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2010 Outback steering wheel shaking and hesitation



  • jorotjorot Posts: 6
    i was seriously considering outback 2011...almost gave up, it's interesting that people still buy the car, most likely they just love subaru despite the problem, or they do not know about it, or they are lucky. By the way i was told that there is no difference between the 2010 and 2011 models, but only the folding side mirrors. One cannot change the structure, chassis , suspension etc of the car just for a month - impossible. It's a pity i've never been a big subaru fan, but heard that lasts forever, reliable top of the top on safety, 4x4 etc. By the way the limited model asking price is about $33 000, sounds very expensive for this type of car. Anyway any experience is welcome, it's great that other customer can share their experience here.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    I have been a Subaru "fan" for fourteen years and have a '97 Outback. It is a great car but it is not true they last "forever." I have spent thousands keeping mine on the road with the highest expense being an engine re-build because of the well-chronicled head gasket problem.

    Reliability? I've been left stranded twice by mine (one occasion the head gasket at advanced mileage, the other the alternator when the car was almost new).

    Safety? Definitely, yes. One of the safest cars on the road. It's known as the "Japanese Volvo" which is probably a misnomer because lots of cars are as safe as Volvos.

    The AWD capability is also second to none. If it's possible to get through it, Subaru will do it!

    The price is indeed high enough (even higher in Canada) but it is going to continue on up because of currency debasement. The company has no choice.

    I would have moved on to a new 2010 or '11 model by now but not with the shake issue still unresolved. I am not one of those infinitely patient enough to jump through all the "fix" hoops in hopes of resolving a serious issue which has not yet been consistently and reproducibly resolved. But maybe in the next iteration. It's really too bad because otherwise the Outback is a truly great car.
  • clarkkentclarkkent Posts: 154

    OK, I agree with you about the German, Swedish. That being said, there are many Korean cars BETTER than the OB. How about some Japanese brands that are just as good or better than the OB?? All those cars are probably less in cost than the Subie.

    I have had 6 Subies and loved every one. Took several over 200k. But I'm not going to drive a car 200k with a shake.

    So I will wait to see if they get it fixed (for real) if not, I'll be getting a Kia or Hyundai
    (same company you know).

    I'd rather have a Subie but only if it is guaranteed not to shake.

    So I will wait till the end of this year. My dealer knows my position. I told him I would buy an OB (IF) the shake has been fixed.
  • I bought My 2010 legacy about 11 months ago, it has 30,000km on it now. I have a huge proble with shaking, the whole car shakes when I drive over 100kph. the passanger front seat shakes like crazy. I really hate driving this car. Its been 2 months since I brought this issue to the dealer and they have put a suspension package on it and that didn't work so they have been waitng on a subaru rep to come in to test drive it and inspect it. 2 MONTHS thats crazy. This is my second subaru, I had a 2008 WRX but I traded it in for the legacy because my wife was pregnant. I loved that car and never had a problem! Im truly dissapointed in this car! I had very hi hopes for it. Now im not sure if I will ever buy a subaru again. if they don't fix it soon they will lose me as a customer forever!!!!!
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    The pain and frustration your are feeling are palpable in your post. I sympathize with you.

    It is experiences such as yours that are making many prospective buyers, including previous Subaru buyers, very leery now of the Outback. I will certainly not buy one given the present situation.

    I therefore am looking elsewhere and considering the Forester (which is a poor second to the Outback in my opinion but a creditable vehicle nevertheless) as well as other brands including the Equinox and the new Grand Cherokee.

    It is really a shame that Subaru is tarnishing its previous good reputation over this issue but this shaking thing is now in its second year and still new "shakers" are being built and sold according to posts on other forums.

    I hope you get your car properly and truly fixed. Life is way too short to be spent with vibrating hands and arms and, in your particular case the entire car, as you cruise on down the highway!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587 back-the-numbers.html

    Outback simply clobbers the Crosstour while costing less. And that's not just Edmunds' opinion - it's true in Consumer Reports as well. Even the 4 cylinder Outback easily outscores the Crosstour.

