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Mechanics telling me different things

I have an 06 Subaru Outback. Recently I dropped $2000 on it to get the timing belt (essentially the 110,000 maintenance), brakes and tires. There is also a vibration in the car. The mechanic told me the vibration is probably engine mounts. After getting all that done I was driving the car and the vibration seemed worse in the steering wheel and seat. So I took the car to another mechanic to get the tires inspected. The 2nd mechanic told me that the drive-shaft is the cause of the vibration and the bearings ware bad and a boot is torn.

I am so annoyed. The first mechanic we have used for years but now he seems to not be doing a thorough job or something. After spending $2000 I feel like I’m committed to this car.
So what the hell do I do now?
I was going to go to the Subaru dealership and get a another opnion but I don’t trust them either.
Help?

The vibration is most noticeable at idle or while driving?
Why didn’t you take the car back to the first guy?
Were the old motor mounts collapsed?

Well keep in mind that when you bring it in for a scheduled maintenance service the mechanic will generally stick to the basics of the service. In this case your service that you intended to have the shop do is the 105k Svc. The book does not specifically state inspect driveshaft (especially the center one =trans to rear diff)
The 1st mechanics priority was most likely the timing belt job for either money or concern reasons. Did you go for a ride with him and point out the specific vibration?
Was it mentioned in passing as you were walking out the door after dropping the car off? All of this will have bearing on the priority level the mechanic gives it.
Did you tell the first mechanic that you feel it in the seat and floor?

Looking forward to hearing back on this

I’m assuming this is a front wheel drive CV boot. If the CV boot is torn, it’s a must to have that fixed straight away. The longer you wait, the more expensive it will be to fix. And if one boot is torn, the rest are suspect. All the front CV boots (inner/outer, both drive and passenger sides) should be replaced at the same time in my opinion.

$2000 for a timing belt replacement, 4 new tires, and brake maintenance seems a wee-bit on the high side, but if you got expensive tires, more than $200 each say, it isn’t out of line. It’s hard to say if you had engine mount problems or not, but most mechanics can easily diagnose this, so it’s likely that was needed work.

So I don’t think the problem is the first mechanic. The problem is just that you have a car with over 100K miles on it, and it will need routine maintenance work from time to time. And it will break too, which you’ll need to have fixed. Mechanics aren’t able to do this for free, they have mortgage payments just like the rest of us.

If you a unsatisfied w/your current mechanic, the best way to find a new one is to ask friends, relatives, co-workers etc for recommendation of a shop who specializes in Subaru’s, then introduce yourself to the shop as “I was recomended by so-and-so”. That’s about the best you can do.

The other option is to shop around for a new car.

Did you have the vibration before the timing belt service? Do you have to be moving to feel the vibration? Did you see the torn boot?

@georgesanjose
The notation of the bearing indicates it is a center-driveshaft as the wheel driveshafts (aka axles/ halfshafts) have no bearings like a center driveshaft does. The center driveshaft has a support bearing and either c/v joints at each end or a conventional universal joint.

There is no vibration when it is in park or neutral, just when I put it into gear.
I don’t know anything about cars but I was surprised that he wouldn’t notice the boot, bearings or the drive shaft when he put on the new tires.
Thanks for all your help, by the way.

Your transmission mount may be shot.
Was it replaced?
On cars with longitudinally mounted engines, a bad transmission mount would be very noticeable in drive, NOT in neutral or park.

Just to clarify something. By putting it into gear, do you mean shifting an auto trans into DRIVE and holding your foot on the brake without the car being in motion on the roadway?

Back to my three questions:

  1. Did this start AFTER the timing belt was changed or was it doing it before?

2, Does the car have to be MOVING to feel the vibration?

  1. Did you see the torn boot?

Yes. I am shifting from auto trans to drive while holding my foot on the brake. The vibration started before the timing belt was changed. It gets a lot worse at 40mph and up.

So, to summarize:
You had a vibration
You had motor mounts and a timing belt replaced by the first mechanic
You still have a vibration
You went to another mechanic for a second opinion
Correct?

I’ll ask again: Were the old motor mounts shot? Did you ask to see them? To give the first mechanic the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were indeed in need of replacement, even though they weren’t the cause of the vibration?

Why don’t you go back to the first mechanic and tell him you’re concerned that he hasn’t yet fixed your vibration complaint?

