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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 98 out back 130k miles. runs great.
but about 6months ago I started getting a bad vibration at idle . The hole car seems to vibrate & rattle whe stopped in drive. the only way to get it not to vibrate is by putting the trans in N or P.
I have had the car to three dealers no one seems to know what it is or how to fix the problem. have had tune ups, injector service, timing belts, had it all . nothing helps.
 

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Do you have a lower than usual idle speed when in drive and the car is vibrating ? If so, then it's possible that the throttle body and/or fuel injectors are blocked. My father had a similar problem with his car, and the throttle body was full of carbon. A thorough clean of the throttle body cured the problem.
 

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Magnoman,
My '97 has the same problem, but it's sporadic. It'll happen for weeks at a time then disappear for months. I'll hit 150k miles before 2005.
Are you auto or manual?

Things I've noticed:

A/C is definitely a major culprit, when it is on the vibration is infinitely worse. Most likely due to the extra power being drained by the A/C unit (more work for the belts and alternator etc etc etc).

You're right, shifting into N or P eliminates the problem which makes me think it's a transmission issue of some sort. I'd like to get my tranny fluid replaced. When I do I'll be sure to report back if it helped. But I don't anticipate getting that service done till Spring (unless I'm feeling ambitious and I do it myself).

Throttle is still functional when in N or P so I'm not sure how it would have any effect on this.

I have a feeling it's a common issue among 1st Gen. Outback owners and dealers are sick of servicing it. Try a local mom&pop mechanic if you can, often times they are more honest and forthcoming about what they think your issue is.
I've never bothered asking anyone about it because it never really bothered me much, but it's certainly noticeable...and it's probably my car trying to tell me something's wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
shake rattle & roll...

Hi,
Mine is intermittent also. But not month to month but stop light to stop light. It is worse with a/c or defrost on.. It is a Automatic. Its only at complete stops. as soon as my foot comes off the brake and roll a bit it will go away. It must be some thing to do with trans or awd. I was thinking about do a trans service. Mine is very bad the whole car shakes & vibrates. I am going to trade mine in the spring!
 

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FM--

no, it's not coincidental. plug wires don't go bad exactly at the same rate, sorta like struts, so you always have some that are worse than others and replacing them will commonly smooth out the idle. i love doing this job on other people's cars cuz they think you're a magician....10 min under hood and it runs smoother, has more power, gets better mpg, and makes less emissions. such a deal.


Bryan--

i'm not sure that it's a motor or trans mount, since the vibe goes away when he puts it ingear and takes off. broken/soft motor mounts will allow the most movement when the engine is applying torque to the drivetrainand chassis (acceleration) or when the drivetRAIN AND CHASSIS ARE APPLYING BACK TORQUE TO THE ENGINE (DECELERATING IN GEAR) OOPS . so problem shd get worse under those conditions, not go away. however, since he says it gets worse when he puts it in gear with foot on brake (ie, engine is straining against mounts), i wouldn't entirely rule it out. this is definitely somehting to check.

Magnoman--

a trans service (if an automatic, usually just flushing and replacing fluid and filter) won't help this problem. what you're seeing is something with the engine. plug wires, plugs, cleaning throttle body, cleaning IAC motor, are all good ideas. and FM is 100% right that dealer mechs have institutional considerations from above that indies don't and commonly are effectively pressured to not admit that there may be a chronic design problem. do have yr mech check the trans mount too. also, have spouse/friend sit in car and put it in gear with brake on, then rev engine while you look under the hood. see an unusual amt of engine movement? if so, look really hard at engine mounts. this is commonly something that dealership mechs won't think of.
 

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Hello, i'm new to this forum. I have a new 05 outback that vibrates at idle while in "Drive".
I have taken it to two different dealers who both hooked it up to the computer, and both said that the car is running normal.

I think that the engine idle speed is too low. If i put very slight pressure on the gas pedal it smooths out.

the vibration is not consistant. Sometimes the vibration is more evident. when the vibration is very noticable, the passenger airbag on/off indicator light flickers with the vibration.

I didn't feel the vibration when I did the test drive, and I thought that the design of the boxer engine was supossed to give it balance which i assumed would cause it to run smooth.

I also have a wistle that sounds like it is comming through the HVAC vents. The whistle starts at 65 MPH. But maybe that is for another post.

Thanks for any advice!
Dan
 

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2003, Join the Club

My car has had this vibration for awhile now. I bought the car new in July '03 and first really noticed it when it started getting cold. It still does it when warm just not as severe.

It's been at the shop 4x times for this. I get the "all codes check out" line. I've left it overnight in the freezing cold and they say they don't notice a vibration. BS. I'd say 85% of people point it out to me. My wife comments on it and she could drive 20 miles on 4 flat tires and not notice so it is very apparent. I killed the dealership on a service evaluation got an appointment with the regional dude, then my appendix decided it wasn't happy being in my body anymore and it was removed the day before my appointment, so I missed it. I mentioned it again and nothing.