    It also costs less than a similarly equipped Venza, and again, CR rated the 4 banger Outback higher.

    So I dunno about the "better than OB" and "less in cost" part.

    If you're not happy with Subaru, I can't blame you for buying something else next time, though.

    Personally I'd like to see the Koreans try harder - their sedans get DI engines but their crossovers get weaker versions of the same engines, and they're not as powerful nor as fuel efficient. Disappointing.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    It was the hideous appearance of the new Outback, as well as the bloated price, that steered me away from it last year when I purchased a Forester. I had previously owned three Outbacks, but wouldn't even consider the new one.

    If this was a brand new company to the automotive industry, I can maybe understand something like this steering shake issue, but there is really no reason why it should be so persistent and pervasive on a model that is in its fifth generation.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    If this was a brand new company to the automotive industry, I can maybe understand something like this steering shake issue, but there is really no reason why it should be so persistent and pervasive on a model that is in its fifth generation


    This shake comes with introduction of a new "frame" (front unit body parts). No one has discussed the possibility of a front end unit body problem. I'm reminded of my 1965 Mustang V8 which developed the shakes when the lower firewall had thinned from rust. I replaced all suspension components, but that didn't help.

    A shock tower brace kit like those installed on some WRXs might be a way to determine whether the front unibody is the source of the shake.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391

    Thanks for posting that! After I keyed the last message, I began to think along the same lines. It's not the components, it's likely the structure to which they are attached.

    It makes sense, too, especially with regard to the problem becoming increasingly worse over time. If this is the problem, I hope they address it soon because if the shake does grow worse, it will eventually cause a structural failure that could prove disastrous if it occurs at the wrong time.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683

    I'm glad we both are just spectators in this debacle; our new Foresters not only look better than the Outback but are more reliable too.

    If it is indeed the front unibody, the resultant recall will make the Toyota fiasco a distant memory. I wonder if there are any Toyota parts involved?

  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    Wes and Dave,

    Apart from better appearance and reliability compared to the latest generation "shaking" Outback, how else do you like your Foresters?

    Can you comment on cabin noise levels at highway speeds, stock audio system quality, NAV system if you have it and ride quality? Normal 2.5 engine adequate or is the turbo the ticket?

    I am in the situation of finally deciding to turn my "back" on the Outback because I will absolutely not chance getting a shaker and then the hoops I would have to jump through to get a "fix!" [Reminds me of a Subaru joke: Q. How is a new Outback owner like a heroin addict? A. They are both desperately looking forward to their next "fix!"]

    Thanks for any info you can provide.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    My Forester Xt has very low engine and exhaust noise at highway speed, but possibly more wind noise than my previous 2005 Outback 3.0R. Ride quality is better than the 3.0R; braking is very much better. 40 to 70 mph accelleration is adequate; 0-40 performance much better than the 3.0R.

    I don't like the exhaust rap (heard in the cabin) on the naturally aspirated 2010 Forester; it is identical to my long ago 1997 Legacy GT. The 2011 Forester appears to have a new header and exhaust manifold design; it may have eliminated the problem.

    The 2011 without turbo...if it has the better block design from the turbo...might be a good bet. A test drive will tell.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    It makes sense, too, especially with regard to the problem becoming increasingly worse over time. If this is the problem, I hope they address it soon because if the shake does grow worse, it will eventually cause a structural failure that could prove disastrous if it occurs at the wrong time


    Another possibility that has not been mentioned is engine mounts. One poster said the shake starts after driving quite some time which would correlate to possible change in engine mounts (probably softer) with heat. I had a 1989 Maxima that developed poor steering after an engine mount failed.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 2011 Forester got some nice upgrades, too, like a padded dash. I suspect people who shy away from the OB because of this issue will now more likely be just as happy in a Forester.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    edited October 2010

    Overall, I am very happy with the Forester. Compared to the last Outback I owned (a 2008 2.5i), it has more passenger room (but a shorter cargo area). Since we have two young children and take relatively frequent long trips (some as long as 4000-5000 miles one way!), passenger comfort was paramount.