1.The motor mounts were not touched.
2.The first mechanic just speculated that it could be caused by the mounts.
3.The work the first mechanic belt did was timing belt, rear brakes and four new tires.
4.Because of lack of funds I was going to save the motor mounts for later.
5.After I got the car back from the first mechanic I thought the vibration was worse so I took the tire to a second mechanic who specialized in tires to see if the new tires were the cause.
6.The second mechanic said he believed that the vibration is caused by the drive shaft, and I have a torn boot and bad bearings on at least one wheel.

I drove the car on the highway today for about 60 miles. The vibration was bad. The car felt safe and in control but I could hardly concentrate on the road because the vibration was so pronounced.

Thanks again for your continued help!

The second mechanic is definitely right about the driveshaft being a possible cause of a vibration at highway speeds.
One thing I’ve done in the past with 4x4s and AWD cars to help narrow down the list of suspects is to remove the suspected driveshaft and drive the vehicle again as a 2WD to see what happens.
I don’t know how big of a deal that is for you.
That is drastic, but it has helped point me in the right direction on some occasions.
But your motor mounts and/or the transmission mount may still be bad. Some of your previous posts are leading me in that direction.
An axleshaft with a bad boot is most likely due for replacement. You’re letting in dirt and debris and may soon ruin the joint.
A bad bearing could sound like a groaning sound, which becomes worse the faster you go.
That noise would be directly proportional to road speed.
Is the steering wheel also shaking at highway speeds?

I have a hard time believing that the wheel bearing is bad. Modern sealed ball bearings last a long time, I have one vehicle that has 254k miles on them and a previous vehicle went over 300k miles on them.

The torn CV joint boot is also problematic for me, but not so much as the wheel bearing. Thirty years ago, I used to see CV joint boots rip at about 4 years old, but at time moves on, they seem to be lasting a lot longer. The seem to be good for about 10 years now, but that doesn’t mean that one could not go sooner. If it really did tear, that has to be addressed immediately. But before it gets so bad that the driveshaft vibrates, you should have heard a clicking sound when ever you went around a corner. That is the first sign of a CV joint going bad.

What I am most inclined to think is that you have a bent rim. These hydraulic tire changing machines can easily knock a rim off plane when dismounting the old tires. The tire change “technicians” can do this without even realizing it and it doesn’t leave obvious evidence.

There are two ways you can check this, one is to rotate the tires from the front to the back. A bent rim on the back is a lot less noticeable. Do not change sides, just swap the tires on each side, front to back.

If this works, then swap one side front to back. If the vibration comes back, it is the rim you just moved to the front. If it doesn’t come back, then it is the rim that is still on the back. Another test involves putting the car up on a lift, attaching a magnetic base with a dial indicator and rotating the tire to check the run out of the rim.

If the tire rotation does not work, then either you have a bad driveshaft or multiple bent rims.

One more thing, sometimes when installing new tires, the technician doesn’t get the balance right. Not sure how this happens, but I bought new tires for my wife once and got a very bad vibration from the RF tire, I took it back immediately and they checked the balance on that tire, for some reason that one tire was way off, the other three tires were balance don the same machine by the same guy. Anyway, they redid the balance and it smoothed right out

Wheel bearings do fail in certain Subaru cars. They did in forester early and my wife’s turbo legacy. Mine at were covered by a goodwill campaign but I think turbo only legacy/outback.

Find a Subaru specialist or dealer for diagnosis.

I had both front wheel bearings ail at 70,000 miles on a Town And Coubtry and at 37000 niles on a PI Cruiser, No doubt about the diagnosis either, they were growling pretty good.
I read later that the PT Cruiser wheel bearings were going bad in high salt areas because the car got insufficent groubd and was grounding through the left front wheel causing arcing ib the bearibg.

Are you sure the vibration isn’t due to the new tires? Maybe they didn’t balance them correctly.

“I read later that the PT Cruiser wheel bearings were going bad in high salt areas because the car got insufficent groubd and was grounding through the left front wheel causing arcing ib the bearibg”

Wow, that must be one very high voltage PT Cruiser. If it was arcing across the bearing bad enough to destroy the bearing the arcs across the rubber tires must have been quite a site to behold! And just what was the origin of these lightning bolts?

I think he was joking, it was the best laugh I had this morning.