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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. My mom just bought a used 2008 subaru outback with 37000 miles for around 16,000.

She says it's swerving sometimes on totally dry flat roads. What could be the cause of this?

We took it into the subaru dealer shop last week and they found a piece of metal in the tire that was causing it to leak, and they fixed it.....the swerving stopped for a while but is now back again.

PLEASE HELP!:28:

It's still under warranty as we've only had it for about 20 days. Should we take it back and get our down payment back?

Thanks. Any help appreciated
 

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Hey everyone. My mom just bought a used 2008 subaru outback with 37000 miles for around 16,000.

She says it's swerving sometimes on totally dry flat roads. What could be the cause of this?

We took it into the subaru dealer shop last week and they found a piece of metal in the tire that was causing it to leak, and they fixed it.....the swerving stopped for a while but is now back again.

PLEASE HELP!:28:

It's still under warranty as we've only had it for about 20 days. Should we take it back and get our down payment back?

Thanks. Any help appreciated
#1 damaged car loose steering bits
#2 don't drive under the influence it screws up your perception
#3 see #1 and proceed with replacing damaged bits
 

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Discussion Starter #3
#1 damaged car loose steering bits
#2 don't drive under the influence it screws up your perception
#3 see #1 and proceed with replacing damaged bits
I can assure you she is not driving under the influence.

And what is a 'steering bit'? could you be more specific? :29:

Thx
 

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Discussion Starter #5
if the tire repair " fixed" it temporarily...How long?


Do ALL FOUR tires match ?
yes all four tires match.

They're brand new all weather tires top of the line


and we got it fixed last week. They inspected ALL the tires and took it out for a test drive and found nothing wrong other than the tiny piece of metal making the back tire leak.(right rear tire , metal piece about the size of a small zipper)
 

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Is this her first subaru?

What type of car did she have prior to the subaru?

Describe what you mean by swerve. This would suggest that the car changes directions quickly as if the driver were to yank the wheel one way or the other in a faster manner.

My mother bought her first subaru not long ago. She replaced a Nissan Altima. Her description of the steering in the Subaru was "Direct steering which transmits any steering wheel input directly to the car doing something" The nissan and other brands she was accustomed to driving had slop in the steering wheel which ment she could move the wheel with little to zero response from the car.

This is very very common observation by people who have never owned or driven a Subaru before. They actually respond to the inputs made at the wheel and it takes a little time to acclimate to a car that doesn't have a bunch of slop in the steering wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is this her first subaru?

What type of car did she have prior to the subaru?

Describe what you mean by swerve. This would suggest that the car changes directions quickly as if the driver were to yank the wheel one way or the other in a faster manner.

My mother bought her first subaru not long ago. She replaced a Nissan Altima. Her description of the steering in the Subaru was "Direct steering which transmits any steering wheel input directly to the car doing something" The nissan and other brands she was accustomed to driving had slop in the steering wheel which ment she could move the wheel with little to zero response from the car.

This is very very common observation by people who have never owned or driven a Subaru before. They actually respond to the inputs made at the wheel and it takes a little time to acclimate to a car that doesn't have a bunch of slop in the steering wheel.

My mom read this and disagreed. She said if it happened on a slippery road then she would have gone into the ditch/ off the road.

She drove a 2002 Chrysler PT cruiser before this car...but again it's not a normal car function as far as we can tell for a subaru. Even the dealership said we should have it towed there because it sounds dangerous.

So basically a fishtail/swerve on a totally dry , straight, flat road.....

I took it out just now to see if i could feel anything and it feels fine to me, but she said it happens every few days....Stumped.


and yes first subaru.

I realize the car adjusts, it's a 2.5i 4d wagon...she was not driving it in sport or anything. she was driving about 50mph.
 

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Ice can put any car in the ditch maybe she is expecting some sort of magic traction in icy bad road conditions?

The only thing the OB in that year was complained about regarding icy road conditions is the back end wandering around sliding around etc - though thats not abnormal for any wagon in conditions where traction is very limited.