    All 2010 models (four) in which I have ridden have all had door rattles (left and right front doors), but they were easily fixed on my car with one visit to the dealer. The car is perfectly quiet (in terms of rattles) aside from that. There is very little wind noise at speed, even less with the sunshade closed on the massive moon roof. I love the moon roof, though, so that shade is rarely closed!

    I am not a good source of info on the radio. I think it sounds great, but then I have never owned any cars with "premium" systems in them and have never owned a new car that was not a Subaru. I think it sounds nice, but that may also be a result of the cabin being so quiet. I don't find myself turning up the volume on the stereo at highway speeds unlike any other car I have, such as my Escort, where I will double the volume at speed versus being stopped. When I'm driving, I don't really care about having a sound system with perfect fidelity because the stereo is just a peripheral - I'm in the car to drive. ;)

    Unlike Dave, I have the normally aspirated engine mated to a manual transmission. I think the engine power is fine, and it is quite peppy when I ask it to be. I haul and/or pull pretty decent loads with it now and again, and it does an admirable job for such a little car. hauled about 1500# (maybe more) 1100 miles last summer on my annual fishing trip, and I was able to run it at speed the whole way, hills/mountains and all. Of course, it only averaged 17.5 mpg on that trip, but I was okay with that given I had stuff on top and was pulling a trailer at 60-70 mph.

    The Subaru MT is okay. I don't mind the 4-speed AT either but prefer a manual in general. I really liked the locking rear differential on the previous Outbacks (great for the fun factor), but the VSC works well on the Forester. In terms of go-ability, this one is definitely the most capable. I think the new Outback has the same system on it now, though, so that's a non-issue comparing new to new.

    I run synthetic oil in it on extended drain intervals, and the engine is whisper quiet and smooth. I am not familiar with the "exhaust rap" Dave mentioned. I mean, I can *hear* the exhaust/engine inside the car, but I think I would feel uncomfortable (disconnected) in a car where I couldn't.

    I would call the ride "firm." It is not a cushy sedan ride, but not uncomfortable at all. I like it.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 2,951
    That was a very good, down-to-earth review of the Forester. Thanks.
  • I am a Car Salesman, just a disclaimer. I have the privilege of selling subaru I did have one customer complain of a vibration in the rear of the vehicle I listened to it with him and then had my Service manager listen to it, I took the customer to lunch while my service manager put the car up on the racks.

    He concluded that it was just a slight vibration that would not affect performance, the customer took the vehicle on a trip and returned after the problem persisted. I met with my service manager about how to fix it, and he let me know he started a file with Subaru.

    About a week later I see my customer driving at the dealership and somehow the service department was able to minimize the effect. Sorry I don't know how he did it, but good news is there is a fix.
  • css1css1 Posts: 247
    Minimizing the effect is not fixing it!

    It is good that your service manager is really trying to help your customer.
  • eftiefti Posts: 2
    Fortunately, I do not own a 2010/2011 Outback or Legacy, thanks to the various posts on As to the steering/shaking problem, I have been telling our local Subaru service manager that I believe the defect in these cars has been built in at the factory and that no solution, fix, etc., in the field is ever going to make it right. The real solution is to take each defective vehicle and send it back to Lafayette. Immediately. Of course, Subaru cannot afford to do that so they have fiddled around for over a year with a so-called fix that doesn't seem to work. I prefer to call it a "patch. I told our service manager that, in simple terms, "A defective part plus a patch doth not make a good part." He adamantly disagrees. Of course.

    Thanks to all who have posted their experiences on this problem. I am sure that you have saved many potential buyers a lot of money and agony.
  • I'm thinking of buying a 2011 2.5 limited outback.

    AWD is a must for me, and it seems to be better value than the Volvo XC70, Audi A4.

    Obviously I'm very concerned about the steering shimmy issue.

    I read Outback sales are still very strong for 2010 despite this.

    Would love to get info on % of cars by build date having this problem.

    Does anyone have an idea about that?

    Many thanks
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