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4, Gen 2 H6's: 2002 LLBean, 2002 VDC, 2003 Plain H6, and 2004 LLBean...I love the H6's!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,


My wife's 2001 LLBean has 205K miles and for lack of a better word, "wanders" as it's driven on an icy road. I also own a 2002 LLBean and a 2002 VDC. The latter two cars do not wander on the same icy road. The front-end of my wife's car has been recently checked out. Lower ball joints were good, inner tie rod ends were replaced, and outers were good, and then the front-end was aligned. Tire pressure is 30 psi all the way around. Her car still wanders on ice.


I believe the front wheel bearings may have developed play in them, so I am on the verge of replacing the Front wheel bearings, struts, and axles given the latter two items will be easily accessible after I pull the hub/knuckle.


Before I start this work, are there any thoughts about whether or not I'm on the right track?
 

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85BRAT97SVX03Baja5mtHonda's
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need rear end alignment.
wheels bearings go bad, but they do not get play in them, they just get noisy and can sieze up if left that way, but no they don't get slop in them

If oyu follow the owners manual, you will learn that tire pressures up front need to be set a tad higher than the rear, that is due to several things related to the AWD system. Front end is heavier, and tires need more pressure in the front to they equal the diameter of the rear end tires. 30 is too low. You need 33 up front and 31 rear
 

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2001 OBW VDC, 2004 WRX, 1999 LEGACY L (in a heap)
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Tires are where I start.

But I also start from an understanding that everything will slide on ice. its not like water or snow.

People down here learn that the hard way on the first ice-over every year with their AWD trucks not doing them any good.

but if you're comparing similar cars, I'd start with evaluating tire health.
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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Same tires on all vehicles mentioned? If not, you're comparing apples to Cheetos.

You also neglected to mention the type of tire and remaining tread.

Likely need to TLC to the rear suspension with 200K miles...
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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It is what in later outbacks called 'ghost walking'. At the very least the slightest bit of rear toe out will do it, perhaps insufficient toe-in.

The gen3 (and beyond?) outbacks were prone to this brand new if loaded or alignment out of spec.

I had my '03 LL bean from 55k miles to 275k, all on original struts and springs.

I ran studless snows every winter, and saw a lot of ice. Always had at least one wet-smooth ice road to contend with each winter.

As the springs aged and the bushings got a bit looser it would do exactly what you say.
If it will not align to spec, or alignment to spec doesn't fix it, springs and/or bushings are in order.
 

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4, Gen 2 H6's: 2002 LLBean, 2002 VDC, 2003 Plain H6, and 2004 LLBean...I love the H6's!
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for the input so far.

I'll reset the tire pressure as recommended. Although I noticed the same "ghost walking" problem with my wife's car last winter while running different studded tires, this winter I'm running like-new studded Hankook Winter I-Pikes on her car. The Hankook tires are evenly worn. This is the same tire I am running on my other 2 Subarus without a problem.

I last had my wife's car in for an alignment after I replaced inner tie rod ends about 6 months ago when there was no snow/ice. I requested a 4-wheel alignment. The Meineke shop measured and adjusted front alignment, and measured rear alignment, but reported although the rear was out-of-spec, the rear was not adjustable on this year/make/model Subaru. Were they wrong?

The new front strut set I have on-hand is complete with springs, so after I install them the weak front spring issue should solved, if it exists.

How do I know if bushings need to be replaced to cure the "ghost walking"? Is there a way to inspect bushings beyond simply looking for tears, cracks, or missing bushings?
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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The Meineke shop measured and adjusted front alignment, and measured rear alignment, but reported although the rear was out-of-spec, the rear was not adjustable on this year/make/model Subaru. Were they wrong?
Get a clarification. Firstly, not every angle can be independently set on the rear end, so there is some truth to this. However, there is still some adjustment range.

Or at least there was- sometimes on a car that age the adjustment locks are rusted solid, and it takes some work (not on the alignment rack) to either free up the locks or cut them out and replace with new hardware.

How do I know if bushings need to be replaced to cure the "ghost walking"? Is there a way to inspect bushings beyond simply looking for tears, cracks, or missing bushings?
If the bushings are too perished & slack, the alignment won't work- they'll turn the adjuster and the numbers on the screen won't change enough, or they'll have a 'dead spot' where just whacking it with a hammer can make the reading change. The alignment doesn't help if the bushings can't consistently push the parts back towards their carefully engineered resting positions.

Often you don't even need to get that far- an experienced tech can spot them visually, and as a backup you can put a medium prybar on it and you'll feel the slack with the right leverage setup.
 

