Intermittent steering wobble at highway speeds. No obvious problems.
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This is a discussion on Intermittent steering wobble at highway speeds. No obvious problems. within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Hello Everyone. I have a 2008 wrx and it's developed an intermittent vibration / steering wobble at highway speeds. I'm ...

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    Intermittent steering wobble at highway speeds. No obvious problems.

    Hello Everyone. I have a 2008 wrx and it's developed an intermittent vibration / steering wobble at highway speeds. I'm not a regular when it comes to forums, but I'm hoping the masses might be able to help! The car feels solid then just starts shaking and it feels like I'm driving on marbles. Then will fade out again. Tires and wheels have been checked and Road Force balanced with no issues. Tires are also brand new because after having the prevouis new tires, bought a month ago, double-checked on the Road Force machine, the tires were found to be "junk" as per the dealer. Struts have been replaced. Both axles replaced. Everything else all checked out on three different occasions by mechanics. "Everything is tight and looks good", is what I keep hearing. (Refering to the suspension, steering rack, U-joints, etc.) I also keep hearing that this might be a bit of a chronic problem? Anywone having the same issue, and a possible sollution, or even a direction to look in?

    The one strange thing and only possible clue I want to mention is, during the last front brake job, I was given regular Impreza rotors by mistake, and without paying attention, I installed them. The vibration went away, and for two weeks I was really happy with the car! Then once I started getting excessive brake dust and squeeky brakes I took a look and realized I had too small of rotors on. I replaced the pads and rotors with proper equipment and the vibration was back again. It's almost as though the front end can't handle the extra centrifugal force of the larger rotors if that makes any sense at all! The rotors have been checked and are not out or round or warped. Calipers have also been checked and are not causing the brakes to hang up at all. I do have 18" aftermarket wheels, with spacers, and I've read that the oversize wheel may cause an issue? Not sure if that's true or not. The outter diameter of this set-up is the same as the stock 17" tires. This car is driving me nuts! Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post.

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    Registered User wreckingball man's Avatar
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    The only thing you haven't mentioned is alignment. Has that been checked?

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    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    Alignment, wheel bearings...

    Take the spacers off and see what happens with just the wheel...
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    Four wheel allignment done when newest tires were installed....

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    Registered User Soobvirgin's Avatar
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    Two questions:

    1. Did you put good quality tires on or some cheap brand?

    2. "intermittent vibration". When does it happen? Is it at certain speeds? Can you get rid of the vibration by adjusting your speed?

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    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soobvirgin View Post
    Two questions:

    1. Did you put good quality tires on or some cheap brand?

    2. "intermittent vibration". When does it happen? Is it at certain speeds? Can you get rid of the vibration by adjusting your speed?
    I had intermittent vibrations from about 60-70mph ranges. I recently had to have a lot of suspension parts replaced in the rear (so that wouldn't affect the steering wheel vibrating), but I also had a full 4 wheel alignment done. I also had winter tires mounted and balanced at the same time. Vibrations are now gone...so it had to be either the tires being off, or the alignment being off.
    The Hawk-Eye Alliance #90|The Blobeye Syndicate #0|The Stink-Eye Mob #0|N.E.R.D. Founding Member & #3
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    Registered User Soobvirgin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    I had intermittent vibrations from about 60-70mph ranges. I recently had to have a lot of suspension parts replaced in the rear (so that wouldn't affect the steering wheel vibrating), but I also had a full 4 wheel alignment done. I also had winter tires mounted and balanced at the same time. Vibrations are now gone...so it had to be either the tires being off, or the alignment being off.
    Sorry, that was intended for the OP. But, if there's a vibration that only kicks in at a certain speed (usually freeway speeds) and disappears as you drive through that speed, then it's balancing. Anything else causes a constant vibration. If the OP responds that the vibration is there only at a certain speed, then my suggestion is to have the wheels balanced somewhere else.

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    The tires are Michelin Pilot A/S 3's, so I don't think that's the issue. Interesting point about having to replace rear suspension parts. I would also assume that feeling a vibration in the steering wheel would mean it would come from the front, but could all-wheel-drive trick a person? Nothing in the rear has been replaced with the exception of brakes, but that's been checked over as well...

    The vibration starts anywhere between 100km and 120km, and seems to vary from "seizure" to "seizure" as to when it starts and stops. Slowing the car will take it away, but sometimes it will fade without changing speed at all.

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    The symtom does feel like balancing to me as well, but the same thing has been happening through 4 sets of tires and two sets of wheels. Original wheels with winter tires. New wheels with previous summer tires, the last set of A/S tires, and now the new ones. The last two sets were at the same place, but the previous Summer and Winter sets were at two other places as well. Not to mention the original A/S that came with it. In all, three different shops have balanced the tires, and two different shops have done 4 wheel alignments. I'd expect the vibration to be different from set to set if it was a balancing issie. Maybe feel it in the rear of the car, etc. Rotating the tires doesn't change it either. I've also had the wheels to a wheel repair shop to look for any imperfections there. Through all of this, the steering wobble held true to it's form! lol. Could it be anywhere in the steering?

