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2010 Outback steering wheel shaking and hesitation



  • thor14thor14 Posts: 17
    I have been doing my research and had settled on getting a 2.5 Outback in the coming months, but all this talk of the steering shimmy (especially on is making me suspicious.

    In the meantime, I have the guy from Toyota calling me weekly to sell me a 2010 Highlander at a great price, with great financing, that will supposedly end this month as the 2011s come in.

    Obviously, Toyota has had their problems, but I have some confidence that they have been corrected and I still believe Toyotas are reliable/long lasting vehicles. The postings related this steering shimmy are bewildering and confusing. Plus, there seems to be no solution as of yet.

    What do you all think? Is this steering shimmy on the Outback a real issue that warrants looking at other vehicles?

    I would sure feel like an idiot if I spent $25,000 on an Outback next month and the think starting shaking every time I got on the highway.

    I would appreciate any thoughts.

  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    I have been following the shaky Outback issue for months. I, too, have been considering the acquisition of a new Outback until this problem reared its ugly head.

    According to an informal poll on the other site you mentioned, 30% of owners of the new Outback have encountered the shake issue. It is a real issue.

    Many, many "fixes" have been tried by Subaru but none has consistently worked to resolve the issue.

    Therefore, I have delayed my decision to acquire a new Outback until such time as the problem has been definitively diagnosed and resolved. No one knows when that will be.

    As to whether to buy the Toyota, that is a personal decision and depends upon your unique circumstances and desires. In my view Toyota has a past history of quality and dependability but I have looked into a number of Toyota vehicles lately and have not been impressed with what I have found. Many of their models have been cheapened and I don't think they now possess the overall quality or dependability they once did.

    Having said that, however, I did drive a 2010 RAV4 V-6 and thought it was a great ride. What's its reliability and quality will be going forward I don't know. I have no experience with the Highlander.

    As I am not in urgent need to acquire a new vehicle at this juncture, I personally am going to wait a little longer to see if Subaru addresses and truly resolves its shaking Outback issue.

    Good fortune, Thor, in your own decision.
  • thor14thor14 Posts: 17
    Thanks for the feedback Priggly.

    I test drove a Highlander and it was very boring, BUT it handled fine, was roomy enough for my family of 4, comes with a decent engine, and it has slightly better mpg than the Pilot and CX9.

    Compared to what I have been reading about the Outback lately, maybe boring isn't such a bad thing when your spending $25,000.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    I hear ya!

    In Canada, where I hail from, the cost of the 3.6R Limited Outback is $45,000, taxes and fees in and the US and CDN dollars are almost at par.

    Can you imagine buying a car at that price and getting a shaker??!

    You can see why I'm waiting for the bugs to be worked out.

    You are correct. Maybe boring is not be such a bad thing!
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    Just noticed this from the Edmunds Consumer Review thread on the 2011 OB. It's the most recent review:

    Major Defect

    Written by: Bill on 07/28/2010

    Detailed Ratings

    Overall Rating
    Performance: 10 Fun-to-Drive: 6 Build Quality: 3
    Comfort: 9 Interior Design: 6 Reliability: 3
    Fuel Economy: 9 Exterior Design: 7


    2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)


    Did a lot or research and test driving, and found the Outback met all my needs as far as comfort, performance,style and supposedly build quality. Shortly after delivery noticed a vibration/shake in the steering wheel at various speeds. Took back to the dealer and they road forced balanced the tires and said that would take care of the problem. It didn't and made it worse at highway speed. Back to the dealer, told them that problem was still there and even worse, car left with them for more testing. Did some research and found numerous complaints about this on NHTSA and on a Subaru Outback forum. I called Subaru and was told that they were aware of problem but as yet had no fix.

    Favorite Features

    Comfortable seats, good stereo, good performance.

    Suggested Improvements

    Should have corrected steering problem for the 2010 models before releasing the 2011's with the same problem. First and last Subaru unless they can correct steering. Will update if and when car gets fixed. 500 miles on the car and 2 trips to the shop. Suggest you wait for a fix before buying.

    Yep, Subaru needs to get its house in order BIG TIME.

    The word is out now about the many flawed vehicles and if this is not rectified pronto, sales will definitely suffer if they are not already doing so.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If boring describes the alternative I'd keep shopping.