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4, Gen 2 H6's: 2002 LLBean, 2002 VDC, 2003 Plain H6, and 2004 LLBean...I love the H6's!
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Okay, I adjusted front and rear tire pressure to factory spec of 29/30 psi. The rear right tire was 3 psi low. The other three tires had pressures within 1 psi of spec. The tires are like-new, and I have run two other sets of tires on this car (summer and winter) and the ghosting occurred, so I do not believe tires are the problem.

I spoke with the local Meineke shop manager yesterday while I had my 2002 VDC in his shop for a front-end alignment. I discussed my wife's car (2001 LLBean) and the "ghosting" issue. I asked him whether or not the rear alignment is adjustable on a 2001. He explained some of the second generation subarus had adjustable rear wheel alignment, and others didn't. A piece of hardware can be installed on the cars that were not adjustable to enable rear wheel adjustment. During our conversation I shared the info with him that I have shared here, and I remembered I had replaced a broken front sway bar on my wife's car about 1 year ago. This plays into the worn bushing discussion/recommendation above. He recommended I replace the front sway bar links and bushings. He also said he was confident he could solve the problem if I brought in the car. I plan to try a few things myself before I pay him to solve the problem for me.

I replaced the front sway bar links and sway bar bushings on my wife's car this morning, but have not had time to test drive the car yet. I will report back here after the test drive.

Thanks to all for the recommendations thus far!
 

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Toe is adjustable in the rear on any vehicle with independent rear suspension including all Subaru's.

In the rear I would check the upper lateral link inner bushing. I have had one of these wear out on me and seen others on the forum. It will typically cause squeking and maybe light knocking in the rear. It will throw the alignment off due to excessive play. Unfortunately it's difficult to diagnose without removing the upper link.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Glennda, thanks for the tip!


I test drove the car during errands today, and found the ghost walking is 80% improved as a result of my replacing the front sway bar links and bushings...I am relieved!


Thanks to all for your valuable input :)
 

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I was sort of focused on the rear for some reason, but the transeverse link bushings should also be checked in the front. These are the bushings at the rear of the front lower control arms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Glennda, I’ll check the rear bushing on all 3 of my Gen 2 Subarus when I get time. 2 of them have an odd rattle in the right rear wheel well area, so a bad upper bushing as you described may be the culprit. Again, thanks for the tip!
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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Glennda, I’ll check the rear bushing on all 3 of my Gen 2 Subarus when I get time. 2 of them have an odd rattle in the right rear wheel well area, so a bad upper bushing as you described may be the culprit. Again, thanks for the tip!
if you got rust, pulling the bushings out might not be a easy or possible option on a 2000-2004 outback.

vs. buying new LCA, end links, or a subframe. I have bought all these things


(even had some LCA bushings in my hand, that my friendly mechanic said could never swap out and in,...happy the online subaru dealer took them back after me holding them for 60 days)...
 

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4, Gen 2 H6's: 2002 LLBean, 2002 VDC, 2003 Plain H6, and 2004 LLBean...I love the H6's!
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, the snow and ice are back on the roads here in AK, and my car is "wandering" enough I better get it fixed before it causes an accident. The car has 205K miles on it and needs a front-end alignment. I still suspect wear on the front wheel bearings is playing into this...Maybe I will simply take it to the local Meineke and let them figure it out this time.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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dunno what's been checked but, worn inner tie rods 'might' have different behavior on ice vs dry pavement.

do you have any signs of increased wear on the inner edges of the front tires?

is this wandering something that feels odd in the steering wheel or in the seat-of-the-pants ?
 

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4, Gen 2 H6's: 2002 LLBean, 2002 VDC, 2003 Plain H6, and 2004 LLBean...I love the H6's!
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
dunno what's been checked but, worn inner tie rods 'might' have different behavior on ice vs dry pavement.

do you have any signs of increased wear on the inner edges of the front tires?

is this wandering something that feels odd in the steering wheel or in the seat-of-the-pants ?
New inner and outer tie rods, front brake calipers, rotors, pads, and struts. Maybe slight inner tire tread wear, but so minor I can only say maybe. The wandering feels odd in the seat-of-the-pants. Steering wheel and front-end feel tight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One of the rear struts is actively leaking, and the rear suspension feels remarkably weak with the jump-on-the-bumper test, so I have decided to replace the rear struts with KYB G's including new Subaru OEM springs. I ordered all the parts and bought a spring compression tool yesterday. I should have time to install everything a few weeks from now, so I will report back.

Thanks for the input so far everyone!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
"Built" and installed rear struts last weekend, and checked the upper and lower rear control arms...Upper RH control arm bushings had play in them. Replaced this control arm. Problem solved!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I cannot believe how my '01 LLBean OB "sticks" to icy/snowy roads following replacement of the rear upper RH control arm that had worn bushings. I will be monitoring this part for bushing wear on all my Subarus in the future because all of my cars are at least 15 years old and bushing wear is inevitable.
 
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