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2010 Outback steering wheel shaking and hesitation

Hi Guys,

I just placed an order for a 2010 Outback 3.6R limited. I came across some posts on another forum. Some owner of 2010 Outback (especially 3.6R) complain about the following two issues.

1. Shaking steering wheel when driving on 65-75mph

2. Hesitation when accelerating from low speeds

I wonder if any of you guys have experienced similar issues or you are happy with your all new OB?

Thanks a lot!


  • All the 3.6 engines that have been delivered to this point need a reflash to fix the hesitation problem. All that are currently coming from the factory have already got it.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 12,909
    Do you know if it is only up to 75 mph? If it were something present at speeds greater than 65 mph, it could very well be the wheel balance, but I would not expect that to go away at even faster speeds....
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I am not so sure. I haven't got my car yet and what I heard was from another forum of new 2010 Outback owners. People there said neither alignment nor balancing didn't resolve the problem. They also mentioned that SOA is aware of this issue and replaced springs for some of them but it didn't work either.
  • 2010outbacker,

    Is there a TSB out yet on the 3.6R hesitation fix? Do you happen to know if it was a reprogramming of the ECU (engine control unit), or the TCM (transmission control module)? I have heard speculation on both sides of the question of whether it has more to do with engine or transmission programming.

    With my own car the issue seems pretty minor, but when I have it in for its first oil change in a month or so, I want to get whatever updates there are.

    (I also have not experienced the steering wheel vibration issue, but my sense of that issue is that it may be a combination of out-of-balance or out-of-round issues with the wheels/tires, coupled with a steering system that is more sensitive to (or revealing of) vibration issues than it should be.

    There is a lot of discussion of this issue on the forum. Dealers have been doing a lot of wheel re-balancing as at least part of the solution, and have just recently been doing the so-called "spring" fix, for people who have complained of the vibration. This appears to involve replacement of a small spring that is inside of the steering rack assembly, with a somewhat heavier/stiffer spring. As far as I can tell from the info I've seen, this spring is providing some pressure that holds the sliding/moving part of the steering rack, up against the fixed housing of the steering rack. It is inside of the rack assembly itself, but apparently is fairly quick/easy to replace.

    But the earliest reports on this spring replacement are that it seems to reduce the vibration felt through the steering wheel, but doesn't necessarily eliminate it. My own guess is that re-balancing the wheels/tires remains part of the fix.

    It is also not clear how many cars have this issue. I don't experience it at all, but maybe that is just due to luck in having well-balanced wheels and tires. It also MAY be the case that the issue doesn't apply to cars with the base 16" steel wheels. But I don't think that's been firmly established. In any case, it applies to both engine versions.
  • I recently bought 2010 2.5 6-speed manual outback. I have noticed that there is a slight (but noticeable) hesitation when accelerating into first, and also into second. Dealer said I should just drive it and get used to the way it shifts. I have always driven manuals, and my 1999 outback is much smoother shifting.

    Has anyone else had this problem? I am growing increasingly frustrated with dealer.
  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216
    "All the 3.6 engines that have been delivered to this point need a reflash to fix the hesitation problem. All that are currently coming from the factory have already got it. "

    2010outbacker: To reinforce the other response above -- Where did you learn this information? No TSB has been issued as far as I know (searchable at

    This is very exciting news and I want to make sure it is credible and that you didn't misunderstand someone telling you that this is what is going to happen if they can fix it.


  • Hi guys, sorry for the late reply...

    I also registered for an account on but it hasn't been activated yet.

    Basically, I heard it from the dealership that I placed an order for my 3.6R limited OB. I haven't got the car yet. The sales manager told me that he got this info from his service manager
  • I just got a 2010 Legacy and have been back to the shop 3 times with the steering issue. So far tires have been balanced 2x's, and alignment done once with no success. Not only is there a shake above 60 the steering is cagey and requires lots of over steer and corrections to keep straight. bringing back a 4th time per the dealers suggestion will post and let you know what they do.