    We ended up in a 2007 Sienna because the large crossovers are indeed boring, and if that's the case you may as well get the benefit of acres of interior space. Plus, vans are cheaper than crossovers.
  • john_mujohn_mu Posts: 1
    edited August 2010
    In the not to distant future I intend to order a 2011 OB, 3.6, Ltd, 5 sp. auto. Was also concerned about steering wheel vibration and a few other minor issues. Drove the demo vehicle 65 to 80mph for a few miles-then slowed down fearing an onslaught of flashing lights.

    This demo vehicle drove and rode extremely well-even better than I had expected. I experienced a reassuring road feel from the rack and pinion steering but there was no vibration in the steering wheel or the car seat. Overall, a very satisfying test drive experience.

    Some days luck just happens. When we returned to the showroom, two corporate officers from Subaru America were visiting the dealership and having a discussion at a desk in the showroom. They overheard me talking to the salesman about the oil-like smoothness of the ride and my initial concerns about the steering wheel vibration. They asked if we would mind their joining our conversation.

    They said Subaru of America was aware of this annoying and infrequent problem in the 2010 OB and that the problem has been resolved for all 2011 Outbacks. Both men were identical and certain in their remarks and very knowledgeable about even the smallest of details in the Outback.

    I was impressed with my test drive and reassured of SOA's desire to manufacture vehicles to the highest standards and solve problems as quickly as possible.


    Edit: I do not know why my post contains two sizes of type. Sorry!
    This info about the steering vibration being cured in the 2011 Outback does not jibe with the experiences of some who purchased this vehicle. I'll still wait a while longer before making my purchase.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    Hello, John.

    I found your comments very interesting. You are right: when the new Outback works, it works exceedingly well with a smooth, fluid ride and a rock-steady steering wheel. I had one for a long (overnight) test drive and there was no steering problem at all on the 2010 sample that I had.

    The problem is that, according to some buyers, the shake does not show up for perhaps a thousand miles or more, which, of course, could not be determined by taking the car one was hoping to buy for a test drive.

    I am also puzzled by the comments you report from the Subaru representatives to the effect that the defect would not involve the 2011 cars as there have been reports by some buyers of the 2011s that they also experienced shaking steering wheels.

    I am in the market for a new Outback but am postponing it until this steering/suspension issue is definitively diagnosed and reproducibly resolved.
  • clarkkentclarkkent Posts: 154
    If you don't need a 4X4 (AWD) then the Toyota is for you. If you need or want a 4X4 (AWD) the Toyota SUCKS compared to the Subaru.

    If you do get the Toyota, you might want my cell # so I can come pull you out of the 2" snow drifts you will be getting stuck in. :D
  • eftiefti Posts: 2
    I have been following this issue closely because I am interested in purchasing a new Subaru Legacy or Outback. However, it is not clear to me how well the "fix" prescribed in the TSBs work and I am wondering if there is any one out there who has had their car modified in accordance with the bulletins and can report on the result. For example, has the problem been fully corrected, does the car drive differently and in what way, are they satisfied with the result and any other comments that may be useful.

    I talked to a local service manager and asked him to tell me just what is the problem. Why are "x" number of cars OK and a smaller number "y" are not when they came off the same production line? Also, why did it take so much time to finally issue a bulletin that supposedly fixes the problem? He told me it was a non-issue because Subaru would take care of the problem.I am suspicious that the manufacturing process at Lafayette has infrequently gone out of control and, as a result, some of the cars come off the line with the built in steering problems that owners have reported. And, those problems are not a matter of simply replacing a part but apparently may require a modification to the vehicle which makes it a modified Legacy/Outback and not the one the owner purchased. I am holding off on any purchase until I am fully confident that the steering problem has been solved and, hopefully, no more 2011's will have it.
  • thor14thor14 Posts: 17
    edited August 2010
    I continue to be confused by this whole steering shudder as well.

    I did test drive one the other day, and I briefly got it up to 65 mph and I did notice a vibration in the steering wheel. It wasn't bad, but enough to notice, especially if your keen to it.

