2009 Outback 2.5L SOHC base model, 5MT, 36,000 miles
Basically, it has become quite difficult to smoothly engage the clutch without really running it out; otherwise, there is a pronounced 'bounce' from engine/trans when engaging gears. Only time this doesn't happen is the 3-4 upshift. Even 4-5 does it, and 1-2 is especially bad.
I've been driving manual since I learned how to drive and consider myself above-average in that department, so I doubt it's much to do with me... Whereas I used to often rev-match downshift (on highway offramps and the like), I can rarely do it now without there being a pronounced 'bounce' from the drivetrain that then seemingly shakes the whole car back and forth.
The 'bounce' also happens when simply decelerating (foot off gas) from most of the rev range (2,500+).
It also seems to happen when crawling along in slow traffic - I have to constantly keep feathering the clutch or else the car lurches a lot.
Idle also seems a little bit rougher than I seem to recall when I first got the car, around 30,000 miles. This became most pronounced half-way through my recent 2,500 mile road trip (last week), where it felt like it was going to stall out on me and taking of from lights was very difficult for a short period. At the time I attributed it to poor gasoline, as it hasn't been that bad since.
Finally, I notice that if I tap the gas pedal, in neutral and from idle, the engine pitches sideways quite strongly. No thump or noise, but it's reminiscent of some kind of muscle car engine or something; a bit of a lag and then the engine rocks to the passenger side a lot. More than what I assume would be normal.
Recent work done:
Did my own version of the 30,000 mile tune-up: air filter, plugs (checked the gap), oil change, visually checked timing belt condition, etc. I've always worked on my cars myself so I strongly doubt I did anything during this work to mess anything up, but who knows?
Also, axles are original and in good condition, so aftermarket axle shake is ruled out.
Motor mounts? I've read that they almost never fail on these cars, so to do so at +/- 35,000 miles seems a bit nuts...
Other than that, maybe a bad plug/damaged plug wires? PCV valve?
One other thing I noticed is a fair bit of wetness right around my negative battery terminal. When I wipe it off it comes back, which leads me to suspect a bit of a crack in the battery casing perhaps? I don't think this should have anything to do with anything, though...
Other existing issues with the car:
The cold-start grinding/squealing I mentioned in a post a while back hasn't gone away. Still makes a bit of a grinding noise for a split second after cold start-up. I choose to ignore it now.
I am going to do a Seafoam treatment the first weekend of Dec. I will also put the car on a lift then and visually inspect the motor/trans mounts. After that, I'm stumped...
Any thoughts/ideas/similar experiences?
Thanks for any and all input.