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Shake n' Shudder Part II: 1999 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport Manual Transmission

I have a problem with my 1999 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport – Manual Transmission. On slow, tight turns (for ex., in a parking lot) the steering becomes very shaky and tight, and the front end begins to shudder and make a thumping sound (an audible low thud). This only happens when the car is hot after highway driving, never at start up; it also doesn’t matter how hot or cold the weather conditions are outdoors.

Mechanics have checked it twice but can’t find anything wrong. I’m convinced that they only check the car when the engine is cold even though I told them that the car has to be driven about 15 minutes before the problem shows up.

BTW there is a “Shake n’ Shudder” posting from 2 years ago about a similar problem with the same model automatic. And, yes, I had the mechanics change the steering fluid, but the problem didn’t go away.


Have you owned this car since it was a new car?
Have you and any previous owners consistently rotated the tires every 7.5k miles or every 5k miles?
Have you or any of the previous owners consistently replaced all 4 tires, rather than just one, or two, or three tires?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then I am going to speculate that you are experiencing problems with the Viscous Coupler/Center Differential.

When a Subaru owner does not follow the guidelines outlined in the Owner’s Manual and the Maintenance Schedule, it can be pricey. Most likely, this is going to cost you about $700 to replace the Viscous Coupler for the Center Differential. After that repair, I would suggest that you adhere to all of the mfr’s guidelines regarding tire rotation and replacement.

Thank you for your response.

Although the answer to all of your questions is “yes,” could the problem still be the viscous coupler (center differential)?

Given the age of the vehicle (12 years) and the mileage (100k), this still seems to be a good guess and a perfectly reasonable thing to have an expert check… but perhaps not necessarily the guy who rotates my tires every 6 months.