    If thats all it is, I do not think such a vibration would keep me from purchasing the vehicle, but in light of all the attention being paid to it lately and some of the stories I have reading, I am still hesitant to purchase.

    And yes, the dealer also told me its really not that big a deal and Subaru is very loyal to its customers and if there was a problem they would do everything they could to fix it.

  • surrfurtomsurrfurtom Posts: 122
    Our 2010 OB with >8K is smooth on the highway, but it does exhibit some annoying hesitation at times that was not there when new. Have not brought it to the attention of dealer yet.
  • I just bought a brand new 2011 Outback (2.5 w/ CVT) and I am feeling a pulse or vibration in the steering wheel at low speeds (parking garage speed). I also think I feel it at higher speeds (over 40 mph) when I let up on the gas and let the Outback coast. I saw postings on highway speed vibrations and pulling but this seems different from that... Anyone else with issues like this? Thanks!
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    There is a known steering defect in the new Outback which affects an unknown percentage of cars.

    Go to where there are many threads and literally hundreds of pages of posts on the various shake issues experienced by buyers of the new Outback.

    See the Forum entitled "Steering Wheel Shake Issues."

    It is unfortunate you were not aware of this before you bought the car.
  • I think Post 45 is talking about a different problem than yours, Phillsea. I believe post 45 is talking about the high-speed steering wheel vibration issue, that affects some 2010-11 OBs at 65-75 mph, roughly.

    But in addition to that issue there have been a few posts on about a pulsing at very low speeds, or even when turning the steering wheel while standing still. If I recall right, the person (or maybe more than one) who posted about this separate issue ended up having something fixed that was related to their power-steering pump. You might have to search that forum using carefully-chosen key words, to NOT include the hundreds and hundreds of posts related to the high-speed issue....

    (As an aside, the "fix kit" for the high-speed issue involves road-force wheel balancing, then suspension bushings, the change of a small spring inside of the steering rack, and a damper/weight being added to the steering wheel.)
  • Well, despite all the message board attention to the "steering shimmy" and my own hesitation, I bit the bullet and purchased a 2011 Premium 2.5 CVT Outback yesterday. Test drove and driving around town with no problems or shakes at 160 miles.

    Lovin the car and hope it continues to be that way.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Congrats, enjoy!
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    Come back and tell us your experiences by 10,000 miles.

    I'd be interested to know if you are still "lovin" it then.
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 438
    edited October 2010
    Any word on this issue? Looking at the 2011 H6 Outback as a possible purchase. My 2001 LLBean H6 Outback is reaching 10 years and 150K miles. Thanks in advance for any input!

  • thor14thor14 Posts: 17
    There has been some talk of another TSB coming out in a few months that is supposed to be the "fix" for those Outbacks that have the shakes.

    After months of hesitation and research, I test drove one, and it did not shake, so I bought it right then and there. Mine is a 2.5i and I love it. After 1000 miles it still does not vibrate or shake. Its a great car. No regrets.

    Its been hard to get a real sense of the vibration problem. There are no accurate numbers out there, but it does seem to impact some Outbacks. I just figured if it test drove okay, I would go home with it, and thats what worked for me :) Good luck.
  • Just an update - A couple of weeks ago I ended up taking the car into the dealership and was told it was normal road feel. The tech even took a test drive with me and I had to admit it seemed to drive pretty smooth with him in the car. Maybe I was just overly sensitive since I saw the postings. I am up to a little over 2,000 miles now and the car is driving fine. I still think I feel a vibration when I am in the parking garage sometimes, but if that is the worse thing I have to deal with then I am fine. At highway speeds it is great. In normal driving it is great. I'll take it back in when I need my first oil change and ask them to test drive it again, but all in all I am pretty happy with the car.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    The "word" is that a significant percentage of new Outbacks have a "shake" at highway speeds that cannot be fixed. Since Subaru is being tight-lipped about the problem, no one really know what percentage of cars are affected but it is significant.

    Not all the "shakers" are apparent during a test drive and some of the affected units do not manifest a shake until thousands of miles have been accumulated. Therefore, having no shake at one or more thousands of miles is not a guarantee that your car will not eventually be a dreaded "shaker."

