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Subaru Legacy Steering Issues

I bought a brand new 07 Legacy 2.5i sedan at the end of 2006. At 1500 miles the steering was problematic, took it in to the dealer, and by the time they were done, they replaced the entire power steering system. They said the problem was with the power steering rack, which they replaced. I asked if this new part was from the same supplier, so could also be defective, and apparently it is. I am rather alarmed, this is the 1st brand new car I have purchased in 20+ years. Has anyone had similar problems? - Merrie


  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    That's odd. But there are only like 2 or 3 manufacturers of all the PS racks on all cars. My guess is they didn't fix it properly the first time.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That problem sounds a bit unusual. I think I've heard of only one other steering rack issue and I've followed all the Subaru threads for 9 years now.

    Let the dealer fix it, call 800-SUBARU3 if you need help from SoA. I'm sure they'll sort it out and this will become a distant memory.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Okay, so maybe I am a little confused here. The responses look as though the assumption is made that the steering problems are ongoing - as in the "complete system replacement" did not work. I do not read that from the text - I read that you have concerns about whether the problem will recur, since the replacement equipment is the same as that replaced.

    If it is working properly, I expect, as do Mike and juice, that this same problem is highly unlikely to recur. Steering problems, in general, are not common, but there are always bound to be one or two bad products to come off every production line. I think you just were unlucky.
  • Thanks for all the comments. Other than an odor from the front end that smells like burning plastic - which seems to be going away now after a couple hundred miles of driving - probably has something to do with the new rack installation - the cars is running fine. I am hoping it was just a fluke. I am really glad to have the Subaru back after driving Sebring rental cars :( and will hope for the best. I have quite a few miles left on the warranty and, if worse comes to worse, the lemon law window. -merrie
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Probably some grease on the hot exhaust, that should go away. You could have the undercarriage washed, but if it's already fading I wouldn't worry.

  • rharpinrharpin Posts: 2
    my power steering recently became very stiff. In retrospect, about a month ago I mistakenly added a little power steering fluid (instead of ATF fluid) to the reservoir. So yesterday I flushed two volumes of ATF through it. still is stiff. Have I ruined both pump and rack? Should I start by replacing pump and see what happens?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If it isn't leaking it's probably not the rack. I'd say start with the pump or check the belts to make sure they are tight.

  • speed_gaspeed_ga Posts: 2
    Ok I have a 1995 subaru legacy and whenever I go to make a turn... the car studders. Like the wheels are gripping the road really hard. When I go to turn the wheel it does a stop, go, stop, go, stop fast motion. On some days it's worse than others. Feels like the noise is coming from the rear of the car but I can feel it in my steering wheel. A while back I looked into fixing it and found that it may be the differential box or something like that. any info would help me out alot. I have taken it to a few people and all I got out of that is a whole new rear end replacement and it still has the same problem.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sounds like a front or rear differential or possibly a bad axle.

  • speed_gaspeed_ga Posts: 2
    ok I put the 15a fuse in the fwd slot under the hood and the problem went away. No more shudder or vibration. I live in ga and most of the roads are flat and I have 200,000+ miles on the car. Will this eventually case a problem with me having the fuse in there to make it front wheel drive instead of AWD?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    eventually it will cause a problem, however at 200,000 miles other parts will likely fail before the FWD fuse causes and issue IMHO.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499

    As the problem was averted with the FWD fuse, does that indicate a center differential problem or would it have to be the rear?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Most likely center diffy, but could also be the rear, can't tell which it is.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    I was thinking center as well, since the poster said that the rear differential was replaced (I think - did not go back to verify it!). I have not had any experience with the fuse though.

  • I had the same problem with a 2007 Legacy station wagon. Steering gradually became stiffer and stiffer, basically no power steering at 5,700 miles. The dealer said it was the steering racket and replaced the entire power steering system. I never experienced a problem like this in 38 years of driving all types, makes of vehicles. Other than that the car is great. I wonder how many other new Legacy owners have experienced this problem. Does anyone know of a way to find this out? Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The only other steering-related problem I've heard of was on a Forester, where the rack and pinion would slip one cog. I only heard of that on one car, though.
  • Hello, I saw your post and I am having the exact problem with my 1996 Subaru Legacy GT wagon (2.5 Litre). I just replaced the head gaskets and this is the only remaining problem: When I insert the fuse, the problem goes away. This led me to think it was the rear differential or driveshaft, but I jacked the car up and moved the drive shaft by hand and had someone help by turning the rear wheels and everything in the rear seemed fine.

