DIY: Energy Suspension's 5 Speed front and rear stay bushings! No more shifter slop!

The factory front and rear shifter say bushings aren’t the best in the world on their first day of installation but add 215k miles to them (My 06 Forester’s mileage) and you definitely notice a bit of slop in the shifter. This isn’t a huge problem as there are a plethora of companies with their version of these bushings. In my STi I went with the tried and true Kartboy units. But when it came to the Forester I wanted to give another brand a try to see how they stack up.

With this in mind I wanted to give Energy Suspension front and rear stay bushings a try. I and many of my friends have had great luck with their bushing kits, with that said… lets see how they stack up. The design of many of these bushings are very similar, but the Energy suspension makes the front bushing a one piece design unlike others two piece design. This does make a bit more work for the install but it should be quite easy with a few pieces from the hardware store.

Here they are! Simple yet effective. Soon you will see how they stack up against the factory units. Energy suspension front and rear stay bushing kit

Here they are! Simple yet effective. Soon you will see how they stack up against the factory units.Energy suspension front and rear stay bushing kit

With this install you are looking at around 30 minutes or more. This install uses mostly hand tools but a few power tools can help speed this process up.

Tools necessary for this install will be a 12 and 13 mm socket, 12 and 13 mm wobble socket, 12mm wrench(s), a couple of extensions, snap ring pliers, tube of grease, bushing installing tool or bench vice, MIlwaukee 3/8 electric ratchet and impact gun.

Before we start the install I will preface that this is a great time to replace your shift lever too. When you are doing this install you will need to remove the linkage that the shift lever resides in. Here is a link to the short shifter install and you will see a few of it’s steps below.

Kartboy vs oem… No tough decisions made here.. go with the Kartboy!

Kartboy vs oem… No tough decisions made here.. go with the Kartboy!

As the above paragraph noted we need to remove the shift lever to be able to complete this project. Start by removing the shift knob and shift lever surround. You will need to disconnect the electrical connection to the 12v/cigarette receptacle to fully remove the shifter surround.

Remove these and you halfway to shifter freedom! Then back to the task at hand the linkage that holds the bushings in.

Remove these and you halfway to shifter freedom! Then back to the task at hand the linkage that holds the bushings in.

With all that removed take off the bolt and nut that attach the lever to the upper shift linkage. The next step will be releasing the c-clip with your snap ring pliers to remove it from the lower shift linkage.

This bolt needs a hand to be released from the shifter and you are one step closer.

This bolt needs a hand to be released from the shifter and you are one step closer.

Locate that c-clip and take it out.

Locate that c-clip and take it out.

Now you will be able to move below the car. In the case of a lifted Forester I can just slide underneath the car to remove everything, if this is not case for you… get your trusty jack and jack stands out and secure your vehicle without enough remove to easily work underneath it.

Under the car we need to find the lower shift linkage, once you have identified it move to the front bushing that is held on by a 12mm nut. Once removed we need to remove the washer spacer that resides against it.

There it is! Hiding around the transmission brackets and braces.

There it is! Hiding around the transmission brackets and braces.

We can now follow the lever back to the ear stay bushing. You will once again need a 12mm tool to undo these bolts, I found a six inch extension and 12mm wobble socket made this job cake. Otherwise you can utilize any method to remove these two bolts.

Hiding behind the trans and covered up by the driveshaft, there is the stock rear bushing stay.

Hiding behind the trans and covered up by the driveshaft, there is the stock rear bushing stay.

Back to the front of the shift linkage, you will now remove it off the bolt and wiggle it and whatever ways you can to remove it from the car. The transmission brace will be a bit in the way but you can easily manage to slide it out.

Remove that washer plate and you are ready to remove the bushing.

Remove that washer plate and you are ready to remove the bushing.

Wiggled on out of there! Onward to the other end.

Wiggled on out of there! Onward to the other end.

With a good pull it will pup right out. Find a good work place to get ready for the next steps.

With a good pull it will pup right out. Find a good work place to get ready for the next steps.

Having removed the shift linkage you can place it on your favorite work stand or paper towel off the ground. The rear stay bushing will allow the linkage to slide right out.

Lacking any room for a proper work station I decided to plop it down on this towel and get to it.

Lacking any room for a proper work station I decided to plop it down on this towel and get to it.

The front stay bushing doesn’t really put up much of a fight, using a flat head screwdriver and my hands I was able to easily remove it without any real difficulty. It is quite squishy and isn’t tightly pressed in to the housing.

With a flat head screwdriver and a bit of pressure on the side this is what happened. Halfway out without any real effort, used my hands to pop it out the rest of the way.

