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Recently, after 38,000 miles, I replaced the OEM Bridgestone Potenza tires on my '09 Outback Limited and since then the handling has changed.

I first replaced the Potenza tires with a set of Michelin Primacy MXV4. After these were installed I noticed the Outback had a tendency to "follow" grooves in the pavement and the handling seemed off from what it had been. The tire store then suggested I change tires to the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S which I did. Handling improved some with these tires but the car still wanted to wander and the overall feel wasn't as good as it had been with the Potenza's. Next I had the Subaru dealer do a four wheel alignment and they said the alignment was a little out of spec so they adjusted the alignment to be back in spec.

My problem is since I replaced the OEM Potenza tires the overall feel of the car is now different and not as much fun to drive. It still wants to follow any groves in the pavement (but not as bad as before) and the overall drive feel seems "light", especially at higher speeds. I've lost the great road feel that I had before and it doesn't feel as solid to the road as it did before.

I'm surprised at the negative impact to the driving feel changing tires made, especially considering the OEM Potenza tires are not considered to be a very good tire. I hate the way the Outback is driving now and now my Honda mini van is more fun to drive. Has anyone else run into this problem? Any thoughts/suggestions would be great. Thanks!
 

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Tire pressure has a huge impact on handling be sure to check your tire pressure first.

Also with different brand tires and different tread you may find your self testing pressures to see where the new tires feel best to you given it could be different than your prior tires.

Alignment is the last thing to check though I would run the new tires for a few thousand miles 2000-3000 miles and see how they are wearing before having someone mess with the alignment. If the tires are wearing even then the alignment is fine and your issue could be that the tire style is just not what you were looking for. Tire tread design can play a big role in how the tires respond to surface changes on the road.
 

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what you are feeling is sometimes called tramlining and is often tire related, but can be made better with alignment changes. If we assume you have no worn tie rod ends or camber problems, a different.better/performance alignment shop may be able to tweak the toe and camber settings to minimize the problem.

sometimes, a car optimized for performance will have some quirks as a daily-driver, and vice-versa.

there MAY have been a recall or TSB about tramlining on some older model - can't remember.
 

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Many times the "trammeling" effect 1LT mentioned varies greatly from tire to tire. Excessively wide tires experience this effect more than narrower widths. My z06 is extremely sensitive to tire brands. The Goodyears that came on it new were all over the road with the slightest groove or crown. It was a battle to drive the car. I changed from Goodyear summer tires to all weather Generals and later Conti DWS's and haven't had a problem.
I wonder if the Michelins are a wider tire than the OEMs?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good feedback - Thank you

Thank you for the feedback. I'll have to double check the tire pressure but I'm assuming between the tire store and the dealer this would be correct. However, never "assume" - correct? :)

What is odd is I noticed this problem with two different Michelin tire tread types. The Primacy and Pilot tread patterns are very different, with the Primacy tread being more of a "standard" pattern and the Pilots a directional type. What I don't like the most is how I lost the great Subaru driving feel with the new tires.

One reply noted maybe worn tie rods but the dealer said they checked this as part of the alignment. Maybe the next step after verifying the tire pressure will be to go to a shop that specializes in alignments.
 

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New tires always make the steering feel "light" and the car feel less stuck to the road. After 1000-1500 miles they gradually get scuffed in and all is normal. I assume this is the sharp edges of the tread blocks being worn off and slightly beveled. Happens to me EVERY time I install new tires, no matter what brand. BTW, I had Michelin PilotSport's on my 08 OBXT and they were amazingly grippy but got very noisy after 25-30,000 miles or so. Now running Primacy MXM4's (not MXV4's) and they are superb. Read tire review section for more.
 
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