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09 Impreza steering wheel shake?

Looking for advice… I have an 09 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport with 70k miles. I recently had new rotors and new tires replaced, an alignment and recently brought it into the dealer for its standard 60k tune up. I now feel a shimmy in my steering wheel at about 65-70 mph. It tends to come and go but I do a lot of highway driving and I feel it quite a bit. I already had the tires rebalanced 3 times and when that didn’t fix the problem the shop replaced the tires with a brand new set. I still fill the shimmy. Very Frustrating… Is this a common problem with Subaru?

No, but it is a problem with tires that are defective or in need of Road Force Balancing.

Have the tires balanced at a shop that owns one of the special Hunter machines that does Road Force Balancing, and the problem will likely be cured. If that does not work, then it is possible that you have some kind of front-end wear, such as bad tie rod ends. While that is not common at only 70k miles, if you typically drive on roads that are…not so good, it is possible.

Road force balancing is new to me. I did an internet search and could not find a source near me. Not that I have had a problem but if you could expand on the concept and how to find a place that does it would be apreciated!

More and more car dealerships are adding the Hunter GSP9700 machine, as it can really work to eliminate shake problems that “ordinary” balancing does not help.

Some makes are more prone than others to problems with slightly unbalanced tires, and that list includes the Corvette, the Hummer H2, the Cadillac CTS/STS, and the new-design 2010/11 Outback. As a result, dealers for these makes are likely to have this more-expensive balancing machine which simulates road pressure on the tire’s tread as it spins the tire.

Also–tire dealers who sell a lot of high-end, performance tires may have this type of equipment, and it can really work wonders when ordinary tire balancing fails to work.

I know the Subaru dealer near me has one. I will definitely bring it to them to try this theory out. Thanks for the input. Its interesting you brought that up because when I brought my car in for the 60k tune up they had a brochure about how their tire balance was “different” than the standard. Thanks again.

If you’re looking for a place to find one, check this out

That link was very enlightening.
In my area, very few tire dealers appear to have this equipment, but the majority of the new car dealers do have it.

What surprised me the most was that all of the county vocational-technical schools in my area have this equipment in their auto mechanic’s training facilities. It is interesting to see that the students in this area are being taught with the latest equipment at these low-cost public schools, while the very expensive private technical schools in the area do not have this superior device!

In A Subaru Technical Service Bulletin Written For Their Technicians, Subaru Says, "Some customers may describe a concern of a steering wheel vibration, oscillation or a “shimmy” condition at highway speeds . . . "

The 4 page document describes the concern and some of the causes and gives tehnicians procedure to follow to try and " . . . help minimize steering wheel vibrations
at highway speed."

Among the recommendations is the use of the Hunter GSP 9700 Wheel Balance
and Road Force Measurement System, as mentioned in previous responses.

I would definitely begin with a check of radial and lateral run-out of the car’s tires and if something’s not right I’d determine which wheel(s) or tire(s) is(are) the culprit and go from there.

Some car makes / models are just more problematic and in the area of wheel and tire induced steering wheel shimmy.


Don’t forget, the rotors were changed at the same time. If the Hunter machine doesn’t reveal anything, it just might be the rotors!

Warped rotors were one of my first thoughts also, but after re-reading the post, I realized that the OP did not tell us that the steering shimmy takes place when he brakes. Since he stated that he feels the problem at 65-70 mph, I am interpreting that to mean a steady 65-70 mph, which would rule out a rotor problem. However, my interpretion could be wrong.

OP–Is this shimmy problem apparent when braking, or when driving at a steady speed–or both?

The Center Part Of The Rotor Where It Contacts The Hub Could Have Trapped Rust Or Dirt And That Would Make The Wheel Wobble.


Its at a steady speed. Order of operations: I had new tires put on, felt the shimmy, had the rotors replaced (the were actually warn down). Shimmy was still prevalent, had tires re-balanced, still shimmy, had new tires replaced after they tried re-balancing the tires again because the shop couldn’t figure out what it was, still steady shimmy at 65-70 mph. I do not feel it when I brake.

Check The Wheel Rims For Radial And Lateral Runout. I Would Hope Some Rooky Didn’t Tweak A Rim While Dismounting / Mounting Tires.