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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: 10,910
    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.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    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: 10,910

    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.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694

    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: 694
    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: 694
    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: 10,910
    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.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,174
    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
  • thor14thor14 Posts: 17
    No one really seems to know the actual number of cars affected. I too was worried about purchasing one with a steering shake, but like you mentioned, it was hard not to ignore the high amount of sales. Every time I looked at one on the lot, it was gone with a week or two. I also recognized that things on the web can get blown out of proportion a bit. To this day, I have not seen a report on the steering shake outside of the blogs. I believe the steering shake is a real issue, but I think many cars have a potential for problems of some sort or another.

    After much deliberation, I decided that I would thoroughly test drive an Outback and if it did not shake, I would take it home. And thats what I did, and I have not looked back. Some people have reported that their Outback developed the shakes later on, but again, I decided I would accept that chance.

    Like many other people, I love this car and I am glad that I was not scared away from it.

    Best of luck to you and your decision.
  • bergkamp11bergkamp11 Posts: 4
    edited November 2010
    Thanks for the reply. It's hard to get an idea of the statistics. 1%, 5%, 10% ? Obviously for anyone affected the odds don't matter anymore and I have a lot of sympathy.

    Subaru claims 66,384 outback sales for 2010 through September, which is on pace for approx 90,000 cars in 2010.

    Suppose say 500 cars have/develop the problem? (total guess from amount of forum posts. Please correct me if this is a bad estimate).
    That would be just over 0.5%.

    I guess I'm weighing that against dropping another $10,000+ for an audi a4.
  • I just purchased my Subaru Outback 1779 miles ago. I have recently become MORE aware of the shaking in the steering wheel at speeds at and above 65 MPH. It almost feels as though the tires or the wheels are out of round. I have the 17" alloys on this vehicle. It ( the vibration ) really comes alive at 70 to 80 where the steering wheel really vibrates a lot. I also have noticed that a vibration or "Pulse" is evident at slower, driveway speed while just slightly turning the wheel in either direction, which makes me think it is in the Rack Assembly or Power Steering pump. I am wondering also if this "vibration" is the cause of the small plastic "pins" that hold the sound deadening material to the hood disappearing as I have so far lost 5 of them in the first 1000 miles. I had to pay for these myself as the Dealer said I must be slamming the hood down too hard. Right. I now own a Vehicle that shakes apart on itself? Also have a clear coat paint peeling going on but that's a different problem. I have seen no bulletin for this from Subaru and my dealer says they can't feel it at all when they test drive it They can't feel it but they only go on city streets. I told them to take it home and drive the Interstate or I'll take 'em for a ride. Other than the annoying shaking at speeds I love the thing, although I am also just beginning to notice a "LAG" when accelerating from a dead stop when it is just warmed up. Seems to bog down a bit then go like normal.
    Kinda wish I had kept my Volvo wagon I traded in on it. It was SO smooth and peppy but the Warranty was almost out so...there ya go!
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    It is simply not possible to know presently how many of these shakers there are but the number is appreciable.

    If it were me, I would walk and consider the Forester or new Jeep GC, both great cars.

    The new OB is for the gambler. I've heard it's Kenny Rogers' favorite vehicle!!! (Tongue-in-cheek!)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I wonder if there is a poll somewhere, so it could actually be measured.
  • prigglypriggly Posts: 642
    There are lots of polls at but they are not scientifically constructed, double-blinded studies and so are not statistically valid. What they do do however is let it be known that there are lots of shakers on the road. We are not talking about a few dozen cars here and there and the abnormal ones probably number in the thousands.
  • I've had a 2011 Outback 2.5 since August. I noticed the shaking at highway speed the first time I drove any distance. It's gotten better with a tire rebalance, but I still feel like I'm fighting oversteer and understeer at highway speeds. Need to make lots of minor adjustments. It's fatiguing, and dangerous in a crosswind. I thought I was the only one with this problem until I checked here and at this weekend. So I guess it's not my imagination. Mine isn't as bad as what some others report, but I'm considering taking the financial loss and getting rid of the car. It's very disappointing to invest $30,000 and get a car that's not fun to drive. My dealership also poohed poohed my complaint about the lag in acceleration out of a coasting stop, but come to think of it, I don't think it has done that since I last took it in. Maybe they secretly fixed it for me. I'm going to stick with this car and not try and put too many miles on it and see if they can come up with a fix. Otherwise, it's just another in a series of bad luck that I've been experiencing this year.
  • clarkkentclarkkent Posts: 154
    edited December 2010
    "The AWD capability is also second to none. If it's possible to get through it, Subaru will do it! "


    Subaru has a great AWD system for the size of car it is. It may be the best "in it's class" but that is not saying much if you live where you get 10 to 12" of snow all the time. If you put a Subaru in 10 to 12" of snow it goes nowwhere!

    It gets stuck due to: #1 Not enough power and #2 Not enough ground clearance.

    I have had 5 Subies and have one now. They are great for snow and ice on plowed roads. If you have over 10" of snow I leave the Subie in the garage (as it is worthless. (power and clearance). If the snow is 10" I take one of my Jeeps which will go through up to 14" without much trouble. If the snow gets over 10", power Is much more important than clearance. A Jeep has the power (and a low range) Subies do not.

    And don't even talk about off raod or mud if your driving a Subie. You need an AWD with Power that a Subie doesn't have.

    That being said, I always sent my kids to college in a Subie, and that is all my wife drives when we have less than 10" of snow (as long as she stay on the roads.)


  • drdkdrdk Posts: 11
    I own a 2005 Forester XT and got through way over 10 inches of snow. I have Firestone Winterforce studded snow tires on the car and that is what made the difference. A Ford Expedition with all season tires was stuck on the same road and I went right by him. I was bottoming out a bit, but the Forester kept going. My son has an Impreza at college with 4 Bridgestone Blizzaks on it for the winter in New England.
    By the way, I almost bought a 2011 Outback 3.6 R Limited, but due to the potential problems with the shaking, purchased an Acura RDX instead.The RDX has "asymmetrical AWD" which Honda calls Super Handling AWD. I have purchased Pirelli Snow and Ice snow tires from the Tire Rack for the RDX and plan to use them this winter. If the Outback?Legacy steering wheel shaking problem becomes common knowledge in the years ahead, the resale value of the affected Subarus will be poor.
  • I bought a 2011 2.5 Outback and felt some shaking after a couple of hundred miles. I was worried I had a lemon, but I just took it in to the dealer for my first oil change and they had a TSB about the issue. It took longer in the shop than just an oil change should have taken, but for Thanksgiving I drove my Outback from DC to Maine and back with no problems at all. Drove like a dream (and I got 30 mpg!). Since then I drive about 70 miles a day to and from work and still no issues. I am very happy with my Subaru, the ride, and the gas mileage! :)
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