With a flat head screwdriver and a bit of pressure on the side this is what happened. Halfway out without any real effort, used my hands to pop it out the rest of the way.

Free from it’s metal prison the old bushing can head to the retirement home of it’s choice.

Free from it’s metal prison the old bushing can head to the retirement home of it’s choice.

Next is installing the front stay bushing, you will want to clean up your bushing housing and apply a thin layer of grease. This will help keep squeaking to a minimum and ease your installing. Being that the energy suspension front stay is a one piece we will need to press it on in. The bushing has a tapered side to aid the installation, I decided to use my Super Pro steering rack bushing with a few extra washer I had lying around. After you line everything a quick snap of the trigger of the Milwaukee impact and the bushing pops right in.

New vs old. It is easy to see which is the improved version with much less flex.

New vs old. It is easy to see which is the improved version with much less flex.

Choose your grease of choice. This grease was highly recommended for my poly bushings to keep squeaking to a minimum, so we will try it in this application.

Choose your grease of choice. This grease was highly recommended for my poly bushings to keep squeaking to a minimum, so we will try it in this application.

Slather it on! There is no such thing as too much grease to a bushing.

Slather it on! There is no such thing as too much grease to a bushing.

If you don’t have the above setup you can easily put one together at the hardware store. It is just a few washers, a good sized headless bolt (referred to as a Retro fit bolt) and couple of nuts. If this isn’t up your alley and you have a bench vice you can always just use a it to easily install the bushing too.

Here is the setup up. Headless bolt with two/three good sized washers, these as shown above will help drive the bushing through with the nuts on either end.

Here is the setup up. Headless bolt with two/three good sized washers, these as shown above will help drive the bushing through with the nuts on either end.

With one nut held with a wrench and one with a ratchet or impact. When you start spinning it down the bushing will slide in and pop into place quickly. With my Milwaukee impact it was to quick job with just two trigger pulls to complete the job.

With one nut held with a wrench and one with a ratchet or impact. When you start spinning it down the bushing will slide in and pop into place quickly. With my Milwaukee impact it was to quick job with just two trigger pulls to complete the job.

Another image of the setup. Simple and effective, just like I like it!

Another image of the setup. Simple and effective, just like I like it!

We are done with what I believe is the hard part it the front stay bushing installed. Now you can turn your attention to the rear stay bushing. Sliding back under the car you will now need to place the bushing in it’s new home and hand tighten the two 13 mm bolts the set comes with. After you have spun them in with a few threads I like to take my Milwaukee 3/8 ratchet and run them down quickly. There is little to no room to swing a wrench/ratchet in this area so this really speeds up the process. Completely the procedure with a quick torque and this step is completed.

Old and new. After 215k miles it is time for an upgrade, but really, just look at the factory unit… it needs a bit more beef and stiffness.

Old and new. After 215k miles it is time for an upgrade, but really, just look at the factory unit… it needs a bit more beef and stiffness.

Not the easiest part to get into its place but it looks much better than the factory. And should get the job done.

Not the easiest part to get into its place but it looks much better than the factory. And should get the job done.

Adding just a bit of grease to the end of the shift linkage we can now give it a good push into the rear stay bushing. With it installed you can now line up the front bushing slide it in. Find you washer and 12mm nut and tighten everything back down. Double check your install below and you can head back to the interior of the vehicle.

With a bit of lube and a good shove the rear bushing is set. Now you can move back to the front to to install the front bushing.

With a bit of lube and a good shove the rear bushing is set. Now you can move back to the front to to install the front bushing.

With the linkage lined up and popped through the shift lever hole you can return it to it’s home. My full Short shifter install is located here for further detailed instruction. We will gloss over it though. Pop the shifter back in, use your snap ring pliers to install you c-clip and on to the 12mm bolt. With just the dust cover, shifter surround and knob to go, you are home free.

The bushing is set and ready for the washer and nut to complete it.

The bushing is set and ready for the washer and nut to complete it.

Run this nut down and this is complete. Put the shift level back in and you are ready to shift.

Run this nut down and this is complete. Put the shift level back in and you are ready to shift.

Congratulations! You have completed your front and rear stay bushings. You should now double check your linkage for smooth unobstructed shifting through each of the gears. Feeling just how much tighter and precise they are over the stock sloppy joe bushings. Now you can ask yourself the same question you always do after a modification that really outshines the factory…. why did I not do this earlier!??! Well forget those thoughts and just look forward to your next drive, this is a great every drive pleasure mod that you will enjoy with each and every shift!

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Dan EngstromComment