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2001 2.5L Outback (Base)
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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a 2001 Outback Wagon, which just rolled over 317k. In attempting to fix a shaking wheel which I've been chasing for the last 4 years, here's what I've got so far (TL;DR below):
  • Wheel shakes at ~80 km/h, most noticeable at 115 km/h
  • Shaking evident throughout the car (hard to feel when I'm driving, but the passenger's seatback is constantly vibrating)
  • Shaking will stop if the wheel is in a certain position (forwards, and slightly to the right of forward. Gets significantly worse to the left)
  • Front driver's side wheel has play when grabbed at 9 and 3, whereas entirety of right side front suspension is tight
  • Loud power steering pump is loud
  • Steering wheel is noticeably stiffer going left, feels normal going right
  • Slight yawing back and forth when braking
  • Bump steer, highway wandering, and tracking along ruts
  • Steering wheel will try to force itself in any direction other than forwards when braking
  • Definite slack in steering wheel at low speed, again, when the wheel is left of centre
  • No noise whatsoever (besides whining from the pump and misaligned tires)

And here's what it certainly isn't:
  • Tie rods (outer set has no play, inner set brand new, play in FL wheel even when tie rods switched sides)
  • Lower control arm bushings (no play/leaking)
  • Ball joints (both new, eliminated previously noticeable play in that area)
  • Brakes (new all around, vibration always on)
  • Tires (rebalanced yet again, rotation doesn't do anything other than make my tires wear out at the same obnoxious rate)

So now, I'm suspecting that it's either the steering rack, or the bushing(s). The PS reservoir's still full, the shaft didn't seem to move within the rack housing when I replaced the tie rods, and there's no (visible) leak. My local mechanic (and any shop I take it to, really) is set on the idea that it's the tie rods despite my best complaints, and is telling me that doing the bushing would be a waste of money. However, I noticed that the bump steer, tracking, and stiffness when turning got slightly worse when I attempted to remove the bushing myself (and failed miserably), but the bushing actually looked OK when I got it halfway out, in that it wasn't torn, warped, etc. (worth noting, there was a fair bit of corrosion on the rack itself, underneath the bushing). SO...

TL;DR: Bad steering rack or rack bushings - any way to tell the two apart?
 
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