    BTW, the dealer has indicated that I am one of many so far to come back with this issue.
  • albert72albert72 Posts: 180

    will be interested if they solve your problem or how they comp you if they cannot get it fixed. '10 Outback is a great looking product, sat it one and loved it but would have concerns about getting one if steering issues cannot get fixed.

    Any other things about the car you are having difficulties with or subtle things you wish you could change about the car?

  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216
    YEEEE HAAAA!!! Call your dealer now to schedule the ECM flash -- I just called mine and they confirmed access to the Service Bulletin details and the ECM flash files. :shades:


    Service Bulletin #11-94-09
    Pages: 1

    Bulletin Description: This is to announce that ECM reprogramming files are now available to rectify a "delay" feeling after depressing the gas pedal. The usual customer description is a "hesitation". It is most noticeable when attempting to accelerate after a slow "rolling stop" (very slow speed / not quite fully stopped), and sometimes may be accompanied by a harsh shift as the transmission shifts at the same time of acceleration.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good news, thanks for the follow-up.
  • hi albert

    taking it back next week for the steering but be warned because the service technician claims others are having the same issue.

    I agree the car looks great and it has some positives such as gas mileage, room for 5 adults, good breaking. On the picky side the speaker for the blue tooth looks like it is 1970's style and unless u go premium model u dont get a lot of nice things like fogs, leather, sirius, climate control.. If you are set on an AWD I also test drove the cx7 and loved it, and the new audi a4 is supreme/ i went subaru becuase the forester got high ratings so figured the legacy would also be quality, very disappointing.

  • 1hhead1hhead Posts: 18
    I have sinister news to report... Every 2.5i and 3.6R model outback I've drive has been PERFECT! And I drove them in September & October early production timeframes. Also, just drove my father-out-law's 2.5i Premium CVT purchased in late August and it was flawless with roughly 9K miles on the speedo.

    The only noticeable issue I felt with the 3.6 (base) was a slighly "nose heavy" sensation driving on the surface roads and slight "nose heavy" steering on the bumps on the inter-state concrete road surfaces. In short, both darn cars run perfectly.

    Well at least I wish I had something sinister to report... For the record, both my Honda Pilot & my F150 Lariat SuperCrew are much tougher to drive than the "outlaw's" 2.5i by a long shot!
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 370
    I could say the same -- everyone I drove has shown no sign of steering problems; including the one I now own with 700 miles on it. But that is not saying much since I only drove three! I am curious how many you have driven 1head?

    After following this problem on several threads I have the strong impression it is an isolated issue, that SOA will fix it if you have such a problem, and that anyone considering purchasing a 2010 OB should take it on the highway for 5-10 miles between 60 & 80 mph before signing any papers.
  • I've been watching a thread on forms about the steering wheel wobble problem (under forums/2010 Outback). Very interesting stuff.

    After we test drove the stick, CVT, and 6-cyl, we decided on the CVT. The dealer located one with all our options, we showed up today and on the test drive, on the interstate, there it was. the wobble.

    It started at around 55mph, and stuck around all the way up to 75 (didn't go faster). The car drifted to the left and right. steering wheel input to correct the drift resulted in a feeling of over-control, and the need to correct the other direction. Taking my hands off the wheel showed a slow, consistent drift to the right. the vibration was noticeable in the steering wheel, but also was noticeable to the passenger.

    We didn't sign on the dotted line. They're going to force balance the wheel and we'll try again tomorrow but I'm skeptical based on what I've read. This car was manufactured in December, don't recall the date.

