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Discussion Starter #1
I have a slight steering wheel wobble in my 2002 Outback 2.5 Manual. When driving at higher speeds the wheel occasionally wobbles slightly back and forth, but then will stop on other sections of the road. Is this just a road issue or maybe an alignment or balance? Car does not pull to one side or the other and tracks pretty true. No play in the power steering. Its maybe about 1/8th of an inch steering wheel wobble back and forth and feels like a vibration but then it will stop and be steady. Maybe its a road issue and I just never noticed it before at highway speeds. Always on the highway.


Thanks for any troubleshooting info!
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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if it's there after moving front tires to the rear, rear to front, I'd suspect steering or suspension wear/alignment issues. possibly brakes

If the symptom changes, look at tires or possibly rims, wheel mounting problems.

Sometimes even some rust/grime between the rim and rotor, or cracked lugnuts could do something like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The one recent change I did make was that I put on a set of Locking Lug Nuts that are Subaru OEM accessory, made by McGard. I bet this is it, because I put them on about 2 weeks ago and thats when I noticed the problem start. I have one lock on each wheel and they do stick out farther than the other lugs on the alloy rims so they may weigh more. They are square where the factory lugs are rounded at the ends and a little shorter as far as how far they stick out.

Anyone think that they threw the balance off on the wheels since they were balanced last year without the locks?

Thanks for any input, if this is the case it would be an easy fix....
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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I used to have this issue. Replacing my transverse link bushings solved it.

Check if they are leaking oil. If they are then they should be replaced.
 

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The one recent change I did make was that I put on a set of Locking Lug Nuts that are Subaru OEM accessory, made by McGard. I bet this is it, because I put them on about 2 weeks ago and thats when I noticed the problem start. I have one lock on each wheel and they do stick out farther than the other lugs on the alloy rims so they may weigh more. They are square where the factory lugs are rounded at the ends and a little shorter as far as how far they stick out.

Anyone think that they threw the balance off on the wheels since they were balanced last year without the locks?

Thanks for any input, if this is the case it would be an easy fix....
I'm gonna say unlikely. Can't rule it out. maybe check that they are tight. (check in the 'star' pattern of course, not in a circle)

The difference in mass is very close to the center of the wheel. Probably no worse than when a rock is stuck in the tread at the tire's circumference.
 

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Onyx, 2008 LL Bean 3.0R and 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
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I'd start simple with a balance and alignment check. If that doesn't fix it then try driving without the new locking nuts (obviously put the old ones back on) and see if that makes a difference. I always look for what has changed in a fixed state as a clue as to what has caused other changes, like your shimmy.

If not, you can follow my odyssey here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/44251-relentless-steering-wheel-shimmy.html

Or here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/48457-relentless-steering-wheel-shimmy-part-ii.html

I'm sure yours is something simpler than mine. I still haven't completely removed my shimmy. In the end it will probably be something crazy simple. So, you should start simple before replacing suspension components.
 

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'03 Outback H6-3.0 Black Granite Pearl, base model with cold weather package and cloth seats.
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Are the wheels Subaru wheels, that locate on the hub, rather than locating on the lugs?

On my universal steel winter wheels, if I don't tighten everything down perfectly evenly, this happens to me. If I'm careful to ensure that the wheels are properly centered by moving all of the lug nuts down by hand until seated fully, no problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes the wheels are Subaru OEM alloy with Potenza's. I took off the front wheel locks and put back on the lugs for a test drive here in 30 minutes. The wheel locks are twice as heavy as the factory lugs. No leaks from the Front Transverse Link bearings as far as I can tell by looking. No steering rack leaks. I have seen some stuff on other message boards about wheel locks causing vibration if the weight is different than the lugs. Ill report back....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I took it out and the wobble did improve significantly without the wheel locks on, so it made a difference it seems. I am going to start with an alignment and balance and then go from there. Thanks for the info. Car has only 75000 on it with new tires last year.
 

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Onyx, 2008 LL Bean 3.0R and 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
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Glad to hear that. Hopefully the balance and alignment solves the rest of the problem. Let us know how it goes.
 
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