The only physical parts that might cause issue are struts and steering rods that are damaged or worn and could cause a tire to change its angle just enough to pull the car in one direction or cause the wheel to bounce or wobble due to the play in the parts holding the wheel.

My suggestion would be to ride with her some and see if you can spot what it is she is calling this swerve. It's not rocket science though some people might think it is.
 

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You might ask her if there is a road where she sees this every time she drives etc. Possible she's experiencing a ridge in the road that the OB responds to differently than her prior cars.
 

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When I was involved in pilot training there were two types of learners. Those who learned to fly the plane and those who thought the plane should only fly strait and level unless other wise told. I find the same is true with drivers there are people who drive ie constantly make corrections to make the car do as they wish and those who simply expect the car to go strait till otherwise told.
 

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Both cars and planes the type of person who expected the vehicle to only do one thing till told other wise always thought something was broken or wrong with the vehicle when it didn't go strait and level on its own. The good drivers and pilots simply find ways to make the vehicle do whats needed regardless of if it wants to go left - right or up and down on its own.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You might ask her if there is a road where she sees this every time she drives etc. Possible she's experiencing a ridge in the road that the OB responds to differently than her prior cars.
Nope totally different road. No ice as i said..Just a big open, straight, sunny dry day..No reason for the car to correct itself...

As this point you're being borderline rude, but decent answers i suppose.

Thanks for all the answers. Taking it in tomorrow morning to have it checked :mad:
 

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Rude would be much different trust me. There are lots of threads here where people complained about new to them Subarus and the cause was not the car directly. Poor tire alignment - grooved roads vs a tire known for being impacted by road grooves more than other tires - or simply as I suggested a driver who expects the vehicle to go strait till told otherwise. You get all kinds on forums and its not like I'm driving the car or talking to your mom directly to get a sense of whats taking place.

She might be talking about the wheel hop that taller longer travel suspension vehicles can do when they hit pot holes which can make the car unsettled also. Pickup owners know this all too well.

As I said almost zero information all one could do is run down the list of what she might be trying to describe.
 

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Sticking brake? VDC malfunction? (VDC is the stability control) perhaps it is freaking out and commanding individual brakes to engage erroneously?

Severely damaged wheel bearing? (admittedly it would probably make an ear-splitting howl were this the case)

The tire question came up because every now and then we see mismatched tires on a Subaru. Tire size mismatch, even a small one, will cause a Subaru AWD system to go nuts fighting itself. Weirdo handling, bucking and loss of traction in turns can result.

When I first got my '06 (extremely similar to your '08) I found that it would track the crown of a road much more easily than my previous '98, or any other car I've owned for that matter. You already commented that the road was very flat, so maybe we can rule that out.

I know you've only had it 20 days but any chance it's seen an alignment rack? would be good to check.

And just to toss it out there- '05-'09 Outbacks are notorious for lousy rear suspension. It tends to be far too soft and floaty, and if you hit a highway expansion joint at the right angle the car will get very squirmy on you. With 37k miles on it, I don't know that it has enough wear to really show the problem. But I thought I'd offer that one out. We have a few threads discussing the phenomenon and several fixes for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Sticking brake? VDC malfunction? (VDC is the stability control) perhaps it is freaking out and commanding individual brakes to engage erroneously?

Severely damaged wheel bearing? (admittedly it would probably make an ear-splitting howl were this the case)

The tire question came up because every now and then we see mismatched tires on a Subaru. Tire size mismatch, even a small one, will cause a Subaru AWD system to go nuts fighting itself. Weirdo handling, bucking and loss of traction in turns can result.

When I first got my '06 (extremely similar to your '08) I found that it would track the crown of a road much more easily than my previous '98, or any other car I've owned for that matter. You already commented that the road was very flat, so maybe we can rule that out.

I know you've only had it 20 days but any chance it's seen an alignment rack? would be good to check.