    The first five we tested were fine, no wobble problems at all, by the way.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Try a different car if they have 2 of the same. Now that you've felt it you ought to be able to identify it again.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 12,909
    It almost sounds like an issue of toe-in to me, but it is likely more complex than that given the seemingly widespread nature and difficulty eradicating it. :(
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • albert72albert72 Posts: 180
    I drove an outback configured the same way. I felt a slight vibration at slow speeds < 10 mph but no problems on the highway. For $33k, there should be no vibration. Love the car but concerned about this and not sure I even want to bother given their short supply
  • Our 93 Legacy steering wheel began jerking yesterday. They are quick "seizure" type jerks. There is also a sensation of hydroplaning which is very brief and doesn't occur with the jerking all the time. I took it to our mechanic who specializes in Subarus. We took it out on the interstate and it began jerking when leaving the interstate. He checked the front end. I took it and had it realigned and he put two new tires on it. It feels worse now. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Power steering pump? Steering rack?

    If the mechanic felt it he should have a better idea.
  • fem38fem38 Posts: 1
    seems as thou you need a new mechanic more likely lol

    that is strange as you say he specializes in subaru"s
  • Have a 2010 Outback Limited with 1,000 miles on it and the steering/tire balance is perfect. No problems here.
  • funny, so far on my car they road force balanced the tires 2 times, alignment 2 times, changed a spring in the steering rack and the vibration and drifting on the highway continues. from the service department i also understand this issue is fairly common but as of yet they have not found a fix.. this issue has been raised to Subaru of America so I can only assume that they have qualified mechanics searching for a fix.
  • Hi everyone. I ordered a 3.6R Outback Limited on 12/26/09. The last of my VIN is 61,145 and it should be here in a couple of weeks. I'm going to test drive the car at varied speeds and road surfaces watching for the front wheel shake. I saw a 3.6R Outback on the dealer lot today and could not help but notice there were three times the amount of tire weights on the front wheels than the rear. There was a good nine inches of stick on weights on the outer edge and about eight inches of the hammer on type weights on the inner edge. Is it possible there is something out of whack with the front discs and Subaru is spin balancing the front tires while on the car? I have never seen that many tire weights on a passenger car wheel. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There are machines that balance wheels with a load on the tire. Those are better than the free-spinning ones with no load. Ask if they can perform that service.
  • this is no mistake. my car had simillar weights and it was an attempt to mask the fairly prevelant wheel shake in the car. note that the excess weights do not fix the problem and that Subaru has had my brand new car into the service dept 5 times trying to fix this. Be leary of any of the Subarus with this amount of weights. Also note that it appears the problem in these cars may be isolated to the Indiana produced vehicles.. Hope this helps
  • ianc435ianc435 Posts: 10
    Request a road force test/balance. Machine applies load to tire and measure runout and balances. It formulates optimal tire position on the car.
  • bbragebbrage Posts: 1
    I have just leased a 2010 outback, steering wheel shakes at 50-70mph, especially on smooth roads. Dealership road balanced 2 or 3 times, recalibrated their machine that does that, tried different tires, and it still does it. 2011 I test drove after does it also. I notice when taking a turn steering likes to snap back to straight,is that normal?? I'm coming from a bmw and this is very different. I like the car, but will not settle for all this in a new vehicle.
  • Just for the record, Subaru has recently issued the TSB for those with the steering wheel vibration/shaking issue. The new TSB is numbered 05-48-10. It's too involved to describe fully, but consists of some new engine mount inserts, suspension bushings for both front and rear, a stiffer little spring inside of the steering rack (this part was being done already in some cases), and a new steering wheel with some form of damping device that actually gets attached to the new steering wheel. Note that there is also a companion TSB (issued a little while ago), numbered 05-50-10, that basically discusses road force balancing as a first step to take. It is not clear if Subaru will do the more involved fixes for anyone who asks or complains - it may be that they reserve the right to decide if your car is exhibiting the problem or not (I'm not sure about this last part, as the TSB and the required parts kit are just being rolled out, and owners who had previously tried to have their issues addressed are receiving first priority.

    More details can be found here: eering-wheel-shake-288.html
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 12,909
    Thanks! That's an impressive repair - 4.7 hours of warranty time. I don't think I have seen a TSB that included that much labor!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
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