    What some people are calling a center differential, the tech manual calls a transfer clutch. (I have a tech manual covering the transmission). I am thinking this is the problem. It can not be the front differential as the problem would not go away by installing the fuse.

    Do you have any additional information? Do you want me to keep you in the loop regarding what I learn?
    Let me know
  • I started having this problem 6 months ago. The wheel makes this quicks stop and go's while steering and doesn't return to neutral by itself. A mechanic changed two steering pumps (used) and is a little better but still stiff. No steering fluid leak. Now I moved to New Jersey and brought my Subaru on tow. I took it to have brakes and oil change done and complained about the steering to the mechanics. They swore there's nothing wrong with it...but steering still needs a lot of attention while driving! I need some who can give me some answer! I live in NJ very close to New Brunswick (I'm in Milltown).

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I've seen bad steering rack bushings cause you not to get the re-centering. We do a lot of work on subarus at my shop in Kenilworth, NJ (Exit 138 on the GSP) and have fixed a few with new steering rack bushings and/or tie-rods. Kind of thing you need to check out. If you look up on Edmunds Shops in Kenilworth, NJ under Local Services at the top of the page our info is there under AZP Installs.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • steveh7steveh7 Posts: 1
    My 99 legacy outback steering wheel is hard to turn and doesn't return to straight on its own. What do you think it is based on what you learned? Heres everything I checked: Tire size and air pressure. No binding from ball joints or other components. PS pump output pressure 1000 psi, fluid full, no leaks and all belts tight. Could it be the rack?
    Steve H
  • i have the fwd fuse out of my car and my back two wheels locked up... any ideas on whats wrong
  • I just had the same problem (needing to have the steering rack, etc.) replaced at 7000 miles. Shocking! I have a 2010 Impreza wagon.
  • merriemerrie Posts: 3
    If it's any consolation, my Legacy has 67,000 miles on it now and I haven't had any more problems with the steering or anything else. It was just a defective part, luck of the draw I guess. Good luck.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Can you clarify?

    You say "i have the fwd fuse out of my car"...

    When you take the fuse out, it's AWD.

    You actually insert the fuse to go to FWD mode.

    So it seems like the problem occurs when AWD is engaged.
  • So my power steering has been making noises the last few weeks when i turn to the left. Well this am i was heading to work and it was cold out side and it mad a loud squeaking noise and then after i made my third turn this morning i noticed the my break light and battery light came on on the dash board, I also smelled like a burning smell and i had no power steering. any thoughts?? thanks
  • chicago_chicchicago_chic Posts: 4
    edited October 2011
    Sounds like it could be the steering rack, which is a serious problem. This is what happened to my Impreza wagon at only 7K miles.
    Initially with power steering problems, you will only hear noise (and shaking) when the car is cold, and when you turn to extremes. Later, more stuff happens more often.

    If you've lost power steering, and lights are on, this really sounds like an urgent situation. It might be unsafe to even drive the car. I ended up getting my car towed using the Subaru 24 hour roadside assist to the closest dealer. It was easy. No hassle, no problem, no charge.

    [I had waited until my car was un-driveable because I kept thinking it was 1) my imagination, or 2) I'd take it to the dealer and they would say #1]

    One quick thing you can check is the power steering fluid level, if you're able. My car had no fluid left after the rack had broken.

    Good luck, be safe, and let us know how things work out
  • dynamitedgdynamitedg Posts: 2

    I brought my 2003 Legacy to a mechanic last week with a steering problem. Turns out the hose was dried out and leaking in 3 places and I needed a new pump. I got a call on Friday saying they replaced both but now with the new parts, the power steering is not working when idle or slow, only when the speed picks up. They then replaced the (new) pump and hose and put in a new rack, but to no avail. The same problem was happening. They tried it again with a 3rd pump and hose and 2nd rack and it STILL wasn't working. They've called Subaru and other mechanics and everyone says that what they tried should have worked.

    Has anyone heard of something like this happening and have a solution? If not, does anyone have an idea of what else they can try? They've had the car for a week now and we wouldn't mind getting this fixed so we can get our car back.

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