They did reset the tranny but now the car is worse. It has a super hard shift at about 35-40 under normal acceleration. Floor it and it shifts fine. Drive normally and whack at 35-40. Same on deceleration. The dealer says all codes check out, blah blah, blah.

It is at the point where I wish I never bought the POS. My wife has an 03 Forester and it is great. My car seems like that "Monday Hangover" car or the "last hour on Friday" car.

In a two weeks it going to a different dealer and after that it is going to a tranny shop. And then I'm calling the regional manager again. If it is a known tranny defect, SOA should own up to it.

Rant over.
 

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My '97 OB had a similar rough idle while on the brake at 135k miles. I attributed this to something as simple as the idle needing to be adjusted a bit higher, but never got around to doing it. Have any of you tried this approach?

I assume the low RPM vibration is due to added inefficiencies that slowly increase over the years & after 100k or so, is too much for the engine to compensate for at idle. Shifting to N or P & giving it gas would also return the car to non-vibe for me. Oh yea, I also had an auto tranny.

I have no such problem in my '05 XT, even with the AC on full blast, radio on, brakes, cold weather, etc.
 

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Re: 2003, Join the Club

kramerski said:
...If it is a known tranny defect, SOA should own up to it.

Rant over.
Add that to the long list of defects that SOA doesn't acknowledge (Head Gaskets, ACC malfunctions, RE-92s...etc). My '97 had the vibration problem. It got slightly better when I changed my spark plug wires, but it was still noticeable.
 

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Same here...

My 05 outback has the same vibration when at idle.....it too is inconsitent....it too has the passenger airbag on/off indicator light flicker when vibrating. Now the rpms are falling below 100 when stopped and the car almost stalls out.

Did you ever figure out what was/is going on?

Thanks!

Eurekamo said:
Hello, i'm new to this forum. I have a new 05 outback that vibrates at idle while in "Drive".
I have taken it to two different dealers who both hooked it up to the computer, and both said that the car is running normal.

I think that the engine idle speed is too low. If i put very slight pressure on the gas pedal it smooths out.

the vibration is not consistant. Sometimes the vibration is more evident. when the vibration is very noticable, the passenger airbag on/off indicator light flickers with the vibration.

I didn't feel the vibration when I did the test drive, and I thought that the design of the boxer engine was supossed to give it balance which i assumed would cause it to run smooth.

I also have a wistle that sounds like it is comming through the HVAC vents. The whistle starts at 65 MPH. But maybe that is for another post.

Thanks for any advice!
Dan
 

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if giving it a little gas with your foot on the brake and in drive cures the rough idle, it's set too low. other than a full tuneup including wires and plugs, that's my guess.

btw, my 00 was starting to idle rough, wires took care of it.
 

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Hi Magnoman, I have the exact same problem as you and I also have a 98 Outback 2.5 with 130,000 miles. Here is a link to a thread that I created some time ago in order to try and resolve this problem:

98outback25 Rough Idle Problem

Hopefully between both threads we can figure this out.
 

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Did you happen to change your half shafts around the time the vibration started? Porcupine73 could be on to something, as he noticed that other people changed their half shafts prior to the vibration starting. Could be coincidence but it's a good theory.
 

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I seem to have the same problem with my 2008 Outback:mad: The vibration is violent or not bad enough to cause passenger light flickers, but i can definitely "feel" it and it's quite annoying. It happens usually on cold morning starts and goes away after a few minutes of driving...
 

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many subarus have "vibration" when warming up from valve chatter or piston slap. I had it on my 98. As long as it goes on warming up its ok. Haven;t heard its a problem on more recent OB, my 08 does not have the warm up vibes my 98 had but does seem to have a more prominent idle vibe than my 98.
 

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mine is quite the opposite. It has almost no vibration when the engine has been off for a while, it gets more and more pronounced after 15 min or so.

I just replaced the knock sensor, it was failing but it made no difference in the vibration.
 

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I've read a little bit on the boxer design, and part of the reason the boxer isn't as popular of an engine with other carmakers is due to the power delivery. It's not smooth because there is very little to 0 overlap from when one cylinder ends it's combustion cycle to when the next cylinder takes over. This makes any slight flaw in the vehicle running very noticeable at idle in gear. It also makes it very noticeable if the idle is too low. I'm leaning towards the IAC being the culprit. I've noticed that my '99 seems to idle a bit low compared to my '04 wrx. I'll try cleaning mine and see if it helps... mine is noticeable to my gf from the passenger seat, but while i'm driving it, i'm oblivious to it. The only time it became overly noticeable to me was when an exhaust valve on #4 lost a chunk out of the base, and the car lost compression on that cylinder and idled terribly causeing the whole nose of the car to visibly shake.
 
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