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'00 Outback Limited, 2.5L
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks, I am a newbie at this forum. I have been a regular visitor and learned quite a bit from the threads. I have one of my own and I hope I can get some help. We have 2000 Outback (bought new with 126K miles). This car was maintained well over the last 12 years, although there were certain issues that cropped up during the ownership period that almost made us get rid of it. But the problem I have today is one of steering. At slow speeds over bumpy road, you could literally have the steering yanked from your hands. At highway speeds, the ride is smooth no matter the road surface.

I took the car to our dealer and the service manager drove it to have a first hand experience of the problem I described to him. He put the car on the lift after the test drive and checked the suspension. He called me to the service bay and showed me both the front and rear suspensions - nothing loose there. So why is the steering wheel behaving so funny at slow speeds over bumpy roads?

He suggested I replace the stabilizer links and some other bushings. At this point I do not want to spend money on a repair that will not solve the steering problem. Any help from fellow forummers will be greatly appreciated.
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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514 Posts
I wonder if the problem is contained inside the steering rack. The fact that it only happens going slow, and the fact that it is like you are without power steering when that happens makes me suspect the power-steering portion of the rack and/or the power steering pump (or something associated with the PS) could be bad, if at slow speeds (slow RPM's) it does this.

Try this:
If you drive the rough road slowly but with the engine racing, does the problem disappear, or is it exactly the same whether the engine is racing or not? When I say racing, I mean keep the tach at about 2500 to 3000 RPM's while coasting downhill on the bumpy roads to which you are referring, going the slow speed at which you have the problem the worst but having just the engine going faster than the car.
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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1,401 Posts
sounds like torque bind to me.

auto or manual trans? this is important.
any flashing lights on the dash at start up?

try driving slow tight circles in an empty parking lot. binding, jumping, shuttering are all signs of torque bind. rough road conditions will have nothing to do with it.

the ''fix'', if it is TB, is different for auto vs. manual.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,665 Posts
Are the struts original?

did the mechanic mention lower control arm bushings?

could you see bad bushings?

do the tires wear normally?

did this problem come on gradually or did something happen immediately before you noticed it?

is there any play or binding feeling in the steering wheel moving in from lock-t-lock when parked and idling?
 

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'00 Outback Limited, 2.5L
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys for this input.

Saint J VT: I have not tried what you have suggested. I will do so in a day or two and report back. We had the steering rack replaced about 8 months ago. Since then it has increased the turning circle of the car.

Canubaru:It is auto transmission. We have never had the trans worked on. Car shifts fine at all speeds. No flashing lights in the dash or any unusual noises except some clunking noise when going over bumps.

1 Lucky Texan: Yes, the struts are original. When I took it to the dealer, the service manager put it on a lift and said there were no leaks coming from the struts and did not think that that would be my problem. There were no bad bushings and the tires wear normally. However we had the rack and pinion replaced about 8 moths ago. There is no play in the steering wheel.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,665 Posts
could this be a speed sensing issue?
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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1,401 Posts
since it is an automatic, install a fuse in the FWD fuse holder in the fuse box under the hood, driver side in front of the washer tank. this will make the car FWD. do a test drive, slow tight circles in an empty parking lot. or any place you have experienced the problem recently. if the issue is gone, then it is most likely torque bind.

this is an easy test. there are spare fuse in the fuse box you can use and it does not matter what size fuse you use. any one will work.

one other thought, we had a bad CV joint / axle cause noise, popping and issues in tight / extreme/ uphill / sharp turns. but it did it only then.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,665 Posts
you said the tech suggested some bushings?
He suggested I replace the stabilizer links and some other bushings.
some folks have had worn steering rack bushings cause steering weirdness, were new SR bushings installed with the rack? Bad LCA bushings can cause suspension/steering problems
 

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'00 Outback Limited, 2.5L
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
After the holidays, I will take the car to an independent garage for a thorough assessment of the problem. CANUBARU, you say installing a fuse in the FWD fuse holder will make the car FWD. Does it mean that it will go from AWD to FWD? The problem is up front though. But it is worth trying it.

Since the original struts have not been replaced, could that also be a consideration? My wife drove the car since we purchased it; her job is 17 miles from home round trip. She was not hard on the car at all.

New bushings were installed with the rack, but the LCAs have not been replaced yet.
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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7,355 Posts
This is classic torque bind. Should be a no brainer for a good subaru shop.

Do all your tires match, same brand and wear? Are they all properly inflated?

#1 thing to do asap is flush the tranny fluid. This small investment can either cure the issue or buy you time (who wants a 900.00 repair at Chrsitmas except for a mechanic with a boat payment)
 

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'00 Outback Limited, 2.5L
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What is a torque bind? Yes we have a set of Hankooks all round. There is no uneven wear on the tires and they are all properly inflated.

The tranny fluid was replaced at 88,530 miles. The tranny shifts fine.
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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7,355 Posts
In a nutshell:

the front and rear axles turn at different speeds due to steering. In an AWD vehical they must have a way of compensaiting for this. In SUbarus they either use an electronically controlled clutch pack, in a manual it is acenter differential with a viscous coupling. When either one of these over heat or fail, the two axles can no longer slip in relationship to each other, and "bind". Torque is the factor causing the binding.

In a Auto the reasons for this:
Mismatched tires
Underinflated tires
Old transmission fluid
Failed Duty C solenoid or seals
Tired clutch pack (wear and tear).

In a Manual:
underinflated Tires
Mismatched tires
Wear and tear

An automatic is far more forgiving as it will give hints that something is wrong and may be correctable. In a manual, once it raises it's ugly head, short of something as simple as a tire issue, it is too late. Also if you did drive on mismatched tires, you have shortened the life of the center diff.

This is true for almost every awd system (I said almost)
 

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'00 Outback Limited, 2.5L
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Front End problems of 2000 OB

Just before the holidays I was experiencing some serious issues with my front end. I brought the problem forth to the forum and I got some fantastic suggestions. I promised to have an independent shop examine the vehicle and tell me what needed to be done. I never got that far. My schedule did not allow me to visit a shop.

However, I, on my own, purchased a set of KYB gas shocks - two front struts and two rear shocks and had the originals replaced. It made a ton of difference. The vehicle handles much better. I am still not satisfied. I want that front end to be as tight as a drum - as when we first purchased it new.

Any suggestions as to what I should be replacing? The stabilizer links, may be.

Thanks guys.
 
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