    Subaru does not have a definite "fix" for the problem should your car be affected. They have tried many, many different band-aids but none has worked consistently. Hence, buying a new Outback is a real crap shoot. You may get a good one, you may not.

    If you do get a "shaker" there is no guarantee that if it is not fixable that Subaru will take it off your hands.

    In short, the new Subaru Outback is the "Russian roulette" of cars!
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    If you do get a "shaker" there is no guarantee that if it is not fixable that Subaru will take it off your hands.

    In short, the new Subaru Outback is the "Russian roulette" of cars!

    Unless some organization like Consumers Union has a shaker and publicizes the problem. Such publicity could kill sales, If Subaru had that kind of pressure, the problem would certainly be fixed. Let's hope CU's 3.6 gets the shakes.
  • Hmmmm. 'priggly'-seems you have issues. Given the nature of the problem and ability for correcting it, the O.B. is still the best choice for the money. Go ahead and buy German, Swedish, or another inferior/overpriced Asian brand if you really think they have no issues and will leave your wallet alone for upkeep and resale- and most important- the occupants safer. Numbers don't lie when it comes to safety, reliability and cost. I've loved all 4 of my Subies and I just fell even more head over heels for my ;2010 O.B.-NOW AT 32,000 MILES AND NO SHAKE WHATSOEVER!!! Idiotic internet fearmongering is pathetic....
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    Given the nature of the problem and ability for correcting it, the O.B. is still the best choice for the money.

    Do tell us more about the "nature of the problem" and the "ability for correcting it." I would just love to know what the nature is and so would the many disillusioned new Outback owners on many internet boards, including this one, who have bought this defectively engineered car in good faith and have ended up with "shakers" that cannot be fixed despite your disinformation to the contrary.

    It is true that Subaru has come out with many so-called "fixes" for the problem but it is also true that none of them work consistently. Don't try to inform us otherwise.

    Yes, I have an issue. I don't like the thought of paying tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars for a potentially defective car that cannot be fixed. I also don't like being told the car has a "fixable" problem when that is not true consistently or reproducibly.

    If you got one that does not shake (yet), consider yourself fortunate but please do not try to deny or minimize the far less satisfactory buying experiences of many others as detailed on the internet forums to which I made reference earlier. Just because your particular Outback does not shake hardly makes the car the "best choice for the money." It was the best choice for your money perhaps but it certainly would not be the best choice for the money of someone with the shake problem that could not be fixed and required either SOA buying back the car or replacing it.
  • Looking to purchase Outback (basic). Found out No A/c in back. Only in the front.
    Does it seem strange? Does anyone have problem in the summer keeping cool. I don't like to keep the air on on me at times, But my passingers like to keep cool. any complaints. Another problem is the tinting some basic models have tinting but the color we are thinking of doesn't. Sales person sugests be paid on our own for it. What. Why pay for something that somes standard on another car. Not really sold on suburu. Seems lacking.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,162
    Tinting (privacy glass) is only standard on Premium and above. If a base Outback has tinted windows, it is not factory.

    Rear A/C in a passenger car sounds like overkill to me, but I hear tell there are some out there with the feature.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My minivan has rear A/C (it actually has a 2nd evaporator, but not a 2nd compressor), but that's because it has 149 cubic feet of space to cool. Seems like overkill in a mid-size wagon with half the space.

    Spring for a model with the all-weather package for the heated seats, as those have tint as well.
  • Apparently this is still a problem.. I took delivery of a 2011 Outback 3.6R in June, manufactured in late May. The car drove fine at first. A couple of weeks ago I took my first long trip of over 3 hours, the shimmy started at about 65mph through 75 mph... Brought it in for an oil change and they rebalanced tires when I mentioned the shimmy. Today I had the road force test done and am awaiting a call tomorrow on what the problem/resolution is. The car currently has 3700 miles on it and the shimmy seems intermittant..gets worse the longer you drive - I thought perhaps I had defective tires and the belts are separating.. which usually gets worse as the tires heat up and goes away when they are cold... We'll see what they say tomorrow. Too bad, I sold my 2003 LL Bean Outback...and it only had 70,000 miles on it.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    Sorry to hear of your misfortune.

    Your experience underscores the fact that the dreaded "shakes" may not show up for several thousand miles.
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