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To those with an OB of ANY generation that had the mysterious "wandering" problem- please chime in if the following sounds like an accurate description of what you experienced with your vehicle. I have a Gen 5 (2017) and have been suffering from the following lane wandering issue on and off nearly from day one:

When at freeway speeds (above 50MPH or so) the car will sometimes decide not to track straight- specifically it will suddenly twitch off center to either left or right and start drifting until I correct the steering. The steering does not feel "loose" or sloppy like there is any play, and its centered pretty well, but when this happens I can be holding the wheel firmly and straight, its like the wheels just decide to turn slightly on their own.

It can happen on smooth highways and rough, and is worse with crosswinds although this week I drove 200 miles in very calm conditions and it wandered like crazy. At one point I drove on a stretch of grooved concrete highway and it twitched so badly I had to grip the wheel for dear life.

After 10K miles the tires do not seem to have any crazy wear patterns on them but I do notice the outside edges wearing faster than inside. I havent had the alignment checked yet but plan to as perhaps this is the culprit. Tire pressures are fine and going up/down a few psi doesnt seem to have a noticeable effect. I've never experienced a vehicle (even one thats out of alignment) that does this. It feels very unsettling when it happens. I would think alignment would cause the car to pull to ONE side consistently, not both at random.
 

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I did not own a previous generation, but my 2016 Limited does not display any of these traits. It tracks straight and true and only displays expected levels of movement on poor pavement or strong crosswinds.
I would absolutely gets this checked by your dealership! Take them for a drive to show them what's going on so there is no question about the issue.
 

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2018 Touring 3.6R
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Questions about "wandering" in Gen 5 Outback

I just completed a 300 mile round trip in my 2018 3.6 Touring, much of it going 70-75 mph on the dreaded I-95 between Richmond and D.C. No wandering and very stable. I was quite impressed with the adaptive speed control as it adjusted for the lane changing idiots which frequent that part of the world.


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17 OB Premium, White w/black
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Mine wandered a bit when I picked it up new. Tires were at 38 all around. I checked the door sticker, adjusted accordingly and no more wander.
 
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My 2017 Limited was doing the same thing on several occasions when I first bought it - I discovered that what was causing it was I somehow was unknowingly driving with Lane Keep Assist enabled - it was actually ME doing the wandering and the Outback was steering me back to the center of my lane...
 

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My '15 OB premium has no wandering issues.
 

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2016 Outback Limited 3.6
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I noticed some of the same symptoms with my 16. I think in many ways it depends on what you are used to. My previous Lexus and WRX definitely tracked better. If anything, the Outback on the stock rear sway bar was much more susceptible to being blown around on the highway. Upgrading the rear sway bar helps a good amount. Sometimes cars can come from the factory with the alignment off. Alignment being off is not just about noticing a pull to the left or right. Either way, the sway bar upgrade is well worth it.
 

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I also had wandering issues on a freeway near me that was made of concrete and recently grooves had been added. My car would catch a groove and it felt like the steering was not working. I would then added more turn and the car would leave the groove and over correct. All this with lane keep assist off. I replaced the factory tires with Michelein LTX tires and have not had any steering issues. As an added bonus the car is also quieter.
 
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2018 Touring 3.6R
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Questions about "wandering" in Gen 5 Outback

I also had wandering issues on a freeway near me that was made of concrete and recently grooves had been added. My car would catch a groove and it felt like the steering was not working. I would then added more turn and the car would leave the groove and over correct. All this with lane keep assist off. I replaced the factory tires with Michelein LTX tires and have not had any steering issues. As an added bonus the car is also quieter.


IMO you are on the right track by linking this to tires. Also FirstSubie4me above mentions setting the tire pressures as recommended (fronts 2 psi higher than rears on my 2018 3.6 Touring). As I mentioned above I haven't had the wandering problem yet, and I am a "correct tire pressure" nut.


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I tried multiple tire pressure combinations on the O.E.M. tires to correct the problem, did not correct. In my opinion, the deeply grooved concrete, the O.E.M. tires, and the electric steering did not play well together. On several occasions it felt like the steering was not responding to my steering wheel input. It was a little scary to be honest. The only factor I could change was the tires. So far 3k miles on these tires and the wandering problem on deeply grooved concrete has gone away.

As a side note, my In-Laws have a 2012 Honda CR-V that came with the same tires as my outback. They also changed to the LTX series of tires and are pleased with the improved handling and lowered noise. They had 25K on there O.E.M tires but were having tire noise and vibration issues.
 

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2017 Outback 3.6R Limited
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The only times I felt "wandering" in my current 2017 OB where when there was either a strong crosswind gusts (the stock suspension seems to be very sensitive to that, though I've read that installing thicker rear sway bar helps) or when I tried to enable Lane Keep Assist a few times (I don't turn that on anymore). Other than these situations I don't notice any.

