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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter #1
Can anybody tell me how to center a steering wheel on an '02 Outback? I see threads about this, but I'm not the kind of guy who will go to a shop. Had it aligned recently but don't have the time to go back and have gone through this issue before, where every place I go to can never seem to get it straight.

It rides straight, it's just slightly cocked to the right. I used to adjust the center of the steering wheel all the time on my Jeep Cherokee, just not this Subaru so if somebody could tell me how I'd really appreciate it
 

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'18 3.6R Ltd
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731 Posts
As far as I know, you can't. An off center steering wheel in a Subaru is a sign of misalignment in some way. HPH
 

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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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341 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Ah, really? I just can't get used to these new IFS systems, haha. The car tracks perfectly, no pulls or anything, just the steering wheel.
 

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2000 Limited Wagon 5MT
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303 Posts
This has nothing to do with IFS/solid axle. This has everything to do with an alignment tech that didn't do a good job.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Usually the problem is that the tech doesn't set the wheel perfectly straight when putting the steering wheel lock in place. This is tricky because you have to do it from outside the car. It's hard, but not impossible. Ask around, I'm sure there's a shop in your area that does it the right way.
 

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2018 and 2006 Outback Wagons
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I have re-centered the steering wheel on both mine (01 OBW) and my wifes (00 OBW). There were no problems with the alignment. Both cars track perfectly straight and the tires wear normally. Settling and wear of the suspension components might cause the steering wheel to be a little to the left or right.

On both our cars the length of the left and right tie rods can be adjusted. I simply lengthened one side while correspondingly shortening the other side in small but equal increments and got the steering wheel perfectly centered. Doing it ns EQUAL increments is important to avoid disturbing the proper toe-in setting for the front tires.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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341 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
This has nothing to do with IFS/solid axle. This has everything to do with an alignment tech that didn't do a good job.
Well on a solid axle vehicle like my Cherokee there was a single tie rod that could be adjusted with the turn of a few nuts to center the steering wheel. There seems to be nothing of the likes on this iFS beast...
 

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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter #8
I have re-centered the steering wheel on both mine (01 OBW) and my wifes (00 OBW). There were no problems with the alignment. Both cars track perfectly straight and the tires wear normally. Settling and wear of the suspension components might cause the steering wheel to be a little to the left or right.

On both our cars the length of the left and right tie rods can be adjusted. I simply lengthened one side while correspondingly shortening the other side in small but equal increments and got the steering wheel perfectly centered. Doing it ns EQUAL increments is important to avoid disturbing the proper toe-in setting for the front tires.
I see what you're saying, I wondered about this actually but wasn't sure. So what kid of increments are we talking? 1 full turn on one side, a full turn in the opposite on the other? Or 1/4 turns? Not real sure how sensitive it is
 

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2000 Limited Wagon 5MT
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Well on a solid axle vehicle like my Cherokee there was a single tie rod that could be adjusted with the turn of a few nuts to center the steering wheel. There seems to be nothing of the likes on this iFS beast...
I hope you mean drag link.

As cagranitz stated, the steering wheel is centered with both tie rods. However, toe can be changed with camber, so if that is off, so will be the toe. A good example of this is when you lift or lower a vehicle, the steering will almost always be crooked.

Since you paid someone to align the car, and they didn't set the wheel straight, it should be their responsibility to make it right. This is not intended to be demeaning, but you do not come across as tech savvy, and I would advise against trying to do this yourself. Toe adjustments are very small and you can very easily make it worse. 1/2 a turn can move the steering wheel a lot.
 

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2018 and 2006 Outback Wagons
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I started out using 1/4 turn increments to get a feel for how much that changed the steering wheel position.

Since I wasn't sure if the rack was above or below the pinion, I didn't know which direction to move the tie rods initially. In my first attempt, I went the wrong direction and made the steering wheel position worse.

At the moment I can't remember if moving the tie rods to the drivers side rotates the steering wheel towards the passenger side or the drivers side.
 

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'18 3.6R Ltd
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I'm glad to see all this discussion, as it validates what I said initially -- you can't really center the steering wheel in Subarus. In other cars you can, by monkeying around with the steering wheel itself. But in Subarus, it's all in the suspension.

And unless you have expertise in monkeying around with all of the various suspension settings, as noted here, you're better off having it done by competent professionals. HPH
 

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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, I did mean drag link, my apologies.

I did what Cagranitz explained and it worked! The steering wheel is near-perfect now. So to anyone that reads this thread, know that it is possible and wasn't very hard at all! Took me an hour but I was messing around with other stuff too. Thanks man.
 
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