And just to toss it out there- '05-'09 Outbacks are notorious for lousy rear suspension. It tends to be far too soft and floaty, and if you hit a highway expansion joint at the right angle the car will get very squirmy on you. With 37k miles on it, I don't know that it has enough wear to really show the problem. But I thought I'd offer that one out. We have a few threads discussing the phenomenon and several fixes for it.

As i said , she said it was a fairly bad swerve...On a scale from 1-10 it was a 6.





Will report back tomorrow afternoon to see what subaru says.


(and nope, all tires are the same all weather tires, top of the line)

if it helps we're in upstate Ny.


Also according to Carfax, the car had a fender bender in 2010 and the rear bumper was replaced.



The car has always been serviced and maintained at that dealership, and according to their site

"At Five Star Subaru, we use the Subaru Certification guideline as the benchmark for our Reconditioning Process. That means every one of our pre-owned cars, certified or not, goes through a rigorous 152 point inspection"

So I would assume they've checked it out many times to make sure it's safe...Honestly I love the car. It runs like butter and I haven't driven it more than 10 miles so i haven't felt any swerve myself...but if she says it is then I'll take her word for it
 

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Ok
As i said , she said it was a fairly bad swerve...On a scale from 1-10 it was a 6.





Will report back tomorrow afternoon to see what subaru says.


(and nope, all tires are the same all weather tires, top of the line)

if it helps we're in upstate Ny.


Also according to Carfax, the car had a fender bender in 2010 and the rear bumper was replaced.
Ok more details are surfacing - car was hit Carfax easily can have lots of details left out. Could easily just be a bumper or could easily be far more. Have the alignment checked as Rasterman mentioned the rear end can be squirmy and upset easily if something is amiss with the back of the car - given the carfax note I would be asking a shop to take a close look at the back end just to make sure that there isn't far more going on than a simple bumper replacement. Removing potential sources of doubt goes a long way to finding the cause.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ok

Ok more details are surfacing - car was hit Carfax easily can have lots of details left out. Could easily just be a bumper or could easily be far more. Have the alignment checked as Rasterman mentioned the rear end can be squirmy and upset easily if something is amiss with the back of the car - given the carfax note I would be asking a shop to take a close look at the back end just to make sure that there isn't far more going on than a simple bumper replacement. Removing potential sources of doubt goes a long way to finding the cause.


So my mom took it in this morning, and the mechanic at Subaru told her it was a bad strutt.........Why didn't he notice this when he inspected it last time? And why didn't they notice this when they did this "152 pt inspection"......This car worries me now. He was trying to say the part would take weeks (trying to void the warranty?)....

Ugh


Does this sound correct?

A wheel strutt? Thanks
 

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Sounds like that car only got 151 points checked.

Ok, lame attempt at humor.... if they missed that, what else did they miss?

(personally I've always felt that the whole "certified 189 step checklist thing" was a load of bull, unless the guy actually doing it was already the straight-and-narrow checklist type. Maybe the system works in german or swiss car lots, but I don't think most american auto dealers are disciplined enough to make such a system work.)

Anyway...

Subaru struts are quite ordinary, and they are wear items- everyone expects them to eventually wear out, so they are normally stocked at a dozen distribution centers around the country. I don't see any good reason why they couldn't have you fixed up today or tomorrow on the outside.

In fact, several companies manufacture equivalent struts for these cars. While a Subie dealer wouldn't ordinarily buy from them due to policy, they're available to all the other mechanics in America on 4-48 hours notice.

My recap of how I see your situation- sounds like a gorgeous car with a serious drivability/safety concern. Replacing a strut (or two, because you should do them in sets!) is not difficult or expensive, but the dealer may be trying to weasel out of doing it under warranty.

If you're on the fence about the car, save yourself some time, take it back and unwind the deal now.

If you really love it, it's probably worth taking it to another shop for a "free inspection" to verify & validate what you've just learned about that strut, then roll it back to the dealer and demand a warranty fix. If they need more than 2 days to correct it, something is up.
 
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