You should definitely take it to a dealer if you feel like it's excessive and let them check the alignment + steering components. Just make sure you'll find a condition where you can easily reproduce that in case the repair shop's mechanic would want to do a test drive to feel it - perhaps find some section of the road near the dealership where it can be easily felt or something like that.
 

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2016 Outback 3.6R LBP "Dingo"
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I don't believe that overinflated tires would cause a car to wander.

I would recommend going to the dealer and getting the alignment checked. Also the steering and suspension.

It doesn't sounds like you have the lane assist or don't have it turned on -so it can't be blamed. Although as long as it is functioning normally, this shouldn't happen.
 

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Questions about "wandering" in Gen 5 Outback

I don't believe that overinflated tires would cause a car to wander. . . .

Agree, but it seems possible that one under-inflated tire, or not having higher pressure in the front tires, as Subaru recommends, could do it. Adjusting to the recommended pressure differential seems to have worked for FirstSubie4me above. Mine was also delivered last month with all four tires at the same 38 psi pressure, which was incorrect. Freeway driving is stable with 35 front, 33 rear, as recommended.

(It is the first Subie for me, too)

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Agree, but it seems possible that one under-inflated tire, or not having higher pressure in the front tires, as Subaru recommends, could do it. Adjusting to the recommended pressure differential seems to have worked for FirstSubie4me above. Mine was also delivered last month with all four tires at the same 38 psi pressure, which was incorrect. Freeway driving is stable with 35 front, 33 rear, as recommended.

(It is the first Subie for me, too)

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Don't get me wrong, it's a really bad idea to over-inflate the tires as it will greatly increase wear and isn't worth the minuscule increase in gas mileage. But over 35 years of driving I've had cars with tires (my Lancer in particular) where one tire just loved to lose air faster than the rest. Never caused the car to wander.
 

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I also had this issue from the day I picked the 2015 up........it just doesn't track anywhere as well as my 2003 Forester.......which seemed to drive as if it was on rails.

After some back and forth with the dealer, they found a slight alignment issue on the drivers side rear wheel which was correctly....it did track better right afterwards BUT still is very hard to keep really centered on the road.......I grew used to it as time went by and it's now just the way my OB tracks......steering has always been VERY sensitive and "touchy" but, again, I've grown used to it and appreciate how fast I can veer to avoid road obstacles.

My tires are still serviceable at 18,000 miles BUT will probably get new some new tires as the miles mount up....this may be a solution to the tracking sensitivity that my car has....I keep my tires at 33/35 psi which has helped tighten things up a bit.......under-inflated when we picked the car up, steered and rode like a 1965 Chevy Impala Station wagon. The 19mm rear sway bar really helped that aspect, however!

However, I have to say that my wife's new 2018 Crosstrek is a totally different experience......really securely tracks down the road yet still offers the fast steering response.......probably due to the new platform that all of Sube's new cars are moving to........

Since I cheaped out on the OB, passing on Eyesight but instead getting that crummy NAV with its so-slow-to-respond Fujitsu HU, I'm seriously planning on a 2019 OB, built on the new corporate platform with all of the Driver aid tech that they'll offer.....

Live and learn!

Still love the OB...........best car that I've had, so far!

Steve
 

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I have a 2018 Outback Limited with the same condition. Alexus described the problem perfectly. When my Car wanders slightly I get a feeling I have no control and that's not a good feeling.u
Has anyone been to the Dealer? I plan to when serviced next?
 

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2017 and it wanders ever so slightly. I guarantee 100% that it is the tires. My Jeep Grand Cherokee never wandered like this and the rental Toyoto Sienna I just had did not wonder like this.

It does not feel like an alignment problem and it never goes more than a little bit. I've been told by a reputable tire dealer that the tires that come stock on the Outback are not good tires and the most I can expect to tolerate them with normal commuting driving, including snow, would be 3 years or 30K.

I thought he was just trying to sell me tires, but everything he has said has come true with these tires.

I've grown accustomed to the wander, but the worthless snow traction is a deal breaker after two winters. The tire guy said winter three would be bad. I think I'm going to believe him.
 

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I have a 2018 Limited with eyesight and 600 miles on it. The steering lacks control while driving at 60 mph when the steering is on centre. You get tossed around as if you were in high wind but there is no wind. I presume it is response to uneven road with no ability to correct as the steering wheel can be moved a few degrees with no effect. In the old days you could mechanically adjust how tight the steering was. I think this needs an adjustment to the electronic steering to increase its sensitivity so that one can hold the steering on center if necessary. Tires and tire pressure may help but that won't fix what I think is the fundamental problem here.

I haven't pursued this fix through Subaru yet. Has anyone else pursued this possible solution through dealer service?
 

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IMO you are on the right track by linking this to tires. Also FirstSubie4me above mentions setting the tire pressures as recommended (fronts 2 psi higher than rears on my 2018 3.6 Touring). As I mentioned above I haven't had the wandering problem yet, and I am a "correct tire pressure" nut.


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What pressures do you use F/R?
 
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