staked-in joints and center bushing/bearing in excellent condition.
NOTE: when buying a used driveshaft or any used part on a site like eBay pay attention to the claimed mileage of the vehicle that appears in the information section. While the seller could certainly lie about the mileage, it's our only resource for some indication of the part's age/wear.
For the record, the driveshaft I received was a lower mileage part as advertised.
As far as the driveshaft itself, if you have a 4spd automatic trans (the 4EAT) you'll need either part# 27111-AG01A or 27111-AG05A. Contrary to some misinformation on the Internet BOTH of these driveshafts fit the 2005-2009 4EAT.
Last weekend I completed a driveshaft replacement on a 2005 Subaru Legacy (in this case my wagon). I assume this process will be virtually identical for Outbacks as well. Some vehicles, such as the Impreza, appear to have at least one additional metal plate blocking access to the driveshaft...that's not the case on my Legacy.
This job involves just 8 bolts (12, 14 and 17mm) and 5 exhaust hangers. It can be accomplished solo but it's easier if you have a 2 people to maneuver and hold the awkward 2-part driveshaft while removing and installing it. Expect to spend at least 2 hours on it if you've never done this before. that's about how long it took us moving fairly slowly in freezing New England temps. No photos, sorry. We were freezing our butts off.
- We drove the front up onto ramps, chocked the front wheels and put the rear up on jackstands. Engage the parking brake.
- Remove only the two rear bolts of the front-most heatshield located about mid-way under the car. There is absolutely no reason to remove the other two (at least not on a CA emissions vehicle like mine). Bend the shield downward so that it wraps around the exhaust enough to allow you to access the two bolts holding the center driveshaft carrier. Again, do not remove the entire shield..it's unnecessary. Unless you really want to play around with the two much more difficult to access upper bolts.
- Remove the two bolts attaching the carrier to the underbody.
- Remove the lower two bolts where the driveshaft connects to the rear differential. NOTE: If you attempt to loosen the bolts and the driveshaft spins you forgot to engage the parking brake. [UPDATE: these bolts each have a nut and lock washer.]
- Take the parking brake off and rotate the driveshaft 180 degrees. Re-engage the parking brake and remove the two remaining bolts. You may have to lightly tap the end of the shaft to get it to separate from the differential. The shaft will now be sitting atop the exhaust.
- At the rear of the vehicle pop all 4 exhaust hangers out of their rubber brackets. About 2 feet forward pop the 5th hanger out of its bracket if it isn't already broken off due to rust (mine was). To make the job move faster, one person can easily work on removing the driveshaft bolts while the other pushes the exhaust hangers out of the rubber brackets.
- Lower the exhaust downward at the rear just enough to slide the driveshaft straight out the back under the diff. Support the exhaust on a jackstand if you're uncomfortable with letting it hang freely.
- Maneuver the replacement driveshaft in from the rear of the vehicle, up and over the exhaust until the splined shaft fully seats in the trans. Watch that center carrier bracket throughout this process and make sure it's facing upward as you maneuver it into place. One of us held the rear of the shaft up. The other guided the front of the shaft into place with one hand and maneuvered the center bracket around obstacles with the other hand.
- Attach the two carrier bolts. I did not have torque specs for these but they're on rubber bushings so pretty damn tight is good enough.
- Bend the heat shield back into place and attach the two bolts.
- Attach the lower two bolts at the rear of the driveshaft only until snug.
- Disengage the parking brake and rotate the driveshaft 180 degrees. Re-engage the parking brake.
- Attach the remaining two bolts and tighten fully. NOTE: I could not fit a torque wrench using an combination of sockets and extensions because the differential housing is in the way (less than an inch of clearance). So just tighten as best you can. I believe the spec on these bolts is only around 25-28 ft-lbs anyway.
- Disengage the parking brake one last time and rotate the driveshaft 180 degrees. Re-engage the parking brake. Now fully tighten the first two bolts.
- Finish up by inserting the 5 exhaust hanger points back into their brackets.
It's an easy job. Even easier if you happen to have either air tools or an electric impact wrench to speed things up. None of the bolts are difficult to remove and none required WD/PB.
I was quoted several hundred dollars from a reputable local shop. Save about $500+ and do it yourself.