    One other thing to mention. This issue started while the car was still under warranty, but it was not as severe then. Perhaps a different issue altogether, but seems to have gotten worse as the years go by. Subaru maintained that I was feeling "road bumps" or variations in the road! I probably should have parked the car in their yard and walked away until it was fixed, but I gave up the fight. I do'nt live close to a dealer, so that was rather inconvenient...

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    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soobvirgin View Post
    Sorry, that was intended for the OP. But, if there's a vibration that only kicks in at a certain speed (usually freeway speeds) and disappears as you drive through that speed, then it's balancing. Anything else causes a constant vibration. If the OP responds that the vibration is there only at a certain speed, then my suggestion is to have the wheels balanced somewhere else.
    Yeah I figured, I was just trying to throw my experience in there to show that it could be alignment or balancing.

    But yeah OP, sounds like everything you've checked eliminates wheel/tire balancing.

    It very well could be steering rack related. I know that there were issues going on in 3rd Gens where people had the entire steering rack replaced under warranty. Search about it and you can probably find it. I suppose something in the AWD could affect it, but it'd be front axle related. Things in the rear won't affect a steering wheel wobble....cause if you think about it, it the wheel itself is wobbling in the cabin, that means the source MUST be something attached somewhere in connection to the steering wheel: Steering rack, axles, wheel bearings, brake rotors, etc.
    The Hawk-Eye Alliance #90|The Blobeye Syndicate #0|The Stink-Eye Mob #0|N.E.R.D. Founding Member & #3
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    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    If it's gradually getting worse...I'd suspect a wheel bearing. They continue to wear down.
    The Hawk-Eye Alliance #90|The Blobeye Syndicate #0|The Stink-Eye Mob #0|N.E.R.D. Founding Member & #3
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    Registered User Soobvirgin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    Yeah I figured, I was just trying to throw my experience in there to show that it could be alignment or balancing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    If it's gradually getting worse...I'd suspect a wheel bearing. They continue to wear down.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brodster View Post
    The tires are Michelin Pilot A/S 3's, so I don't think that's the issue.... The vibration starts anywhere between 100km and 120km, and seems to vary from "seizure" to "seizure" as to when it starts and stops. Slowing the car will take it away, but sometimes it will fade without changing speed at all.
    No, I doubt it's your tires then. And if the vibration comes and goes all while maintaining a constant speed, then it's not balancing. Wheel alignment won't cause vibration, just uneven wear on the tires. I don't know anything about steering I'm afraid, but I'm with Mikie - I'm thinking bearings. You can check them fairly easily; jack up your car, one wheel at a time is fine. Grab the tire with one hand at the top and the other at the bottom, and try to rock the wheel back and forth. There shouldn't be any play. If you put your hands at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock on the tire, you'll get some movement on a front wheel because of the steering. But, no matter where you try to hold and rock a rear wheel, there should be no play at all.

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    Hey guys,

    Thanks for you input and ideas. I really do appreciate it. I'm thinking swap out the wheel bearings, try it. If not, then the steering rack assembly. Mechanic says both are tight with no play, so it confuses me to say the least. But perhaps there's something flexing at higher speeds. I also thought of adding a strut brace, to see if that might help? Any experience with those? If I had the money, I'd start rebuilding the whole thing, but...

    Other thought was to just pay Subaru to do a diagnostic, again, and see what they come up with. Also my local GM dealer where I purchased the tires could do some testing as well. I guess the more eyes, the better! My main mechanic (As good as he is), likely doesn't have the same technology/machines as the big dealers, as he's running a smaller, independant shop. Should all this fail, I'm considering throwing on the smaller rotors again, just out of curiosity! Call me crazy, but if it works, I might just swap out the calipers and brackets and enjoy a smooth ride for a change!

    Thanks again, and if/when I solve the issue, I'll be sure to post it for others who may be having the same issue. Apparently there's upwards of 15 pages of discussion on a local mechanic forum that my guy pays to subscribe to. I can't be the only one! LOL...

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    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    Did you swap out the pads or at least resurface them to match back up to the larger rotors?

    Strut brace won't do anything. They have nothing to do with steering.
    The Hawk-Eye Alliance #90|The Blobeye Syndicate #0|The Stink-Eye Mob #0|N.E.R.D. Founding Member & #3
    2012 Lightning Red WRX Sedan Stock...for now Soon to be OpenSource tuned by: Mattypants @ WTF Tuning
    "If I have 10 ice cubes and you have 11 giraffes, how many pancakes can fit on the roof? Purple, because aliens donít wear hats" -Ying

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